LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Emmy Awards opened without a host as promised Sunday, with Homer Simpson, Anthony Anderson and Bryan Cranston sharing the show’s kick-off duties and Ben Stiller taking jabs from Bob Newhart.
“I’m still alive,” Newhart told Stiller, who introduced him as part of a wax museum comedy hall of fame that included Lucille Ball and other late legends.
An animated Homer Simpson made a brief appearance on stage until he was abruptly crushed, with Anderson of “black-ish” rushing in to, as he vowed, rescue the evening. He called in “Breaking Bad” star Cranston on stage to tout the power of television from its beginning to the current golden age.
“Television has never been bigger. Televison has never mattered more. And television has never been this damn good,” Cranston said.
The first award, for best supporting actor in a comedy, went to Tony Shalhoub for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Shalhoub’s co-star Alex Borstein then won the best supporting comedy actress award, taking a swig from a tiny liquor bottle before taking the stage.
The early honors for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” came on a night that could belong to HBO’s “Game of Thrones.
Conflicted feelings may loom for “Thrones” fans who loved the series, hated its finale. HBO’s fantasy saga headed into the ceremony with a record 32 nominations, collecting 10 awards at last weekend’s creative arts ceremony for technical and other achievements.
If the series adds three more wins on Sunday, it will break its own record for most awards in a season, 12, which it earned in 2015 and again in 2016. If it claims the top drama trophy, it will be its fourth and make it one of a handful of series to achieve that tally. It could also build on its record of the most Emmys ever for a drama or comedy series, now at 57.
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is defending the top comedy award it captured last year, when three-time winner “Veep” was on hiatus. As with “Game of Thrones,” the political satire is entered for its final season and could benefit from voter sentiment as well as evident respect.
Same goes for “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, whose potential seventh Emmy for the show would combine with two others she’s won to make her the most-honored performer in Emmy history.
Star arrived at the ceremony’s purple carpet to sweltering 92-degree conditions. Host network Fox added water elements to the scene and large fans whirred overhead as stars including Kelly and Sharon Osbourne and drama actor nominees Bob Odenkirk and Sterling K. Brown arrived.
“It’s hot, it’s real hot, but I’m thinking cool thoughts. My wife looks stunning, like stupidly, ridiculously gorgeous,” Brown said.
Once the show stars, one of the major storylines will be how well “Game of Thrones” fares. The series is competing in six categories besides best drama, including directing, writing and acting – with stars Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington vying for lead acting honors for the first time, and Peter Dinklage seeking his fourth supporting actor award.
Clarke’s competition includes Sandra Oh of “Killing Eve,” who would be the first actress of Asian descent to win the Emmy, along with Oh’s co-star Jodie Comer and past winner Viola Davis of “How to Get Away with Murder.” A win for Clarke or any of the four “Game of Thrones” actresses competing for a supporting trophy would be the first for a woman on the show.
The best drama actor field includes Billy Porter of “Pose,” who would be the first openly gay man to win the award, and past winner Sterling K. Brown for “This Is Us.”
Presenters are set to include Angela Bassett, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hugh Laurie, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm, Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow and Randall Park. Actor-comedian Thomas Lennon has the off-camera job of regaling viewers with factoids and jokes as winners head to the stage.
Halsey will perform during the in memoriam tribute.
Associated Press Writer Beth Harris contributed to this report.
Lynn Elber is at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber