An all-star cast of female Emmy nominees helped host Jimmy Kimmel open “The 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards” Sunday night on ABC.
The women — all but two of whom were wearing maroon, terry cloth bathrobes made especially for the Emmys — supported Kimmel in a comedy bit filmed in a women’s rest room, supposedly backstage at the Nokia Theatre in Hollywood, 20 minutes before the telecast.
The female stars — Zooey Deschanel, Christina Hendricks, Mindy Kaling, Martha Plimpton, Connie Britton, Kathy Bates, Ellen DeGeneres, Lena Dunham and Julia Louis-Dreyfus — were all on-hand to “help” Jimmy when he was having a crisis of confidence that had him refusing to go on-stage. His problem: Too much Botox in his forehead and collagen in his lips (created with makeup and prosthetics) had rendered him “too ugly” to go on.
So, when the female stars discovered Jimmy cowering on the floor of a bathroom stall next to a gleaming white toilet, they got together to knock some sense into him — by collectively “punching” his altered face back into shape. The two who weren’t wearing bathrobes: Dunham, who appeared nude (but pixellated), and DeGeneres, known for her mannish wardrobe, who loaned Jimmy a pair of pants so he could go on stage.
Jimmy was then seen taking the stage at the Nokia Theatre, where he launched into a comic monologue to officially open the live telecast. Among the topics and personalities he touched on: Jon Hamm, and his multiple Best Actor nominations for “Mad Men” without winning any in past Emmy ceremonies, Lena Dunham’s success with HBO’s “Girls” (her first TV show), the lack of Republicans in the audience (and in Hollywood generally), and Mitt Romney.
Of Romney, Kimmel quipped: “I will admit that ‘Downton Abbey’ is an amazing show. There’s so much meticulous attention to detail. It’s not the kind of show I typically watch, but it really gives you a sense of what it must have been like to grow up in Mitt Romney’s house!”
He also addressed the evening’s nominees, who filled the seats in the first few rows inside the theater. “Tonight, you will be asked to play your most challenging role yet,” he said solemnly, “that of an actor who is happy about the success of another actor!”
And, he added, “Let’s not forget that, in a way, all of you are winners tonight. But in a much more literal way, most of you will be losers!”
Our take: We enjoyed Jimmy’s monologue, in much the same way we like watching him on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” He has a relaxed, casual delivery that we find easy to take. But we weren’t so enamored of that elaborate opening bit in the bathroom. Call us old-fashioned, but we don’t think it was the best decision to open a big telecast such as this one, on the one evening every year when the TV industry puts its best foot forward, with the event’s host cowering on the floor of a public lavatory next to a toilet, and then getting pummelled. Also in questionable taste, it seemed to us: Lena Dunham appearing nude (but pixellated), since the explosion in such pixellated nudity lately on prime-time TV is something that’s been drawing a lot of complaints lately from watchdog groups (and others). We’re just sayin’ …
Meanwhile, the emphasis at this year’s Emmys was clearly on comedy — with whole categories of actors, actresses, directors and writers participating in various pre-taped comedy bits, such as the bit in which various nominated writers joked about writers’ block, and the bit in which “Modern Family” showrunner Steve Levitan was seen coaching the present-day Dustin Hoffman on how best to deliver the line, “Mrs. Robinson, I think you’re trying to seduce me,” from “The Graduate” — one of the most famous lines in movie history.
For Kimmel, this hosting gig was a great prime-time showcase. He even got to have security personnel come down the aisle of the theater to comically “eject” his own parents from the audience. There was even one “comedy” bit that played like a lengthy promo for Kimmel and his late-night show. This bit was styled as a spoof of the traditional awards-show “In Memoriam” sequence that honors the celebrities who died during the past year. But in introducing this “In Memoriam” segment, Jimmy said they wanted to do something a little different this year — honoring someone who is still with us.
The segment that followed was really an elaborate tribute to Jimmy. And you had to hand it to ABC brass for engineering this elaborate prime-time promotion for their own late-night star smack in the middle of the Emmy Awards, just a few months before he takes a leap forward to 11:35 p.m. in January.