It From Me, A Four-Time Emmy Nominee
By George McGrath
show I co-wrote, Tracey Ullman's Trailer Tales received five
nominations, but I'm not nominated for an Emmy this year. I was
not surprised -- I am not due for another series of nods until 2007.
No, I'm not Mrs. Nostradamus. It's pure mathematics.
my first nomination for writing Pee-wee's Playhouse in 1987.
In 1988, I was nominated again in the same category. In 1997,
I was nominated for producing Tracey Takes On. And in 1998,
I was nominated again in the same category. Clearly the gods of
numerology have created a mathematical path of nominations from
which I may not waver.
be completely honest. That's what people expect from a 4X Nominee.
The two Pee-wee's Playhouse nods were "Daytime"
nominations. For those of you who have not "dabbled in the
day," let me try to explain the difference between the two
the Primetime Emmy Awards is eating dinner in a fancy restaurant
with the five people you'd most want to meet -- dead or alive --
(excluding Jesus -- that would just be weird) -- and everyone compliments
you and hand-feeds you butterfly shrimp; the Daytime Emmys
is a gang-related picnic at a park in North Hollywood where you're
forced to eat burnt hot dogs because you accidentally walked your
dog too close to their piece of cardboard that had the word "Party"
and an arrow painted on it.
I didn't win any of the possible Emmy's dangled before me. Don't
get me wrong. I'm not bitter. I believe with the intensity of a
young Faith Ford that the real honor is the nomination and bla bla
bla. But when you're sitting there. And you're in a tuxedo. You
want to win. You really do.
save my Daytime reminiscences for a much-less-likely-to-be-written
essay. What follows are some Primetime memories and hopefully helpful
hints for the first-time nominee. But first a tip for the never-won
Always Get Nominated, But I Never Win. Do I Smell?
But it is unlikely that your nauseating stink is the main factor
in your losing streak.
served as a judge for the Primetime Emmy's for several years. I
have judged writing categories, variety series, specials, and once
(never again) mini-series. I am constantly surprised at the tapes
that people submit. Every year there are tapes submitted by really
great shows that show them at their worst. And the judges are specifically
told to NOT judge anything but the submitted tape, and to not let
their prior impressions of the show influence their vote.
trust your memory to select your entry -- watch it -- the whole
damn thing -- that's what the judges have to do. If it's for writing,
is there a big giant improvised piece where writing might normally
be? Does the host say something like "Well, that bombed"
more than once in his monologue? If it's a variety show, is one
of your guests Crispin Glover?
year I want to run to Conan O'Brien and cradle his pointy pink skull
in my arms and say, "Hush baby, let mama pick a tape to submit
for you this year. You just go home now and look pretty. Everything's
gonna be fine, baby. Real fine."
Shut Up. I've Got the Nomination. What Do I Do Now?
are some tips for this year's first-time nominees:
have a very important wardrobe tip for the men. Try on your tuxedo
shirt prior to the day of the show with enough time to replace
it should your neck have swollen since last year. You don't want
to choke, and you might be on camera. I know you don't want a
gullet. It barely worked for Charles Durning, it is certainly
not going to work for you. If the shirt's sleeves are still perfect,
you can go to a notions store and buy one of those neck button
extender things. But please make sure your bowtie gives it coverage.
Nobody wants to see your button extender.
the ladies, I have seen nominees and their "lady friends"
injured by heavily brocaded jacket and skirt sets. If you don't
want to sit on it, it shouldn't be on your outfit around the ass.
And, if you're wearing a new dress, have a loved one look at the
back before you show up. Rule of thumb. Never make others look
at parts of your body that you don't have to. I have seen women
arrive in backless gowns revealing a hideous back that they clearly
have never seen -- I'm talking moles. Scar tissue. Veins that
have worked their way to the surface when they shouldn't have.
Not to mention "dress induced crevices." You're not
Jessica Alba. Cover that scary thing.
the Big Night, Please Give Me Some Life-Saving Tips!
you are a recognizable celebrity, or an alcoholic, arrive in your
own car. If you take a limo, you will arrive in the same lane
as Doris Roberts and Jimmy Smits (god-willing) - and the fans
are waiting to see who pops out of that back seat. They want to
see Jennifer Garner. They don't want to see you. And their celebrity-induced
hysteria quickly turns to an unhappy rumbling of "Who's that?"
"Nobody." Rumble, rumble.
the love of god, bring your paperwork. Keep all your tickets and
passes in the envelope they came in, and let the appropriate temp
employees sort through it as needed. You're not Jean Smart --
if you don't have your tickets for everything, you're not getting
get drunk in the lobby before the show due to nervous insecurity.
You're not Frankie Muniz -- nobody is going to think you're cuter
a fun way to make four hours seem like three and a half. I like
to keep the big program in my lap and play "psychic predictions"
for each category as they come up. It is especially fun during
the series of awards you have no interest in and no opinion about.
(Like the sound editing awards category that "Horatio Hornblower"
walked away with.) Of course, you need a fun date to play along,
and please whisper -- Noah Wylie is a row away, he isn't
playing and doesn't want to hear you playing.
importantly, don't be too big to Nominee-watch. Try to spot the
actor and actress nominees when they come in and keep your eye
on them. Watch them anticipate their category - watch them pretend
to enjoy the other nominees' names being mentioned - watch them
while the winner gives their speech. Trust me. You will come home
with a bucket full of memories.
will never forget Della Reese having her mind blown when she didn't
win the Emmy she had told Joan Rivers "God wants me to have."
I'm sure I don't have to tell you the year was 1998. And the winner
in her category, Camryn Manheim, only made things worse by proclaiming
"This is for the fat girls." Della did not hide her displeasure,
and didn't work her scowl up into anything more attractive. You
know she was thinking, "Fat girls? I could eat you and then
eat a meatball hero. I walked through a plate glass window, bitch!"
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