Showtime’s Homeland turned terrorism into great drama, sweeping awards for outstanding drama, lead actor (Damian Lewis), lead actress (Claire Danes) and writing (Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff) during the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, September 23, at the NOKIA Theater L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles.
Political themes also dominated the movie/miniseries category, with multiple Emmys for HBO’s Game Change, about the selection of Sarah Palin as the GOP candidate for vice president in 2008. It won statuettes for outstanding movie/miniseries, lead actress (Julianne Moore), writing (Danny Strong) and directing (Jay Roach), powering HBO to a total of six primetime Emmys, the most of any network.
ABC took second place with five, all but one for Modern Family, chosen outstanding comedy for a third consecutive year. The show also won for supporting actor (Eric Stonestreet), supporting actress (Julie Bowen) and director Steven Levitan, who also serves as showrunner.
“I want to thank me for hiring me as a director when no one else would,” Levitan quipped.
Confounding most Emmy prognosticators, Jon Cryer won for lead comedy actor. As a result he has both a lead actor and a supporting actor Emmy for the same role on CBS’s Two and a Half Men.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a previous Emmy recipient for Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine, won again for lead actress in HBO’s Veep.
“I don’t see anything funny about me being vice president of the United States,” she deadpanned.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won an Emmy for outstanding variety series, its tenth in a row. Stewart crawled down the aisle to reach the stage, held back by fellow nominees Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert.
Comedian Louis C.K. received two Emmys for writing — one for his FX comedy series Louie and one for his FX comedy special Live at the Beacon Theatre.
“I wanted another one, so that’s nice,” the comedian said during his second acceptance speech.
Aaron Paul took home an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in AMC’s Breaking Bad and Maggie Smith was selected outstanding supporting actress for her work in PBS’s Downton Abbey.
Kevin Costner won for his lead role in History’s miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. Jessica Lange won for outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie for FX’s American Horror Story.
The Amazing Race received an Emmy for outstanding reality-competition program, its ninth in the last 10 years. Tom Bergeron of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars was selected outstanding reality host, an award he attributed to the absence of Survivor’s Jeff Probst, a previous Emmy recipient on multiple occasions, from the list of nominees.
All this on a telecast in which comedian Tracy Morgan pretended to lose consciousness onstage (part of a social media prank hatched by host Jimmy Kimmel), Kimmel and singer Josh Groban presented Kimmel’s own In Memoriam salute and director Glen Weiss, an Emmy winner for directing the 65th Annual Tony Awards, played himself off.
Considering the themes of Homeland and Game Change, and their victories during an election year, acceptance speeches contained few political references. One exception was Moore, who played Palin in Game Change.
“I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down,” she said.
AMC’s Mad Men did not garner an Emmy despite 17 nominations. That set a record, edging by one the winless outings of The Larry Sanders Show and Northern Exposure. It also cast Kimmel as a clairvoyant.
“I, for one, am shocked that you did not win tonight,” he told Mad Men’s Jon Hamm in jest during the opening monologue.
The late Andy Griffith was remembered by Ron Howard at the outset of the telecast’s In Memoriam segment. Earlier in the show, a video updated the iconic opening of The Andy Griffith Show to illustrate how it might have been adapted if Breaking Bad had been televised during that era.
HBO once again led all other networks this year, with 23 Emmys, a combination of the six won on Sunday and 17 awarded the previous weekend at the Creative Arts Emmys. CBS was second with 16 overall and PBS third with 12.