TV Eye

Emmy At Last

Emmy emcee Ellen DeGeneres struck a just-right balance between solemnity and humor at Sunday's awards ceremony
Emmy emcee Ellen DeGeneres struck a just-right balance between solemnity and humor at Sunday's awards ceremony

The show did go on. Postponed twice following the attacks of 9/11, this year's Emmy Awards ceremony was the most subdued presentation in recent memory. It was also the most efficient. Well, there were a few gaffs -- moments of dead space before commercial breaks, presenters unsure of where to exit. But those few missteps were forgivable given the fact that the original director left the show to attend to other obligations.

Emmy host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres receives high marks for bringing perfectly calibrated humor and solemnity to the event, which in lesser hands could have veered to uncomfortably crass humor or thick sentimentality. Her brightest moments were at the beginning of the show, where she managed to break the ice acknowledging the terrorist acts of 9/11, while taking friendly jabs at the television industry.

"They can't take away our creativity. ... Only network executives can do that." When the image of audience member and CBS exec Les Moonves was projected onto the large monitor behind her, DeGeneres launched into playful groveling and kissing-up. Moonves has the power to axe DeGeneres' sitcom, The Ellen Show, which isn't doing so well in the ratings.

There seemed to be a tacit agreement among presenters and award-winners not to mention by name the cause of the Emmy Awards postponement. DeGeneres was the only one who breached the "rule" when she referred to the Emmy Awards as one of the ultimate snubs to terrorist attempts to shut down U.S. resolve and humor:

"What would bug the Taliban more than to see a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?" The audience responded with an uproar of laughter and applause.

The West Wing took home the majority of the trophies, but no one show had a clean sweep -- though early leads suggested as much. Everybody Loves Raymond actresses Patricia Heaton and Doris Roberts both took home trophies for their lead and supporting actress roles in the CBS sitcom, but it was HBO's saucy Sex and the City that won the award for Best Comedy Series. The extraordinary James Gandolfini and Edie Falco won for their lead male and female roles in The Sopranos (HBO), but it was The West Wing that took the prize for Outstanding Drama Series. Emmy prognosticators thought it would be the year for Jane Kaczmarek and Malcolm in the Middle (Fox), yet she and her young co-star Frankie Muñiz did not win as expected. However, one of Malcolm's best episodes, "Bowling," won an Outstanding Directing award for Todd Holland and an Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series award for Alex Reid. The controversial but well acted "Employee of the Month" episode of The Sopranos, where Lorraine Bracco's Dr. Melfi is brutally raped, received Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.

In a virtual flip-flop from last year, NBC's Will & Grace won only one major award, with Eric McCormack picking up Best Lead Actor in a Comedy. Last year, cast mates Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally won awards for their supporting roles, and Will & Grace won Outstanding Comedy Series.


Fight Fan Alert

Jesus "El Matador" Chavez hoped the fight of his career would take place in his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, but fans can still witness his historic, 12-round match against super featherweight champion Floyd Mayweather on HBO this Saturday.

Chavez's story is the basis of Austin filmmaker Marcy Garriott's documentary, "Split Decision," and was the subject of an Austin Chronicle cover story earlier this year ("Fight of His Life: Boxer Jesus 'El Matador' Chavez and the Documentary He Inspired," Feb. 9, 2001, austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2001-02-09/screens_feature.html).

Mayweather enters the ring with a 26-0 record and 19 KOs. Chavez enters the ring with 31 consecutive wins. His record is 35-1 with 24 KOs.

Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, and George Foreman will preside ringside. The undercard bout brings together world junior featherweight champion Manny Pacquiao (33-2, 24 KOs) and Agapito Sanchez (33-7-1, 20 KOs).

The showdown airs live, Nov. 10, on HBO, from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, starting at 9:15pm.

A welcome home celebration honoring Chavez takes place in Austin on Nov. 14. The fundraising gala benefits Cine las Américas, the Latino film and media arts organization. Admission to the private cocktail party from 6:30-8:30pm is $75 per person; $20 for the general celebration from 8:30-11pm. An auction featuring Chavez collectibles begins at 8:45pm. All events take place at the Red Scoot Inn, 1308 E. Fourth. For more information and to purchase advance tickets, call 416-0986.


Diva TV

I've been tardy in offering high praise to my favorite new PBS series, Adventure Divas. Seattle-based filmmaker Holly Morris and her mostly "all girl-driven media empire" travel the world searching for the "humor, debacle, and discovery inherent in low-rent travel and explores cultures with divavision -- that is, through the lens of the independent women whose vision, individualism, and actions will rule the future." My only complaint with the series is that it is divided into 30-minute morsels.

This month, the crew travels to India, New Zealand, and Iran. Adventure Divas airs Friday evenings at 10pm with repeat screenings the following day (check listings for time).

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Emmy Awards, Ellen DeGeneres, Will & Grace, Malcolm in the Middle, Everybody Loves Raymond, The West Wing, The Ellen Show, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Jesus Chavez, HBO, Floyd Mayweather, Adventure Divas, Holly Morris, PBS

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