The mid-aughts were a weird time at the Emmys. Well, not weird per se. Just different. The hits and stalwarts of the '90s and early '00s had all ended or were wrapping up (The West Wing, Friends, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond, Sex and the City) and the onslaught of Peak TV wouldn't begin until 2008, when Mad Men became the first basic cable series to win the top prize and online shows were ruled eligible to compete. 2007 was the last of those transitional years, if you will — The Sopranos ended and Mad Men premiered a month later — and revisiting the ceremony 10 years later is a funky little time warp. Ten years is short enough where things feel like they happened yesterday — especially since some people have been Emmy mainstays the past decade — but also a billion years ago (was there actually a time when Katherine Heigl didn't run afoul of Shonda Rhimes?).
Here are 13 things you may or may not remember happened at the 2007 Emmys.
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1. It was in the round
For the first time ever, the Emmys were staged as a theater in the round, which was better in theory than in practice. Sure, it created a more intimate feel, but the circular, non-rotating stage effectively cut out part of the audience, who were staring at someone's tuchus the whole night. Boston Legal star James Spader quipped in his speech for drama lead actor, "You know, I've been to thousands and thousands of concerts in my life and I can tell you these are the worst seats I've ever had." The Emmys haven't been staged in a round since.
2. Ryan Seacrest tried
Fox had the Emmys in 2007 — the big four broadcast networks rotate coverage — and since this was Peak American Idol time, there was only one option for host. Seacrest was serviceable. You know how some hosts go AWOL during the final stretch of an awards show? Seacrest was like that the entire night. But credit to producers for not exposing his limitations. Instead, knowing he lacked the comedic and song-and-dance bona fides of usual hosts, Seacrest opted for self-deprecation in his opening monologue. "Would any of them have bothered showing up four hours early to host the red carpet pre-show?" he asked of past hosts Johnny Carson, Conan O'Brien and Ellen DeGeneres. The round format did let him treat the show like Idol, jumping into the audience for some quick banter. Like addressing Teri Hatcher a year after their beach day smooch (#neverforget). Or — ready to feel old? — telling Hayden Panettiere that for her 18th birthday, he sat her as far away from Jeremy Piven as possible.
3. Brian and Stewie recapped TV for us
Because Ryan Seacrest can do neither, Fox called on Family Guy's Brian and Stewie to do a little song and dance to open the show. The duo crooned about some mighty topical stuff — The Sorpranos! Isaiah Washington! Cavemen! (lol) — in "You Can Find It on TV," a parody of Family Guy's own "The FCC Song." Little did anyone know, censorship would play a big part in the show (see below).
4. Katherine Heigl corrected everyone
2007 was Heigl's best year ever. She had Knocked Up, she won an Emmy for Grey's Anatomy, and she hadn't yet incurred the wrath of Shonda Rhimes (look how happy she is when Heigl won). But the Emmy announcer incurred Heigl's wrath after she mispronounced her surname as "Hi-gel" while introducing the actress and Kyle Chandler. "Hellooo! Uh, it's 'Hi-gull,'" Heigl corrected onstage. "It's all right. It's a hard name, I know." Luckily, Announcer Lady got it right later when Heigl won drama supporting actress, as did presenters Eva Longoria and the Entourage dude bros. "Thanks for getting my name right," she opened her speech.
5. The Tonys go to the Emmys
Literally in one case. If you for some reason tuned in to the Emmys to hear some good ol' standards, you were in luck in 2007. Tony Bennett teamed up with Christina Aguilera (Lady Gaga was but a twinkle in his duet partner eye) to belt out "Steppin' Out with My Baby," which they had performed on his Emmy-winning special Tony Bennett: An American Classic. The Broadway cast of Jersey Boys then performed a medley in salute to The Sopranos, whose cast walked out to a standing O afterward. This would've been awkward if the show didn't win drama series later.
6. The Sopranos went out on a high
The Sopranos took home its second drama series trophy, becoming the fifth show — and first drama — to win the top prize for its final season after The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Barney Miller and Everybody Loves Raymond (Breaking Bad would join the club seven years later). It wasn't a complete sweep though: Edie Falco and James Gandolfini, both seeking their fourth statuettes, lost to Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters) and James Spader (Boston Legal), respectively. The latter loss was probably not unlike what Mark Ruffalo experienced when he lost the Oscar to Mark Rylance. But the HBO series did finally nab its first win in drama directing and its record sixth win in drama writing.
