Emmy got political Sunday night.
Big winners included HBO’s historical docudrama “John Adams,” which scored the top miniseries Emmy, and the channel’s take on the 2000 presidential election “Recount” — which won the top TV movie prize.
Awards gave producers and stars ample opportunity to make subtle (and some not-so-subtle) references to this year’s hotly contested race between John McCain and Barack Obama.
“The election between Jefferson and Adams was filled with innuendo, lies, a bitter partisan press and disinformation,” said Tom Hanks, whose Playtone shingle produced “John Adams.” “How great we’ve come so far since then.”
“John Adams” scribe Kirk Ellis, who won for outstanding writing in a longform, also took a dig at the current campaign when he thanked HBO and Playtone execs for “this amazing opportunity to talk about a period in our history when articulate men articulated complex thoughts in complete sentences.”
Ellis had more to say — but was cut off by an Emmy director with an itchy trigger finger.
“John Adams” star Laura Linney, who won for lead actress in a mini or movie, threw some support toward Obama, although not by name. Referencing recent Republican attacks on Obama’s stint as a community organizer, Linney said the miniseries made her “so grateful and thankful for the community organizers that helped form our country.”
With this year’s election likely to be tight, “Recount” producer Paula Weinstein and director Jay Roach both warned that the events depicted in their telepic could once again reemerge in 2008.
“It’s going to get close again, this election,” said Roach, clutching his outstanding directing in a longform Emmy. “Keep your local officials honest and please vote, vote, vote.”
Interestingly, Obama’s name wasn’t uttered once — but Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin came up a few times during the kudofest. The Emmycast’s five hosts began the show by yammering on about not having a show open — leading Howie Mandel to compare their stage time to “Sarah Palin’s bridge to nowhere.”
Later, Kathy Griffin cracked another Palin-McCain gag.
Then there’s Jon Stewart, who picked up the Emmy for outstanding variety/music/comedy series — and couldn’t resist mentioning that he looks forward to a White House transition.
“I have nothing to follow that up with,” he said. “I’m just saying I really look forward to the next administration, whoever it is.”