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Emmys Honor 'Modern Family,' 'Mad Men' and 'Wack Excellence'

Lonely Island performance steals the 63rd annual telecast while awards go to comedy and drama stalwarts

September 19, 2011 12:35 PM ET
Lonely island emmys los angelos 63rd
The Lonely Island performs during the 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Leave it to the Lonely Island guys to turn an Emmy loss into one of the most entertaining moments of the evening.

Even though Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer were beaten by their good friend Justin Timberlake for the Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics Emmy (the award went to JT's song-monologue from when the singer hosted Saturday Night Live in May), that didn't stop them from providing one of the musical highlights from last night's 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast.

The comedy team, along with some special guests, performed a spirited medley of its three nominated songs, all of which have appeared in SNL Digital Shorts. Michael Bolton and Akon reprised their featured spots on "Jack Sparrow" and "I Just Had Sex," respectively – with Bolton setting a new world speed record for swapping out a tux for Johnny Depp's pirate look (crooked mustache notwithstanding). For "3-Way (The Golden Rule)," Ed Helms and John Stamos stood in for Timberlake and Samberg, complete with oversize gray suits, mustard-colored shirts, gold chains and teased hair, while a bewigged Maya Rudolph subbed for Lady Gaga. But the most popular cameo had to be William H. Macy, who was the subject of the newly inserted line "If you're feeling racy, freak Bill Macy!" The Shameless actor was only mildly perturbed at being dry humped by the Lonely Island from his seat, and quickly pulled out two American flags when the lyrics inexplicably segued into a "U.S.A! U.S.A!" chant.

The freakishly hilarious performance (giving birth to the phrase "wack excellence") certainly left an impression on current Rolling Stone cover subject Jon Stewart: While accepting his ninth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, he expressed regret at his decision to bring his children (ages seven and five) out to the Emmys, thanks to the Lonely Island: "I have a lot of explaining to do [to my kids] ... I hope they're on Club Penguin right now."

Aside from the Lonely Island extravaganza, this year's Emmys telecast fell flat when it came to production numbers, which was disappointing considering host Jane Lynch's broad comedic talents. The pre-taped opening performance, which had Lynch singing a generic tune about how awesome television is while visiting various TV universes (Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter's apartment, the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices), attempted to capitalize on last year's Glee-esque, star-studded rendition of "Born to Run." But the only things this sequence had going for it were a dancing Ari Gold and Lloyd – and Lynch flirting with a surprisingly receptive Peggy Olson (sorry, Joyce!).  Having Lynch toss a slushie at herself (as Sue Sylvester) seemed tired and overdone.

When it came time to dole out awards, they went to shows like Modern Family, which swept the comedy categories. The mockumentary-style sitcom picked up Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress (onscreen husband and wife Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen – with Bowen beating out last year's Supporting Actress winner, Lynch), as well as Outstanding Comedy Series for the second year in a row. Bridesmaids scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy won her first Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress for Mike & Molly and didn't even try to hide her elation: "I'm from Plainfield, Illinois, and I'm standing here and it's kind of amazing!" Jim Parsons grabbed his second Lead Actor Emmy for his portrayal of socially inept physicist Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.

The race was more heated in the drama categories, with underdog Friday Night Lights proving itself a worthy opponent to behemoths Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. The much-beloved canceled series scored two major awards, for Outstanding Writing, and, to the absolute delight of the cast of the new Charlie's Angels (who presented the award with Drew Barrymore), Coach Taylor himself, Kyle Chandler, won the Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy. In one of the more humorous  speeches of the night, Peter Dinklage, who picked up an Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy for his performance as the cunning, debauched Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones, thanked his dog sitter, Kitty, before mentioning his fellow nominees – or his wife. But despite its losses in the acting/writing/directing categories, and the fact that a new episode hasn't aired in almost a year, the OG of dramatized 1960s chic, Mad Men, still managed to hold on to its place as one of the best shows on television, winning the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy for the fourth year in a row.

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