And we're off...as a 40-style radio announcer tells us about the value of television, somehow footage of LeBron is involved, then Aretha singing at Obama's inauguration (with an ironic clip from Wipeout).
Welcome your host Neil Patrick Harris, ladies and gentlemen. He comes out singing a "put down the remote" ditty in a white tux. He singles out a few in the audience, including Tina Fey, Shirley MacLaine and Tony Shalhoub.
Best line so far, singing to Christina Hendricks from Mad Men "Straight from Mad Men, there's Joan, Oh the curves she has shown/ could make a blind man say 'Damn'/She could turn a gay straight, oh wait, never mind, there's Jon Hamm..."
Neil transitions breathlessly to an opening monologue, saying he loves TV, he grew up on it. Then a bit about shortened theme songs now days. He shows "Lost" then mentions the last time there was a show about people stuck on an island there was a whole song about it and it was awesome.
He wraps up. "It's my job to ensure things run smoothly. Here's hoping Kanye West likes 30 Rock."
Then a tour of the set, including the band who are off to the side of the stage instead of in the pit. The control room is on stage, say hi to the director. The show will be split into five different genres, starting with comedy. We're treated to some clips from the year.
The first presenters are Tina Fey and Jon Hamm. Tina says: "Let's linger in this magical time (early in the show) where everyone is still a winner, and Seth MacFarlane is only 'pretty drunk."
Nominees for supporting actress in a comedy: Kristen Chenoweth (wearing glasses in the shape of (2009), Jane Krakowski (holding up opera specs), Elizabeth Perkins (wearing funny goggles), Amy Poehler (eye patch), Kristen Wiig (monocle, pipe), Vanessa Williams (shaking her head "no").
The winner is Kristin Chenoweth from ABC's canceled Pushing Daisies. She makes it up on stage and squeaks out a few thanks. "I'm unemployed now, so I'd like to be on Mad Man, I also like The Office and 24."
Back from break, NPH promises not to spend the whole night plugging his show How I Met Your Mother, just because they're on CBS. And, please welcome his costars to introduce the nominees for Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series: Flight Of The Conchords, and then four people from "30 Rock."
The winner is Matt Hubbard for "30 Rock." He thanks Walter Patterson for punching him in third grade and turning him into a comedy writer.
Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus present Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series. They're honored to be presenting on the last official year of network broadcast television. (Har har.) The nominees are Jon Cryer for Two and a Half Men, Kevin Dillon for Entourage, Jack McBrayer for 30 Rock, Rainn Wilson for The Office, Tracy Morgan for 30 Rock and Neil Patrick Harris for How I Met Your Mother.
Jon Cryer wins for "Two and a Half Men" -- his first win in four tries. He makes a pitch for Charlie Sheen to win an Emmy some day.
Back from break, and from losing out to Jon Cryer, NPH says: "The night could have gone in two directions, we're now in the second direction... I won't let it get awkward."
Welcome Justin Timberlake presenting Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy. The nominees are Christina Applegate, Toni Collette, Tina Fey for 30 Rock, Julis Louis-Dreyfus, Mary-Louise Parker and Sarah Silverman (wearing a fake mustache).
The winner is Toni Collette. She takes the stage and opens by saying, mystifyingly: "Wow, this is insanely confronting."
Moving on, NPH says "congratulations Toni and congratulations Jon Cryer...." They go to Jon back stage answering questions from the press and NPH asks what it was like to win. Cryer says what was going through his head was "in your face Neil Patrick Harris." NPH asks him to confirm that the envelope says Jon Cryer. It does.
Then on to Blake Lively and Leighton Meester to recap the winners for guest actor and actress in a comedy series from the technical awards. The winners were: Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake (both for Saturday Night Live).
They take the stage and Justin Timberlake begins by saying, Kanye-style, to Tina, "Imma let you finish..." and then actually lets her finish.
"I wouldn't be here were it not for Lorne Michaels, Justin would still be famous and would still be rich, but I would not be," she says.
Then on to the award for Outstanding Direction for a Comedy Series. The nominees are Julian Farino for Entourage; James Bobin for Flight of the Conchords; Jeffrey Blitz for The Office; Millicent Shelton for 30 Rock; The winner is Jeffrey Blitz, for the "Stress Relief" episode of The Office.
