Comedy, drama, and Emmy Idol make awards show magic

It is the biggest night of the year for television, the Primetime Emmy Awards, celebrating the year’s best series, miniseries, variety show, actors and … singers?

That’s right, perhaps the biggest twist of the night did not come during the announcements of the winners or the acceptance speeches, but rather a new aspect, strikingly called “Emmy Idol.”

Several television personalities sang some of the most celebrated theme songs, and viewers had the opportunity to vote on their favorite performance. Despite the obvious humor of the contest, the choices were pretty slim between Donald Trump (in overalls and a flannel shirt) and Megan Mullally from “Will & Grace” singing “Green Acres;” Kristen Bell of “Veronica Mars” performing the theme from “Fame;” Gary Dourdan of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and Macy Gray singing the theme from “The Jeffersons;” and William Shatner, also known as Captain James T. Kirk, and opera star Frederica von Stade performing the theme from “Star Trek.”

From these slim pickings, viewers chose Donald Trump’s and Megan Mullally’s performance as the night’s winner. What would Simon Cowell say about this odd pairing?

Aside from this minor setback, the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards was an enjoyable three hours of expected winners and even some underdogs coming out on top.

The telecast began with a performance by the Black Eyed Peas and Earth, Wind & Fire. The singers asked audiences to remember the past year in television as images of key scenes flashed on the screen behind them.

Ellen DeGeneres hosted the show for the second time, bringing her own special brand of comedy and nonstop talk as she met the man who keeps track of the time backstage and mocked Eva Longoria for being the “Desperate Housewife” without a nomination.

DeGeneres first hosted the Emmys after the Sept. 11 tragedies, garnering high praise for helping people laugh again after the attacks on America. She now found herself hosting once more in the wake of another tragedy, Hurricane Katrina.

The night also served as a beautiful reminder of those we have lost and the struggles still taking place in New Orleans.

Tyler James Williams, the young star of UPN’s “Everybody Hates Chris,” came onstage with Charles Evans, a young boy displaced from his home after the hurricane. The boys asked the audience to assist with Habitat for Humanity and rebuild homes for the victims.

But overall, the awards are the reasons people tuned in to the three-hour live broadcast, which delivered several surprises.

Taking home six awards, including Best Directing in a Drama Series and the coveted Best Drama Series prize, was ABC’s surprise hit “Lost.” J.J. Abrams took home the direction award for the series’ pilot episodes, and much of the cast and crew joined him onstage to accept the final award.

ABC’s other hit, “Desperate Housewives,” also took home awards, including Best Directing in a Comedy Series for Charles McDougall. With three of the five “housewives” nominated, Felicity Huffman took home the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

FOX’s latest hit drama “House” also scored big, with David Shore winning the award for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series.

The Emmys also awarded “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which ended last season, with several awards, including Best Comedy Series.

The night’s award-winners also pulled out some comedy routines, including Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely joking with the audience as they took their award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for Arrested Development. As they put it, “The Emmys have twice rewarded us for something you people won’t watch!”

In her acceptance speech for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, winner S. Epatha Merkerson, who starred in HBO’s “Lackawanna Blues,” informed the audience that she didn’t know what to say because she had dropped her acceptance speech down the front of her dress. Um, thanks for sharing.

David Letterman also led a heartfelt tribute to Johnny Carson, the “King of Late Night TV,” which included a montage of some of the host’s finer moments on “The Tonight Show.” But the tribute would not have been complete without a moment of Carson’s trademark humor. Letterman recalled a question to Carson about what made him a star, to which Carson replied, “I started out in a gaseous state and then I cooled.”

In another touching tribute, the Emmys celebrated three news anchors who have stepped out of the spotlight, both in retirement and death: Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and the late Peter Jennings, who recently succumbed to lung cancer. After a recap of some of their most memorable stories, Rather and Brokaw took the stage to a standing ovation and praised their fallen colleague.

Brokaw ended the tribute with a smile as he quoted Jennings, who once said of the three anchors, “Yes, we are friends, but probably because we don’t see each other much.”

Overall, in the wake of another national tragedy, the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards was a touching tribute to some of the best talent in both news and entertainment and finally showed a diverse range of winners among the networks.