"If you're going to start throwing Ryan Seacrest around, then you just want me to burst into tears and have this interview be nominated for best dramatic actress next year!" Kathy Griffin gasps during our webcam chat about her Emmy bout for best reality program.
Of course, I had to mention Seacrest up front. It's too juicy, bizarre and hilarious that Griffin's "My Life on the D-List" is nominated against a program ("Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution") produced by her old nemesis. Their feud dates to 2005 when Griffin replaced Joan Rivers as E! network's red-carpet host at the Golden Globes, then lost the job to Seacrest when a hubbub erupted over her joke that 11-year-old Dakota Fanning had gone into rehab.
To appreciate the irony of their current Emmy battle, it's key to keep two points in mind:
1.) Griffin is obsessed with the Emmys. In this interview, she confesses that she carried "Emmy and Emily" (the statuettes she won in 2007 and 2008) around so much that they got damaged, needed welding. Last year she told Gold Derby, "I'll trade my mother for a third Emmy!" (Her show lost to "Intervention.")
2.) Griffin jokes about Ryan Seacrest relentlessly — and savagely.
Now that Seacrest, of all people, has invaded the Emmy category she feels she owns (she's been nominated for four years in a row), she's freaking out.
"I think the jury is in – we have proof," she says. "Ryan is clearly trying to kill me!"
Griffin worries that the Emmys themselves may be out to get her. "I still don't have tickets to the primetime Emmys even though I won two and I'm nominated for two again," she notes eerily. "I've offered to the academy to be a seat-filler. You know what would be funny? Seeing me sitting next to Kyra Sedgwick when Kevin Bacon goes to the bathroom."
Griffin does have tickets to the Creative Arts Emmy ceremony -- what she nicknames "the Schmemmys" -- where her category will be decided on Aug. 21. She's talking about not having tickets to the main prime-time telecast eight days later.
I invite Griffin to sit with me backstage in the general press room. "You can get me a press pass?!" she gasps gleefully. "I'm really serious about this because I think this is a really funny idea and nobody else would do it. Do you really think you could get me a press pass or will they so no? Just look into it!"
Griffin has good reason to worry that she's still in trouble with Emmy chieftains. When she won in 2007, she said at the podium, "A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus."
She went on to hold up her Emmy, make a racy remark about Christ and proclaim, "This award is my god now!" Her speech was so blasphemous that it was censored when telecast by E! network and reported in print media. The academy issued an unprecedented apology.
When Griffin was nominated again the next year, she promised to be good if she won, but she dropped F-bombs when she was called to the stage, adding, "I'm not going to tell anyone to suck it. I would make love to this thing if I could."
So I ask her now: What will she do this year if she wins?
"If I win, let me just say something that is water-cooler talk, but will not get me banned from anything or kicked off anything," she replies. "It will just leave you with a hint of excitement and regret."
In addition to "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," the other shows competing against Griffin's "My Life on the D-List" for the Emmy as best reality program are "Antiques Roadshow," "Dirty Jobs," "MythBusters" and "Undercover Boss."