No one watching CBS on Sept. 18, 2005, could have predicted that the guy on the Emmys stage in overalls and a straw hat singing the Green Acres theme song alongside Megan Mullally would, 11 years later, be the Republican presidential nominee. Well, no one except Donald Trump himself.
"At the time he was just that kooky guy from The Apprentice. Everybody was like, 'Oh, he's funny,' " Mullally recently said of her unlikely partner. The pair was one of several vying that evening for the TV audience's phone-in votes. It was all part of "Emmy Idol," a running gag that THR dismissed in its review as "ridiculous" and a "useless distraction" from "Emmy substance." Both were up for awards - Trump for best reality competition with The Apprentice and Mullally for her work as the sassy Karen Walker on Will & Grace - but neither won. They did not go home entirely empty-handed, however.
At the end of the telecast, host Ellen DeGeneres announced that Trump and Mullally had bested the likes of William Shatner (singing the Star Trek theme) and Kristen Bell (performing "Fame" in leg warmers) to win the show-within-the-show. Mullally got a call from an ebullient Trump the following day. He noted, "We really needed to win that thing."
This story first appeared in the Sept. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.