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The 2016 Emmy Awards Point to TV's Power

The ceremony’s nods to Donald Trump, O.J. Simpson, and diversity in Hollywood shone light on an industry that’s taking its influence seriously.

Associated Press
Associated Press

Jimmy Kimmel has cracked one of the great political questions of our time. “Many have asked, who is to blame for Donald Trump?” he said during his opening monologue for this year’s Emmy Awards. “And I’ll tell you who. He’s sitting right there. That guy. Mark Burnett, the man who brought us Celebrity Apprentice.

Yes, Mark Burnett: the Hollywood super-producer responsible not only for Celebrity Apprentice but Survivor, Shark Tank, and The Voice. “Thanks to Mark Burnett, we don’t have to watch reality shows because we’re living in one,” Kimmel said. “If Donald Trump gets elected, and he builds that wall, the first person we’re throwing over is Mark Burnett.” Kimmel continued in that vein for a surprising amount of time, speculating that Burnett had been enacting a secret British plan to destroy America by giving Trump a platform.

It was all-in-good-fun taunting—albeit the kind that kind that can only happen in a room where overwhelming anti-Trump sentiment can be assumed. But it also gave voice to one of the underlying themes of this year’s Emmys: TV doesn’t want to think of itself as escapist, not right now. As the industry celebrated itself in a reasonably entertaining ceremony without too many gimmicks, gaffes, or upsets, it asserted that works of entertainment really can change the world.

Accepting the award for best actress in a comedy for the fifth year in a row, Julia Louis-Dreyfus made her own memorable reference to Trump—and to TV’s power. “I think that Veep has torn down the wall between comedy and politics,” she said. “Our show started out as a political satire, but it now feels like a sobering documentary. So I certainly do promise to rebuild that wall and make Mexico pay for it.” The line was delivered in a knowing tone, but all appearance of fantasy soon disappeared as Louis-Dreyfus stifled sobs and trembled while talking about her father, who died two days earlier. Veep would later win for best comedy.

The breakout newcomer television show of the year, FX’s The People v O.J. Simpson, picked up five awards, including best limited series. The fact that its star Sarah Paulson brought Marcia Clark as her date underlined the show’s of-the-moment interest in how media and entertainment influence the wider world and vice versa. Accepting the award for outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie, Paulson issued Clark a public apology on behalf of America:

The more I learned about the real Marcia Clark, not the two-dimensional cardboard cutout I saw on the news but the complicated, whip-smart, giant-hearted mother of two who woke up every day, put both feet on the floor and dedicated herself to righting an unconscionable wrong, the loss of two innocents—Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown—the more I had to recognize that I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial and careless in my judgment. I'm glad to be able to stand here today in front of everyone and tell you: I'm sorry.

The most indelible moments surrounding comedies weren’t very comedic at all, coming in the form of hearty political speeches from Transparent’s creator, Jill Soloway (accepting a directing award), and Jeffrey Tambor (outstanding lead actor). Tambor said he’d be glad if he was the last cisgender man to play a transgender woman on TV, and that casting agents should be hiring far more trans actors. Soloway put forth similar ideas but also spoke of yet-grander ambitions. “When you take women, people of color, trans people, queer people, and you put them at the center of the story, the subjects instead of the objects, you change the world, we found out,” she said. The speech culminated with Soloway chanting, “Topple the patriarchy! Topple the patriarchy!”

Kimmel followed her by openly wondering whether toppling the patriarchy would be a good thing for him. This was his role throughout the night: lightly deflating the pretensions in the room, but ultimately focused on entertainment, moving things along, and making fun of himself (as in one bit where Matt Damon mocked Kimmel for losing in the variety talk category to John Oliver). His main mission seemed to be to make Maggie Smith feel bad for not attending the Emmys, despite having been nominated nine times (she won tonight, supporting actress in a drama for Downton Abbey).

