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Stephen Colbert invited Conan O'Brien to crash Emmy's stage, then fired him: Backstage at Emmy Awards

·7 min read

Conan O'Brien did not crash backstage at the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.

The “Conan” comedian stole the show at L.A. Live’s Event Deck Sunday mugging for the camera after losing his Emmy for best variety show and talk series to John Oliver. O'Brien even joined Stephen Colbert onstage for his show’s Emmy win.

Not surprisingly, O'Brien's antics were a hot topic in the backstage press room where the night's big winners made their way from the stage with their trophies — including Colbert and Oliver. Jason Sudeikis and the “Ted Lasso” cast along with Kate Winslet and the “Mare of Easttown” cast also gave their winning reactions.

Here’s what went down in the virtual media room.

'Ted Lasso,' 'The Crown,' 'The Queen's Gambit' earn night's top prizes at 2021 Emmys

Stephen Colbert, winner of Outstanding Variety Special (Live) for 'Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020', in the press room at the 73rd Emmy Awards at L.A. Live..
Stephen Colbert, winner of Outstanding Variety Special (Live) for 'Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020', in the press room at the 73rd Emmy Awards at L.A. Live..

Blame Stephen Colbert for Conan O'Brien's Emmy stage crash

Yes, Conan O'Brien crashed the stage while Stephen Colbert accepted the outstanding variety special Emmy for his 2020 election night special, "Stephen Colbert's Election Night 2020: Democracy's Last Stand Building Back America Great Again Better 2020."

But it was Colbert's fault that the 6-foot-4 comedian was very noticeably onstage with the show's real crew.

Speaking backstage, Colbert, 58, admitted he opened that door for O'Brien who's TBS show "Conan" is wrapping up after 11 seasons.

"I said why don’t you come on stage with us if we win," Colbert said. "He said, 'Really?' And I said, yeah. And he said, 'OK, but if you change your mind let me know.' "

So then why wasn't O'Brien backstage celebrating as well? "I had to fire him in the last five minutes," said Colbert. "It was a budgetary thing. COVID has been terrible on budgets. They said cut by height. I’m sure he’ll find a gig out there someplace."

In all seriousness, Colbert said he wanted to pay respects. "We love Conan. We're honored to be super-fans."

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John Oliver, winner of Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series for 'Last Week With John Oliver', in the press room at the 73rd Emmy Awards at L.A. Live.
John Oliver, winner of Outstanding Variety Talk Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series for 'Last Week With John Oliver', in the press room at the 73rd Emmy Awards at L.A. Live.

John Oliver has no guilt about taking Conan O'Brien's Emmy

Onstage in his speech, John Oliver admitted he was pulling for O'Brien to win. But Oliver had no guilt holding two Emmys backstage, one for writing and one for best variety series for "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver."

Even if it meant nominated O'Brien went home empty-handed and was shown looking glum on the TV screen, Oliver, 44, said he wasn't going to share the Emmy award.

"Conan? No, he can take it from my cold, dead hand!" Oliver said backstage, holding an Emmy trophy in each hand. "I realize I said I appreciated him, but not that much."

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Kate Winslet, winner of Lead Actress is a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for 'Mare of Easttown', in the press room at the 73rd Emmy Awards at L.A. Live.
Kate Winslet, winner of Lead Actress is a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie for 'Mare of Easttown', in the press room at the 73rd Emmy Awards at L.A. Live.

Kate Winslet: My husband wrecked my Emmys speech 10 years ago

Kate Winslet, 45, took home the Emmy for lead actress in a limited TV series or movie (again). But even though she's won an Emmy before, for Winslet, the awards show holds a special place in her heart.

She recalled backstage that, the last time she won the category 10 years ago, she had just met her now-husband Edward Abel Smith, 43, which left her tongue-tied during her acceptance speech.

“I came to the Emmys, and I was just so in a whirlwind of having just met him that I couldn’t even concentrate, and I vividly remember making an absolutely appalling speech, because I was just not on planet Earth,” she said. “I had fallen head over heels in love with this person whom I had just met. So to have him here is really quite special.”

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Jason Sudeikis promises most boring 'Ted Lasso' Zoom party

"Ted Lasso" dominated the Emmys with seven awards, including best comedic series and best actor for Jason Sudeikis, who plays the very American coach of a British soccer team in the Apple TV+ series.

But the "Ted Lasso" crew was not exactly going to rage in celebration due to COVID-19. Sudeikis, 46, said backstage that the international cast were all booked in the same Los Angeles hotel.

"So we will go to our individual rooms with our masks on," he said. "And we're going to Zoom the hell out of each other."

Earlier, his Emmy-winning supporting actress co-star Hannah Waddingham (who plays Rebecca Welton on "Ted Lasso") found out backstage that presenter Seth Rogen had mispronounced her name from the stage. She confessed she did not hear the miscue.

"It's brand new information to me," said Waddingham, who was told that Rogen called her "Waddington" incorrectly. "Ah man! I'm going to call him Seth Raging."

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Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizbeth Winstead enjoy first date night since welcoming newborn

Ewan McGregor wasn’t just picking up an award for lead actor in a limited series or TV movie at the Emmys – he was also enjoying a date night with his partner Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Backstage, the actor revealed the award ceremony was the first time he and Winstead stepped out without their son Laurie, whom they welcomed in June.

“It was very weird to leave the house without him tonight,” McGregor, 50, said. “It was odd. But it’ll be nice to go back home to him.”

But the father of five said his kids were still “very present” in his mind as he nervously waited for his category. After all, he said, his family group chat was blowing up with questions from his four older daughters about how to tune into the broadcast.

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Jean Smart accepts the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for "Hacks."
Jean Smart accepts the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for "Hacks."

'Hacks' Jean Smart: Tears for her late husband

On stage, "Hacks" star Jean Smart emotionally honored her late husband Richard Gilliland, who died six months ago at age 71. Carrying her Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, Smart, 70, held back tears speaking of Gilliland. "It means a lot because the last six months have been so difficult," said Smart, haltingly, of the award. "This has been something... a strange counterpoint, but very much appreciated."

"Oh gosh, he'd be very happy," Smart said of her husband. She was thrilled to share the award moment with her son Forrest, 13, in attendance. "He's ecstatic. That was very special."

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Lorne Michaels: Jason Sudeikis coming to 'SNL', tribute to Norm Macdonald

Remember when "Ted Lasso" star Sudeikis called out "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels from the awards podium to give thanks, only to find his former comedy boss was missing from the audience.

It got awkward, with Sudeikis suggesting Michaels had gone "to take a dump."

Not true. Michaels was heading backstage to celebrate the fifth straight Emmy win for "SNL" for best variety sketch series.

Michaels, who had been coy on next season's "SNL" guest hosts in a previous backstage question, addressed the zinger by suggesting Sudeikis will host "SNL" next season. "I’m so happy for Jason," Michaels said. "And he’ll be coming back soon to 'SNL.' "

Backstage, Michaels continued his tribute to former Weekend Update anchor (1993-98) Norm Macdonald who died last week. "Norm was one of the funniest people I have ever known," he said. "And because he's Canadian, I'd put him right up there in the top 5."

"I was in awe in how long he could take to tell a joke. And how long he could pause before telling another joke," said Michaels. "He never pandered. He was always going to do it the way he wanted to do it."

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Where the heck was Lin-Manuel Miranda? 'Hamilton' cast explains

“Hamilton” won for outstanding pre-recorded variety special, but a noticeable figure was absent during the acceptance speech: the show’s creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“He loves me, and he wanted me to have a moment to shine,” “Hamilton” star Renée Elise Goldsberry, 50, joked backstage. According to the actress, Miranda is busy opening several “Hamilton” productions around the world.

“They are very busy in the business of putting theater back up, and we’re so grateful,” she added.

But the “Hamilton” team still got to celebrate with Miranda over FaceTime after their win, Phillipa Soo, 31, added.

“It’s almost like he’s here,” she said. “That’s why technology is amazing. But we do miss him. We do miss him. We’re so grateful to him.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Emmys 2021 backstage: Stephen Colbert fired Conan O'Brien after crash

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