The Primetime Emmy Awards ceremonies are not exactly known for having memorable hosts ([don’t] see 2008’s five-headed hosting monster or, even worse, the no-host experiments) the way the Academy Awards show is, but when the hosts have been great, so have the telecasts -- and those few hosts should be inducted into the nonexistent Emmy-Host Hall of Fame. Here are our picks.
Years Hosted: 2001, 2005 (co-hosted in 1994)
Other Notable Hosting Gigs: Academy Awards
It’s not necessarily how great she was that landed her a spot on this list. No – Ellen, it could be said, hasn’t even been perfect. But it’s worth noting the dates of her two Emmy-hosting turns: Nov. 4, 2001 (a few months after 9/11), and Sept. 18, 2005 (a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina). On both occasions, DeGeneres, quite impressively, navigated the rocky terrain of hosting a self-celebrating TV awards ceremony shortly after a national tragedy. She didn’t pretend the former was comparatively important, and she didn’t attempt to take anybody’s mind off the latter. What she did do, both times, in some tiny way, for a few short minutes, was help everyone simply take a collective deep breath – and that’s priceless during such times. The following line from her first Emmys gig best sums it all up: “What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?”
Years Hosted: 2002, 2006 (co-hosted in 2003)
Other Notable Hosting Gigs: None
Not that his 2002 ceremony was a failure, but by 2006, Conan was in a comfortable creative groove, and it showed when he hosted the Emmys. The then-Late Night star was at his self-deprecating – and network-deprecating – best, hurling dry, offbeat zingers that stayed true to his strengths as a comedian. Which might explain the near record-low ratings. Still, though, viewership for a one-off like that says nothing of the host’s success.
Neil Patrick Harris
Year Hosted: 2009
Other Notable Hosting Gigs: Tony Awards
Harris is a natural born host – no matter the event or the medium. Affable, extremely talented, appealing to most everyone, and up for (and capable of) anything thrown his way, NPH is the dream modern-day host. The How I Met Your Mother star might’ve been more in his theatrical element hosting the Tonys, but he has never been better than during his one gig emceeing the Emmys, in ’09. Granted, he followed the failed experiment that was the five-host ceremony a year earlier, but even if Harris had taken over for Johnny Carson, he would’ve been great. Speaking of Carson…
Years Hosted: 1971-1974 (co-hosted in 1963)
Other Notable Hosting Gigs: Academy Awards
Nobody did it like Johnny – and that cliché’s not just applicable to Carson’s days, er, nights as host of The Tonight Show. During his heyday, the King of Late Night transitioned seamlessly into one of primetime TV’s biggest annual events, and he was so good, so characteristically flawless, that he presided over four consecutive Emmy ceremonies in the early 1970s. The same utter perfection led to a similar tenure as host of the Oscars in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
Honorable Mention: Jimmy Fallon
He’s always been hit-or-miss, love-him-or-hate-him, but even non-Fallon fans had to be impressed with his elaborate musical numbers and sketches as host of last year’s show. (He’s only an “Honorable Mention” because the Hall of Fame rules mandate at least one year must pass before a host is eligible for induction.)
Both Shaun White and Larry King chatted it up with Conan O'Brien last night, discussing everything from new jeans to video games. Then Larry took over and started to ask Shawn the questions, and naturally, Conan got a little bit jealous.
Dana Carvey stopped by The Tonight Show and told Jay Leno that he wants to start his own talk show (are you listening, network executives?) and did an impersonation of pretty much everyone ever -- from Johnny Carson to yes, Jay Leno.
Craig Ferguson delivered his monologue about the recent issues with Keith Olbermann over at MSNBC. But that's alright -- according to Ferguson, only old people watch CBS, so no one would be offended.
Top Story: Actor Patric Arrested on Intoxication Charge
Jason Patric, star of the upcoming The Alamo and films such as The Lost Boys and Speed 2: Cruise Control, was arrested in Austin, Texas, on misdemeanor public intoxication charges, The Associated Press reports. According to police, Patric, 37, was with a group of people standing in a downtown street about 3 a.m. when they were asked by officers to move. The actor moved slowly toward the sidewalk, but then took an aggressive stance, police told AP, and when they tried to arrest him, he resisted and shoved an officer. The arrest warrant says Patric insisted he was not drunk and that officers should test him, but no test was administered. Patric's publicist, Michelle Bega, said in a statement that the actor "believes he has done nothing wrong. He hopes for a rapid resolution to clear his name," AP reports.