While a few juggernaut shows commanded the largest share of attention, there were signs of vitality for the industry in the range of winners. The champion lead performers in dramas were both relatively new and exciting talents, Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek and Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany. The People v O.J.’s Sterling K. Brown taking a supporting actor prize over some bigger names from his own show (John Travolta and David Schwimmer) made for a warm-fuzzy moment, as did Courtney B. Vance getting recognized for his forceful turn as Johnnie Cochran. The sketch show Key & Peele grabbed accolades for its final season, and Kate McKinnion won a supporting-actress award, which felt like coronation for her as the current powerhouse of SNL.

If The People vs. OJ and all the talk of Trump at times made the lines between real life and TV seem blurrier than ever, there was one inescapable presence reminding that fantasy still does have its place: Game of Thrones continued its reign of dominance, garnering writing and directing awards for its episode “The Battle of the Bastards,” not to mention taking home the top drama prize for the second year in a row.


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'Game of Thrones' Keeps Its Crown

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For the second year in a row, Game of Thrones is the best drama on TV, according to the Emmys. No upset here: The series has received a total of 106 Emmy nominations in its lifespan. Its showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, thanked George R.R. Martin, HBO, and the cast and crew, whom they noted would be back to work tomorrow, shooting in Belfast.

No Surprises: 'Veep' Wins Best Comedy


The HBO show triumphed again in a really strong category, beating Black-ish, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None, Modern Family, Silicon Valley, and Transparent. It’s proof the show can win even without Armando Iannucci at the helm.

Tatiana Maslany of 'Orphan Black' Finally Wins

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For the last few years, Tatiana Maslany’s work on BBC America’s Orphan Black has represented one of the most astonishing feats of acting on TV: Every episode, she plays multiple characters—clones with wildly differing personalities. The Emmys have finally recognized her efforts, awarding her best actress in a drama series. “I am so lucky to be on a show that puts women at the center,” she said, not noting the unusual fact that many of those women are all played by her.

Rami Malek Wants to Honor the Elliots of the World

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“Please tell me you’re seeing this, too.”

It was the perfect line for Rami Malek, who won his first Emmy for playing the tormented hacker Elliot Alderson on the cyber drama series Mr. Robot. The show was a breakout hit for USA last year, in part because of the sheer ambition of its creator Sam Esmail (whom Malek called a “pure visionary”) and because of Malek’s instantly iconic performance.

“I play a young man who is I think like so many of us is alienated, and the unfortunate thing is I’m not sure how many of us would want to hang out with a guy like Elliot,” Malek said in his acceptance. “But I want to honor the Elliots. Because there’s a little bit of Elliot in all of us, isn’t there?”

Leonard Cohen and the Irony of 'Hallelujah'

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The show kept its “In Memoriam” segment elegantly simple: A single performer, Tori Kelly, accompanied the visual montage of artists with a tune sung to the strains of her single acoustic guitar. The song? Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

It’s an oft-covered song, and an oft-used one. (In fact, the 2011 Emmy show used a version of it, sung by The Canadian Tenors, for its own “In Memoriam” segment.) The irony is, though, that “Hallelujah” has become so popular that even Cohen himself has worried about overexposure. During an interview with The Guardian, in 2009, Cohen bemoaned the omnipresence of his soulful song.

“I was just reading a review of a movie called Watchmen that uses it,” he remembered, “and the reviewer said, ‘Can we please have a moratorium on “Hallelujah” in movies and television shows?’”

“I kind of feel the same way,” Cohen said. He added: “I think it’s a good song, but I think too many people sing it.”

Then again, Cohen might not fully disapprove of the song’s presence on the Emmys stage tonight. By 2012, in another interview, Cohen had changed his tune about the tune: “Once or twice I’ve felt maybe I should lend my voice to silencing it,” he said, “but on second thought no, I’m very happy that it's being sung.”

Ben Mendelsohn Wins a Surprise Emmy for 'Bloodline'

Like Maggie Smith, he didn’t show up. But Taraji P. Henson, who presented the award for best supporting actor in a drama series, is keeping it for him safe at home.

Netflix announced last week that it was canceling Bloodline after the end of the third season, which will premiere next year.

