Jimmy Kimmel’s status as a solid host is cemented after a show highlighted by surprise winners and emotional speeches.
In terms of both the broadcast and the winners themselves, the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards offered a study in contradictions.
How, for example, does an award show that starts by playing its very first winner — the marvelous Louie Anderson, whose well-deserved win was probably the first time millions of viewers learned Baskets existed — off the stage somehow end up finishing ahead of schedule?
Well, it helps that Ben Mendelsohn and Dame Maggie Smith weren’t there to collect their trophies, the latter triumph foretold so fully in host Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue that the reading of her name earned laughter from the crowd. Generally, though, the show suffered from confusing time management. Obviously with a show like this, you want to give yourself a cushion, which was why many early winners joined Anderson in being played off, including the production team from big winner The People v. O.J. Simpson and writing winner Aziz Ansari, who let co-winner Alan Yang go first. But then Matt Damon came out for a lengthy bit with longtime late-night nemesis Kimmel, a bit that both could have been trimmed, but also presumably would have been completely different if Kimmel hadn’t lost in the variety talk category. Nominee lists were raced through at breakneck speed, but then somehow there was time for clips representing the lead actor in a drama nominees, but not clips for the lead actress in a drama. By the point at which Larry David appeared to present the outstanding comedy prize with over 10 minutes left and only two remaining awards, you could sense he was being told to milk it a little and the Curb Your Enthusiasm star did, indeed, milk it.
Managing time on a live awards show may be one of the most difficult things to do in Hollywood — not to be confused with coal mining, brain surgery, teaching or countless other, harder jobs that people do outside of our bubble here — and producer Don Mischer left a lot of the wires visible in this telecast, trimming and stretching on the fly. He came in on time, though, so that counts as a win.