Rob Lowe comes out to present Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, mentioning Dr. Vegas as his comedy bona fide.
The nominees are: Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock, Steve Carell for The Office, Jemaine Clement for Flight of the Conchords, Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory, Tony Shalhoub for Monk and Charlie Sheen for Two and a Half Men.
The winner is Alec Baldwin.
"I'll be honest, I'd trade this to look like him," Baldwin says of Rob Lowe. After thanking Tina Fey and the cast and crew, he singles out Lorne Michaels, dedicating the award to him.
Back to NPH who introduces a Family Guy clip of Stewie and Peter discussing who should win for best comedy. Then Stewie beats the tar out of the (cartoon) dog, saying he's voting for Family Guy, got it?
On to the reality genre. Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy from Dancing with the Stars take the stage and do a routine, which given that they just broke up, probably isn't awkward AT ALL.
On to Jon Cryer and Hayden Panettiere introducing the nominees for Outstanding Host for a Reality show: Phil Keoghan for The Amazing Race, Ryan Seacrest for American Idol, Tom Bergeron for Dancing with the Stars, Heidi Klum for Project Runway, Tom Colicchio and Padma Lakshmi for Top Chef and Jeff Probst for Survivor.
The winner is: Jeff Probst.
He begins by acknowledging his suckfest hosting last year. "Neil Patrick Harris, this is how you host the Emmys, nice job."
He encourages people to live their dreams.
On to Tracy Morgan presenting Best reality show. The nominees are: Amazing Race, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway and Top Chef.
The winner is The Amazing Race. For the 746th time in a row.
"Congratulations, guys, unbelievable. Upsets at every turn," deadpans NPH.
On to movies and miniseries.
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick presenting Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. The nominees are: Marcia Gay Harden for The Courageous Heart Of Irena Sendler (Hallmark Hall Of Fame Presentation), Jeanne Tripplehorn for Grey Gardens, Shohreh Aghdashloo for House of Saddam, Janet McTeer for Into the Storm and Cicely Tyson for Relative Stranger.
The winner is: Shohreh Aghdashloo for House of Saddam.
On to Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. The nominees are: Ken Howard in Grey Gardens, Len Cariou for Into the Storm, Bob Newhart for The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice, Sir Tom Courtenay for Little Dorritt and Andy Serkis for Little Dorritt.
Ken Howard wins for his first nomination ever for Grey Gardens.
"I'll make my speech as brief as possible in the hope that it won't be interrupted by a congressman or a rapper," he begins.
Kate Walsh and Chandra Wilson presenting Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. The nominees
Kevin Bacon for Taking Chance, Kevin Kline for Cyrano de Bergerac, Sir Ian McKellan for King Lear, Kevin Bacon for Taking Chance, Keifer Sutherland for 24: Redemption and Kenneth Branaugh for Wallander: One Step Behind.
He thanks the producer for letting his mom see a first cut of the movie, before she passed away.
Then Dearbhla Walsh wins for Outstanding Directing for a Movie, Miniseries or Special for Little Dorritt. She thanks her parents back home in Ireland for investing in cable so they could see her win.
NPH introduces the accountants from Ernst and Young, who are going to explain how the Emmy votes are tabulated. And then the screen fuzzes out and Dr. Horrible (NPH from "Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog")
takes over the broadcast, saying the future of entertainment is the Internet. He notes the benefits. Like you can watch your shows without any interruption. The screen pauses for buffering. Nathan Fillion drops in, in character, saying he likes CSI: Miami "the other two are a bit heady for me."
And then the screen fuzzes again and we rejoin the accountants who appear to have been speaking the whole time.
Welcome Alec Baldwin to present the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie to Jessica Lange for Grey Gardens.
Kiefer Sutherland and Anna Torv present Outstanding Made for Television Movie to Grey Gardens. Then Outstanding Miniseries to Little Dorritt.
And now it's time for the Variety genre.
NPH introduces the presenters: "From the best show about four geeks and a hot chick since 60 Minutes..." the cast from The Big Bang Theory.
