Tina Fey won three Emmys but lost a purse. Reality TV was embraced on stage but dissed by more than one winner.
Here's a look at some of the long, strange night's backstage doings—and sayings...
5:35 p.m.: So, Jeremy Piven, what did you really think of the reality hosts' Emmy opening? "I thought we were being pummeled as an audience. I was confused," the repeat Entourage winner says of the bit he knocked in his acceptance speech. "Like in the movie The Producers, [and] the [scene with] 'Springtime for Hitler'...It was confusing. From Lucille Ball on, TV has been so entertaining, and [this] was a celebration of nothingness." But other than that...
• Piven's won three years in a row now. And while he carries himself with the calm of someone who knows he's already a part of Emmy history, he claims, "This third one was more shocking than the first two."
• It is pointed out to Piven that he's now only two Emmys behind Don Knotts, who won five straight Emmys for The Andy Griffith Show. It is then asked of Piven if he's driven to break Knotts' record for consecutive wins. "To be honest," Piven says, "that's all I'm focused on...There isn't a moment that goes by when I don't think, When am I going to take Don Knotts down?"
• In the shocker of the night, the chatty Piven is rendered speechless, actually speechless, by a question about his late father, the one to whom he raises his Emmy after his now annual wins.
• Before the winners arrive—and Piven was the first back here—star sightings are about as slim as Project Runway's superslight Christian Siriano, whom I spied wandering around with a plate of food and a cell phone. I didn't see him eat, either.
6:15 p.m.: Reporters don't want to come out and say, "So, hey, what about Christina Applegate's breast cancer," and neither does her Emmy-winning TV mom.
When talking about how beloved Applegate is on the Samantha Who? set, Jean Smart stops herself when she gets to the part where she'd reference, well, you know...The smart Smart decides to put it this way: "And that was even before she hit some hard times."
• "I feel very protective of her," Smart goes on about Applegate. "I was shocked when she told me [about her, well, you know...]. And I started to cry a little bit...I hate to think she's going to have to go through this."
• Per Smart, "this" is "all good now." Applegate, who underwent a double mastectomy, has said she's 100 percent cancer-free.
6:30 p.m.: Damage's Zeljko Ivanek is an Emmy rarity: a first-time winner, and yet because he's not a star star (he's probably not even wearing, much less versed in, Lauren Conrad), his press conference is short on questions. His Q&A is over barely before it's begun, and not before Jean Smart is done reading whatever it is she's poring over just offstage.
6:43 p.m.: The audio on the TV feedback here is weird. When the presenters crack their teleprompter "jokes," I can't hear the Nokia audience laugh. Seriously. Um, they are laughing, right?
6:47 p.m.: "We're making sure you see her firm and supple breasts," says director Barry Sonnenfeld, an Emmy winner for Pushing Daisies, referencing Kristin Chenoweth by way of explaining why the ABC show is in "great shape" heading into its second season.
• I know you'll find this hard to believe now, but Sonnenfeld says people fear him talking in public, which is why he penned his acceptance speech in advance. Otherwise, he says, "I would have started by talking about my penis."
7:25 p.m.: Bad news for American Idol, other reality shows and the Emmy telecast viewers: The powers that be at CBS' The Amazing Race have no intention of pulling a Candice Bergen and withdrawing their show from contention because they've won their category six times in a row now. Says executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer: "We love these statues."
7:42 p.m.: I know Jon Stewart's only a fake newsman, but he still can be trusted, right? "It's almost over," Stewart mouths as he walks off the press conference stage, and, boy, I hope he's right.
7:45 p.m.: "How does it feel?" gasps Stephen Colbert, mocking a reporter who asked how it felt to, you know, do something really cool and win the first Emmy for his eponymous show. "I don't know why people don't trust the press."
• Coincidence that Colbert goes off on the TV Academy on his show and then winds up with a writing Emmy just a couple of nights later? Colbert thinks not. Says he: "I think being a first-class A-hole got me this award."
7:53 p.m.: Go figure, Don Rickles really is Mr. Warmth. The funnyman who survived the Emmy telecast with funny reputation intact—no small feat—was diplomatic, if not downright nice, when asked what he thought of the comedy as practiced tonight at the Nokia. "It's hard to keep it going. And I think tonight was very entertaining," Rickles says. "These shows are not geared to ha-ha-ha, but I think, all in all, it was good." Well, all right, if Mr. Rickles says so...
• Rickles, 82, and deserving of a break, takes his questions sitting down. "I got this," he says, clutching one of two Emmys won for his HBO special. "What can you do to me?"
8 p.m.: "Is that right?" says Paul Giamatti upon being informed that John Adams set a record for wins by a TV movie or miniseries, with 13 Emmys. "I'm astounded." And I can only imagine how the people out there in TV land who've never, ever heard of John Adams feel.
8:07 p.m.: "This is something actors dream about," says Bryan Cranston, and, no, he's not talking about the Emmy for Breaking Bad (although he is quite pleased with it, thankyouverymuch). He's talking about shaving his head and losing weight to portray his cancer-stricken character's battle with chemotherapy. Yes, good times, indeed.
8:13 p.m.: So, there are no questions for the Emmy-winning director of House, Greg Yaitanes. No, wait. There is a question. About writing. Yaitanes explains he's a director, not a writer. The reporter tries to rephrase, recover or do something. She can't. Yaitanes goes, "Thank you," walks off the stage and thus concludes tonight's most uncomfortable moment, even more than the parts where people bagged on the Emmy show.
8:19 p.m.: Reality TV, if not the Emmy hosts, have taken another hit. "I find it interesting we can devote 30 minutes to reality-TV hosts but not to the people who create the work we're honoring," shoots Kirk Ellis, the Emmy-winning writer of John Adams. Ellis, not incidentally, was cut off mere seconds into his onstage acceptance speech about the power of words.
8:29 p.m.: How can you tell Glenn Close is not her ferocious Damages character? When a reporter isn't incinerated for asking Close what's the difference between an Oscar and an Emmy. "I've never won an Oscar," Close calmly replies.
8:40 p.m.: "If anyone has seen a purple purse with a picture of a naked toddler in it..." Fey announces. It sounds like a joke, but then again it sounds like an endearing detail Fey, or Liz Lemon, might share with the world. And apparently it's not a joke. I'm told Fey left her purse under her seat when she started winning Emmys. I'm also told that the TV Academy has the purse and intends to return it. Case closed.
• "The one for the show, that belongs to everyone, so I don't like it as much," Fey says, differentiating between her Emmys for writing, acting and producing Comedy Series winner 30 Rock.
• Yes, Fey does a dead-on Sarah Palin, but don't rub it in. "I was very resistant to see there was a resemblance," Fey says, "and then my kid saw Sarah Palin on TV, and said, 'That's mommy.' "
• Oh, that Alec Baldwin. As Fey notes how Baldwin elevates 30 Rock, the esteemed actor, a winner himself tonight, pretends to swig a drink, and then pretends to, um, relieve himself.
• Jack McBrayer—Kenneth the NBC page to the folks who don't pay attention to credits—gets off the 30 Rock gang's best line. Asked what it was like to work with Jennifer Aniston, an upcoming season-three guest star, McBrayer reports, "She's supernice, but really ugly in person."
9 p.m.: Asked what it's like to be the first basic-cable series to win the Drama Series Emmy, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner is nonplussed—and maybe just a teensy bit annoyed...at Emmy organizers: "I'm surprised there's such a segregation and caste system at the Emmys," he says. "I'm surprised I have this amazing cast that wasn't asked to present tonight...I don't know why there's a distinction."