Maggie Smith Continues to Dominate in Absentia

Jimmy Kimmel spent an inordinate amount of time in his opening monologue complaining about Maggie Smith having been nominated nine times for Emmys but repeatedly skipping the ceremony. The new rule, he said, was that if you don’t show up, you don’t get your award: “Get your dowager countass over here!”

So when Smith tonight won best supporting actress in a drama series for Downton Abbey, Kimmel ran over and took the statue from the presenters. “No no no no, we’re not mailing this to her,” he said. “Maggie, if you want this, it’ll be in the lost and found.”

Another Win for 'Game of Thrones'

If you had to come up with a shortlist of MVPs for the sixth season of Game of Thrones, Miguel Sapochnik’s name would rank pretty high (alongside Sophie Turner, who unfortunately didn’t receive a nomination for her superb performance as Sansa Stark). The director just won an Emmy for his work on the penultimate episode, “The Battle of the Bastards,” which, alongside the season finale, “The Winds of Winter,” made for some of the year’s most stunning television. Even for a show with too much gore and death to keep track of, the action-packed episode managed to be genuinely terrifying and, somehow, beautiful. I touched on the effectiveness of Sapochnik’s directing earlier this year:

The magic and agony of “Battle of the Bastards” was how visceral all that otherwise predictable dying felt … The camera both luxuriated in and recoiled at the messiness, especially in the Winterfell battle: corpses that seemed at once dead and alive, mud that could have been blood and blood that could have been mud, soldiers who could have been fighting for either side (it was hard to tell with everyone moving so fast).

When You Play the 'Game of Thrones,' You Win

Well, you win or you die. Tonight, though, Game of Thrones’s showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, won (in this case, for each, an Emmy for dramatic writing).  

A Nice Sendoff for 'Key & Peele'

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The best variety sketch series category was only added to the Emmys last year—and it was nice to see Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele nab the award for Key & Peele, which just wrapped its fifth and final season. As my colleague David Sims wrote of the series:

It’s likely 2015 will be remembered as a year of serious upheaval in TV comedy—Jon Stewart retiring, Letterman handing his late-night spot to Stephen Colbert, and the beloved sitcom Parks & Recreation coming to an end. But the departure of Key & Peele after five seasons on Comedy Central deserves to be remembered as the biggest loss of them all, because it was the only example of a show ending when it still had so much originality and energy left.

John Oliver Wins the Emmys' John Oliver Sweepstakes

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Journalism types like to joke about the John Oliver Video Sweepstakes: the race, among some digital media outlets, to embed and distribute the video from Sunday night’s Last Week Tonight as early as possible on Monday. The sweepstakes exists in the first place because people love John Oliver, so much that news organizations want to claim for their own purposes a little piece of Oliverian genius. That’s because of his combination of earnestness and sarcasm, his dual capacity as a comedian and a rhetorician, the role he has forged as a whimsical public intellectual.

And, now, the Emmys have reflected his audience’s—and digital journalism editors’—appreciation of Oliver’s efforts: His show, apparently with its full staff in attendance, just won the award for Best Variety Talk Series.

Courtney B. Vance: 'Obama Out!'

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The People v. O.J. Simpson streak continues: Courtney B. Vance took Best Actor in a Limited Series for playing Johnnie Cochran. He gave lengthy and heartfelt list of thank yous, most memorably including his wife, Angela Bassett, “the woman who rocks my chain.” Then he signed off: “Obama out! Hillary in!”

Jimmy Kimmel did not let the moment pass without some easy disrespect. “Johnnie Cochran is somewhere smiling up at us tonight,” he said. “Too soon?”

'The People v. O.J. Simpson' Is Also ... Best Limited Series

On the FX show’s sweeping night, the Emmys announce yet one more verdict in its favor.

Finally, a Win for Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark

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Within minutes of each other, Sterling K. Brown and Sarah Paulson collected their first-ever Emmys for their supporting roles as the once-maligned co-prosecutors in The People v. O.J. Simpson. They were much-deserved wins—Brown for his terrific turn as Chris Darden, Paulson for her brilliant work as Marcia Clark.

