Prior to 2010, the presentation of the variety series writing awards was a highpoint of the Emmys. Each show put together a humorous clip package that showed each writer as their name was read aloud.
In 2010, the TV academy agreed to the WGA request that variety special writing be presented on the Primetime Emmycast every other year when the series award would be shunted over to the Creative Arts ceremony.
In 2011, Emmy producers curtailed these introductory clip packages but this year each nominee got to demonstrate their creative genius:
the nominees for “The Colbert Report” were spied on by NSA cameras;
the staff of “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” were shown as puppets;
Oprah shouted out the name of each nominated writer of “Jimmy Kimmel Live“;
the scribes of “Portlandia” were named in a deadpan tone that echoed the show’s attitude perfectly;
the guys of “Real Time with Bill Maher” posed as child beauty pageant contestants;
and the crew of “Saturday Night Live” were guests at the wedding of “Weekend Update” character Stefon.
The tone fit in with some of the best of the past: the staff of “Da Ali G Show” as porn stars (2005); the writers of “Late Show with David Letterman” as guests on a trash talk show (2005) and being diagnosed with mental problems by Dr. Phil (2008); the writers of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” as day laborers boarding a truck (2007); the team from “The Colbert Report” each slapping Stephen Colbert (2007); and the writers of “Real Time with Bill Maher” identified by their feet in bathroom stalls (2007).