Trump's former press secretary tells EW about his cameo during awards host Stephen Colbert's opening monologue

By Lynette Rice
September 18, 2017 at 01:16 AM EDT

As Sean Spicer tells it, the people who attend the Emmys in Los Angeles are “not exactly a Republican crowd.”

But it didn’t take much to convince Donald Trump’s former press secretary to make an appearance on TV’s biggest night Sunday. At the top of the show, Spicer entered the stage with a mobile podium that shocked both the audience and his SNL doppelgänger Melissa McCarthy. As it turns out, that’s exactly what the producers were going for when booking the polarizing politico.

Credit Stephen Colbert for making the stunt come to life. EW learned that Spicer was approached last Tuesday about doing the short skit. It would only require one line of dialogue: “This is the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person and around the world,” Spicer said, spoofing his post-inauguration press conference where he chastised media for reports about the crowd size at Trump’s swearing-in.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Apparently, a source told EW, it wasn’t a tough sell. But Spicer didn’t learn he would be doing it with a portable podium until Saturday. To maintain the big secret, Spicer participated in a closed rehearsal behind locked doors earlier Sunday.

“There was timing involved,” said one CBS source. “Getting in and out of backstage and driving a podium across the main stage of the Emmys is no easy feat.

After the show, no one from Colbert’s producing team was taking questions — they wanted the show to “speak for itself.” But one source said Colbert was well aware of the potential blowback, and for good reason: before the show was even over, several tweets circulated accusing the Emmys “of normalizing” an agent of Trump.

But you’d never know it seeing Spicer, who posed for several pictures in the lobby after his brief appearance. Approached at the Governors Ball after the Emmys, Spicer said the entire experience had been pleasant, save “one errant comment in the last 24 hours.” Even while taking questions from EW, several people approached Spicer wanting to shake his hand and thank him for being at the show.

“Life outside of the White House has been shockingly enjoyable,” he told EW. As for the gig, he said “everyone has been very gracious” even though “it’s not exactly a Republican crowd.” Smiling, he and his wife then continued to make the rounds at the ball.

—With additional reporting by Tim Stack