Brown thanked the Academy voters (“A lot of you may not have known who I was, but you checked the box anyway”), his alma mater Stanford (“Chocolate Cardinal in the house!”), and the writers, directors, producers, and network executives at FX (“Thank you for giving a brother a chance.”) And his wife: “Contrary to popular belief, I got the hottest chick in the game rockin my chain” (a sentiment Courtney B. Vance later echoed when thanking his wife, Angela Bassett.)

Brown also thanked Paulson, who in turn told him during her acceptance, “I am holding this because of you.” Paulson brought the real Clark to the Emmys as her guest, and she noted the challenge of doing the former prosecutor justice. “The responsibility of playing a real person is an enormous one,” she said. “You want to get it right for them not for you.” But she went further, apologizing for the way Clark was flattened into a “two-dimensional cardboard cutout” during the trial. “I am glad to be able to stand here in front of everyone today and tell you I’m sorry,” Paulson said.

Susanne Bier Wins for 'The Night Manager'

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The Danish director won her first Emmy for the BBC miniseries, starting what could be a promising trend for the adaptation of John Le Carré’s spy story. The award was co-presented by Tom Hiddleston, who starred in the series.

Along with Jill Soloway, that’s two directing awards for women tonight. “Topple the patriarchy” indeed.

Another (Deserved) Emmy for Regina King

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Regina King, who won her first Emmy Award for ABC’s American Crime in 2015, just won her second for the same show, for best supporting actress in a limited series or TV movie. “I’m so proud to be a part of this show … to have the opportunity to tell stories that provoke conversation, necessary conversation,” she said. “John Ridley, you are a genius.”

Leslie Jones Gets the Last Word on Her Twitter Abuse

Mike Blake / Reuters

It’s a tradition at each big awards show to, in the middle of the program, bring out the accountants who are charged with keeping the awards envelopes sealed and, thus, fair and Scientifically Accurate. The Ernst and Young segment is normally one that, in the midst of all the sequined pageantry, celebrates that most common of things: nerdy normalcy.  

This time around, though, a different kind of normalcy was invoked during the accountant segment: the new normalcy that is … celebrities, particularly female celebrities, getting violated online. Via direct abuse, and via hacking.  

That’s because the three accountants from Ernst and Young were joined, this time around, by Leslie Jones—who, in addition to starring in Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters and NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics, has also been the recipient, infamously, of abuse. On various digital platforms, Twitter chief among them.

“I really appreciate all of the hard work that you do,” Jones told the three accountants. “But let’s be real. Y’all protecting something that nobody is trying to steal! Don’t nobody want to know about boring Emmy secrets, okay? But since you good at keeping things safe, I got a job for you: My Twitter account! Put that in the vault, please?”

She added: “Y’all over here, using your skills to protect Best Voiceover in a French Sitcom—meanwhile, I’m butt naked on CNN! I just wanted to feel beautiful, y’all! Can a sister feel beautiful?”

The three men nodded in unison, silently. Jones had found a way, once again, to have the last word.

The 'People v. O.J.' Show Begins

D.V. DeVincentis collected the Emmy for best writing for a limited series or movie, for his work on the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. The show is expected to get a lot more attention this evening (even Kimmel remarked early on that it would dominate the awards, alongside Game of Thrones).

A YUGE Specter Haunts the Emmys

“If it wasn't for television, would Donald Trump be running for president?” Jimmy Kimmel asked during his Emmys monologue. “He would be at home right now,” the host mused, “rubbing up against his wife, Malaria.”

And then: “Thanks to [The Apprentice prodcer] Mark Burnett, we don't have to watch reality shows anymore—we’re living one.”

And then: “If Donald Trump gets elected and builds that wall, the first person we're throwing over it is Mark Burnett.”

It was, perhaps, inevitable that Trump would make a (disembodied) appearance at the awards show. What’s remarkable, though, is how often he made appearances at the awards show.

