Emmy winner reactions

Backstage notes from the Nokia

Matt Weiner, holding the drama series trophy in front of the cast of “Mad Men,” said he was surprised that so much was made about the show being the first basic-cable skein to win series honors.

“I didn’t know there was such a caste system at the Emmys and that they were so segregated,” said the “Mad Men” creator. “I’m also surprised we have this amazing cast and no one was asked to present tonight.”

Most of the questions were directed at series star Jon Hamm, including, “How much of him is in lead character Donald Draper?

“Any actor brings a certain percentage of themselves to any part they play,” Hamm said. “I don’t behave like Don behaves, but it is fun to dress up and smoke and drink in fakeland. That part is really fun.”

* * *

Tina Fey has already decided which of the three Emmys she collected this year for “30 Rock” she likes the most. Her win for lead comedy actress means that “maybe I can stop apologizing for being an actor and being on the show. The show win, that really belongs to everyone – so I don’t like it as much.”

Asked why the show has struck a chord with Emmy voters two years in a row, Fey cited “our wonderfully diverse and talented cast, and Alec (Baldwin) who elevates the material. And I think we have a great writing staff.” Baldwin chimed in: “It’s almost like actor-proof, the writing.”

* * *

All the research Laura Linney undertook for “John Adams” continues to be making an impression on the actress who played John’s wife, Abigail.

“I got my hands on every book I could, and I’m still reading” she said. “It gave me a real understanding how people can become addicted to American history.”

She called the role “one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. It was difficult and challenging, but that’s what good work should be. It was a Herculean task. We knew it could be really good or really silly. We’re just so glad it worked out.”

* * *

Kirk Ellis, who won for writing the “John Adams” miniseries, was visibly upset when asked his feelings about having his acceptance speech cut off.

“They can spend 30 minutes on reality shows and the people that create the work don’t get enough time to talk,” Ellis said, prompting a rousing ovation from the assembled media.

And what was it that he wanted to say?

“(‘John Adams’) was about articulate men talking in complete sentences. The word could change the world. That’s what happened with the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Of course words matter.”

* * *

Jeff Probst, winner for reality program host, said he couldn’t give an opinion about how the opening segment went over, but the premise for the skit was never settled because the five reality show hosts couldn’t come up with a unified idea.

“That’s why we ended up with nothing,” the “Survivor” host explained. “Did it work? I don’t know. According to (Jeremy) Piven, it didn’t.”

“It’s hard to know when you’re in the middle of something how it’s going, and hard to have five people agree on anything.”

* * *

Jay Roach, holding the made-for trophy that came for helming HBO’s 2000 election-aftermath-themed “Recount,” elaborated on what he was trying to say earlier on stage: “I just wanted to say that ‘Recount’ was about the notion that democracy really does depend on fair elections. We really don’t want to go somewhere and do “Recount 2.”

A noted director of comedies, including the “Austin Powers” franchise, Roach noted his affinity for political subject matter. “I’ve always been kind of a junkie when it comes to reading about politics,” he said.

* * *

Glenn Close, winner of the drama series trophy for FX’s “Damages,” further embellished on the “Drama TV Sisterhood of Divas,” the informal group in which she’s placed herself in alongside several British heavyweights.

“Actresses like Helen Mirren and Judy Dench have been my inspiration,” Close noted. “They go wherever there’s great material.

Will an Emmy win help “Damages”? she was asked: “There’s an incredible amount of content on television right now,” she said. “Anything that can help focus what’s going on with a particular show is very useful.”

* * *

Jon Stewart, speaking for the “Daily Show” gang that just claimed its sixth consecutive variety, musical or comedy series trophy, laughed as a journo asked him if it gratified him to watch his “son” (aka Stephen Colbert) “take off” (i.e. win the variety, musical or comedy writing trophy).

“Is this like a ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ thing?” quipped Stewart, who then noted in baritone, “To see Laser Wolf do so well…”

There wasn’t exactly a spike in Stewart’s enthusiasm for further questions, with the comic summing up the crew’s feelings about yet another series win. “It’s nice to come out here and do well,” he remarked. It’s a long flight… It’s been a long fuckin’ night.”

