x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

The Emmys this year will have a magic touch thanks to Neil Patrick Harris

Harris won’t say whether he’ll perform any magic tricks during the ceremony but promises “a lot of exciting things that have never happened before”.

The Emmys host 2013 Neil Patrick Harris at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, HQ of the Academy of Magical Arts. Zach Cordner / Invision / AP
The Emmys host 2013 Neil Patrick Harris at the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, HQ of the Academy of Magical Arts. Zach Cordner / Invision / AP

Neil Patrick Harris is magical, and not just because he can sing, dance, act and host the Tony and Emmy awards. He’s actually magical, like in the abracadabra way, and has been since he was a kid.

Long before he was Doogie Howser, MD, Harris loved magic. Every trip to his grandparents’ house in Albuquerque meant a visit to the local magic shop, where he used his allowance to add a card or coin trick to his collection.

These days, the 40-year-old entertainer injects magic into most everything he does – he is, after all, the leader of the Academy of Magical Arts, headquartered at the famed Magic Castle on a hill overlooking Hollywood. His How I Met Your Mother character, Barney, dabbles in magic and Harris often does magic tricks on talk shows. And he levitates an Emmy trophy in advertisements for Sunday’s big show, which he’s hosting for the second time.

Harris has also been hands-on in helping put the Emmys ceremony together, says the show’s executive producer Ken Ehrlich. Harris’s production skills are actually award-worthy: he won an Emmy at Sunday night’s Creative Arts ceremony as the executive producer of last year’s Tony Awards.

A host of the main Emmy show, Harris says he won’t sing and dance – at least not as an opening or closing number. Both he and Ehrlich say they hope something unexpected will liven up the ceremony. “I’m hoping someone has some sort of problem and we get to watch that downwards spiral in front of millions. That, for me, is Emmy magic,” he says. “So, Bryan Cranston, tick-tock.”

Harris won’t say whether he’ll perform any magic tricks during the ceremony but promises “a lot of exciting things that have never happened before”.

Though Harris hosted the Emmys in 2009 and has taken on the Tonys four times, he acknowledges some nerves leading into tonight’s show. “If you ask me, two days before the Emmys, everything’s locked. We know what the jokes are. I’m like Confident Johnny: Woo-wee, it’s gonna be a good show,” he says, his smile revealing the slightest hint of anxiety. “But right now, I’m so concerned about what my thing’s going to look like and no jokes are set, so it’s a little bit panic mode right now.”

Maybe it’s time to pull out that magic wand.

artslife@thenational.ae