It wasn’t just Kimmel who invoked the GOP presidential nominee. It was also Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who, during her acceptance speech for her Best Actress win for Veep, added a note of comedy: “I’d also like to take this opportunity,” Louis-Dreyfus said, “to personally apologize for the current political climate.”

She added, “I think that Veep has torn down the wall between comedy and politics. Our show started out as a political satire, but it now feels like a sobering documentary. So I certainly do promise to rebuild that wall and make Mexico pay for it.”

And then, before presenting the Emmy for Best Reality Series, America Ferrera and Mandy Moore made a joke about the potential for a reality show to produce … yep, a presidential candidate. And after The Voice won that award, the show’s producer used his acceptance-speech time to make a joke about all the free publicity the Emmys had given to … yep, one Donald Trump.

He really is yuge!

But it wasn’t just the ceremony that invoked Trump(ism). During the show’s pre-ceremony red carpet interviews, E!’s Giuliana Rancic interviewed the actor Bryan Cranston. She asked him, banteringly, which character he’d most like to play in a future role.

Cranston replied: “There’s several characters who come to mind—but currently Donald Trump seems to be the character who you’d think you’d want to do. They’re gonna do his life story at some point, and I’d like to be considered for that.”  

“Really?” Rancic said.

“Yeah,” Cranston replied. “’Cuz I think it’d be yuge. YUGE.” At which point the decorated actor stopped talking and instead provided a series of Trumpety-Trump-Trump gestures: a series of manic shrugs, hand-waves, and thumbs-ups.

Rancic, unphased, asked: “Who would play Melania?”

“God,” Cranston replied. “Heidi Klum was just up here … That would be a perfect Melania, don’t you think?”

Jeffrey Tambor Wants to Be the Last Cis Man to Play Trans

Associated Press

The prophecy Jimmy Kimmel opened the night with has come to pass: Jeffrey Tambor was indeed a lock for Best Actor in a Comedy. Accepting his award, Tambor, who plays a transgender woman on Transparent, implored Hollywood’s casting agents and producers to “please give transgender talent a chance.” He added, "I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a female transgender" character on TV—a remarkable statement, one that fits with recent activist outcries against established stars like Jared Leto and Matt Bomer for taking roles that could have gone to trans actors.

He also thanked Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, as well as the show’s creator, Jill Soloway, saying, “you changed my life, you changed my career, and you changed everything.”

Snack Break With Jimmy Kimmel's Mom

Jimmy Kimmel’s mom made 7,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the Emmys audience that were passed out with the help of the (truly awesome) kid actors from Stranger Things. Of course, you can’t gather some of the richest and most famous people in the country without making fun of gluten allergies, which Kimmel did. (How could he resist?)

The Best Reality Competion Program Is ...

The Voice. I mean, really it’s American Ninja Warrior, but according to the Emmys it’s The Voice.

Jill Soloway: 'Topple the Patriarchy!'

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“Topple the patriarchy. Topple the patriarchy!”

That was Transparent’s Jill Soloway’s closing call when accepting the award for Best Directing in a Comedy Series, the culmination of an unapologetically progressive speech. She had marveled at having the freedom to make a show about “unlikeable Jewish people” and other marginalized groups: “[Take] women, people of color, trans people, and put them at the center of the story,” and “you change the world, we found out.” She also thanked the trans community for its “lived lives,” and shouted out Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Kimmel was quick with a follow-up. “I’m trying to figure out if topple the patriarchy is a good thing for me or not?” he said, seeming to conclude “no.” He also had a crack ready about Transparent’s awards category: “Transparent was born a drama, but it identifies as a comedy.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Wants to Build a Wall

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Or, rebuild one, actually.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her eighth Emmy—this time for her role as Selina Meyer on HBO’s Veep.  “I’d ... like to take this opportunity to personally apologize for the current political climate,” she said in her acceptance speech. “I think Veep has torn down the wall between comedy and politics. Our show started out as a political satire but now it feels more like a sobering documentary. So I certainly hope to rebuild that wall … and make Mexico pay for it.”

