It happened. You did it. You've finally won an Emmy. And as the camera pans to your face, awe-stricken as you stand from your auditorium seat and manage your way to the stage, trembling all the while, many a thought zooms through your head: "Now's my time," you say to yourself. "Now's my time to pour out all the thoughts I've been bottling up since I first decided to get into show business as a way of sticking it to everyone I went to high school with. Now's my time of gushing sentimentally on the support of my grandparents, and preaching emphatically on whatever international crisis everybody seems to be ignoring. Now's my time to say everything I've always wanted to say!" Well, no. It's not. You can't do that.
Correction: you can do that (until they yank you off the stage with the musical interlude version of a hook-cane). But you shouldn't. It makes for bad television. See, there are very specific components that go into a halfway decent Emmy's speech. You need a bit of humor. You need a bit of schmaltz. And if the mood strikes, a political maxim can find its way into your delivery. And no need to worry if you don't actually have any genuine thoughts of your own to make up a speech — there are enough scattered pieces out there to comprise a whole new sermon with which to address your esteemed small screen peers. Individual great moments that, together, with their distinct styles and sensibilities, might just form the greatest Emmy acceptance speech of all time.
You've got to start off with something humble. An introduction that will assure the audience that you haven't quite let this glory go to your head just yet (even though you most certainly will have... it's an Emmy! The popular clique was wrong about you!). Something along the lines of Robert Guillaume's 1985 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy series win for Benson.
"I'd like to thank Bill Cosby for not being here."
After a spirited laugh from the audience (what are they gonna do, not crack up obligatorily?), you can move on to something a bit more grounded. A meaningful tribute to the parents that encouraged you to follow your dreams — but don't use the humor just yet! A 2008 Tina Fey, after having just snagged the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Award for 30 Rock, balanced the funny with the moving in her expression of gratitude to her mother and father.
"I want to thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate with my looks and abilities. Well done."
Following this, you're going to have to drive down the mood a bit. Not too heavy yet, just a bit sweeter and more sincere. A good focal point for this kind of ambiance would be a significant other — it works especially well if you're romantic life has been the subject of many a headline, so try and strive for that. Oprah Winfrey mastered the feat with her Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech in 1998 (yes, yes, this was a Daytime Emmy Award... but come on. It's Oprah!), when the icon poured her heart out to longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham.
"You're the sweetest man. With the greatest integrity. Thank you for helping to be everything I am, and all that is to come."
Then comes the real power of the speech. Your opportunity to shock and awe with a bombastic statement about the world and its follies, a challenge to the human race to be better. You're an Emmy winner now. You're the right person to point out the problems with society. And the great Sally Field — who corners the market on acceptance speeches of all kinds (Emmy, Oscar... she must have torn down the house after her "Best Dressed: Class of '64" win at Birmingham High School) — can give you a lesson. In 2007, Field nabbed Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Brothers and Sisters, delivering a heartrending diatribe that capped with a fervent declaration.
"If the mothers ruled the world, there would be no g******ed wars in the first place!"
And in flow the cheers. The applause should last for quite a while, so you'll have a few seconds to kill. Now, there are two ways to handle this. You can stand with dignity, nodding and welling up, beaming with delight over your victory and celebrating the opportunity to express this message... or you can do something more fun. Something along the lines of what Steve Carell did at the 2007 Awards, when he accepted the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series on behalf of Ricky Gervais for the latter's starring role on Extras. Carell and awards presenters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (old friends and collaborators of Carell's from his The Daily Show days) devised a most vivid visual depiction of joy... even though none of them had actually won anything.
Following this, you'll have the room's energy up to 11, and just the right blend of lightheartedness and sincerity to deliver your ka-pow moment. You know, the real drive-it-home, I'm-the-greatest, look-at-me-now-Dad exclamation of your newly achieved glory. In this category, you should look to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who had solidified her defeat over the dreaded "Seinfeld curse" that was said to follow her and all of her fellow former cast members after the conclusion of their hit show. In 2006, Louis-Dreyfus took home the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Award for The New Adventures of Old Christine, driving home one hell of a ka-pow with her speech.
“I'm not somebody who really believes in curses... but curse this, baby!"
Finally, it's about time to wrap up, and nothing stays with an audience better than one last laugh. A mean-spirited jab at your less-than-victorious opponents? A snarky bit of social commentary about the sitting president? The one about the priest and the rabbi? No. This one has to remind them that you're still on Earth with the rest of us. An undercut of this achievement you know to be well beyond anything that anyone else has ever earned. A take-down of your own spotlit swagger. Some good old fashioned self-deprecating humor. And there are few who top the great Larry David when it comes to this art form. The 1992 Emmy Awards offered David a platform for his patented self-directed mockery. Even after winning Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for Seinfeld's memorable fourth season episode "The Contest," David wasn't able to steer his mind away from his own personal shortcomings.
