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Sunday September 20, 2009 10:35 pm

The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards

61st Annual Emmy Awards

Could the be another year for firsts?

Around this same time last September, the execs of basic cable were thrilled to see one of their own finally win the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series (Mad Men). Meanwhile, producers of reality fare saw an award given to one of their hosts (Jeff Probst). So which other category could be covered during this round? Animation.

For the first time since 1961 (when The Flintstones were still on air), an animated program has been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. So will Family Guy finally go where The Simpsons has never gone before? Not if the six other contenders have anything to say about it!

So who won? Who lost? Which funnyman took home the award for Outstanding Supporting Actor since Jeremy Piven wasn’t even nominated? Read our West Coast play-by-play account of this evening’s telecast and find out!

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8:01 pm: Host Neil Patrick Harris in a white tuxedo jacket starts the night out singing. While I think the former Rent star sounds fantastic, I wish the visuals would have started earlier. (He looked a bit awkward up there.) Thankfully, things picking up when when he points out an empty seat and an absent Paula Abdul. (Ouch!) He then jokes that Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks could turn a gay man straight—right before moving onto Jon Hamm. (Yum!)

8:07 pm: Neil explains that they will be splitting the night off into different genres. (So now we know when to turn the channel?) The first category of awards tonight will be devoted to Comedy. (Cue the long montage.)

8:10 pm: Tina Fey (in a gorgeous, yet simple, black dress) and Jon Hamm hit the stage. Fey then treats us to an awards show secret: Seth MacFarlane is known to get very drunk at these things. (This could make a possibly Family Guy win very interesting.)

8:12 pm: Apparently Amy Poehler encouraged the women in the Outstanding Supporting Actress (Comedy) category to wear funny glasses while their names were announced. (I’m still trying to decide if that was cute or silly.) Unemployed winner Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies) - with a beautiful mirrored dress and particularly squeaky voice - then asks for a job on either Mad Men, The Office or 24. I say she should get all three.

8:13 pm: BTW—really, really hating the winner bio voiceovers. Extremely cheesy.

8:20 pm: Harris introduces the man behind the annoying color commentary. Now we know who to blame.

8:21 pm: The cast of How I Met Your Mother (sans Harris) takes the stage. Matt Hubbard (30 Rock) wins for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.

8:25 pm: Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Amy Poehler take the mic and joke about this being the last official year of network television. (Nervous laughter in the crowd.) They then present Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) his first award for Outstanding Supporting Actor (Comedy). (Part of me was secretly hoping he would give John Hughes a shout out.)

8:32 pm: Justin Timberlake is given the task of announcing the nominees for Outstanding Lead Actress (Comedy). Even though a straight-faced Sarah Silverman was brave enough to sport a mustache, an extremely tan Toni Collette (United States of Tara) wound up winning.

8:38 pm: Harris bitterly tosses a question to Jon Cryer back in the press area. The Supporting Actor winner then rubs his award in Neil’s face.

8:39 pm: Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively and Leighton Meester announce the winners for Outstanding Guest Actor and Actress (Comedy). Tina Fey won for her work as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. Justin Timberlake was an SNL winner as well.

8:42 pm: Jeffrey Blitz (30 Rock) wins for Outstanding Directing (Comedy).

8:48 pm: Rob Lowe kindly reminds us of his work on Dr. Vegas before leading into the Outstanding Lead Actor (Comedy). Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) feigns surprise before winning for his umpteenth time. He then jokes that he would trade in his award to look like Lowe.

8:52 pm: The clip of Stewie Griffin beating down Brian for an Emmy vote is aired. Can we call this foreshadowing?

8:56 pm: A formerly engaged Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy do a dance number to kick off the Reality TV portion of the evening. Awkward yet, thankfully, claw-free.

8:58 pm: Jon Cryer and Hayden Panettiere announce the award for Outstanding Host (Reality/Reality Competition Show). Two-time winner Jeff Probst (Survivor) then tosses a compliment to Neil: “This is how you host the Emmys.” (If you caught to last year’s broadcast, you’d agree with him.)

9:05 pm: Tracy Morgan stumbles through his presentation for Outstanding Reality Competition. The crew for the The Amazing Race is without anything to say because they’ve said it all before…several times. (Neil later jokes that there’s been an upset at every turn tonight.)

9:09 pm: The start of the Movies and Miniseries phase begins. I sense many people are looking for their remote right now.

9:12 pm: Real-life couple Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick up the cute factor when they hit the stage. Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Saddam) - in a gorgeous blue dress - wins for Outstanding Supporting Actress (Miniseries or Movie) while Ken Howard (Grey Gardens) takes the award for Outstanding Supporting Actress (Miniseries or Movie).

9:22 pm: Chandra Wilson and Kate Walsh present the Outstanding Lead Actress (Miniseries or Movie) award to Brendan Gleeson (Into the Storm). Loving his accent right now.

9:26 pm: Jennifer Love Hewitt and Patricia Arquette (who left her sense of humor at home) take the stage. An absent Andrew Davies (Little Dorrit) wins for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special. Dearbhla Walsh (Little Dorrit) then follows that up with a win for Outstanding Directing for a a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special.

9:30 pm: A Dr. Horrible piece takes over the presentation from Ernst & Young. Starting to wonder why they even bring those accountants on stage.

9:34 pm: Jessica Lange (Grey Gardens), who somehow managed to detach herself from Drew Barrymore, accepts the award for Outstanding Lead Actress (Miniseries or Movie).

9:42 pm: Anna Torv (in a sexy coral number) and Kiefer Sutherland present the award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie to Grey Gardens. (I was certain director Michael Sucsy would pass out on stage.) Little Dorrit then wins for Outstanding Miniseries.

9:49 pm: The Variety category kicks off with the award for Outstanding Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series. Bruce Gowers (American Idol) takes the win.

9:55 pm: The writers from The Daily Show win for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Series Unnamed guy on stage says he hasn’t had anything to say since George Bush left office. (That may just be the best speech of the night.)

10:01 pm: Jimmy Fallon demonstrates what Kanye West might sound like if he fell on stage. (Granted - anyone who loves Auto-Tune might sound like that.) The team from the 81st Annual Academy Awards wins for Original Music and Lyrics. (Yes - that’s apparently a category.) Unfortunately, Hugh Jackman wasn’t the guy to accept the award.

10:06 pm: Ricky Gervais - who gets the crowd to laugh just by showing up - presents the award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series to The Daily Show. The color commentator claims this is the program’s 900th award. (Okay - that was funny.)

10:19 pm: LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell (who left his comedic timing at home) take the stage for the Outstanding Supporting Actor (Drama). Michael Emerson (Lost) comes very close to channeling Ben while accepting his Emmy.

10:21 pm: Cherry Jones (24) takes the statue for Outstanding Supporting Actress (Drama). First Fey, now Jones. Somewhere Sarah Palin is probably taking credit for both of these wins.

10:23 pm: Singer Sarah McLachlan leads us into the Memoriam section. Now making a note to rewatch The Burning Bed and North and South.

10:33 pm: Stephen Moyer and David Boreanaz (both vampires—I get it!!) announce the winners for Outstanding Guest Actor and Actress (Drama). Ellen Burstyn (Law & Order: SVU) and Michael J. Fox (Rescue Me) were the recipients.

10:35 pm: An absent Rod Holcomb (ER) wins the award for Outstanding Directing (Drama) while the Outstanding Writing (Drama) Emmy goes to the team from Mad Men.

10:38 pm: Simon Baker (who looks hot in glasses) hands another Outstanding Lead Actress (Drama) statue to Glenn Close (Damages). Although she rightly deserves it, I was really hoping Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) would pull the upset.

10:48 pm: Dana Delaney gives Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) his 2nd win in a row for Outstanding Lead Actor (Drama). I’m sad for Jon Hamm, but so thrilled for Cranston. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: YOU MUST WATCH THIS SHOW!!

10:51 pm: Bob Newhart joked that it could take the crew of Weeds a bit longer to get to the stage. But since 30 Rock won for Outstanding Comedy Series (again), we’ll never know how slow those Showtime kids are.

11:00 pm: (Ah - so close to the 3-hour mark, yet still so far.) Sigourney Weaver presents the final award of the evening - Outstanding Drama Series - to Mad Men. (Woo hoo!) Now that the evening is over, I think I might just celebrate with a martini.

Gallery: The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards

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