NEW YORK — Nice job, Jimmy.
As host of Sunday's Emmy broadcast, Jimmy Fallon struck a clear contrast to last year's host, Neil Patrick Harris, who wowed viewers with his sleek versatility and cool.
Fallon is a versatile performer, too, but the Harris brand of show-biz smooth just isn't part of his skill set.Story: 'Mad Men' and 'Modern Family' take top awards
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Instead, Fallon is puppy-dog eager, a nice guy who wants to accommodate his guests and his audience. He's a TV star who never pulls rank, a celebrity who seems to see himself as an equal to his fans. As he's demonstrated since taking over "Late Night" 18 months ago, that's not the worst thing for a TV personality to be.
He demonstrated it all again on the Emmycast, aired live by NBC from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre.Slideshow: Emmy Awards red carpet
The show started with a bang as Fallon bumped into the stars from "Glee," who complained that, in the spirit of the high school students they play, they couldn't afford the tickets to the Emmycast. Solution: Put on a show to raise money! "Glee" stars joined forces with Tina Fey ("30 Rock"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Jorge Garcia ("Lost"), Randy Jackson ("American Idol") and others in a song-and-dance rendition of "Born to Run," complete with Fallon in jeans and white T-shirt channeling Bruce Springsteen.
Then, in brief opening remarks, he scored a bulls-eye when he explained that "NBC asked me, the host of 'Late Night,' to come to Los Angeles to host a different show. What could possibly go wrong?"
Cut to Conan O'Brien, Fallon's "Late Night" predecessor and the short-lived host of "Tonight," seated in the hall giving the camera a world-weary nod.
The broadcast was neatly divided into genres (comedy, reality, drama, variety, and miniseries and movies), each of which Fallon introduced with a few riffs accompanied by guitar and a different star beside him. The reality category was introduced by "they don't have writers and they don't have plots, they're the only thing on TV that people still watch."Story: Stars do sunset shades on Emmys red carpet
The show's brisk pace was assisted by the occasional brief but funny filmed bit, such as suggestions for how to improve the ABC comedy (and soon-to-be-Emmy-winner) "Modern Family": Have the show's gay couple adopt a second child, Stewie, the tyrannical baby from the cartoon series "Family Guy"; film the show in 3-D to highlight cast member Sofia Vergara's voluptuousness; and swap out one of the male regulars for George Clooney.
Fallon proved himself a quick-change artist as he performed a musical tribute to beloved drama series that ended their runs last season.
Glitzed up as Elton John at a pink piano, he marveled to the tune of "Candle in the Wind" that "24" hero Jack Bauer "never went to the men's room, how did he hold it in?" And as Green Day's Billie Jo Armstrong, he wailed a farewell to "Lost": "The island, it was mystical, and in the end they died. I didn't understand it, but I tried."Video: Betty White sketch opens Emmys (on this page)
Presenter Ricky Gervais was predictably a hoot. He wondered aloud why the Golden Globes serves alcohol to those in attendance, but not the Emmys.
"Who wants a beer?" he trumpeted as waiters arrived, dispensing beer to the theater's first few rows.
Then he expressed sly delight that the winner of his designated category (directing for a variety, music or comedy special) was named Bucky Gunts.
"I didn't know you could say that on television," Gervais chortled.
The night's biggest letdown, at least for anyone who cared (and that probably included Fallon, a champion of social media): the much-touted intros solicited from the tweeting public. The few chosen for reading on-air ranged from stupid to nonsensical. (Sample: "Tina Fey — I'd hit that.") As a Twitter showcase for a mainstream TV audience, it was a missed opportunity.
But that was a minor shortcoming in a show that moved with slick efficiency, nicely energized by Fallon. "The fact that I get to work in TV is beyond belief," he told viewers at the start, and his delight in being there was infectious throughout.
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