Jackson Says Breast Incident Was Unplanned
In her first television interview since her sensational Super Bowl stint, Janet Jackson appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman Monday and insisted the breast exposure "was an accident." The singer, wearing a revealing red dress, was on the show to promote her new album Damita Jo, due in stores Tuesday. Censors bleeped the singer when she exclaimed "Jesus!" in response to Letterman's bringing up the topic. She went on to say, "It truly was an accident. It was very embarrassing for me to have so many people see this little breast," Jackson said. "It was supposed to kind of happen like that, but I wasn't supposed to come out of it the way I did." When asked if she and stint cohort Justin Timberlake were still friends, she responded, "at some point, he and I need to talk."
Veteran Broadcaster Cooke Dies
Broadcasting icon Alistair Cooke, best known for his long-running BBC radio series Letter from America and for hosting the PBS series Masterpiece Theater, died in New York Tuesday from apparent natural causes. He was 95.
Studios, Independents Settle Screener Ban
Officially putting an end to a legal battle that sparked much controversy in the entertainment industry late last year, Hollywood's major studios, led by the Motion Picture Association of America, and a coalition of independent filmmakers have settled a lawsuit over the use of videotape ("screener") copies to promote films vying for awards, Reuters reports. The battle erupted last September when MPAA members issued a ban on all screeners, citing piracy issues. Indie filmmakers, who consider screeners a helpful tool to get lesser-known films noticed by Academy voters, then filed suit, claiming the ban would bias voters toward big-budget films. Last December a federal judge in New York sided with the indies and effectively stopped the ban. Details of the agreement were not disclosed, according to a statement issued by the groups suing the studios. In a statement made Monday, the Motion Picture Association of America chief executive Jack Valenti said he was "pleased that we have put this matter behind us."
E.R. Actor Wounded by Father
Actor Keith Diamond, whose real name is Vincent Ford Jr. and who has made guest appearances on shows such as E.R. and The Drew Carey Show, was shot by his father Sunday while eating at his family kitchen table in Queens, New York, AP reports. He was visiting his parents from California when his father, Vincent Ford Sr., 81, allegedly walked in and shot him three times with a .32-caliber revolver, police told AP. The actor was taken to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition with face, chest and arm injuries. The elder Ford, a retired postal worker, was arraigned on charges of attempted murder, assault and weapons possession and did not enter a plea, AP reports.
Leno Cops $100 Mil
Late-night talk show host Jay Leno has signed a $100 million deal with NBC that will keep him on The Tonight Show through 2009, Reuters reports. Leno has been the undisputed ratings champ in late-night talk since the mid-1990s after taking the reins from Johnny Carson in 1992. The Tonight Show generates about $100 million in annual profits for NBC, according to a report in the February edition of Fortune magazine.
Reality TV Tackles Serious Subject
Reality TV guru Mark Burnett, producer of hits such as Survivor and The Apprentice, has set his sights on the very serious subject of abducted children. According to Variety, CBS has ordered episodes of Recovery, which will track a special team of experts in covert missions as they set out to find and rescue kidnapped youngsters. "The show is like Without a Trace, but it's with a kid who really has been taken," Burnett told Variety, referring to the CBS drama series about the FBI's missing persons unit. "There's nothing bigger than this. It's more than just television."
Role Call: Black Stomps Into King Kong, Aniston Makes a Gambit
Jack Black has been cast opposite Naomi Watts in director Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Black will play Carl Denham, an adventurer filmmaker who is trying to make a name for himself in 1930s New York. Robert Armstrong played the role in the 1933 original … Jennifer Aniston has signed on to star in Gambit, a remake of the 1966 British caper starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. The trade paper reports the film revolves around a British thief who comes up with a foolproof plan to steal an expensive statue from one of the richest men in the world. His strategy involves the participation of a beautiful woman (Aniston) who happens to be the spitting image of the rich man's late wife. Igby Goes Down's Burr Steers is set to write and direct.