Live blogging the (reality TV) Emmys

8:01 / After a flat opening clip segment, with celebrities saying famous lines, Oprah comes out to open the show. Where the hell are the actual hosts?

8:03 / Oprah is self-congratulatory–surprise–and then introduces the hosts. Everyone except Probst is wearing a tie, although Heidi shouldn’t be. She looks like an extra on Mad Men.

8:05 / Their opening bit is to have no bit and talk over each other. Seacrest shows the blank teleprompter. “We are on Sarah Palin’s bridge to nowhere,” Howie Mandel says. “The government can’t even bail us out of this. … We’ve got nothing.” Seacrest tells Bergeron, “This is your network; you deal with it.”

8:07 / Heidi Klum can speak! She and Bergeron are the only two left on the stage.

8:08 / Tom Bergeron and William Shatner literally strip Heidi Klum out of her Mad Men costume. It’s supposed to be funny but it’s pretty sexist and horrifying and not at all funny. The reality show hosts are, as of right now, terrible hosts.

8:16 / Tom and Ryan are sitting in a fake Seinfeld Monk’s Diner booth, and Tom says “live” like he does on Dancing with the Stars, and says it’s “like a nervous tick,” and zero people laugh. They clearly have never seen the show. Ever.

8:21 / The teaser is for the best reality show host category. The audience in the theater may not care, but the Emmy producers know what home viewers care about.

8:25 / Only ABC would air shit like David Blaine hanging from a wire for three days. Ooh, drama.

8:25 / Jeff Probst is pretty much a natural. Heidi Klum is awkward. This isn’t a surprise.

8:33 / Ricky Gervais (doing shtick) + Steve Carrell (not talking) = much funnier than anything else the show has delivered so far.

8:43 / Dianne Wiest wins for HBO’s In Treatment, and although she didn’t bother to show up, and it has nothing to do with reality TV, I mention it because it’s a fantastic, dramatic show–and there’s nothing else happening. Bring out Kathy Griffin before the show sinks.

8:49 / Howie Mandel and Jeff Probst tease an “exciting” segment, which turns out to be introducing the accountants. This is the best they could come up with? How about a bit with the banker on Deal or No Deal? That may be obvious, but at least it’d have looked like it required some effort.

9:01 / “Though Ryan denies it, there was music on television before American Idol,” Heidi Klum says. That is not a joke. A joke is something like, “Though Ryan denies it, he gets his botox from the same person from whom Paula Abdul gets the substances in her Coca-Cola cup.” Anyway, they introduce Josh Groban who sings the theme songs to various songs, like The Golden Girls, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, South Park, and Cops. Awesome.

9:11 / Jeremy Piven slammed the reality host’s lame opening when he was backstage, The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd reports. “I thought we were being punk’d. I was confused. [In the room] it was like in ‘The Producers’ when they do ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ There’s a, ‘What was actually happening right now?’ There was a great line about Sarah Palin that landed. But it was confusing. From Lucille Ball on, television has been so entertaining. And this was a celebration of nothingness so it was confusing,” he said.

9:13 / Tom Bergeron stumbles but recovers (he’s cheesy but good) while introducing a clip segment that includes Klum on the runway saying “sock it to me,” and Probst on the set of Tribal Council saying the line and getting splashed with water.

9:16 / Oh my god, is that Big Brother 10‘s Renny? A woman wearing red feathers on her head popped out of the faux Laugh In set and said, “Is that a chicken joke? I hate chicken jokes!” and she sounded exactly like Renny. EXACTLY. (I’d probably know who the actual Laugh-In cast member was is if I’d ever watched Laugh-in–or been alive then.)

9:19 / Heidi Klum points out that the rather plain, borderline ugly dresses (they’d totally get criticized on Project Runway) worn by the Emmy’s models were designed by Lauren Conrad and Christian Siriano. More shocking, Lauren Conrad is now actually on stage with David Boreanaz. Yes, The Hills is really that big–although only big enough for Lauren to co-introduce the winner of an award that had already been presented last weekend.