“This is all very well and good, but I'm still bald."
Boom. Mic drop. Off the stage. You're done here. Your 15 minutes (contracted into about 90 seconds, give or take) are over, but if you follow this guidelines, you'll have made it through like a champ. You'll be able to hold onto the fact that you delivered what might well be the greatest Emmys acceptance speech of all time. And who cares if you won for Reality Competition Program? An Emmy's an Emmy! Mazel tov — you've showed 'em all!
[Photo Credit: WENN, Vince Bucci/Getty Images]
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How do you end a great TV show? It’s a question as old as TV itself. You take a show that’s been on several years and has garnered a strong fan base, and the series finale’s caliber could determine how the entire series is remembered. Every fan has his or her own interpretation of how the end should come and as a writer; you have to try to at least appease everyone. With perennial fan favorite Chuck wrapping up this week, rather than give you guys the tried and tiresome “best finales ever,” I’d rather showcase the finales that for better or for worse have divided fans of the show for as long as they’ve been gone. Some of them we might have even changed our minds on over the years, and some will continue to confound for eternity.
Seinfeld, “The Finale;” May 14, 1998 In just nine years time – from 1989 to 1998 – Seinfeld went from a show that was, at best, a blip on the radar, to a cultural phenomenon. So, when Jerry Seinfeld announced that the ninth season would be the last, the actual shooting of the series’ last episode was overhyped to the Nth degree. Anyone who got the chance to attend the taping had to sign a confidentiality agreement. The media were shut out as well, and speculation as to how the “show about nothing” would end rose to a fever pitch. Would Jerry and Elaine finally realize they’re made for each other? Would George die? Would Kramer traverse the globe, “Kung-Fu” style? None of the above happened, and instead, what fans actually got was a clip show. Now, I love Seinfeld as much as the next guy, but the first time I saw the finale, I was slightly cheesed. I don’t think I need to summarize the events of how the fab four were put on trial, and a cavalcade of characters from the show’s history came back as witnesses for the prosecutors. Looking back, sadly there was really no other way to end the series that could have done it justice. Jerry and Elaine marrying? On a show that featured not one iota of sentimentality? Not going to happen. The last hour might not be Seinfeld’s best, but plenty of shows have found worse ways to end. Read on true believers. St. Elsewhere, “The Last One;” May 28, 1988 The characters and events that happened at St. Eligius Hospital during St. Elsewhere’s run helped forge the path of the hospital drama in years to come. In the early- to mid-eighties, plenty of some of today’s most respected actors and actresses strolled through the teaching hospital in Boston, most notably Ed Begley, Jr., Helen Hunt, Howie Mandel, and Denzel Washington. Yet, the series-ender is still one of the most argued about in TV history. Besides paying homage to other famous finales like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, M*A*S*H, and The Andy Griffith Show, in the final scene, the camera pulls back revealing snow falling on the hospital, and the scene changes to the son of Ed Flanders’ Dr. Donald Westphall: Tommy who has Autism. Tommy is playing with a snow globe when his dad, who now is wearing a construction uniform strolls into the room pondering what goes on inside Tommy’s head. Inside Tommy’s snow globe is a replica of St. Elgius. With that reveal, it has been debated ever since if the entire series took place inside the mind of a boy with Autism – I’d cue the Lost “whah” sound, but it’s about 18 years too soon…or is it?