After the laughter faded, she said she wanted to dedicate her win for best lead actress in a comedy series to her father, who died on Friday (prompting a chorus of “awww”s from the crowd). “I”m so glad that he liked Veep,” Louis-Dreyfus said, her left hand and her voice shaking as she spoke. “Because his opinion was the one that really mattered.”

Jeb(!) Drives Jimmy In

Perhaps Jeb Bush skipped the Republican National Convention simply to prepare for the Emmys. The highlight of the show’s kick-off skit—which had host Jimmy Kimmel in the back seat of a white Bronco, carpooling with the Dunphys of Modern Family, performing some Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, and riding a dragon with Daenerys Targaryen—came when the the former Florida governor revealed himself to be a driver in the motorcade for Veep’s Selena Meyers. He’s between jobs, obviously. “If you run a positive campaign, the voters will ultimately make the right choice,” he counseled the show’s host. “… Jimmy, that was a joke, get out of the car.” Then he and his Jeb! bumper sticker sped away.

Kimmel’s concise, nicely irreverent opening monologue also carried a tinge of politics. “If it wasn’t for television, would Donald Trump be running for president right now?,” he asked, going on to make an extended rant against reality-TV production kingpin Mark Burnett for having greenlit The Apprentice. Kimmel also pointed out that the Emmys nominated class are particularly diverse this year, and if there’s one thing Hollywood likes more than diversity it’s bragging about it.

As for the awards themselves, Kimmel opened by acknowledging the air of inevitability surrounding most of the night’s big prizes. He handed a statuette to Jeffrey Tambor just to save everyone time later, and then told the room, “if your show doesn’t have a dragon or a white Bronco in it, go home now.”

An Emmy for Kate McKinnon!

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The Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters star took her first Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy for her ensemble role on SNL. Visibly emotional, she thanked “the Academy,” Lorne Michaels, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, her mother, her sister, and her father, “who’s not with me anymore, but he made me start watching SNL when I was 12.” Lucky for us he did.

"They Have 'The Godfather' ... We Have Long Duk Dong"

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The Emmy for Best Writing for a Comedy Series went to Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari for their beautiful Master of None episode “Parents.” It’s perhaps no surprise that Yang took the moment to thank his own parents, who served as inspiration for the episode. He also pointed out that there are 17 million Asian Americans in the U.S and 17 million Italian Americans. “They have The Godfather, Rocky, Goodfellas, The Sopranos … We have Long Duk Dong,” he said, referring to the stereotypical Sixteen Candles character. Yang acknowledged that Asian Americans have a ways to go to in terms of representation in pop culture, but he was hopeful. "Asian parents, if just a couple of you get your kids cameras instead of violins, we'll be all good," Yang said.

(Aziz Ansari got played off by the music before he could say anything, which he handled—hilariously—by running around wildly.)

The First Award of the Night Goes to...

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Louie Anderson, for his role as best supporting actor in a comedy playing Zach Galifianakis’s mother on FX’s Baskets. It’s not only his first Emmy, but his first nomination.

“I’ve not always been a very good man but I played one hell of a woman,” Anderson said, dedicating it to his mother, from whom he “stole” every look. Earlier, Jimmy Kimmel ribbed Anderson in the intro to the show, saying, “It’s very hard [in Hollywood] to find an actress over 50 who needs a part, so it went to Louie.”

The Marcia Clarks Are Here

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Early on in his monologue, Jimmy Kimmel pointed out “the winner of tonight’s plus-one contest”: The actor Sarah Paulson, who brought as her date to the Emmys the woman she had portrayed in FX’s The People vs. O.J. Simpson: Marcia Clark.

ABC’s camera panned to the Hollywood-meta pair, each of them shining in sequined gowns.

And Kimmel, of course, knew Clark would be there; he was ready with the predictable jokes.

Like (to Paulson): “Because everyone in L.A. knows, if you want to win, sit next to Marcia Clark.”

And (to Clark): “This must be very strange for you, right? I mean, are you rooting for O.J. to win this time?”

