There was a lot of new comedy but not much new drama at the 62nd annual prime-time Emmy Awards on Sunday night.
“Modern Family,” the ABC comedy series about a disarmingly dysfunctional family, won the top comedy series honor as well as writing and supporting actor awards. Fox’s cult phenomenon “Glee” — nominated for 19 Emmys — took home two trophies: Jane Lynch for supporting actress in a comedy and series creator Ryan Murphy for comedy direction. The combination of “Modern Family” and “Glee” ended the dominance in the comedy category by ” 30 Rock,” NBC’s critically acclaimed but low-rated spoof of the television business.
On the drama side, the telecast looked like a rerun of the last two years. AMC’s ” Mad Men,” a dark period drama set in the 1960s on Madison Avenue, won its third consecutive Emmy for drama series, while Bryan Cranston, star of AMC’s ” Breaking Bad,” won his third lead acting Emmy for his portrayal of Walter White, a science teacher-turned- crystal meth cook.
While this was supposed to be the year that broadcast television made a dent on cable’s dominance of the Emmy Awards, overall cable took home 17 statues while the broadcasters walked away with nine. HBO, as usual, dominated the movies and mini-series category thanks to “Temple Grandin,” “You Don’t Know Jack” and “The Pacific.”
It was a good night for first-timers as the majority of the statuettes handed out at the Emmys went to first-time winners — although many were familiar faces.
Kyra Sedgwick won her first Emmy, for actress in a drama series, playing the sweet-as-sugar and hard-as-nails L.A. cop in TNT’s “The Closer,” while Bravo’s “Top Chef” put a stunning end to the reign of CBS’ ” The Amazing Race,” which had won for competitive reality series seven years in a row, ever since the category was created by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
Other first-timers going home with a statuette: Jim Parsons for actor in a comedy series for his performance as ultimate nerd Sheldon on CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory”; Eric Stonestreet for supporting actor in a comedy for playing half of the gay couple on “Modern Family”; Aaron Paul picked up his first Emmy, for supporting actor in a drama for playing a character who teams with his former teacher to make meth in “Breaking Bad”; and Archie Panjabi won her first trophy, for supporting actress in a drama for CBS’ “The Good Wife.”
There was a familiar face in a new category: Edie Falco, best known for her Emmy-winning role as mob wife Carmela Soprano in HBO’s “The Sopranos,” won her fourth Emmy but this time in the comedy actress category as the pill-popping “Nurse Jackie” in the darkly comic Showtime series. Falco seemed shocked at the win: “I’m not funny!” she insisted. Falco becomes the first actress to win acting Emmys in both the drama and comedy categories.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was HBO’s “Temple Grandin.” Besides winning the top honor in the made-for-TV movie category, the under-the-radar HBO film about a woman who triumphed over autism to become a doctor of animal science, resulted in three acting statuettes for first-time winners. Claire Danes won for lead actress in a movie or miniseries for playing Grandin. She thanked her real-life counterpart, calling her “the most brave and intrepid person I have ever known.” During her speech, Grandin took a bow. Danes’ co-star Julia Ormond won supporting actress for the movie, and David Strathairn also won for “Temple Grandin” for supporting actor. A fourth Emmy for the movie went to another first-timer, director Mick Jackson, who told Grandin, “we wanted to make a movie worthy of you.”
That “Temple Grandin” managed to overshadow two other much higher-profile HBO projects — the $100 million miniseries “The Pacific” executive produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and “You Don’t Know Jack” about the trial of controversial doctor Jack Kevorkian and starring Al Pacino — seem to come as a shock to even the movie’s producers as well as the audience. Pacino, however, did win his second acting Emmy, for his portrayal of Kevorkian.
Emmy voters denied viewers and industry attendees their one shot at real drama during the show by giving the award for variety, musical or comedy series to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and not Conan O’Brien, who was nominated for his brief stint as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show” and was in attendence.
Hosted by Jimmy Fallon, the show opened with a spoof of Fox’s musical comedy “Glee.” Fallon, along with several cast members from “Glee” as well as appearances from Tina Fey of “30 Rock,” Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” and, of course, Betty White, tore through a version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” that got the show off to a roaring start. Throughout the program, Fallon played to the crowd at home as well as the industry audience with witty song parodies and an everyman quality that has been lacking from previous hosts who often try to seem too smart for the room. [via MS NBC and LA Times’ Envelope]