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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne. Good morning.

(Soundbite of Emmy Awards)

Unidentified Woman: The Emmy goes to 24.

(Soundbite of applause)

MONTAGNE: At last night's Emmy Awards here in Los Angeles, the thriller television series, 24, took the prize for Best Drama, it's first win in that category during a five-year run. The star of the show may have been the show itself, however. Conan O'Brien served as host and kicked off with a comedy montage much like the Oscars where he placed himself within the programs, like 24.

(Soundbite of Emmy montage)

Ms. MARY LYNN RAJSKUB (Actor): (as Chloe O'Brian) Jack?

Mr. KIEFER SUTHERLAND (Actor): (as Jack Bauer) I'm on a hijacked subway car. I need you to get in touch with the president. Tell him if I can't get access to the R3 satellite codes, millions of people will die.

Mr. CONAN O'BRIEN (Emmy Host): Look, there is no time for chitchat. I also want a reservation at a good Italian restaurant, West Hollywood, 10:30, 11-ish.

Mr. SUTHERLAND (as Jack Bauer): Chloe, what's going on?

Ms. RAJSKUB (as Chloe O'Brian): Get off the phone, idiot.

Mr. O'BRIEN: Yeah, idiot.

Mr. SUTHERLAND (as Jack Bauer): I think she (unintelligible) you...

MONTAGNE: For more on the 58th Emmy Award show, put on here in Los Angeles, we're joined by the television critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Goodman. Good morning.

Mr. TIM GOODMAN (Television Critic, San Francisco Chronicle): Good morning. How are you?

MONTAGNE: Fine, thank you. So the best drama on TV, 24 - talk to us about that. Was it overdue? I think its fans it was far overdue for - to win this Best Drama Award.

Mr. GOODMAN: Well, I think that you can make an argument that it was overdue. I think the other argument is that it probably should've been the Sopranos that won again. But, given the sort of the damage that was done in the nominating process, and a lot of really good dramas were skipped, it a - you know, as a critic, I would take 24 as the winner.

MONTAGNE: Well, remind us quickly what that was. They changed some of the rules this year.

Mr. GOODMAN: Well, what they tried to do was they tried to make it stop what has happened in the past. Essentially not recognizing new dramas or higher quality dramas. Kind of rubber-stamping old favorites, shows that are sort of past their prime. I think, you know, there's a history of them not getting it right, but this year in particular they really seemed to mess up.

MONTAGNE: Wow. And just when they were trying to sort of fix it up so they wouldn't.

Mr. GOODMAN: Right, exactly.

MONTAGNE: You know, and an alumna of Seinfeld won in Best Comedy - that would be Julia Louis-Dreyfus for The New Adventures of Old Christine. Now here you get into the Seinfeld curse - broken.

Mr. GOODMAN: Yes, it's broken. She made note of that in her acceptance speech. And it was also good because that, in that category, that was the only show that was currently on the air. Every other show nominated - every other woman on the show there, is the show that was either cancelled or leaving. So it was good to find somebody in television that actually has a show on the air.

MONTAGNE: So what was the upside in terms of the awards?

Mr. GOODMAN: I always go into this, into watching the Emmys every year, with low expectations because it's usually not a very good award ceremony as awards go. But this year I think, even with lower expectations, I was pleasantly surprised because the key was Conan O'Brien. I thought he did an excellent job in his second time out. And I think that there were a number of presenters and winners and speeches that made it, you know, the level of entertainment lasted, you know, reasonably high throughout three hours.

And so it was entertaining in and of itself, despite many of the overlooked series and actors.

MONTAGNE: What, through the show, made you laugh? Was there an unexpected moment or just a really good bit that somebody came up with?

Mr. GOODMAN: Yeah, I think there were a couple. I think that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, when they presented, they were very funny. And it pointed up that if you're a stand-up comic or you're a funny person, that whatever you do onstage is going to be light years funnier than, sort of, that Emmy Awards or any kind of award show banter.

(Soundbite of Emmy Awards)

Mr. STEPHEN COLBERT (Talk Show Host): Good evening, godless sodomites.

Mr. JON STEWART (Talk Show Host): What are you doing?

Mr. COLBERT: I'm bringing the truth, Jon. We're in Hollywood: the belly of the beast.

Mr. STEWART: You can't just read the prompter?

Mr. COLBERT: I'm reading the prompter in here. You can read that pabulum.

Mr. STEWART: Award show banter is not pabulum.

MONTAGNE: Tim Goodman is the television critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Thanks very much.

Mr. GOODMAN: Thank you.

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