Clark laughed at that. And despite the jokes, and perhaps even because of them, it was a powerful little moment. One of the sub-themes of The People vs. O.J. Simpson was the abuse—sexist, looksist—that Clark received at the hands of the American media and, by extension, the American public in the course of simply trying to do her job. And here she is again, via the American media—attending one of Hollywood’s biggest awards shows, shimmering and laughing and in, finally, on the joke.

Matt LeBlanc Insults a Khaleesi

Q: How YOU doin’?

A: Feeling extremely awkward, actually.

Part of this year’s E! red carpet shenanigans involve the hosts throwing to each other while they’re with a different celebrity. The interviewers—and the two celebrities—banter from across the red carpet, the idea being, apparently, to increase the star power onscreen at any moment. And also because banter!

It was all working fine, until the show’s producers paired Game of Thrones’s Emilia Clarke with one Matt LeBlanc, formerly of Friends and currently of the CBS sitcom Man With a Plan. Clarke, E!’s Jason Kennedy informed LeBlanc, is a Friends super-fan; he asked his interviewee whether LeBlanc returned the favor as a fan of Game of Thrones.

LeBlanc replied that he “saw the first season and then kind of fell out of touch with it.” And then he added: “And I guess that’s when she started getting naked. So I need to catch up.”

Ohhhh, Joey, no. You might not have spent time among the Dothraki, but a good rule of thumb is: Probably don’t make weird I’d-like-to-see-her-naked jokes about the Mother of Dragons.

Anyhow, at that point Kennedy threw back to Giuliana Rancic, there on the red carpet—there the whole time—with Clarke. Rancic asked Clarke about her fandom of Friends and of Joey Tribiani. Clarke replied: “I don’t remember him getting naked, though, which is, you know...” she trailed off, rolling her eyes.  

“Well, maybe there’s an old outtake or something we can dig up,” Rancic said.

And then E! let Clarke have the last word: “Indeed.”

Matching Tattoos on the Red Carpet

Sophie Turner—whom you might know better as Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones—spent some of her time on the E! red carpet discussing, as is the tradition, her outfit. “I’m wearing Valentino,” she told Giuliana Rancic, “and Forevermark, and Louboutin. I’ve got to name all of them, otherwise they won’t lend to me again,” Turner said, simultaneously making a joke and revealing a profound truth about Hollywood capitalism.

But then the conversation turned to another of Turner’s accessories: The actor, she revealed, had just gotten a tattoo with her fellow actor, and also her BFF, Maisie Williams (Arya Stark, in GoT-land). The tattoos match: Each one features the date the women found out that they’d gotten their life-changing roles on Game of Thrones. (Turner’s is peach—because, as she put it, “my mom was like, ‘Make sure it doesn’t show up.’”)

“We got them together just the other day,” Turner told Rancic. “It’s still a bit crusty; it’s not very nice.”

The tattoos were part of an old pact the actors had made at the outset—that they’d find ways to celebrate their characters’ survival on Game of Thrones. But since, in a show that revels in surprising its audiences, everyone’s future is uncertain, the pair decided to get the tattoos now, Turner said. “We don’t know if we’re going to make it, so Maisie and I were like, ‘Okay, let’s get these ones before anyone kills us.’”

Seinfeld Doesn't Watch 'Seinfeld'


You know what show Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t watch? Seinfeld. On the red carpet, E!’s Giuliana Rancic asked the comedian—nominated for his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee—whether, late at night, he flips through the channels and watches his ‘90s self and his antics.

No, Seinfeld replied, emphatically. "Do you ever pull out your high school yearbook,” he asked, “and say, 'Hey, let me relive those four years. that was great’?”

"No. Never,” Rancic replied.

"Never. Once you do something,” Seinfeld said, "you do it.”

But then he paused. “I mean, I love the show, he said. "Sometimes I’ll watch, I’ll watch like 20 seconds. You know. But I do love the show, but when you’re really really in something, you kind of have to let it go.”

Or, put another way: You dip the chip. You take a bite. And you do not dip again.