The five best and worst Emmy moments -- Hint: Conan O'Brien was genius, Larry King was not, says Ken Tucker
Conan O'Brien
Credit: Conan O'Brien: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect

The five best and worst Emmy moments

It lasted too long, it made commercials for ”Crossing Jordan” unavoidable…and giving the nebulous ”Governors Award” to ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox for covering Sept. 11 assiduously seemed superfluous, bordering on the tasteless. How to summarize last night’s Emmy Awards? By picking the five best and worst moments of the evening, of course.


1. Host Conan O’Brien waking up in the Osbournes’ house only to find out he’s late for the Emmys. O’Brien’s acting here deserved its own Emmy, the Osbournes proved why they deserved their reality-show Emmy (awarded last week), and the capper — Conan stumbling onto the set of ”The Price Is Right” — was genius.

2. Conan threatening to cut off long speeches by performing ”the worst part of Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung.”’ The idea was brilliant; accompanying himself on acoustic guitar was — well, genius again. Oh, and did I mention that Conan making goo-goo eyes to Jennifer Aniston in the audience, and her goo-gooing right back was genius?

3. Ray Romano winning best actor in a comedy. Everybody in ”Everybody Loves Raymond” had won except for Raymond, and Romano had some terrific acting moments this season, so after numerous losing nominations, this was a sweet victory, made sour only by it necessitating the loss of another deserving guy (see the No. 3 below).

4. Larry David’s interview during the best-comedy nomination clip. True to his ”Curb Your Enthusiasm” character, he whined about even having to explain the premise of his show, and correctly complained that people should have, at that very moment, been tuned to HBO for a fresh episode of his fabulous sitcom instead of watching him Emmy-pump it.

5. Larry Willmore winning the writing award for the ”Bernie Mac Show” pilot. The best sitcom pilot of the past year was suitably honored, and Willmore managed to be both humbly moving and admirably quick-witted, sneaking in a cool Halle Berry-at-the-Oscars snap.


1. No awards for these shoulda-wons: ”Alias”’s Jennifer Garner, ”A Gathering Storm”’s Vanessa Redgrave, ”Six Feet Under”’s Peter Krause, and — well, see No. 3 on this list.

2. Larry King delivering a boring salute to Milton Berle and then stealing Berle’s trademark ”Make-up!” gag for a hollow non-laugh. I even felt bad for the little person who had to hit King’s smug mug with a giant powder-puff.

3. Matt LeBlanc losing best actor in a comedy. LeBlanc played Joey on ”Friends” so marvelously this season, letting us see his vulnerable, loving, and, yes, smart side, that it’s a shame he didn’t win, even if Ray Romano was still a solid choice.

4. The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award: not because of the award (it’s a heartfelt gesture); not because of the winner (Oprah Winfrey’s speech was eloquent, it made her boyfriend Steadman cry — a sight somehow both touching and hilarious). No, this was a bad moment because the bust itself looked so cheesy: Bob Hope doesn’t smile like that — his greatness has always been his snarky sneer. Hire another sculptor, please.

5. One word: Sting. I’ll elaborate: I would have even voted for Billy Joel to win over the lugubrious Gordon Sumner, but to think that Jon Stewart was nominated in this ludicrously all-over-the-map category (Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program) and lost to… Sting??

What did you think were the best and worst moments of the Emmy broadcast?