They introduce Outstanding Directing for Variety. The winner is Bruce Gowers for American Idol.
Then Outstanding Writing. The nominees are The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Late Show with David Letterman (who gets Billy Crystal to sing his writers' names), Saturday Night Live (with Brian Williams introducing the writers).
The winner is the team from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Jimmy Fallon ambles on out, to sing with a digital voice synthesizer, fall down and warble while introducing Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.
The team behind Hugh Jackman's Academy Awards opening number wins.
Ricky Gervais comes out and gives the audience a nod. "Better than last year, isn't it?" He says the Emmys are the best awards because the Golden Globes and Oscars have film stars there with their jaw lines, making him feel bad. Whereas at the Emmys, "Steve Carell is considered handsome."
He's presenting outstanding Variety, Musical or Comedy series. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart wins. Color man John Hodgeman, making up commentary for the winner's walk to the stage, says it's the show's 900th win. Stewart also pauses to tell NPH he's doing a good job. "I'd just like to thank you for the opportunity to come up here then go backstage and watch a football game," Stewart says. (It's halftime in Giants-Cowboys on NBC.)
We're on to the drama awards. Battlestar Galactica makes the clips (if not the nominations).
LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell present Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. The nominees are: William Shatner and Christian Clemenson for Boston Legal, Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad, William Hurt for Damages, Michael Emerson for Lost and John Slattery for Mad Men.
The winner is: Michael Emerson.
Then the nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress: Rose Byrne for Damages, Hope Davis for In Treatment, Cherry Jones for 24, Sandra Oh for Grey's Anatomy, Chandra Wilson for Grey's Anatomy and Dianne Wiest for In Treatment.
Cherry Jones wins.
Sarah McLachlan sings "I Will Remember You" for the In Memoriam segment. The biggest applause goes to David Carradine, Natasha Richardson, Bea Arthur and Paul Newman. But Patrick Swayze and Farrah Fawcett especially.
Stephen Moyer and David Boreanaz recap the Guest Actress and Actor in a Drama Emmys given previously at the Creative Arts Emmys.
The winners were Ellen Burstyn and Michael J. Fox, there to present the Outstanding Directing for a Drama. The winner is Rod Holcomb from ER.
Then Outstanding Writing, for which the nominees including four combinations of Mad Men's Matthew Weiner and also Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof for Lost.
Matthew Weiner and Kater Gordon win for Mad Men. "When you win something like this it makes writing look fun, but it's not," he says.
Simon Baker presents Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. The nominees are Glenn Close for Damages, Sally Field for Brothers & Sisters, Mariska Hargitay for Law & Order:SVU, Holly Hunter for Saving Grace, Elizabeth Moss for Mad Men and Kyra Sedgwick for The Closer.
Dana Delaney comes out to present Oustanding Lead Actor in a Drama. The nominees are: Simon Baker for The Mentalist, Bryan Cranston for Breaking Bad, Michael C. Hall for Dexter, Gabriel Byrne for In Treatment, Jon Hamm for Mad Men, Hugh Laurie for House.
Bryan Cranston wins his second consecutive Emmy for Breaking Bad. "I'm a poor kid from The Valley, I don't know what I'm doing up here. I feel like Cinderfella."
Bob Newhart drops by to present Outstanding Comedy Series and mentions that if 30 Rock wins, he has a bet with Tina Fey that she'll kiss him like Halle Berry did Adrien Brody at the Oscars. And if not, he'll continue to honor the restraining order.
The nominees are 30 Rock, Family Guy, Flight of the Conchords, How I Met Your Mother, The Office and Weeds. As promised, Tina Fey goes up on stage and plants one on Bob Newhart.
"I'd like to thank our friends at NBC... for keeping us on the air, even though we are so much more expensive than a talk show," Fey says.
Sigourney Weaver presents the nominees for Outstanding Drama Series: Big Love, Breaking Bad, Damages, Dexter, House, Lost and Mad Men.
And Mad Men wins.
NPH closes the show by raising a mimed glass, "May the winners enjoy their Emmys, may the nominees hold their heads high and may we see you again on broadcast television next year."