After four-decade wait, Henry Winkler takes home his first Emmy
It took 43 years, but The Fonz finally won an Emmy.
Henry Winkler was given what some might call a long-overdue trophy at the 70th Annual Emmy Awards on Monday night. Winkler won for best supporting actor in a comedy series as an acting coach in HBO’s dark comedy Barry.
It was the first win for the actor, who was nominated three times for Happy Days and as a guest star on The Practice.
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“I wrote this 43 years ago,” joked Winkler in his acceptance speech.
Lead actor Bill Hader also won for best actor in a comedy series for playing the title role in Barry.
Amy Sherman-Palladino’s smart and immensely charming The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, about a housewife trying to become a comic, was off to a marvellous start Monday, winning several awards, including writing and directing for Sherman-Palladino.
“My father inspired this. So I had to turn a six-foot-four-inch Jew into Rachel Brosnahan,” said Sherman-Palladino.
Alex Borstein won best supporting actress in a comedy, and Brosnahan won best actress in a comedy for the series.
“It’s about a woman finding her voice. And it’s happening all over the country,” said Brosnahan, who implored women to vote in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections.
The political statements at Monday’s awards started on the red carpet, with black-ish star Jenifer Lewis sporting a Nike jersey with a metal-studded swoosh.
The sporting good giant recently faced backlash after featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its Just Do It campaign. Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against police brutality became a divisive political issue.
Inside the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, John Legend, Ricky Martin, Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson performed a musical number, singing ironically that they had solved the diversity problem in Hollywood.
“This year’s group is the most diverse group in Emmy history,” said Thompson. “It’s one step closer to a Black Sheldon.”
Hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost amped up the race discussion, saying that at the first Emmy awards 70 years ago, “everyone agreed that Nazis were bad” — a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., last year.
It was risky having two male comics host the 70th Emmy Awards, given this was the first show of the #MeToo era — sparked by last year’s sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein — and so many talented female comics were available.
The last woman to host the Emmys was Jane Lynch in 2011.
But producer Lorne Michaels chose a range of presenters so the spotlight wasn’t always on the two hosts.
In some ways, this year’s Emmys, broadcast on a Monday to avoid a conflict with NBC’s Sunday Night Football, was already a winner from a diversity point of view. Thirty-six of the nominees for the acting awards were visible minorities. That’s up from 27 last year, which was already a record.
Canadian Sandra Oh was the first performer of Asian descent to be nominated for a lead drama actress trophy, for BBC America’s spy thriller Killing Eve. Oh was a sentimental favourite, having garnered five supporting actress nods for Grey’s Anatomy.
Meanwhile, Tracee Ellis Ross of black-ish and Issa Rae of HBO’s Insecure were vying to become the first African-American in more than 35 years to win best comedy actress. Six-time winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus of the HBO series Veep was sitting this year out.
At last week’s Creative Arts Emmys, African-American actors saw a historic sweep in the four guest actor categories, including Tiffany Haddish for Saturday Night Live, Samira Wiley for The Handmaid’s Tale, Ron Cephas Jones for This Is Us and Katt Williams for Atlanta.
Michaels, the creator of Saturday Night Live, was hired to help draw a younger audience for the show. The last time Michaels produced the Emmys was three decades ago, when The Golden Girls ruled the comic universe.
This is a much different television world, of course, and a far more fragmented one, with online programmers such as Netflix and Hulu now at the fore.
This year Netlfix scored the most Emmy nominations, at 112, the first time a streaming company has beaten a conventional network. HBO had 108.
When former presidential spokesperson Sean Spicer took to the stage at last year’s Emmy Awards, hosted by Stephen Colbert, he announced it would be the most widely watched show ever.
He lied. It was nearly the lowest-rated Emmys in history, with 11.4 million viewers.
This year, NBC hoped to turn the tide in the show’s 70th edition with the help of Michaels.
Tony Wong is the Star's television critic based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @tonydwong
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