Taking a break from both her duties as gleefully rabid cheerleading coach/Mr. Schuester nemesis Sue Sylvester on “Glee” and her plans to host the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards (airing on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 8 p.m.), Jane Lynch spoke to reporters in a conference call about her latest projects. The Emmy winner talked about whether we can expect to see her “Glee” co-stars join her on the Emmy stage (short answer: yes), the advantages of working with Mark Burnett and why she won’t be working any gay humor into the show.
Did you watch awards shows growing up?
I did watch and it filled me with anxiety. I had an empathetic response, although it was actually probably projection. So I was embarrassed for people. I feared when people got up there and didn’t know what to say or weren’t articulate, oh, I just suffered for them. Sometimes the horrible music numbers, I remember the terrible number with Snow White, I was hiding under my bed. It was so embarrassing. They’re easier to bear when you’re there. There’s a bunch of people sitting around, usually at a table, sometimes in a theater. You watch it on the television box, it seems like a huge, glamorous thing. And it is a glamorous thing, but there’s something about the TV lights that makes it this amazingly enchanted thing, but when you’re there, that doesn’t last long.
Any chance you’ll be following up on the big production number you did for the Emmys last year?
A follow up, no. We’re starting from scratch. We not trying to follow up anything from last year, but I’m working on something pretty special right now. I don’t want to tell you, though; it will spoil the surprise.
Will you be working any gay humor or gay themes into the awards show?
I’m a person, not just a gay person. So I don’t focus on gay things like that. I just focus on good jokes and being funny. I’ve thought of every aspect of it, I’m very much collaborating with everybody.
Will your “Glee” co-stars be joining you on stage at the Emmys?
As of now we’re still putting together those features and I’ve pitched a couple of ideas that involve the cast, so I suspect there will be an appearance.
Are you making any changes to the awards show this time around?
We’ve talked about this, but I think we’re gonna have some little things that we’ll introduce in the major categories… We’re going to do something a little different to launch those parts of the show.
Is there anything you’re nervous about in hosting the Emmys for the first time?
What I’m concerned about is that I do well and not make a fool of myself. I trust my writers. Everyone working on the show knows what they’re doing. I’ve worked with this crew on the Emmys last year, the Do Something Awards. Every time I’ve done an awards show, it’s with this exact same crew. They really know what they’re doing. What concerns me is I want it to be interesting and funny and also serve the purpose of the evening, which is to honor television and the people in it. And make sure we keep an eye on that. But I want to make sure we do something fun and funny.
What’s it like working on the Emmys with producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor”)?
He’s [got] kind of a lot of money. There are things that creatively we wanted to do, and he said just do it. The people at Fox have worked very well with Mark, so it’s just been a dream. Not that we’re spending millions of dollars, but they’ve been really great at okaying our material and the bits we want to do.
What do you hope to accomplish as host? Do you want to make a splash, or just maintain the status quo?
I think you want to make a splash. I’d be lying if I said if I didn’t say we wanted to make the best awards show ever. We want it to be special. It’s such a coveted spot, it’s the biggest night in television, as they call it. You want to do it justice, or at least I do. I’m humbled by it.. and I think if you look at the big picture and you shoot past the doing of it and you look at the results and say I’m going to do fabulous, you’re not going to do very well. So I’m just trying to stay in the moment, knocking out what I need to knock out. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to make a big splash.
You’re also nominated again in the Best Supporting Actress category (for “Glee”). Are you nervous about that at all?
I think my nerves will hopefully be focused on the show. It’s almost a relief not to have to think about having been nominated. I feel very very honored to have been nominated, especially honored in this group I’m nominated in. These are just amazing actresses in television… and network has some really good television right now too. It’s not just HBO and Showtime, the shows I usually watch, but I’m watching the network, [too].
What are you wearing on the big night?
Oh, I have no idea. No idea. And I can’t say I’ve given it one ounce of thought… When people asked me when I first got the gig if Id be changing my dress every time I came on, I said absolutely not. But I’ll be changing my dress every time I come out.
What can we expect to see on “Glee” this season?
We had a great season last year, but we kind of did go all over the place with guest stars. We had a lot of fun with that, [but ]we’re honing in on stories about these kids, especially in light of the fact several of them will be graduating at the end of the year… We’re kind of following the storylines of the regulars, where they go with their intimate relationships and with graduation looming ahead. It’s not just about sectionals, regionals and nationals.
Is there anything in your own youth that you can relate to “Glee”?
Though I never stuttered, [Tina Cohen-Chang is] always in the background, and then she’ll step out and show what she’s got, and I was kind of like that. I kind of hid, then would go, look at me! And of course my trajectory did not at all parallel what Kurt is going through, but I knew what it was like to have a really big, dark secret even your best friend didn’t know about, and that’s so debilitating in high school and makes you feel so separate and alone. Chris, as a young man and also as the character Kurt, has been so courageous, kind of stepping into his life and saying this is who I am, Lima, Ohio, take it or leave it! And they’ve said, we’ll take it.
Is there anything you won’t be doing as the host of the Emmys?
I probably won’t wear dresses, I probably won’t do an elaborate dance number and I hope you won’t be bored.
How is the way Jane Lynch hosting the Emmys different than how Sue Sylvester would do the job?
Jane Lynch will be nicer than Sue Sylvester. Sue Sylvester would make the show explosive and it would be a show you’d never forget, but it might be kind of warlike and violent. But my show will be a lot nicer and a lot easier to digest.