Cloris Leachman shook her tatas, Kiefer finally won, Bob Newhart managed to get his trademark pause comedy into a telecast hell-bent on speeding it up, and a former jiggle trio surprisingly got me a little choked up over guilty-pleasure impresario Aaron Spelling. But what was most exciting for me in watching the Emmys Sunday was how graciously and intelligently Helen Mirren — in accepting her award for playing Elizabeth I — segued from making a hilarious “ass over tit” joke about the perils of step walking for high-heeled women to a deceptively quiet but impassioned call to arms for the improved lot of female actors by appealing to writers. “Every one of these great performances by these great actresses in this category were revealed to us by some wonderful writing,” she said, a classy way of flattering ink-stained wretches everywhere into thinking about the possible glories that come from creating a complex, three-dimensional role that could attract a superb actress such as herself. After all, the Emmys don’t reduce the number of female nominees just because there are fewer of them at the center of series and movies and miniseries. “Without the writing, we can’t do it,” she said. “Especially . . . um, us women.” Was she saying women can’t act without a juicy part? Absolutely not. To my mind, the “can’t do it” was a reference to getting noticed for your performance chops, not so easy when one is relegated to girlfriend, hottie, wife, fashion plate, victim or a cast’s gender token. This was Mirren’s third Emmy win, and Emmy voters obviously adore her. And why shouldn’t they? She is in every way one of our greatest acting talents. But what I think she was really telling the show-business community Sunday night was, Make it harder for me to even get nominated next time around. Somehow — aside from the relish you know she took about saying “ass over tit” on national television — I think that would make her the happiest of award winners.

LA Weekly