FEY, STEWART, CLOSE ETC. BACKSTAGE AT THE EMMYS
By Stacy Jenel Smith and Emily Feimster
Tina Fey talked Sarah Palin, Stephen Colbert said he wished the worst for Jon Stewart, and Jeff Probst gave details about what led to that embarrassing show opening perpetrated by himself and four other reality show hosts backstage at the 60th Annual Emmy Awards.
Fey admitted that, "At first, I was very resistant to acknowledge that there was a resemblance" between herself and Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin -- whom she skewered to perfection last week on "Saturday Night Live." "Then, my kid saw her on TV and said, 'That's Mommy.'" Fey's daughter, Alice, just turned three.
She also made clear, "I want to be done playing this lady November 5th."
Fey was the woman of the evening with her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, her Outstanding Comedy Series and her comedy writing Emmys -- as star and creator of "30 Rock." She said of her wins, "Maybe this means I should stop apologizing all the time that I'm an actor on the show" -- as co-star Alec Baldwin keeps telling her.
The Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy "really belongs to everyone," added Fey, standing with the rest of the cast and the other writers, "so I don't like it as much."
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Jon Stewart compared seeing protege Stephen Colbert win (for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program) to "a father seeing a son take off," and even mentioned a sort of "Fiddler on the Roof" feeling. Colbert took a different tack when asked if it felt awkward sharing the category with his former boss. "No," he said. "I've been gunning for him for years ... I've been trying to sink his show." Stewart's "Daily Show" took Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series honors.
In light of Tina Fey's spot-on imitation of Sarah Palin, a reporter asked Stewart who should play the Obamas. He and his team agreed that Tina Fey should also play both Barack and Michelle Obama, because there is nothing she can't do.
Moving on to the McCains and Palin, a reporter asked Stephen Colbert who should be cast as the Republicans. Colbert replied saying, Don "Rickles, obviously" for McCain, and "maybe me as Sarah Palin, because I, too, have absolutely no business being Vice President."
So, does that mean Colbert is supporting Obama? He was asked. No, he said, he was merely saying that he and Ms. Palin have in common that they're unprepared to be President. But then, "Maybe I don't want a President who's prepared. Have you ever thought of that? Don't read into my words."
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"We knew it was going to be tough, having five people," said Jeff Probst, who took the reality show hosting Emmy over fellow nominees -- and Emmy show hosts -- Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Tom Bergeron and Ryan Seacrest. The show opening that Outstanding Supporting Actor Jeremy Piven summarized when he referred to 12 minutes of nothing was an absolute non-starter.
Probst said that he wasn't kidding about Jimmy Kimmel trying to come to their aid when the quintet of hosts couldn't get together on their opening bit. Of Kimmel, he says, "He was emailing me at midnight a couple of nights ago" about it. But, "Every time we had an idea that we liked, two wouldn't be happy with it. We ended up with nothing. Did it work? Hell if I know."
Despite the dissatisfaction with the hosting team's performance, the "Survivor" star made it clear he felt good about the evening, especially winning the Emmy. "I'm happy as hell."
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Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series winner Glenn Close "Damages" recalled that back when she was first a hot property as a film actress with her "The World According to Garp" performance, a TV drama came to her -- the acclaimed story of a family ripped apart by incest, "Something About Amelia." Her representatives at the time, the early 1980s, said "it would actually be detrimental to my career" to take the part, because it was on TV.
"The English do it, why can't we? Actresses like Helen Mirren and Judi Dench, who do television series, movies and theater -- they've been my inspiration. I think that's the thing, the important thing -- go where the material is."
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Jeremy Piven won his third consecutive Supporting Actor Emmy for his portrayal of agent Ari Gold in "Entourage" -- a huge feat, of course. But, apparently his TV fame only goes so far.
Piven admitted that when Guy Ritchie cast him in "Rock 'N' Roll Movie," opening next week, "I kept working on my look for my character," wanting to make sure it was nothing like that of Ari Gold. But, when he told Ritchie that, he got a blank look. Reason: "They don't have television in the Madonna-Guy Ritchie household." He added that Ritchie may have thought Ari Gold was "a Passover Buddy."
Still, Piven had lots to celebrate, of course. He sipped champagne before taking to the stage in the press room, and informed the media, "This third one was more shocking than the first two." He said he feels "Entourage" is actually getting better. Piven also said he can imagine "Entourage" lasting 10 years -- and remaining a part of the show.
"The premise is so fertile," he said, and added that the public's curiosity about behind-the-scenes Hollywood never seems to fade. In fact, asked whether he might move to the Lead Actor category, Piven said that decision isn't his, but the network's -- but it's possible. This season, he notes, "gets more Ari-centric as it goes along."
A reporter noted that Don Knotts had won five Emmys in a row, and asked Piven if he wanted to break that record now that Piven's won three consecutively. "To be honest with you, that's what I'm focused on," he replied. Piven said that, in fact, "my mantra when I go to sleep, and when I wake up, is...'How do I beat Don Knotts?'"
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Speaking of entourages ... Lara Spencer of "The Insider" got attention as she whisked through the room, entourage in tow. She wore an orange gown with a train -- and had a helper carrying the train as she strode along, while press members exchanged looks.
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"That's a lot of money that just fell on the floor!" said Jean Smart with a smile after one of her diamond earrings fell to the floor right as she got up to the microphone to be interviewed. The night was one of gratitude for the actress, who took home the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy. "I know how lucky I am. I've gotten to play a lot of different parts. I've never been typecast. I'm eternally grateful to this business," gushed Smart.
One person she made sure to recognize both on- and off-screen was co-star Christina Applegate, who she claims is a big part of why she won. "The star of any show sets the tone and I've never seen an actress so beloved by cast and crew, and that was before she hit hard times. I love her. I get to play mommy to her and I don't have a daughter, so that's nice."
Of course, Smart has felt like even more of a mother to the younger actress, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. "I feel very protective of her," said Smart. "I was shocked when she told me and I started to cry a little bit. I was like, 'I'm sorry I'm getting teary eyed. It's not because I think anything is going to happen to you. I just hate for you to have to go through something like this.' But, luckily, she's 100 percent now."
Yes, indeed -- and feistier than ever. In fact, Applegate told fellow TV star Christian Slater she couldn't wait to beat him in the ratings when the two presented together later on in the evening.
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Since "The Amazing Race" has won the Emmy for Reality Competition program every year of the category's existence, might they consider withdrawing from the competition, as have several multiple-Emmy-winning actors?
"I doubt it, I really do," exec-producer Jerry Bruckheimer told a reporter. "We love these statues."