Mad Men foiled by Homeland at Emmys
Homeland, which puts the battle against terrorism on American soil, was honoured as best drama series at the Emmys and earned trophies for stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.
Modern Family was named best comedy.
The drama Homeland stopped Mad Men in its tracks, denying the show a record-setting fifth trophy and kept Bryan Cranston from his fourth consecutive best drama award for Breaking Bad and Mad Men star Jon Hamm an also-ran once more.
The Emmys refused to play it predictably, with Jon Cryer of Two and a Half Men earning a best actor award and Jimmy Kimmel proving a game but uneven host.
“I’m one of those pesky Brits, I apologise,” said Lewis, who plays an American in the espionage thriller. “I don’t really believe in judging art, but I thought I’d show up just in case.”
Danes, eye-catching in a bright yellow dress that gracefully draped the pregnant actress, was effusive.
“My husband, my love, my life, my baby daddy, this doesn’t mean anything without you,” she said to her spouse, actor Hugh Dancy.
Backstage, Danes said she particularly appreciated one fan: President Barack Obama has said he’s a fan of Homeland, about a Marine and former POW who is suspected of working for al Qaida.
“No pressure,” the actress said. “It’s way cool that he is a fan. It speaks to the relevancy of the show and it’s hugely validating.”
The acting trophies, along with a best writing award for the show, gave Homeland momentum as it headed toward the best drama award.
Aaron Paul won best supporting drama actor for Breaking Bad and Homeland won the best writing award.
“Thank you so much for not killing me off,” Paul said of his drug-dealing character’s lucky survival.
“Thank you Hollywood for allowing me to be part of your group,” he added, noting he had moved from Idaho to pursue his dreams.
On the comedy side, Emmy voters decided that Two and a Half Men with Jon Cryer and without Charlie Sheen is really good, as Cryer claimed the best comedy actor trophy.
“Don’t panic, people. Something has clearly gone terribly wrong. I’m stunned,” said Cryer, who on the red carpet before the show has expressed confidence he wouldn’t win. Among others, he beat out two-time winner Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory.
Ashton Kutcher, who joined the show after Sheen was fired, was not nominated.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was honoured as best actress in comedy for Veep.
Andy Griffith topped a segment honouring industry members who died during the previous year. Ron Howard, who played Griffith’s son Opie in The Andy Griffith Show, said he belonged “in the pantheon”.
“Dang if he didn’t make it look powerful easy while he was going about it,” Howard said.
Phyllis Diller, Davy Jones of The Monkees, Sheman Hemsley and Richard Dawson were among the others honoured in a montage.
Earlier in the show, Kimmel dared to mock the memorial package that typically airs at awards shows with one showing him in various guises. Josh Groban sang a mournful “You’re Beautiful” in background.
“I will be missed,” Kimmel said.
Maggie Smith was honoured as best supporting drama actress for her tart-tongued dowager in Downton Abbey, unhurt by the programme’s move from the mini-series category.
Homeland, the domestic espionage thriller, won the best drama writing award.
Modern Family made it look easy as the comedy won the best directing trophy and Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen claimed supporting actor awards.
There was at least a minor backlash online as some questioned whether the show had a deserving season.
Stonestreet was funny and touching as he accepted for his role as half of a devoted gay couple.
“I wouldn’t be standing here without Jesse Tyler Ferguson, there is no Cam without Mitch,” he said, saluting his co-star.
“We get the awesome opportunity to play these two characters on TV and show America and the world what a loving couple we can be just like everybody else.”
Then he turned saucy: “I never knew I’d be on TV as a gay man, but I love the pictures of hairy chests you guys are sending me, it’s really amazing. Thank you for those.
Among reality competitors, The Amazing Race was honoured as best reality series, ninth time in 10 nominations for the award. Tom Bergeron of Dancing With the Stars won as best host of a reality series.
Julianne Moore’s uncanny take on Governor Sarah Palin in the TV movie Game Change, about the 2008 presidential campaign, earned her best actress honours.
“I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down,” Moore said, beaming.
Kevin Costner was named best actor for the history-based mini-series Hatfields & McCoys, while Tom Berenger was named best supporting actor for the project and Jessica Lange won supporting actress honours for American Horror Story. Game Change was crowned best series.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart proved unstoppable, winning its 10th consecutive best variety show trophy.
Stewart, discussing the lasting value of his show, apparently forgot that what flies on free-wheeling cable gets censored on network television.
“Years from now when the Earth is just a burning husk and aliens visit, they will find a box of these, and they will know, just how predictable these (several bleeps) can be,” he said.
Stand-up comic Louis C.K. won the Emmy for best comedy writing for Louie and for the special Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre. Said the comedian after his second win: “Thank you to audiences around the country who still go to see live comedy.”