RIGHT NOW WITH RUSSELL: 5 takeaways from the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards

Celebrating television past and present gave the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards an entertaining and nostalgic appeal Monday night.

Throughout a relatively suspense-free evening due to frontrunners that actually deserved to win, “Beef” was boss, “The Bear” roared, and “Succession” succeeded. But there were other key moments from the three-hour ceremony, which honored the best of the 2022-2023 season and actually finished on time (an achievement in itself). Here are five takeaways:

1. The reunions

Anniversary-themed ceremonies always raise expectations but the Emmys delivered the goods. Cast members from “All in the Family,” “Cheers,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Martin” and “The Sopranos” reunited to reflect on their legacies. It was particularly great to see Katherine Heigel (who should’ve been nominated for her outstanding work last season on “Firefly Lane”) join her “Grey’s” cohorts again, and I got a kick out of Calista Flockhart leading a few of her former “Ally McBeal” castmates in a dance set inside a recreation of the show’s unisex restroom. TV legends Carol Burnett, Joan Collins, Marla Gibbs and Arsenio Hall also made appearances. Memo to the Television Academy: more reunions please!

2. A host who understood the job and did it well

Hosting his first Emmys, Anthony Anderson won over the audience because he simply understood his role was to guide — not roast. From the moment he opened the show with a nod to “Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood” that included a salute to TV theme songs (and a special appearance by Blink 182′s Travis Barker on drums for “Miami Vice”), he stuck to the script: honoring 75 years of TV history. That’s it. No Taylor Swift jokes necessary. However, it was awkward to have Anderson’s mom, Doris Bowman, act as acceptance speech timekeeper rather than having music force the winners to wrap up. Thankfully, Bowman only took Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama winner Jennifer Coolidge (“The White Lotus”) to task and dialed it back afterward. No one wants to be shouted at during a moment of recognition — even if it’s for a few laughs. Later, Bowman held up a sign to remind the winners to wrap up and refrained from adding anything else, which should’ve been the first choice.

3. Elton becomes EGOT

Elton John became the 19th entertainer to ascend to EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) status for his variety special “Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium.” “Saturday Night Live” alums Tina Fey and Amy Poehler humorously presented the category as a “Weekend Update” throwback. “Now, I can’t speak for Elton,” Poehler said, “but EGOT to be excited about that.”

4. Emotional In Memoriam

Grammy-nominated Charlie Puth and The War and Treaty teamed up for a lovely rendition of Puth’s “See You Again” for the In Memoriam segment which fittingly climaxed with a beautifully slower arrangement of the “Friends” theme song “I’ll Be There for You” in tribute to Matthew Perry. As for the segment, notable omissions included Charles Kimbrough (“Murphy Brown”), Richard Moll (“Night Court”), Frances Sternhagen (“Sex in the City”), Barry Humphries a.k.a. Dame Edna Everage, and Jerry Springer to name just a few.

5. The best acceptance speech

There were many memorable speeches from Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”) being in awe of receiving her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy statuette from Carol Burnett to Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama winner Kieran Culkin (“Succession”) telling his wife he’d love to have more kids. But nothing topped the joyful, rousing self pep talk-turned-social justice rallying cry Niecy Nash-Betts delivered upon winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for her powerful portrayal of Glenda Cleveland in “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.” “I want to thank me for believing in me and doing what they said I could not do,” she said. “I want to say to myself in front of all you beautiful people, ‘Go on girl with your bad self. You did that!’ And finally, I accept this award on behalf every Black and Brown woman who has gone unheard yet over-policed like Glenda Cleveland, like Sandra Bland, like Breonna Taylor. As an artist, my job is to speak truth to power, and baby, I’ma do it ‘til the day I die.”

Right Now with Russell spotlights pop culture every Friday and as news arises. From the latest in film, music, books and TV to the buzz of awards season and other hot button topics, the goal is to fill you in on what’s new in order to satisfy your entertainment cravings. He can be reached at Russell.Florence@coxohio.com.

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