Road to the Emmys: Down to the Wire - The Host

In October 2006, Jane Lynch hosted the inaugural Race for the Rescues, an event raising funds and awareness for Los Angeles-based animal-rescue groups. She presided over a fashion show featuring pooches in whimsical outfits.

“That was the first thing I ever hosted, and now I’m hosting the Emmys,” Lynch says. “What a jump.”

But though the Emmys represent somewhat higher prestige, animals remain close to her heart. Not letting the Hollywood glitterati get to her head, she’s still scheduled to host the 2011 rescue-dog event, a month after her Emmy breakthrough.

Lynch is well known for her uproarious characters in Christopher Guest films (“Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind,” “For Your Consideration”) and supporting roles in the cult series “Party Down” and the hit sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” Lately, though, she is best known for her witheringly deadpan turn as snark-happy Sue Sylvester on Fox’s “Glee,” for which she won an Emmy last year and is nominated again.

When Emmy producer Mark Burnett asked her to host, she was taken aback, but only for a moment.

“I was surprised, and then not. Something felt so right about it,” Lynch says. “I had never had the fantasy of hosting an awards show, and then when he asked me, it felt so right. Yet I was also a little fearful and didn’t know I could do it.

“But you know those moments where your back is up against the wall and you’re fearful and you say ‘yes’ anyway — that sort of hero’s journey thing — I did it. I didn’t say, ‘Let me think about it.’ ”

Lynch added her longtime comedy collaborator Jill Soloway (“Six Feet Under,” “United States of Tara”) to Burnett’s writing staff. Last year, Lynch appeared as Sylvester in the Emmy ceremony’s well-received opening sequence, hosted by Jimmy Fallon.

Hence, she doubts viewers will see Sue Sylvester’s iconic track suit this year.

“I appeared as her last year, so maybe it would be better to focus on other characters on television,” says Lynch, who is quick to give huzzahs to Fallon. While critics have often derided past Emmycasts and their respective hosts, Fallon received top marks.

“Jimmy did a great job,” Lynch says. “He was so in the moment and charming. I watched him in rehearsals and he was so relaxed, so I take my cue from the way he handled himself. This is something to be relaxed about, to be prepared for, to trust your producers and writers and just go out and have fun.”

And, besides surrounding herself with experienced kudocast pros, what does she have to do to make sure it goes as smoothly this time around?

Says Lynch: “Just show up and stay present.”

ROAD TO THE EMMYS: DOWN TO THE WIRE:
Emmy gold: Doors of perception | Burnett preps for Emmy kudocast | Lynch readies for Emmy host duties | No shortage of high end Emmy parties

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