The Sopranos, “Made in America;” June 10, 2007 If you want to talk about a divisive series finale, there aren’t many that get bolder and brasher than the finale of David Chase’s epic mob story. I am sure that millions of people inundated their cable providers with calls wondering if their cable went out, because there is no way a series that reinvigorated cable TV could end that abruptly. With Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” pumping and the members of the family, sans Meadow (who evidently cannot parallel park), sitting down to eat, the tension was rising to a crescendo and then – nothing. While the finale was a waste of everyone’s time, albeit a well-written waste of everyone’s time, the last few seasons were a waste of my time. With a mob war being teased for nearly two-and-a-half seasons that finally culminated in just one episode – the penultimate “Blue Comet” – we were privy to the nothing-out-of-the-ordinary-happened-in-the-life-of-Tony-Soprano kind of ending, which would have been acceptable if we got a better resolution to the DiMeo/Lupertazzi crime war. If you want the real end to The Sopranos, look no further than the trilogy of episodes that ended the fifth season: “The Test Dream,” “Long Term Parking,” and “All Due Respect.” These episodes recapped all of Tony’s fears that his cousin, Tony B., would spark a mob war; the emotional murder of Adrianna; and Tony finishing a job that he should have finished a long time ago. Even the final image of “All Due Respect” would have served as better lasting image than ten seconds of a black screen: Tony emerging from the woods unscathed. The X-Files, “The Truth, Parts 1 & 2;” May 19, 2002 Speaking of shows that overstayed their welcome, The X-Files was originally conceived as five- to six-season series that would culminate with a movie. But we all know that television is a big business and at the time, not many shows were bigger business than the conspiracy laden X-Files. And just like our first entry on this list, The X-Files ended with a trial. Fox Mulder was out on trial for the murder of Knowle Roher, but his guilt was impossible because Rohrer was transformed into an alien Super Soldier. Despite Scully’s autopsy, which concluded that the body was not Roher’s, Mulder is sentenced to death for the murder of a military officer. The story would conclude with Mulder’s escape and he and Scully fleeing to New Mexico to meet with the Cigarette Smoking Man, who details the end of society as we know it and the colonization of Earth, which will begin on Dec. 22, 2012 (mark your calendars people). The finale was more of a pilot for a series of movies than it was a fitting end for a show that many people considered revolutionary. It is credited with igniting the serial drama movement. Anyone who has dared to sit through the second X-Files film, I Want to Believe, knows whole-heartedly creator Chris Carter lost the controls of this train a long time ago, leaving fans scratching their heads, wondering if there will ever be a true conclusion to one of the best TV shows of all time. That '70s Show, “Love of My Life”/That 70’s Finale;” May 18th 2006 With stars Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher either gone completely or barely there, That '70s Show was forced to forge ahead without them in the eighth and final season, although Kutcher’s Kelso would make a few appearances. The finale season was pretty bad compared to the first seven; it was clear that Josh Meyers’ Randy Pearson was not a suitable replacement for series' star, Topher Grace. And the finale proved that deficiency, exemplified by the fact that Randy doesn’t even appear in Part Two of the episode. Like any show in which a main character leaves, the finale seams anticlimactic. The amount of the two-part episode that centered upon Eric’s return from Africa just proved how integral the character was to the lives of the other characters. It’s just too bad Eric’s return took place in the last five minutes of the show. As for the rest of the humdrum finale, Red and Kitty are contemplating moving to Florida, Jackie contemplates actually being with Fez, and – dare I say it – proverbial pothead Hyde contemplates giving up the grass. For a series so well-received to end so dully was just a crime and proof positive that money-be-damned, networks need to know when to end their series.
Roseanne, “Into That Good Night;” May 20, 1997 This finale was not just a head-scratcher of an episode capping off a head-scratcher of a season, but a horrible way to end nine seasons of a mostly great sitcom. Roseanne was a show that was hallowed as being a fairly realistic look at the lower middle-class way of life. While every other late eighties sitcom family was one of privilege, like the Huxtables (The Cosby Show), or just too damn perfect looking, like the Seavers (Growing Pains), the Conners were a family just like yours. They were struggling to pay bills, parent their children, lose excess weight, and deal with kids all jockeying for their favor while finding their own places in the world. The series was a stark contrast to the sitcoms of its time and often played more like a serial comedic drama than a sitcom. The ninth season was in conflict with everything Roseanne was about, and had plenty of outrageous and unrealistic moments due to the Conners winning the lottery. However, Dan’s affair and the heartwarming episode, “The Miracle,” in which Darlene’s baby is born, would serve as shots of realism that the show was known for. But by the time the series finale aired, we would all learn the truth: the entire series was a memoir that Roseanne Conner was writing about her life and she changed the parts that she didn’t like. The Conners had never won the lottery; Jackie was gay as opposed to her mother, Bev; Mark & Darlene and David & Becky were really the Conner-Healy couples. It was definitely a strange way to end a series, saying many of the things we knew to be true were either sort of true or not true at all. For that reason, “Into That Good Night” remains one of the oddest sitcom finales ever. Lost, “The End, Parts 1 & 2;” May 23, 2010 Way back in the first season of the new millennium’s first truly can’t-miss TV series, many fans had surmised that the Island was actually purgatory for our crash survivors. I bet those fans felt vindicated and cheated at the same time while watching “The End.” They may have felt vindicated because while they were wrong about the Island being purgatory, the “flash-sideways” world was a close second to their original hypothesis. They could have felt cheated because nearly every unanswered question was still left unanswered in favor of a more character-driven two and half-hour conclusion. For a series so hell-bent on piling on the questions its habit of deftly, if not sparingly, dishing out answers angered many fans – "The End" is no exception. So, here’s my theory on what happened: Creators J.J. Abrams, Carlton Cuse, and Damon Lindeloff had a grandiose vision for a series. Their TV series would incorporate all kinds of pop culture, literal, and biblical references. Then it dawned on them that concluding a series this saturated with mystery and mythology would not be able to be done in a way that could truly explain everything, and decided to focus more on the characters themselves than silly numbers, button pushing, Others, or Waaaaalt. Six Feet Under, “Everyone’s Waiting;” August 21, 2005 I know that this column is highlighting some of the most divisive series finales ever, but how could we not include a series finale that is hands-down, universally accepted as perfect. For five years, Six Feet Under was one of HBO’s if not all of TV’s boldest series, tackling the reality of death, amongst many other taboo subjects. With eldest son, Nate, dying at the end of the very excellent episode, “Ecotone,” the series would have to carry on without him for a few more episodes, although he would occasionally pop up in the minds of his family members. Even though it was the perfect way to end the series, “Everyone’s Waiting” was still a hard sell, every character dies at the end, and not in a Lost kind of way, they all actually bite the big one in a heartbreaking montage of life and death set to Sia’s equally moving song, “Breath Me.” Speaking of emotional, according to TVLine.com, Chuck’s creator, Josh Schwartz, predicts that there will be “very few dry eyes…I think every Chuck fan is going to be very satisfied,” when the series ends its five-season run on NBC tonight. Tonight may prove Schwartz right, and I hope everyone enjoys the finale. As always you can follow me on twitter @CouchForceOne.
