Her character on “The Sopranos” certainly isn’t shy, but Drea de Matteo blamed her own notably brief acceptance speech on just that trait.“I was praying that I was not going to win; being nominated was a big enough honor,” de Matteo said. “Having to go up there was probably the scariest moment of my entire life. I’ve never made a speech before.” And although her character was whacked last season and de Matteo is starring in new NBC laffer “Joey,” the thesp says she’s more than ready for a return engagement, especially since she remains under contract. “I don’t know if she’s dead. I believe she is and if she is, she’ll probably come back and haunt them because she’s the innocent and they killed her.”
* * *David Chase said he was gratified to see “The Sopranos” win the night’s top prize after five seasons, adding, “It’s finally paid off.” Chase thanked “the best crew working in TV” and his staff of writers “who keep getting better with their jobs.” So, why end a good thing? “Because, you know, it would get worse,” he quipped, but later admitted the pressure for quality does play a factor. “This is the only show that gets reviewed every Monday. There is a tremendous amount of pressure.”
* * *Mirroring his role as the head of the Bluth family on “Arrested Development,” Jason Bateman became the show’s unofficial spokesman backstage, addressing exactly what the series’ win means to the cast. “Hopefully anybody’s who’s been on the fence about trying us out may have more impetus to do that next year. All the incredible critics who have kept this show alive have got a little bit of vindication here. We’re all really happy about it because we get to keep doing a job that we all agree is our best employment in years, or, in my case, ever.” But it wasn’t all serious talk. Bateman pondered what might happen if the Bluths ever attended the Emmys. “They would probably all get drunk at the Governors Ball and get in a fiery car crash on the way home.”
* * *Walter Hill had directed several Western films before tackling the pilot for HBO’s “Deadwood.” Backstage, Hill summed up the difference between working for film and television in an unusual way: “Making a movie is like eating an elephant one bite at a time. When you’re doing a TV show it’s about five bites at a time.” Despite that, Hill said the decision to helm the pilot was an easy one. “I was attracted to the script. It was rich in character and incident but kind of rethought the Western in a very original way. That’s why I did it, that’s why I’m glad I did it and I think that’s why the show has been validated in a sense.”
* * *Bertram van Munster, producer of “The Amazing Race,” faced the inevitable question about the show’s victory over “The Apprentice” in the reality competition category with aplomb. “So did you all just tell Trump, ‘You’re fired!’?,” a reporter asked. Van Munster deadpanned, “I think it’s quite obvious.”
* * *Cynthia Nixon said she was still stunned backstage, not expecting to be the first lady from “Sex and the City” to win an Emmy. “It didn’t seem likely, no. (But) I’m not going to ask any questions. I’m just going to take it and hold it,” she said, clutching her trophy. Asked about having to beat out co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis, Nixon said the win was for the team. “We’re used to being nominated against each other,” she said. “I feel like when one of us wins, we’re all very excited.”
* * *Garry Shandling experienced a bit of déjà vu all over again when Kelsey Grammer won his fourth Emmy. “I thought it was unbelievable that Kelsey won and I thought I’d come out and say ‘I feel bad all over again,’ ” the former nominee for “Larry Sanders” cracked backstage. “I didn’t come on right after him in the program but I wish I could’ve.” Despite their old rivalry, Shandling said Grammer was happy to participate in a comic bit with him for the show, sending up their Emmy history.
* * *Broadway grande dame Elaine Stritch let loose a “Hallelujah!” backstage after winning an Emmy for her one-woman show “Elaine Stritch at Liberty.” She described the adrenaline rush behind her high-spirited speech as “a little scary.” “The relief is almost more than the award. There are a lot of things I do that I don’t want to, but I have to. It’s truly an emotional need for me to perform.”
* * *Terrence Winter attributed his writing win for “The Sopranos” episode “Long Term Parking” to the performances of two of the evening’s other winners: Michael Imperioli and de Matteo. Winter confessed that writing the episode’s shocking murder of de Matteo’s Adrianna wasn’t an easy task. “I’ve written my share of violent scenes before and I didn’t realize I was doing this but I wrote that scene exactly the way it was shot. The death happened off camera. I think I did that because I just didn’t want to see it. I didn’t need that image in my head of a character I’ve come to know and love over the years.” As for what comes next, Winter says he’ll be as surprised as anyone. “Everything that happens on the show is in David Chase’s head and I’m not going to know what’s next until at least January, when we go back to work.”
* * *Responding to rumors that he might be headed for the host desk at CBS’ “Late Late Show,” Jon Stewart said: “I can categorically tell you how false that is. I am very happy where I am. Three cheers for basic cable!” Stewart received several questions on current events backstage, but nothing set him off quite as much as a mention of Britney Spears’ wedding. “I just want to let you guys know … who gives a fuck? I know it’s gonna make the news ticker, and that makes me sad.”
* * *Yes, that was Leslie Moonves on ABC’s Emmycast. Twice, in fact. The CBS chairman/Viacom co-prexy popped up during a bit in which he and HBO topper Chris Albrecht tried to persuade host Garry Shandling that their nets would make the best home for Shandling’s faux reality skein “What’s at Garry’s Door?” Earlier, during ABC’s Emmy pre-show, George Lopez caught Moonves backstage — and immediately put the exec on live TV. “I’m happy to be here, even on ABC,” Moonves quipped. Moonves is no stranger to ABC’s air. The former thesp, who has made cameos on CBS skeins, popped up on an episode of the Alphabet’s “The Practice” two years ago. (Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)
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