* * *

Paul Giamatti, winner for lead actor in a miniseries, said playing the title character in HBO’s “John Adams” was an incredibly difficult endeavor.

Not just because of the wig, costume, wooden teeth and hours of makeup, but the fact that he was nearly in every scene of the seven-part mini.

“It was long, hard, and I never shut up,” he admitted. “I felt like it was never going to end. I had never done anything like that before.”

* * *

Don Rickles, winner of individual performance in variety, music program for “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project,” thanked Frank Sinatra for the advice that made his career.

“He said stop singing,” quipped the octogenarian comic, who — belying his reputation — took it easy on the Emmy kudocast when asked by a scribe to assess it.

“It’s very difficult to keep something like this going,” said Rickles, noting his fondness for Ricky Gervais’ earlier performance. “I think tonight was very entertaining. I thought that British gentleman was a riot.”

* * *

Carrying the Emmy for comedy series directing, Barry Sonnenfeld downplayed the early friction on the set of ABC’s “Pushing Daisies.”

“The whole Peter Roth thing you read about last year was really a coup attempt by an executive producer who is no longer on the show and who tried to get me kicked off the show because she felt threatened,” noted Sonnenfeld, who said he’s had recent discussions with Warner TV topper Roth about future endeavors.

“There was never anything weird between me and Peter,” he added.

* * *

So with “The Amazing Race” winning in all six years of eligibility and dominating the reality competition category, is there any chance that the show might not submit itself next year and possibly give someone else a chance?

“I doubt it, I really do. We love these statues,” said exec producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Added exec producer Betram Van Munster: “We producing a better show than before, that’s the frightening part. It’s so energizing to produce a show that has such enthusiasm around the world.”

* * *

Stephen Colbert didn’t want to get too political backstage, but he said, in the same way Tina Fey nailed a Sarah Palin imitation, he could do as good a job impersonating the Alaska governor because “I also have no experience in being vice president.”

Now that “The Colbert Report” has won an Emmy, the host said he didn’t have to suck up to friend and “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart anymore.

“I’ve been gunning for him for years,” Colbert said. “Even when I worked for him, I never wished him well.”

* * *

Three-time Emmy winner Jeremy Piven was as befuddled as most everyone else when it came to the Emmy telecast’s “we’ve got nothing to say” opening.

“I thought we were being punked,” said Piven, who is currently doing a legit version of “Speed the Plow.” “I was confused. It was awkward. It felt like ‘The Producers’ when they do ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ ”

Piven said that he could see “Entourage” going on for another 10 years and that he considers “The Larry Sanders Show,” in which he co-starred, as the best show ever on television.

As to now being only two away from Don Knotts’ five Emmy wins for supporting in a comedy, Piven deadpanned, “There isn’t a moment when I don’t ask myself, ‘When am I going to take down Don Knotts?”

* * *

Jean Smart, whose Emmy triumph in supporting actress for comedy was her third overall, remarked on the maternal feelings she has for “Samantha Who?” star Christina Applegate.

“I feel very protective of her,” said Smart, noting the former “Married with Children” star’s battle with breast cancer. “I was shocked when she told me — I started to cry a little, and I said, ‘This isn’t because I know anything is going to happen to you. I think you’re going to be fine, but I hate to see you go through this.’ ”

Smart, however, didn’t say whether she gave Applegate the career advice she gives aspiring female actors. “I don’t encourage young women to go into this business,” Smart said, explaining her take on being a women in Hollywood older than 35. “I don’t think it’s a particularly healthy business.”

* * *

Zeljko Ivanek, whose lengthy TV career includes work on such prestigious shows as “Oz,” “Homicide” and, most recently the “John Adams” miniseries, said he appreciated the heartfelt, rather than obligatory, applause from the Nokia crowd following his win for supporting actor on a drama for “Damages.”

“I did feel that. It was amazing. I was stunned by that,” he admitted. “I spend most of my time in New York and I feel I’m slightly sneaking through the back door when I come here. It was a nice welcome.” 

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