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Emmy Awards Recap 2002
by Drew Dounée

Emmy Fever is sweeping the nation, like the West Nile Virus but GOOD instead. By now everyone's seen the list of winners, and so the water-cooler conversation of the day is bound to be: What was up with Leah Remini's dress?! The gorgeous "King of Queens" star couldn't have looked more out of place with what appeared to be a fresh fruit plate on her head and a two-yard AIDS ribbon pinned to her chest (OK, we GET THE POINT, Leah).

Similarly in Mr. Blackwell's doghouse is Cedric the Entertainer, who was funny in "Barbershop" but should have shown up to THIS event wearing pants and underwear.

The big surprise of the evening was the Best Dramatic Actor Award, which went to Drew Carey for his performance as a retarded man struggling with his weight in "Gregory's Diet." This TV minimovie may have wowed the critics, but few fans actually saw it before it was pulled from the airwaves because of an eerie scene in which two airplanes fly into a barn. The scene was apparently intended for laughs, but as the movie premiered shortly after the World Trade Center attacks, no one's laughing at barnstorming anymore. So add "classic comedy" to the casualty list. But Drew WAS terrific in the film anyway, and he really deserved the award, even though the popular vote would have gone to Chris Burke for his role as a normal man struggling with his weight in the miniseries "Timothy's Diet."

Host Conan O'Brien held up his end of the bargain with aplomb. Especially funny was his ad-lib after Valerie Harper stumbled from the stage, apparently unable to carry her heavy Lifetime Achievement Award as she descended the stairs, cracking four ribs and falling over in a bloody pool. Though later in the evening it was discovered that Harper had in fact been the victim of a sniper attack, O'Brien's insinuation that Harper needed to do more "upper-body work" was a classic award show moment. Even better was co-host Jenna Elfman's quick retort, "I'll show you some upper body work," flashing her bare breasts on which she had painted the words "Rhoda R.I.P." As it turns out, it was Elfman who was the sniper!

And what more can be said about the elegant James Garner, who received his award for Best Chest after a ten-minute competetion that left the likes of Jared Leto and Willem Defoe as also-rans? Garner looks like a man half his age; I can't remember the man's name though.

Didn't Delta Burke look terrific?!

One of the best developments this year was novelty rock band They Might Be Giants improvising a song for each winner. Although it bogged the show down in spots (certainly the 12-minute psychedelic "freak out" devoted to Best Actress winner Suzanne Somers, Jr. was a bit over the top), there were enough gems to outweigh the clunkers. The wacky duo should get a special award of their own for their witty song about Best Newcomer Tina Fey, in which they alternately confused the petite 'Saturday Night Live' star with sultry singing sensation Tina Turner and 'fey' British songster Morrissey.

As guest announcer, Morrissey himself was in top form. Obviously planted there by NBC to promote his new show "Even Steven," in which he plays a celibate, reclusive songwriter who suddenly inherits $10 million and also adopts two Latino children, Morrissey nonetheless never came across as superfluous. He even got in a real zinger by slyly introducing former "Two Guys And a Pizza Place" star Traylor Howard as "Miss Trash." (Get it? Traylor ... Trash?! Is the guy Oscar Wilde reincarnated or what?) Howard handled the tongue-in-cheek barb by baring her breasts, on which she had painted the words "Viva Hate" (a reference to Morrissey's 1989 album). Apparently the two friends have been staging this supposed public feud since they met. Talk about an odd couple!

Speaking of "The Odd Couple," the special segment "The Heroes of 9/11 Pay Tribute to the Dead Odd Couple Actors" was touching. Tony Randall, the only surviving Odd Couple member, read the long list of names of the fallen (Jack Klugman, Walter Matthau, and Jack Lemmon) while a group of New York City Firefighters hummed "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in the background. Afterward, Paul McCartney took the stage for an unannounced performance of "I'm Down" that turned the audience's tears into Beatlemania!

Finally, I would be remiss without mentioning my personal favorite moment: Accepting her award for Best Bratwurst, "Friends" caterer Joan Blegvad asked for a moment of silence so that she could watch the video of that terrible mom beating her child. As I understand it, Blegvad was having trouble hearing the video on her iBook with so much hullaballoo going on.

See you next year on the Red Carpet!