The Green Hope Falcon

Memorable Moments from the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards

Amelia Mendes, Staff Writer

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On January 25th, 1949, the first Emmy Awards show took place at the Hollywood Athletic Club in California. Broadcasted  on KTSL, one of only five local Hollywood stations, tickets were sold at only five dollars a piece and there were less than a million television sets in the United States. Seventy years later, television has become a major medium for artists, with hundreds of stations and over 118 million TV sets in households across America. Throughout the expansion of television and the increasing competition for viewership among stations and shows, the Emmys has continued to honor and commemorate those who have shown an unwavering dedication to the timeless craft that is entertainment.

The first Emmy Award show was hosted by Walter O’Keefe, a composer, writer, actor, and television host. Last Monday, the Emmys were hosted by Colin Jost and Michael Che, two young comedians who have become famous as Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” duo since 2014.  The duo used the same structure as their segment on SNL and were generally well received, poking fun at the audience and teaming up with Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph, who shared a comically improvised “history” of the Emmys.

One issue that was mentioned multiple times over the course of the evening was the strides Hollywood has made to increase diversity in television and film. A small musical number performed by Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson, as well as various other tv stars, titled “We Solved It” celebrated this new achievement for Hollywood, but also emphasized how although wonderful progress has been made, we are not quite there yet.

The first award of the night for “Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series” was won by Henry Winkler, who you may or may not know as “The Fonz” from Happy Days, for his role in Barry. This was Winkler’s first Emmy. In an inspiring speech, Winkler stated that “If you stay at the table long enough, the chips will eventually come your way!”

 The awards for “Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series” and “Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series” were both won by Amy Sherman Palladino for The Marvelous Ms. Maisel. Dressed like a Ringmaster with an Emmy in each hand, Palladino reigned victorious as she accepted two Emmys in a row. She and the cast of The Marvelous Ms. Maisel were also celebrating that night, the award for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” having gone to the lead, Rachel Brosnahan, and the show having won the award for “Outstanding Comedy Series”.

 A memorable moment from the evening was when Betty White, known for her iconic roles in The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was honored for her lifetime achievement in television. Having been nominated for twenty four Emmys over the course of her life and having won eight, the now ninety-six year old actress was delightful and at first speechless. White joked that she was surprised that after all these years “You’re still putting up with me”.

 Another memorable moment, was when John Mulaney called the incomparable, Martin Short, “Martin Steve” after having won the award for “Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special”. 

 A touching moment from the Emmys was when Glenn Weiss, who had just won the award for “Outstanding Director of a Variety Special”, proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Jan Svendsen, with the ring from his parents’ engagement 67 years earlier, adding a cathartic nostalgic moment of sentimentality to the night. After accepting his Emmy, he thanked Svendsen and said “I don’t like calling you my girlfriend, because I would rather call you my wife.” At this point the audience burst out in surprise and pushed Svendsen up onto the stage, where Weiss made a unforgettable proposal that the two will fondly look back on forever as all who witnessed the moment. Colin Jost joked afterwards that among those who lost, many were sitting with engagement rings still in their pockets.

One of the best speeches of the night was given by Tina Fey, prior to a slide show that commemorated great entertainers who passed this year. Among these, some great talents that were lost included Aretha Franklin, Jerry Van Dyke, Jim Nabors, Bill Daily, Anthony Bourdain, John Mahoney, Neil Simon, Rose Marie, and Burt Reynolds. The most controversial speech of the evening was given by Thandie Newton, who dropped the f-bomb on live national television.

 The best dressed from “the Golden Carpet” was Jessica Biel, who was nominated for “Outstanding lead actress in a limited series or TV movie” for her role in The Sinner. Biel wore a white ruffled piece designed by Ralph & Russo. The rumored “worst dressed” was Alexis Bledel, nominated for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series” for her role in the Handmaid’s Tale, whose dress by Delpozo resembled a Halloween costume.

In conclusion, the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards proved to be a memorable event in which talented individuals of today’s television were honored alongside some of those who have truly impacted television and entertainment in the past. Although few references were made about the first Emmys in 1949, in retrospect, few references were necessary. What people find entertaining, funny, and dramatic has not changed. Heartbreak still makes us sympathize, death still makes us cry, and a punchline still makes us laugh. And throughout all the tears, laughs, and plot twists that television brings us, the Emmys have been and will continue to be there, honoring those who help us to escape our lives and be immersed into a story separate from our own, gifting us with the timeless joy of being entertained.

About the Writer
Amelia Mendes, Staff Writer

Amelia Allende Mendes is a junior at Green Hope this year.  She moved here four years ago from Miami Beach in Florida, but her favorite place in the world to visit is Costa Rica, because her grandmother’s used to be there.  Her favorite subject in school is drama, and she hopes to eventually receive a bachelors degree in fine arts from Fordham University.  She joined The Falcon this year because she feels that journalism is a great medium to express yourself and write about issues that are relevant to your peers.

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Memorable Moments from the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards