Breaking Bad broke well at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, capturing its first outstanding drama series award just one week before its final episode. The AMC series also claimed a second Emmy when Anna Gunn won for suporting actress.
ABC’s Modern Family was voted outstanding comedy for the fourth consecutive year, but other Emmy strings were snipped in an evening filled with song, dance and comedy tailored for host Neil Patrick Harris.
The Colbert Report, created from the rib of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, won the Emmy for outstanding variety series. The victory ended 10 consecutive years of Daily Show Emmys. Colbert was gracious in victory, thanking “my friend and my brother Jon Stewart.”
The Colbert Report also won for outstanding writing for a variety series.
HBO led all networks with seven of the night’s 26 awards. Other networks with multiple Emmys were Showtime (four), ABC and NBC (three each) and AMC and Comedy Central (two each).
For the first time, an Emmy in the Primetime telecast also was awarded to a program not seen on either broadcast or cable. David Fincher won for directing the political thriller House of Cards, shown on Netflix.
Also for the first time, an Emmy honored the burgeoning category of choreography in primetime. Following an elaborate dance production staged by choreography nominees, Derek Hough of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars won an Emmy for outstanding choreography.
In keeping with Emmy tradition, some Emmys were widely predicted; others caught prognosticators off guard.
Claire Danes won a second consecutive Emmy for outstanding lead actress in the Showtime drama, Homeland. Jim Parsons of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory won a third Emmy for outstanding lead comedy actor and lead actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus won a second Emmy for the HBO comedy Veep.
At the same time, Jeff Daniels surprised many Emmy guessers with a win for drama actor for HBO’s The Newsroom. “I didn’t expect this,” he confessed in accepting the statuette.
NBC’s The Voice won an Emmy for outstanding reality-competition series. Producer Mark Burnett, award in hand, asked the telecast’s projected 30 million viewers to “keep us Number One.”
In between the awards, producer Ken Ehrlich placed several segments that recalled TV history. These included clips from the 1963-64 season of CBS coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the first U.S. television appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. The segment ended with Carrie Underwood’s poignant version of “Yesterday.”
In addition to the annual “In Memoriam,” the telecast singled out five individuals for special notice: Robin Williams saluted mentor Jonathan Winters, Rob Reiner praised All in the Family costar Stapleton, Jane Lynch hailed Glee colleague Cory Monteith, Michael J. Fox recalled Family Ties producer Gary David Goldberg and Edie Falco reminisced about The Sopranos costar James Gadolfini.
Elton John performed a song, “Home Again,” dedicated to Liberace, the subject of HBO’s Behind the Candelabra. The production won for outstanding movie or miniseries and also for outstanding lead actor (Michael Douglas) and outstanding directing (Steven Soderbergh).
Douglas, who played Liberace, acknowledged the work of Matt Damon, who played the pianist’s lover, Scott Thorson. “You really deserve half of this,” he told Damon. “So do you want the bottom or the top?”
Other Emmy winners:
—Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie on Showtime) for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy.
—Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield (30 Rock on NBC) for outstanding writing for a comedy.
—Tony Hale (Veep on HBO) for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy.
—Gail Mancuso (Modern Family on ABC) for directing a comedy.
—Laura Linney (The Big C: Hereafter on Showtime) for outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie.
—Henry Bromell (Homeland on Showtime) for outstanding writing for a drama.
—Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire on HBO) for outstanding supporting actor in a drama.
—Don Roy King (Saturday Night Live on NBC) for outstanding directing for a variety series.
—Abi Morgan (The Hour on BBC America) for outstanding writing for a movie or miniseries or dramatic special.
—James Cromwell (American Horror Story: Asylum on FX) for outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie.
—Ellen Burstyn (Political Animals on USA) for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie.