Bassem Youssef becomes first Arab to host Emmy Awards
France had a big night Monday at the International Emmys with a leading three awards, led by the hit crime thriller “Engrenages” (“Spiral“) which won for best drama series. But the normally festive ceremony was tempered by reflections on the recent Paris terrorist attacks.
The tone for the evening was set by the host, Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, dubbed “the Jon Stewart of the Arab world,” who paused with the joke-making in his opening monologue to observe that “the world is still in a state of trauma” after recent attacks in Paris, Mali, Lebanon, Nigeria, Kenya and the Sinai in his home country.
“When people get together to celebrate art and creativity and the best of what the human race can aspire to we find our capacity to heal and to grow,” he said. “When we laugh and do what we do here tonight, those evil bastards lose.”
The highlight of the awards ceremony came when “Downton Abbey” creator and writer Julian Fellowes was presented the honorary International Emmy Founders Award by the show’s executive producer Gareth Neame and actress Elizabeth McGovern, who stars as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham.
The Emmy for arts programming went to “Illustre & Inconnu: Comment Jacques Jaujard a Sauve le Louvre” (“The Man Who Saved the Louvre“) about the French National Museums director who organized a resistance group to keep thousands of artworks out of the Nazis’ hands.I.
The other French winner was “Soldat Blanc” (“White Soldier“), about two young soldiers in Saigon whose friendship is shattered when they end up on opposite sides in the early days of the Viet Minh insurgency against French colonial rule, which took the Emmy for best TV movie/mini-series.
The best actor award went to Maarten Heijmans of the Netherlands for “Ramses,” which chronicles the rise and fall of the popular Dutch singer and actor Ramses Shaffy. Norway’s Anneke von der Lippe won the best actress Emmy for “Eyewitness” in which she plays a small town police chief caught in the middle of a murder investigation.
The awards ceremony, organized by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, honors excellence in TV programming outside the US