7. Fox kept $#&(*!@ bleeping out stuff
Fox was very trigger-happy during the show, hitting the censor button three times. The first was during Ray Romano's mini-monologue routine, in which he referenced Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton's new show Back to You. "From what I hear, Frasier is screwing my wife?" he said. The show cut to what amounted to a giant Mirrorball trophy knockoff before Romano said "screwing." The same thing happened when the camera caught Katherine Heigl saying "sh--" after she won.
But the most infamous instance was during Sally Field's drama lead actress speech, when, in tribute to her Brothers & Sisters character and matriarch Nora Walker, she denounced the Iraq War. "Let's face it, if the mothers ruled the world, there would be no goddamn wars in the first place," she said. Fox cut away as she started to say "goddamn" and then implemented a four-second delay for the rest of the show. (Technically, the FCC ruled "goddamn" is not profane in its decision over Bono's F-bomb at the 2003 Golden Globes.)
In retrospect, censorship was just the theme of the year. At the Creative Arts ceremony the week prior, Kathy Griffin stirred controversy when she said, "Suck it, Jesus! This award is my God now!" in her speech for Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. E!, which aired the tape-delayed show, edited out the remark. Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg also won an Emmy at the Creative Arts, for writing "Dick in a Box," which producers wanted them to perform on the main show — albeit a family-friendly version; they declined.
8. America Ferrera made history
The Ugly Betty star became the first Latina to win comedy lead actress and the second Latina Emmy winner overall after Rita Moreno. Her victory also made her the sixth person to win the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and Emmy in the same awards cycle (four more people have done so since). The Crown's Claire Foy has the chance to complete the sweep this year.
9. Helen Mirren also made history
Seven months after claiming the Oscar for The Queen, Mirren won her fourth Emmy, for Prime Suspect: The Final Act, becoming the third person to accept an Oscar and Emmy in the same year after Liza Minnelli and Helen Hunt. (George C. Scott won both in 1971, but refused his Oscar.) Bryan Cranston blocked Matthew McConaughey from achieving the feat in 2014, but Viola Davis has a shot of doing it this year.
10. Lewis Black said what we're all thinking
Our preeminent ranter, who was nominated for his special Lewis Black: Red, White and Screwed, took two minutes of our time to eviscerate network executives about unnecessary screen clutter, in-show promos and news crawls in a biting, perfect diatribe. Somewhere, a streaming executive was smiling.
11. The birth of Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus' faux feud
Long before she and Amy Poehler called out JLD at the Golden Globes, Fey and Louis-Dreyfus hilariously revealed the depths of their similarities ("Both of us have children and Emmys, which we love equally") and rivalry ("And both of us will pretend to be happy for the other one if she wins tonight") while presenting comedy supporting actress. Fun fact: Both of them currently have nine Emmys each, but Fey only had one and Louis-Dreyfus had two going into the 2007 ceremony. Fey won one that night — comedy series for 30 Rock — and both have multiple nominations this year. If Louis-Dreyfus wins her sixth straight Emmy for Veep, she'll tie Cloris Leachman as the winningest performer, with eight trophies.
12. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert gave Ricky Gervais' Emmy to Steve Carell
This is probably the most memorable moment from the show, and rightfully so. After a bit about the importance of being green and the existence of awards shows, the Daily Show duo announced Gervais as the winner of comedy lead actor for Extras. He was MIA, so they did what anyone would do. "Ricky Gervais couldn't be here tonight, so instead we're going to give this to our friend Steve Carell," Stewart said. The ensuing ridiculous man-hug and Gervais' revenge the following year are all fun and games until you remember that Carell still hasn't won an Emmy for anything 10 years later.
13. Kanye West and Rainn Wilson had a rap battle
This doesn't get talked about nearly enough and we need to change that. The 2007 Emmys were held a week after the Video Music Awards, which is mainly remembered for Britney Spears' catastrophic opening number, but it was also where Ye went 0-5 and wouldn't stop bitching about it. He poked fun at his awards futility/proved he has a sense of humor in a Don't Forget the Lyrics! duel with Wilson, both rapping his song "Stronger." Spoiler alert: Yeezus lost. "I never win," he grumbled. You come at Dwight Schrute, you best not miss.
The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards airs Sunday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on CBS.
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