PASADENA, California – Late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien, his red hair impeccable but his freckled face flushed, looked as though he could not take the heat Saturday.
"It's 108 degrees out there," O'Brien dutifully informed an air-conditioned room full of reporters at the Television Critics Association's summer meeting.
Dressed in a suit, O'Brien at times appeared uncomfortable under the hot stage lights. He quenched his thirst with a glass of Diet Coke.
Later, he joked about the stifling heat's effect on his 'do.
"Barometric pressure has a lot to do with how my hair holds up," he said. "I can't believe it's holding up in this heat."
O'Brien returns for his second stint as host of the Emmy Awards, airing Aug. 27 on NBC.
The show has been moved up from its traditional September airing because of the network's addition of Sunday-night football to its schedule.
"Most people are on an inflatable raft at that period of the summer," O'Brien said.
The comedian and his writers have begun work on his show-opening monologue.
"Most people know my sense of humor, it's fairly silly and for the most part a waste of time," he said. "I had a really good time hosting the last show and I'm very excited. It's a chance for me to be in a different environment and use a different part of my brain."
Viewers can expect to see some pre-taped bits, which O'Brien used four years ago, and interactions with the star-studded audience. From the stage in 2002, he openly lusted after Jennifer Aniston only to be glowered at by her then-husband Brad Pitt.
"I think it's clear I was responsible for whatever troubles they had in their relationship," O'Brien said. "I'd like to apologize to the press and to them."
O'Brien praised the current quality of television as being "one of the best periods ever."
Citing his favorite shows as "House," "Lost," "24" and "The Office," he said, "I'm stunned by their quality. I started out as a television writer and I don't understand how these people are making these shows."
Emmy executive producer Ken Ehrlich said the three-hour telecast will include a tribute to Dick Clark, the former host of "American Bandstand," which made its network TV debut 50 years ago.
The first group of Emmy presenters were announced Saturday. They are: Felicity Huffman, Hugh Laurie, Julia Louis-Dreyfous, Matthew Perry and Jon Stewart.
Reporters bombarded TV academy chairman Dick Askin with questions about the revised nomination process. Blue-ribbon panels played a major role in deciding the nominees in the categories of drama and comedy series and lead actors and actresses in the series.
"Obviously, there were some questions raised on some of the nominations," Askin said. "It was more about omissions than inclusions. It was always our plan that this would be a one-year test."
There were surprising snubs for "The Sopranos" stars Edie Falco and James Gandolfini, along with "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" — shows shut out of categories they dominated last year.
"In a couple of cases, because it's a new process, maybe some of the producers submitting the tapes didn't understand," Askin said. "There were one or two cases where a better submission may have changed the nominations."
Asked whether he would address the nominating controversy on the show, O'Brien deadpanned, "If there's a negative area, I never like to go there."
Later, he joked, "We're planning more controversies between now and August. It's just going to blow your socks off."