“Game of Thrones” won its third Emmy for outstanding drama at the 70th Primetime Emmys, during a ceremony where the smirk of “Saturday Night Live” largely bypassed the smoldering anger of the #MeToo movement.
Monday’s Emmys were the fourth major awards show since the #MeToo era began and arguably represented the industry most affected by them. But instead of acknowledging the blemishes -- the firings of top executives and household names -- these Emmys chose to ignore them.
The ceremony began by addressing one elephant in the room -- diversity -- although it was more of an elephant from a year ago. “We solved it!” sang “SNL” stars Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson in the opening minutes with the help of some other nominees, including EGOT winner John Legend, referring to the lack of diversity that has plagued the Emmys (if not television itself) over the past 70 years.
When the hosts, Colin Jost and Michael Che of “SNL’s” “Weekend Update,” arrived after that introduction, they made a quick reference to #MeToo: It’s an honor to be sharing the night, said Che, “with the many talented people who haven’t been caught yet.” Jost: “This year the audience is allowed to drink in their seats. The one thing Hollywood needs now is people leaving their work inhibitions at a work function.”
And that was about as far as that went. Leslie Moonves, fired as CBS CEO two weeks ago following a pair of New Yorker articles that detailed a pattern of alleged sexual harassment dating back decades, was never mentioned. But the author of those articles was: Jost quipped that hearing the words “Ronan Farrow is on the line” is a call “you don’t want.”
It's an old joke even by now, but it still got a polite laugh.
With “Saturday Night Live” chief Lorne Michaels as producer of the ceremony, “SNL” (which would win an Emmy for Outstanding Sketch Variety Series) was expected to make some sort of splash at the 70th, and that expectation was met, sort of. Besides the McKinnon/Thompson opener, former cast members Maya Rudolph and Valley Stream native Fred Armisen, appeared as the telecast resident Emmy Experts. Mostly as throwaway, or filler, Che joked with them about their ample expertise about the Emmys, and naturally neither professed to an expertise at all, but vamped through some jokey answers to his or Jost’s questions. Mostly this served as promotion for their new Amazon series, “Forever,” certainly more than more than for “SNL.”
This Michaels production often seemed radically dissimilar to that other one he’s commanded the last 43 years. At least through the first couple of hours, there was not a single direct mention of President Donald Trump. Acceptance speeches and award introductions avoided Washington and current affairs for the most part. — highly unusual for recent award shows. Samantha Bee, host of “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” looked like she was ready to unload when presenting an award, but pulled back: “I’ve been watching the news,” she said. “They really need to recast the lead.” She then pulled her punch, saying, “I prefer Robin Wright,” referring to to the new president on “House of Cards.”
Two of “SNL’s” most famous Long Island-raised stars, McKinnon (Sea Cliff) and Alec Baldwin (Massapequa), had one of the evening’s most memorable moments, introducing 96-year-old Betty White. The actress -- who has won five Emmys -- gave a long tribute to the audience, to the business and (for some reason) to Michaels “for not only doing this (tribute) tonight but for all the other wonderful things he’s done with me and for me.”