Backstage notes from the Emmys

After being greeted by reporters backstage with what he dismissed as “desultory applause,” William Shatner, bearing the supporting actor, drama Emmy for “Boston Legal,” explained the secret of his enduring appeal.

“I’m an example of what can happen if you don’t drink, don’t smoke, exercise every day, eat carefully, love passionately, and eat Wheaties,” he said. “Wheaties are good.”

* * *

Peter Boyle may not have won an Emmy for CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond,” but the show’s surprise win for comedy series made up for it.

“We beat the ‘Desperate Housewives’!” he said.

“Yeah, ’cause we don’t like ‘em!” Ray Romano added.

Romano turned sober — but not too sober — talking about the end of his show’s nine-year run. “It is our swan song, and (winning) kind of symbolizes the closure at the end, and I miss it already. I’m gonna go bawl now.”

* * *

Hugh Jackman, who scooped up his first Emmy for hosting the 2004 Tony Awards, says he won because “basically, I’ll make an ass of myself anywhere.”

Thesp shook his rear on stage — and coaxed Sarah Jessica Parker to do the same — in a leopard print shirt and gold pants during last year’s kudocast.

As for golden guy, Jackman said the trophy will go in storage until he buys a home. What would his five-year-old son do? “Probably look at it for an hour then paint it or throw it in the pool.”

* * *

The producers of CBS’ “The Amazing Race” were thrilled — but not exactly shocked — by their third consecutive win for reality competition program.

“I think the fun part of the show is, every hour is completely different. There’s no formula by any stretch of imagination,” creator-exec producer Bertram van Munster said.

“We like to keep it real, we turn people loose, we let them do things all over the world, and we are just as surprised by the outcome as the audience is.”

* * *

Jane Alexander picked up her second Emmy for revisiting the Roosevelts in the HBO movie “Warm Springs,” in which she played the mother of Franklin Roosevelt. (She played his wife Eleanor in the 1976 ABC mini “Eleanor and Franklin.”)

During the kudocast, Alexander said the Roosevelts “were great leaders at a time when our nation needed great leaders… their stories are inspiring and will live forever.”

Asked backstage whether there have been any worthy successors, the four-time Academy Award nominee said the great ones reveal themselves in times of severe crisis — “and I’m still waiting for leaders like them to come out today.”

* * *

So, who were all those people “House” creator-exec producer David Shore said made him so “miserable and cynical and angry” over the years?

“That’d be really foolish for me to say,” chuckled the drama-writing Emmy winner. “I would not want to give them the attention they so don’t deserve.”

On a more positive note, Shore thanked Fox for believing in the rookie medical drama. “A year ago, we were getting excellent reviews that said, ‘Great show, it’s gonna die a horrible death on Fox.’ They were wrong.”

* * *

“Everybody Loves Raymond” mom Doris Roberts made it five for five last night, but insisted the win for supporting actress came as a surprise.

Backstage, however, she admitted to reporters “I have four other ones at home. Before I left I told them, ‘Girls, move over. I’m coming home with another one.” She added she was “so sorry” that co-star Peter Boyle didn’t win; Boyle is the only “Raymond” cast member not feted with an Emmy.

Roberts, a vocal and longtime advocate against ageism in Hollywood, said this time was especially sweet. “I’m up against these crazy gorgeous women and look who got (the prize). This is another goodie for me.”

* * *

Visibly shocked upon winning the lead actress Emmy for HBO’s “Lackawanna Blues,” S. Epatha Merkerson was much more relaxed by the time she got backstage.

“I think that it’s our time,” she said of herself and fellow winners Blythe Danner, Doris Roberts and Jane Alexander — all women over 50. “We’re interesting women, and we’re not dead women, we’re very much alive, we’re very sexy and intelligent and vibrant. Hot flashes and all.”

* * *

“Our goal is to frustrate the hell out of you,” joked “Lost” creator-exec producer J.J. Abrams, who landed his first Emmy for directing the series pilot.

But seriously folks, “ABC has been remarkably supportive of the show,” Abrams said. “I can’t imagine the stories going anywhere else. It feels like we’re right where we’re supposed to be.”

Days away from the season premiere, Abrams did promise resolution to spring’s doozy of a cliffhanger, right before adding “of course, it leads to other questions, so I apologize.”

* * *

Though few expected her to take the lead actress Emmy for NBC drama “Medium,” a teary-eyed Patricia Arquette could barely talk about anything backstage — least of all herself — other than the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina.

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve done a lot. I’m one of a lot of people who did a little, and I want to do more,” said Arquette, adding that celebrity outreach was not an obligation.

“I wouldn’t feel right about telling people what they should do. But this is wartime. There’s half a million people homeless overnight. And all the poor, all the working poor who live from paycheck to paycheck, and the middle class,” she said, her voice trailing off. “I mean, I know Trent Lott’s gonna get a new house. But a lot of people aren’t.”

* * *

Lead actor winner James Spader may be two for two, but the process of segueing from “The Practice” to “Boston Legal” was nothing short of “a nightmare.”

“This character of Alan Shore was perceived as just this destructive force on ‘The Practice.’ How do you construct a show with just that?” he said.

If it’s one thing the slimy attorney has retained in the transition, though, it’s sex appeal.

“It is my life,” Spader deadpanned. “There doesn’t seem to be anything more important than that, except food and sleep, and my children. And sex — with women,” he added.

* * *

Following their tribute from the TV Academy, former anchors Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather laid the burden of excellence on the next generation of news reporters.

“At the core, the red, beating heart of reporting is something with intelligence, something with quality, something that aspires to excellence,” Rather said.

“For example,” Brokaw cut in, “your lead for tonight might be, ‘Flashing their characteristic intelligence and brilliance, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather…”

* * *

Forget all the rumors about competition between the “Desperate Housewives.”

“A win for one is a win for all — and I’m not just saying that because Dumas did,” lead actress winner Felicity Huffman said.

Nonetheless, the thesp was still shocked by her victory. “I can’t believe I’m here, it’s an out-of-body experience. I fear they’re gonna come in and say, ‘I’m sorry, they didn’t mean Felicity Huffman, they meant Shmelicity Guffman.’ “

* * *

Tony Shalhoub wanted to accept his second acting Emmy in character. “I did think about accepting the award with a handkerchief,” the “Monk” star said. Giving the trophy a shake, he added, “But I just really like the feeling of it.”

Shalhoub reasons that viewers and voters likely identify with the obsessive-compulsive sleuth. “Monk is such an irritating and annoying character, I think everyone relates to that at some point.”

But that doesn’t mean the thesp has tired of the guy. “I’m not getting bored. It’s just the opposite. I’m in a constant state of discovery,” he said. “It’s been the time of my life, really.”

* * *

“Man, I bet the DVD is just going to go through the roof,” said “Lost” cast member Jorge Garcia, who celebrated backstage with the men of the island after “Lost” won the night’s top prize in drama.

Co-star Matthew Fox took a more sincere tact. “This award means we’ve just got to continue telling great stories. We have a lot to live up to now.” J.J. Abrams chimed in: “As much as we would have hoped, you never expect it. We’re just grateful the show is being recognized.”

As for what’s in the mysterious hatch, all were mum. “That’s what the whole red carpet was about,” an exasperated Garcia said. “What’s in the hatch? What’s in the hatch?”

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