Emmys show promises to be lively

Don't expect Neil Patrick Harris to literally jump through hoops tonight when he hosts the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards (CBS, 8 p.m.).

He already did that, in June, when he played ringmaster to a particularly vibrant production of the Tony Awards.

But Mr. Harris nonetheless remains a great reason to tune in. He's starred on stage and television and ad-libs like nobody's business. He sings, he dances and he mocks himself and the industry.

He even won an Emmy last Sunday when the Creative Arts awards were passed out -- as host/producer for the Tony Awards telecast.

"I'm super-pleased in the number of plates I'm able to keep spinning at the same time," Mr. Harris said.

So if the 1992 Golden Globe winner for "Doogie Howser, M.D." is a sure bet to entertain, here are a few more reasons to watch. Who knows, maybe Miley will show up?

• Respecting your elders. The last time Bob Newhart figured prominently on an Emmy telecast in 2006, there was shtick of "life-or-death" proportions. Host Conan O'Brien had Mr. Newhart wheeled out in a glass booth and announced there was only enough air to sustain the iconic comedian for three hours.

If the show ran over its three-hour broadcast window, well ... "Keep these speeches short," Mr. O'Brien said.

But Mr. Newhart, who just turned 84 and has been nominated seven times since 1962, finally won this year. His guest stint on CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" earned him his first statuette. He received it at the artistic awards but will no doubt get another big hand from his peers tonight.

Also in the winner's circle: Lily Tomlin, for voicing HBO's "An Apology to Elephants." It is her first win since 1981.

• Tonight's "In Memoriam" segment honoring those who died in the past year will feature five breakout memorials. Personal tributes are planned for James Gandolfini by Edie Falco, Jonathan Winters by Robin Williams, "Family Ties" producer Gary David Goldberg by Michael J. Fox, Jean Stapleton by Rob Reiner, and Cory Monteith by Jane Lynch.

Executive producer Ken Ehrlich enhanced the "In Memoriam" feature 10 years ago at the Grammys with a live musical tribute to Joe Strummer. Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Dave Grohl were among the musicians rocking to The Clash's "London Calling."

• Drinking games. It's a pity this show does not air on a Saturday night. Nonetheless, at least one publisher is pushing the alcoholic libations. Reportedly tucked into nominees' gift baskets are two books. One is an ode to drinking games, "Lights, Camera, Booze" by Kourtney Jason and Lauren Metz, as well as "Savory Cocktails" by Greg Henry.

The latter features the Prime Thyme, a concoction featuring gin or vodka, citrus bitter, lemon juice, peeled ginger and fresh thyme. Take a sip every time someone trips over her gown going up to the stage.

• We've saved maybe the best for last. Three words: Elton, John, Liberace.

"Behind the Candelabra" earned 15 nominations for the HBO biopic about the flamboyant entertainer and his younger lover, Scott Thorson. Lead actors Michael Douglas and Matt Damon both are nominated and will be presenters at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Capping the festivities will be Sir Elton, a man who knows his way around a sparkly grand piano. No word yet on costume or music selection, but seriously, this is going to be -- in the words of the Emmy host's "How I Met Your Mother" character -- "legendary."

Please, let there be capes.

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Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG. First Published September 22, 2013 4:00 AM


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