9:25 / I stand corrected: Lauren stayed on stage and actually announced that Tina Fey won the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series award. Well-deserved–Tina Fey’s win, not Lauren Conrad’s teleprompter reading.

9:38 / Kathy Griffin and Don Rickles are going to present the best reality competition program Emmy, the teaser tells us. Let’s hope that comes before midnight.

9:41 / The commercial that’s a teaser for Dancing with the Stars 7‘s debut tomorrow did an excellent job of making it feel really dramatic

9:43 / Probst stumbles slightly and doesn’t really pull off his Dragnet bit–dressed in a trenchcoat and fedora, sitting on a desk–but that isn’t why it doesn’t make much sense. Why is this necessary?

9:49 / Reality competition award is next.

9:53 / And by next, they mean following a M*A*S*H clip package. And Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey presenting an award. Liars.

9:56 / Kathy Griffin and Don Rickles come out, and Kathy looks like she’s wearing a really bad wig. Kathy makes the crowd give a standing ovation to Rickles. “Stand up!”

9:58 / Kathy is totally being upstaged by Don Rickles, and couldn’t even mention her own Emmy, having to repeat that line. She’s cracking up, though.

9:59 / The Amazing Race wins another fucking Emmy, its sixth consecutive win, beating American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, and Top Chef.

10:01 / The fact that John Adams won is making me slightly less irritated at The Amazing Race‘s win, which seems to certify that the voters don’t actually watch reality TV, they just vote for the show they think is supposed to win every year. TAR was once great, and is still is entertaining, but not Top Chef or even Project Runway? Come on.

10:03 / They’re now teasing the best reality host category, which is allegedly forthcoming. Apparently, someone thought that having the five nominees actually host would draw a huge group of reality show fans to the Emmys, people who need teasers to keep them watching through all of these scripted show categories.

10:08 / Tom Bergeron drops Heidi Klum on the stage to illustrate “comedy.” Apparently, stripping and injuring women is funny. Ha!

10:40 / Backstage, Amazing Race executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer said that they won’t withdraw the show from consideration. “I doubt it, I really do. We love these statues,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Bertram Van Munster said, “It keeps going and going and going.”

10:43 / Jimmy Kimmel’s presenting the best reality show host category.

10:44 / Kimmel pretends to be Ryan Seacrest recapping what the judges said about American Idol contestants; for Jeff Probst, he says, “Paula loves your puka shell necklaces and would like to have sex with you” and Kimmel tells Ryan, “Bruno absolutely loves your frosted tips and Paula hates you.” He tells them all that they’re in the final two, and then says we’ll know the winner after the break. Funny, but just as annoying as when they do it on Idol and Dancing.

10:49 / Back from the break. Kimmel asks, “Haven’t they been sufficient, everybody?”

10:50 / Jeff Probst wins! Shocking, but awesome and totally deserved. He thanks “the Survivor family that I work with.”

10:54 / Here’s the full text of Jeff’s speech: “Thank you very much. I will be short because we are long, and part of the reason we’re long, I know, is the five hosts up here tonight. This has been a great experience for all of us, and we really feel honored to be a part of this family. Thank you for letting reality in. To Mark Burnett and to Leslie Moonves, thank you, quite honestly, for changing my life. Sean Perry, thanks for keeping me on track, and Jimmy Kimmel, you tried, you told us the nothing bit may not work but we stuck to our guns. And finally, to the Survivor family that I work with: Year in and year out, all over the world, we are a traveling band of gypsies, thank you for making me look good enough to warrant one of these. I share it with you. I don’t know how we’ll divvy it up, but I’m sure the guys in the art department will figure it out. Goodnight.”

10:55 / The Emmys end after 30 Rock and Mad Men win in the top two categories, and Jeff gets “host the end of the show alone,” and says “goodnight.” It’s over and actually done on time. Thanks for reading.



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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.