Emmy Stories Beyond the Red Carpet

Image courtesy of Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
Image courtesy of Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

Last night Jimmy Kimmel hosted the 64th annual Emmy Awards, an evening that opened with an all-star video skit and continued with a slew of on-air gags including an interactive prank with a supposedly passed-out Tracy Morgan. While the nominees certainly looked lovely on the red carpet, this year's list lacked the surprise factor of newcomers like last year's Kyle Chandler, Peter Dinklage, and Melissa McCarthy.

The big surprise of the evening was an Emmy sweep by the Showtime series Homeland. Claire Danes and Damian Lewis took awards home for best actress and actor in a drama series. Homeland also won for best drama series, dethroning the popular AMC series Mad Men, which won the award the four years prior and would have set a record yesterday if it had won again. While Mad Men was nominated in seventeen categories this year (and tied with American Horror Story for the most nominations), it was snubbed this time around, taking home not a single award. Game Change, the HBO movie about Sarah Palin's political rise, won big under the miniseries/movie category, with Julianne Moore winning for best actress; the movie also won for directing and writing. On the comedy end, Modern Family -- predictably -- was the favorite. Lena Dunham, actress and director of the HBO series Girls, got a lot of nomination love in the comedy category but went home empty-handed.

So what do you think of this year's Emmys? Did you love the spectacle, or hate it? Do you agree with Jon Stewart, who joked after accepting his tenth consecutive Emmy for best variety show that “Years from now, when the Earth is just a burning husk and aliens visit, they will find a box of these [Emmy awards] and they will know just how predictable these [expletive] shows are”?  Predictable or not, it's certainly worth showcasing the talent on television once a year. Here's a list of books by some of our favorite small-screen stars who have won (and lost) Emmy Awards and written about their lives in the spotlight.

 “My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir” by Dick Van Dyke

When you talk television, it's impossible to ignore Dick Van Dyke, the iconic actor with four Emmys under his belt. Last year he penned his memoir, "My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business," a story not so much about a glitzy Hollywood career, but the personal stories and relationships most important to him. Van Dyke talks about growing up in the Midwest and his friends in the small town of Danville, Illinois, followed by his struggle to establish himself as an actor. The book doesn't dwell on his eventual success as much as it does his first marriage, his struggle with alcoholism, and his 35-year relationship with Michelle Triola. Van Dyke's memoir is a fitting portrait of the man himself: his values, his charming, carefree demeanor, and a work ethic that leads you to doubt luck had much to do with his success.

Bossypants” by Tina Fey

Tiny Fey is an Emmy darling herself, a winner for her work on both 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live. This year she was nominated for three awards, including outstanding lead actress in a comedy series (30 Rock). "Bossypants" offers a playful look at Fey's life as a nerd-turned-comedy-goddess, told with equal parts candor and self-deprecation. Fey strays from the pure silliness to share revealing details about her early stand-up career in Chicago, writing for SNL, and her her decision to create her own show. She also shares her opinions on balancing family life with a demanding work life and the struggle for a woman to make it in the male-dominated comedy business. Part autobiography, part comedy, with a few life lessons thrown in, this memoir is the kind of work you'd expect from such a likeable television star.

"I Am America (And So Can You!)" by Stephen Colbert

A serious, touching memoir this is not. More like laugh-out-loud funny, ridiculous, and true to Stephen Colbert form. Colbert (his outrageous television persona speaks as loudly through this book as it does on his show) expresses strong opinions on nature, terrorism, Kashi cereal, the liberal media, and atheists in a narrative sometimes cut off by the imagined voice of God. The book also includes stickers, games, and interviews. Need we say more? Colbert presented at last night's Emmys for lead actress in a comedy series (which went to Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep), and the The Colbert Report was nominated for the variety show category but lost out to its Comedy Central peer, The Daily Show.

"Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist" by Michael J. Fox

"Always Looking Up" is the most recent of Michael J. Fox's two memoirs. This talented actor hasn't let his battle with Parkinson's hold back his work in Hollywood; he plans to return full-time to the television screen with an NBC show based on his life. At this year's Emmys, he was nominated as an outstanding guest actor in both The Good Wife and Curb Your Enthusiasm. And although Jimmy Kimmel joked last night that Fox is “Hollywood's least favorite person,” he received a standing ovation when presenting the award for best comedy series. In this memoir, Fox does not pull any punches about the incredible hardships that come with his disease, but it's told with the charm and good nature for which the actor is well known. His struggles are offset with tales of his strong relationship with his wife, his transition from actor to activist,  and his mission to find a cure for Parkinson's. (The book is separated into sections focused on work, faith, and family.) Family Ties fans, take note: you won't find much here about Fox's early work in television in this story more focused on providing inspiration in the face of adversity.