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Emmy Awards host Stephen Colbert says the show has to reference President Donald Trump as he was “the biggest television star of the last year.” (Sept. 13)
AP

Everything’s better with Stephen Colbert on TV.

The Late Show host put together an impressive array of performance skills — including singing, dancing and acting — while, not surprisingly, taking some shots at President Trump in his first hosting stint at the Primetime Emmy Awards Sunday. But he was hit-and-miss later on in the three-hour awards telecast. 

Colbert opened with a hummable opening song-and-dance number, Everything is Better on TV,  that mixed current-events references to climate change, Russia and health care along with TV-oriented jokes about This Is Us (lots of crying tissues), Stranger Things and Veep, with a singing cameo by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

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Trump was a recurring theme, from the opening monologue, starting with a surprise appearance by former presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer to pronounce that Colbert’s Emmy ratings were the biggest in the world.

 But the jokes, and there were many, were less hard-edged than some barbs aimed at the commander in chief on Colbert’s CBS late-night show, perhaps a recognition that the Emmys attract a larger audience with a broad range of opinions about the president. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin were more scathing in comparing Trump to their 9 to 5 boss, as Tomlin said they “refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”

Colbert, a Trump critic whose Late Show star has risen with president’s political ascendancy, offered a reason for the presidential references:

“We know the biggest TV star of the past year was Donald Trump,” he said. “You can’t deny every show is influenced by Trump in some way … House of Cards, the new season of American Horror Story and, of course, next year’s Latin Grammys hosted by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.” 

Later, suggesting Trump might not have run for president if voters had given him an Emmy for The Apprentice, Colbert said: “I thought you loved morally compromised anti-heroes. You like Walter White. He’s just Walter Much Whiter.”

He also took a shot at Trump being elected despite getting fewer votes than Hillary Clinton,…