Emmys 2011: Jane Lynch and Emmy hosting dos and don'ts

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jane-lynch-emmys.jpgEmmycast host Jane Lynch played things pretty close to the vest when she spoke to reporters on a conference call on Tuesday, saying all the right things about her writers, producer Mark Burnett and what she thinks the broadcast is all about (read: not the host).

As we talked about right after she signed on to host the ceremony, there's a lot to like about Lynch in this job. She's got the improv skills to roll with the punches, she will inject lots of humor into the broadcast, and she'll get out of the way when necessary. But that was all conjecture; the answers she gave during the conference call tells us that she's got a good handle on the dos and don'ts of award show hosting.

What are they? Here are some basic ones:

DON'T make the show about yourself. As we mentioned earlier this week, when Lynch was asked about what makes a good host, she said nothing but the right things. "It's about the awards and the people who are getting the awards, and it's about entertaining in between but remembering that it's a night of celebration of this industry," she said. In other words, after the monologue/opening number you're just the person in the tux (or in Lynch's case, multiple dresses) that introduces the presenters, and a host should know his/her place. Ricky Gervais, as funny as he was during the Golden Globes, made it about him, which means he'll be asked Globes-related questions for the rest of his career. Not quite the result he expected, was it?

DO keep things moving. Once things get rolling, this is actually more the responsibility of the producer and director than anyone else, and even they are at the mercy of long-winded winners and other glitches. The host can do his or her part by keeping the patter down to only the pithiest and funniest remarks. And, again, making it about the night and not about them helps. Lynch mentioned this, as well: "My job as the hostess to move it along and just that kind of that background energy of 'isn't this wonderful? Look what we're celebrating.'" Think of what Ellen DeGeneres did when she hosted the somber ceremony in 2001, post-9/11; she kept things light and airy, but mostly kept it moving. To this day, people praise her for her performance.

DON'T be boring. While you can't make it all about yourself, you can't just be a functionary, either. Ask Ryan Seacrest about that; just being a smiling host makes for a boring ceremony. Lynch shouldn't have that problem. "The little bites that we get to do something fun and funny, I feel responsible for those that those need to be entertaining." She's with a writing crew, including her good friend Jill Soloway, that has written for her before in award settings, so she knows that she'll be able to have support when the lines come fast and furious during the ceremony.

DO something with impact right at the top of the show. It's where any host will make his or her mark; Jimmy Fallon is still getting raves for his all-star "Born To Run" video (which included Lynch playing Sue Sylvester) from last season. It feels like Lynch and company are angling to something fun at the beginning of this year's Emmycast, if Lynch's remarks are any indication. Not only is she already pre-taping something for the show, but her desire is to make some sort of impact. "I'm just staying in the moment and knocking out what I need to knock out and doing my best for each moment of it, and you take it a piece at a time. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I hope it's really a splash."

DON'T make this about "Glee." 
This is really more of a tip for Lynch specifically, but the worst thing she could ever do is let Ryan Murphy and Co. (or worse, FOX executives) infiltrate the writing process and make the show into a "Glee" tribute. And, from what she said in the conference call and at the TCA press tour, it doesn't feel like she'll do this. She may briefly appear as Sue -- probably in that taped bit she talked about -- but since she did that last year, it has a feeling of "been there, done that" that she would probably want to avoid. Besides, Lynch had a pretty good career going before "Glee" ("The 40 Year Old Virgin," all the Christopher Guest movies), and can be a lot more than just a screaming megalomaniac cheer coach. The most refreshing thing she said on Tuesday? "I probably won't wear a tracksuit." Thank goodness for small favors, right?

Of course, we'll find out if we're right about Lynch on Sept. 18 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. What hosting traps do you hope Lynch doesn't fall into?
Photo/Video credit: FOX