The casts of most successful television series typically operate on an eight-month schedule, spending the remaining four months of the year on "hiatus" — or what's commonly referred to by those outside of Hollywood as "vacation." More prominent TV stars, like 30 Rock's Tina Fey and The Office's Steve Carell, like to use the downtime to cash in on their small-screen notoriety with lucrative film projects. Their recent collaboration, Date Night, debuts in theaters this week, and while we can't tell you if it's good or not (yes we can: it's not), history tells us that hiatus projects invariably suck. Monumentally. Here are some of the worst hiatus hacks in recent memory:
Kutcher made the most of his hiatus time while on That ‘70s Show, churning out lowbrow titles like Dude, Where’s My Car? and My Boss’s Daughter before leaving the show in 2006 to focus on making crap full-time. To date, not one of Kutcher’s films has been certified Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, giving him an astounding 0% rating for his big screen career. Bravo, Ashton!
As the weakest link in the Friends ensemble, LeBlanc should have spent his downtime repaying the gods for his cosmic good fortune. But instead of volunteering at homeless shelters or building houses in Ecuador, he spat in karma’s face with movies like Ed, in which he managed to get upstaged by a chimpanzee.
If Entourage has taught us anything, it’s that a little bit of the Piv goes a long way. As agent Ari Gold, Piven is the most enjoyable part of the show’s acclaimed ensemble, but his shtick quickly wears thin when translated to feature films, as the six of you who saw The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard are no doubt painfully aware.
See Piven, Jeremy.
When he isn’t thwarting terrorists on TV’s 24, Sutherland likes to terrorize moviegoers, dropping bombs like Mirrors and Taking Lives on on the multiplex.
The temperamental Grey’s Anatomy star finally parted ways with the hit medical drama last month, but she might want to avoid burning that bridge entirely, as recent hiatus projects 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth have fueled growing suspicion that 2007's Knocked Up was merely an aberration in a string of bad movies that dates back to 1998's Bride of Chucky.
Chuck’s famously devoted fans have one more reason to pray that NBC doesn’t cancel their beloved show: Untethered to a busy sitcom shooting schedule, star Levi will have much more time on his hands for dreck like Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
2004’s overrated Garden State notwithstanding, Braff’s film record during his Scrubs tenure has been decidedly mediocre. His last effort, The Ex, grossed a whopping $3.1 million in 2007 — roughly equivalent to Braff's salary for nine episodes of work on his soon-to-be-canceled show.
Grammer earned five Emmies for his stellar work on TV’s Frasier, but big-screen accolades proved considerably more elusive, thanks to ill-chosen hiatus projects like Down Periscope and 15 Minutes.
When not being browbeaten by Phylicia Rashad on The Cosby Show or shilling pudding to America's youth, Cosby made a pair of monumental flops, Leonard Part 6 and Ghost Dad. The former of which scored a rare trifecta at the 1988 Razzie awards, winning for Worst Film, Worst Actor, and Worst Screenplay.
The actor joined state Governor Ed Rendell and education leaders at the packed rally in Harrisburg's Capitol Rotunda, where he spoke of the need to financially support government-funded schools.
He began his speech with the heart-felt battle cry, "No more cuts!" before telling the crowd, "Ladies and gentlemen, is it that we don't like children? I mean, what did these people ever do to you that you want to cut? They're moving on a course that is very, very favourable. Why would you want to take money from the success story and pull back on it so that they will start to enter prison?.
The Cosby Show star argued that public education can help keep young people off the streets, insisting it costs taxpayers less than $5,000 ($3,300) a year to educate a child but $33,000 (£22,000) a year to incarcerate someone.
Government officials in Pennsylvania, Cosby's home state, are currently debating cutting back on school funding as they review a new budget.