The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards (2012) - Plot Summary Poster

(2012 TV Special)


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  • Jimmy Kimmel hosts the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in television.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • (Backstage, 20 minutes ago)

    In a bathroom, Christina Hendricks assesses Zooey Deschanel's "I can't believe I just won face" of agape shock. Hendrick's version is a sultry pout, naturally.

    Mindy Kaling joins in, throwing gang signs. Someone runs by sobbing. Martha Plimpton watches as Connie Britton checks on the sobbing blur who just ran in. She knocks on a stall door and opens it to find Lena Dunham ("Girls") eating cake naked on the toilet, not crying.

    Kathy Bates is on the scene, ready to get to the source of the sound. "Stand back, yoga pants," she tells Britton, before she rips the door off its hinges.

    They see the sobber: Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel. He got a little Botox, and he looks like a cross between Janice Dickinson and The Joker.

    "You look so natural," Bates tells him.

    They try to reassure him, but he doesn't think he can host. From the adjoining stall, the reality show disaster hosts of a few years back (Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest, Jeff Probst and Tom Bergeron) pop up and offer to step in. Then think better of it.

    Zooey assures Jimmy he looks "really excited."

    Jimmy hates his face, but Kathy offers to "punch it back in for him." The actresses take turns decking him (including Lena, still naked) until his face looks normal.

    His resolve returns. "I am going to host this show until it's pregnant," he announces. When he goes on a little too long, Julia Louis-Drefys steps in with a right cross.

    "I'm sorry I'm late," she says.

    Jimmy is ready, and throws off his bathrobe. He's not wearing any pants, and you can't host without pants.

    "Here, take mine," offers the suddenly appearing Ellen DeGeneres.

    Jimmy pulls on the pants (capris on him) and heads off.

    The show begins.

    Jimmy Kimmel takes the stage (in pants that fit). "Welcome to the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards. You spent 10 hours getting ready, you got heat stroke on the red carpet, you haven't had a carbohydrate in months, but it will all be worth it to find out if the award for best reality host goes to Cat Deeley," he says. (Cut to Cat over-laughing.)

    "We are here tonight to honor television, the most popular entertainment medium around the world, and the only American product the Chinese haven't figured out how to make," he says.

    He tells us about TV inventor Philo T Farnsworth, who got the idea while working his fields one day. "And now, thanks to Philo T Farnsworth, we have 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.' Nice job, dumbass."

    He notes the abundance of British actors nominated, and compliments Downton Abbey. "It's not the kind of show I typically watch, but it really gives you a sense of what it must have been like to grow up in Mitt Romney's house."

    "Being a Republican in Hollywood is like being a Chik-fil-A sandwich on the snack table at 'Glee.'"

    He asks if anyone else is bothered that the President's favorite show is "Homeland." "I don't think the President should be watching 'Homeland' for the same reason I don't think Charlie Sheen should watch 'Breaking Bad.'"

    He welcomes one of the new faces in the audience, Lena Dunham, who's 26 and been nominated for acting, writing and directing. "I don't have a joke here, I just wanted to make everyone feel bad about themselves."

    Jimmy singles Jon Hamm out of the audience. "Jon, you gave a tremendous performance this year and I, for one, am shocked that you didn't win tonight.... Too soon?"

    He notes that the big four networks, for the first time, had no Best Drama nominees - all were in cable. "The Academy is sending the networks a pretty clear message, and that message is: Show us your boobs."

    He tells the nominees that tonight they'll be asked to play their most challenging role yet, "that of an actor who is happy for the success of another actor."

    "The important thing is we get out of here as soon as possible so you can go home and put on your fat pants. Let's get this going, poor Steve Buscemi hasn't eaten in a week."

    On to the first genre, comedy, with clips.

    Amy Poehler and Louis CK are out to present the "first of 800 awards this evening."

    Amy talks about how the first presenters set the tone for the entire evening, radiating love or impressing people. Louis CK fidgets. "You look really nice," he tries. "Nope, you ruined it," she says.

    For Best Actor in a Comedy, the Emmy goes to: Eric Stonestreet from "Modern Family" who gets congrats from his nominated costars Ed O'Neill and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell. He thanks Jesse, saying there would be no Cam without Mitch and it's fun to represent a happy, loving couple.

    "I never knew I'd be on TV as a gay man, but I love the pictures of hairy chests you guys are sending me. It's really amazing, thank you for those."

    He thanks his management and encourages all struggling actors to keep at it.

    Jim Parsons and Zooey Deschanel are out next, for best writing in a comedy series. They asked the nominees how their childhood teachers would describe them.

    Chris McKenna from "Community" starts, but Donald Glover interrupts, to play him. "My teachers would describe me as a black typhoon of comedy," Glover says for McKenna (who is white).

    Lena Dunham of "Girls" says her childhood teachers would describe her as "inquisitive" and her high school teachers would say "asleep."

    Amy Poehler and Michael Schur of "Parks and Rec" are thrown by the question and ask what everyone else is doing, concluding there's no way Louis is doing it.

    Cut to a still of Louis, who did not participate.

    And the Emmy goes to Louis CK.

    "Well, I won an Emmy just now," he says, thanking people, including his kids.

    Jimmy Kimmel sits in the audience between Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad," and wonders what their show would have been like before cable.

    A clip runs of Cranston and Paul in their yellow meth making suits, walking down a river bank in black and white, a la "The Andy Griffith" show, complete with whistling theme.

    Aaron Paul skips stones and they wave to Don Knotts in a boat, then shoot him.

    Jon Cryer and Cat Dennings are out next to present Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy. The Emmy goes to: Julie Bowen of "Modern Family."

    "My job really amounts to me falling down while making faces and wearing lipstick and nipple covers. And the fact that that could be translated at any time into an award or something artful is really a testament to the people that hired me...who edit me... to our writers, who write things much better than 'nipple covers.' And to the ABC censors for insisting on nipple covers."

    Matthew Perry is out next to announce the winners for guest actor and actress in a comedy, which were announced last Saturday. He wondered why he'd announce something that was already announced. "And then I remembered, I like attention."

    Guest Actor in a Comedy went to Jimmy Fallon for "Saturday Night Live" and Guest Actress went to Kathy Bates for "Two and a Half Men."

    Fallon and Bates are out to present the Emmy for Best Comedy Director. They asked the nominees who make the best comedy directors. Lena Dunham: "Jewish men?"

    Robert Weide (Curb Your Enthusiasm) deadpans that a great director has to have a great sense of humor.

    Jason Winer (Modern Family): "Jews."

    Jake Kasdan (New Girl): "People with a strong, supportive laugh." And then he giggles like a 10 year old girl.

    Louis CK: "I don't know."

    Steven Levitan (Modern Family): A clip of a current Dustin Hoffman calling out Mrs. Robinson for trying to seduce him. He steps out and gives Dustin advice. He does not take it.

    Steve Levitan wins. "First of all, I want to thank me for hiring me as a director, when no one else would. I wouldn't be standing here without my faith in me," he says, before thanking a few other people.

    A clip of the adult Modern Family cast rolls, with Julie Bowen saying they really are like a family and she loves everyone. Jesse Tyler Ferguson corrects her. "Lily" comes in and they all shudder. "What's going on? I know it's not a table read, because all of you showed up," she says.

    Eric Stonestreet calls her a monster. She rolls Ty's steps away from his trailer and then knocks for him. He face plants as he falls out.

    Sofia Vergara tells her she looks pretty. "Can somebody tell me what the heck she's saying?" Lily says.

    Ed O'Neill meets with Ken Jeong in "Lily" wig, assuring him they've replaced her before and no one will notice. She knocks on Ed's trailer door and out he steps, face planting.

    Mindy Kaling and Melissa McCarthy are out next to present Best Actor in a Comedy Series, and Melissa manages to come on to every single one. (We saw this same schtick from her at the Oscars.)

    The Emmy goes to: Jon Cryer from "Two and a Half Men."

    He accepts the award, saying something has clearly gone terribly wrong. He compliments his fellow nominees and regroups to thank the show creator. "This is crazy. Thank you guys, good night," he says.

    Stephen Colbert is out next to present Lead Actress in a Comedy. But first he wants to talk about "the war on women" and says we should be celebrating them. "Women are wonderful, for the most part. Some women are awful.... The seven women nominated in this category tonight, five of them are really great, just capital. And the other two - I'm told I'm out of time. OK."

    "And the Emmy goes: Oh, it's one of the nice ones, Julia Louis-Dreyfus!"

    She hugs Amy Poehler on the way up and takes out her speech. "First of all, I'd like to thank NBC, 'Parks and Rec,' my beautiful boys, Archie and Abel..."

    She pauses, looks aghast at Amy Poehler in the audience, who looks at the crumpled speech in her hands. They swap speeches.

    She continues, complimenting her fellow "powerful" nominees. She gets around to the thank yous, then wraps up with one last thing written here: "Isn't it a shame Amy Poehler didn't win?"

    On to Reality TV

    James Van Beek and Damon Wayans announce Outstanding Reality Program. The Emmy goes to: The Amazing Race.

    Bertram Von Munster speaks for the giant producing team, thanking everyone around the world who works on the show.

    On to a bit from "The Big Bang Theory," Penny, Leonard and Sheldon watching the Emmys.

    Sheldon watches just for the accoutants, he knows them by name. He chants CPA. (In the auditorium, they take the stage and wave.)

    Next up, Seth MacFarland who isn't miked. He doesn't notice as one inches up next to him, and instead walks across the stage when someone points it out. In his Stewie voice he says "This is what happens when you don't come to rehearsal. That's gonna be on YouTube."

    He's presenting Outstanding Reality Show Host. "There have been so many memorable ones: Let's see, there's Brian Dunkelman. There's Roger Lodge from 'Blind Date' and Joey Greco, the guy who was on 'Cheaters' and got stabbed on camera. And that's it, that's all I can think of. What a proud lineage our winner will join tonight."

    And the Emmy goes to Tom Bergeron, who says: "This is particularly satisfying because Betty White always kicks my ass in our mixed martial arts class.... I want to thank Jeff Probst for not being nominated, that helped. I want to thank my family, most of whom know who they are."

    On to Drama

    Claire Danes is out to present Best Supporting Actor. The Emmy goes to: Aaron Paul for "Breaking Bad," who immediately bear hugs his fellow nominee Giancarlo Esposito and costar Bryan Cranston.

    He seems stunned and confesses to being totally unprepared. He thanks creator Vince Gilligan for not killing him off. He mentions that he's from Idaho and they're in a room full of people just chasing their dreams and he's glad to be among them.

    Jimmy Kimmel is back out and suggests a prank on the people at home who are not watching the Emmys. He calls for a volunteer, Tracy Morgan comes up. He tells people to go on Facebook and Twitter and post "OMG Tracy Morgan just passed out on the stage at the Emmys."

    Tracy lies down, first turning over the nunchuks he's carrying in his tux. Of course. He lies down and Connie Britton and Hayden Panettierre come out to try to present writing for a drama as he lies there.

    They asked the writers how they handle writers block.

    The guys from Homeland are silent. "Not very well, apparently," they say.

    Mathew Weiner and Semi Challas for "Mad Men" sip Scotch as Matt suggets "What if Don has a really big drink?" For their second bit (they're nominated twice), when Weiner finds out she gets writers block, he fires her.

    The Emmy goes to: Homeland.

    Writing partners Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa share their speech. They get played off as they thank their wives. Tracy Morgan is still lying there.

    Supporting Actress in a Drama is next. Maggie Smith wins for "Downton Abbey." She's not there. Tracy Morgan still is.

    Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell, Johnny Galecki and Max Greenfield come out and carry Tracy off. "Tell Kerry Washington I'm all right," he says as he asks for his nunchucks back.

    Giancarlo Esposito is out next to recap guest actor and actress winners, awarded last week. Jeremy Davies and Martha Plimpton won.

    They're out to present the next award for Directing for a drama series. They asked the nominees if they were dramatic. Vince Gilligan holds up a button that says "No!"

    Tim Van Patten wins for "Boardwalk Empire" but he's not there.

    To introduce the In Memoriam segment, Jimmy Kimmel suggests that this time they pay tribute to someone that everyone in this room admires and loves. Josh Groban comes out to slow jam One Direction's "Beautiful" as a montage of Jimmy Kimmel through the years plays. Groban ends with singing apologies to Matt Damon. Jimmy is back. "I will be missed," he says.

    Juliana Marguiles is out next to present Lead Actor in a Drama. The Emmy goes: Damian Lewis for "Homeland."

    "I don't really believe in judging art, but I thought I'd show up just in case. Turned out alright."

    He asks for applause for his fellow nominees and does the thank yous.

    Jimmy has completely given up on introductions. "Our next presenters are here tonight, please welcome Tina Fey and Jon Hamm."

    They're out to present Lead Actress in a Drama. Jon describes the dazzling array of roles they play, from "a brilliant young ad exec...." "....To an invisible shrimp trucker," Tina says. "A bipolar CIA officer," Jon says. "And a shoebrush lady of manure," Tina says. "What are you doing?" Jon says. "I forgot my glasses, and I can't see the thing." "You have to do better.... A fiesty patent lawyer." "And another lawyer person?"

    And the Emmy goes to: Claire Danes.

    She starts by thanking their writers "who were so unceremoniously cut off." She acknowledges Damian Lewis, then "Mandy Patinkin, holla! Mandy is one of the most beautiful, generous, loving, imaginative actors I've ever come across," she says.

    On to Variety Aziz Ansari and Jane Levy are out next. Aziz gives a shout out to all his fellow Brits, "It's is bloody brilliant, fish and chips, cheers!" "I thought you were from North Carolina?" "Yea, but I feel like people respect your acting more when you're British."

    They read the nominees in British accents. The Emmy goes to: Louis CK for "Louis CK Live at the Beacon Theatre."

    "Thank you, I wanted another one, so that's nice," he says. He thanks the audience of his special and people who still go see live comedy.

    Jimmy introduces the next presenter "who has a tremendous amount of disdain for you and everything you stand for, please welcome Ricky Gervais."

    "So much better than the Golden Globes, isn't it? People are so nice and attentive, probably all wishing you could be drinking. I've just had a beer. It's literally the only reason I agreed to hand out an Emmy, so I could have a beer. They've flown me over for the big one, this is Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special. It's a good job this is live because if it wasn't, this would not make the edit, definitely."

    He introduces the nominees, then calls it "disrespectful" that there isn't even a clip package. Louis CK again "this is ridiculous". "If he wins this, he's a better comedian than me. If not... we'll see," Ricky ad libs.

    The Emmy goes to... a voice rings out. Ricky pauses. "What was that? I'm an atheist, and that worried me.... I hope it's Louis now, because he's amazing. Sorry to the other ones, but I feel bad."

    But it's Glenn Weiss for the Tonys, who's backstage directing and takes his Emmy with the headphones on. He calls for the band to play him off.

    Back to Ricky. "Well done to everyone in that category, especially Louis, the second best comedian in the world."

    On to the nominees for variety, comedy or music special. The Emmy goes to: The Daily Show.

    Fellow nominees Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert tackle Jon Stewart in the aisle but he makes it to the stage.

    A very out of breath Stewart takes the mike: "I'm not in the kind of shape I should be in to do a bit with Jimmy Fallon, who's in very good shape."

    He compliments his fellow nominees, including the Jimmys for making tons of stuff he watches online, Bill Maher for writing stuff he wishes he'd come up with and Lorne Michaels, without whom none of them would be doing this.

    "We make topical comedy, which has the shelf life of egg salad. Nobody cares after five days, so to do this for fifteen years and to have tangible proof that what we did wasn't just ephemeral is wonderful. Years from now, when the earth is just a burning husk and aliens visit, they will find a box of these and they will know just how predictable these (bleep) things can be."

    (The censors get the end of his sentence with the time delayed bleep.)

    Jimmy Kimmel introduces his parents in the audience. He tells them they were always supportive and told him he could do anything he set his mind to. So this year he set his mind to winning an Emmy.

    "And guess what, Mom and Dad, I didn't win an Emmy. You told me I could and now I didn't and I'm devastated because you lied to me. Just like when you told me it would be cool to bring a briefcase to the first day of junior high school."

    Tracy Morgan is in the next seat over and yells at them for lying to Jimmy. From the stage, he calls for security to escort his parents out. They do.

    "These two seats are empty now, could my two cousins from Brooklyn get them?" Tracy asks. "Pancake! Kool-aid, come here!"

    Miniseries or Movie are next

    Steve Buscemi is out to present supporting actress in a miniseries or movie. Jessica Lange wins for "American Horror Story."

    She says it's been a wild ride, starting with getting a call out of the blue from Ryan Murphy "who made me more promises than any man I'd ever met" and they've all come true. She thanks the writers for writing specifically to her strengths.

    The chairman and CEO of the Academy, Bruce Rosenbloom, is out next with Ellen DeGeneres, who is not wearing any pants. Bruce talks about the online archive of the Academy.

    Jimmy comes back out. "Not that I don't appreciate, but you'd think after two and a half hours she'd be able to rustle up another pair of pants," he says.

    Kerry Washington is out next for Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. Tom Berenger wins for "Hatfields and McCoys."

    (The announcer tells us it's only his second lifetime nomination, the first was for guest actor on "Cheers.")

    He wants tiny Emmys for all his brothers and cousins on the show. He commends the writers for "beautiful 19th Century Victorian English" for 75 speaking roles and his role of Jim Vance "a cross between a raccoon with rabies and a demented garden gnome."

    He gets played off.

    Clips of "The Andy Griffith Show" introduce Ron Howard to celebrate Griffith and other artists who died last year. The clips roll... Marvin Hamlisch, Davy Jones, Hal Kanter, Richard Dawson, Sherman Hemsley, Phyllis Diller, Michael Clarke Duncan, Lupe Ontiveros, Heavy-D, Don Cornelius, Robert Hegyes, Ron Palillo, Andy Rooney, Gil Cates, Patrice O'Neal, Whitney Houston, Ben Gazzara, Donna Summer, Tony Scott, Kathryn Joosten, Mike Wallace, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Morgan, Dick Clark.

    Lucy Liu and Kiefer Sutherland present writing for miniseries or movie. The Emmy goes to Danny Strong for "Game Change."

    He thanks everyone at HBO and dedicates the award to his late mother.

    For Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, the Emmy goes to: Julianne Moore for "Game Change."

    "Wow, I feel so validated, because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down," she says. She thanks her hair and make-up and dialect coach for transforming her along with the usuals (management, costars, husband).

    Jimmy comes back and points out Jon Stewart isn't in his seat. He also claims Jon threw his Emmy out backstage, "something to remember when voting next year."

    Ginnifer Goodwin and Emily Van Camp are out next to present Directing for a miniseries or movie. Jay Roach wins for "Game Change."

    He commends HBO for being willing to tackle political topics.

    Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie is next.

    Kevin Costner wins for "Hatfields and McCoys," his first Emmy win.

    "This didn't really figure to happen, in fact we had to go all the way to Romania to film this very American story," he says. He thanks his cast and producers then pauses to contemplate the statue itself, saying it reminds him of the Olympics, even though this doesn't seem like much of a sport. He doesn't get played off. You don't play off Kevin Costner.

    Andre Braugher comes out to present Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. The Emmy goes to: "Game Change."

    The same people who just won come up, along with producer Tom Hanks.

    He thanks our founding fathers for the democratic process that provides everyone in the room with so much fodder.

    Jimmy comes back out setting up the last two awards of the evening.

    Julianne Moore is back out to present Outstanding Drama Series. The nominees are Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and Mad Men.

    The Emmy goes: Homeland. (Major upset of perennial winner Mad Men.)

    "I don't know when they're going to cut me off, but this is the biggest night of my career and I'm going to keep talking until they do," says executive producer Alex Gansa.

    "I want to start by congratulating Showtime on its first best series Emmy, it's been a long time coming and Homeland stands on the shoulders of a lot of great shows over there."

    Jimmy returns for the final intro. "Our next presenter is someone no one likes. Please welcome a time traveler, a five time Emmy winner and everyone's least favorite person, Michael J Fox."

    He gets the biggest applause of the night and a standing ovation.

    "I'm steady as a rock," he says.

    "We've all been told that laughter is the best medicine. We were also told that Facebook was a bargain at $38 a share. One of those is true."

    The nominees for Best Comedy are: 30 Rock, the Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiam, Girls, Modern Family and Veep.

    The Emmy goes to: Modern Family.

    Steven Levitan accepts for the large cast the crew. He tells a story about filming on Friday when the shuttle Endeavor passed over. "And suddenly we weren't big important people making television anymore....because it was super loud and our sound guy said we couldn't."

    They actually ran up on a roof nearby and watched like little kids, together. He calls it one of the amazing moments they've had over the past three and a half years. He gets played off as he talks about loving their jobs. He thanking their fans when the lights go out on the stage.

    The audience "oohs" at the slight.

    "Oh, did you guys want to stay another hour?" Jimmy concludes. And thus endeth the Emmys. On Time.

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