The 63rd Primetime Emmys at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday was a crazy-quilt of taste, with a number of unexpected wins mixed in with the usual suspects.
AMC's "Mad Men" won as best drama for the fourth straight year beating out two HBO lavish powerhouses -- "Game of Thornes" and "Boardwalk." It was its only award. And "Modern Family" is beginning its own Emmy roll, winning as best comedy for its second consecutive year, and taking five awards altogether.
"Downton Abbey" was named the best miniseries or TV movie. The elegant drama on PBS -- a throwback to the original "Upstairs/Downstairs" and "The Forsyte Saga" -- took home four awards Sunday, adding to the two awards it won last week at the Creative
Arts Emmy ceremony -- giving it six altogether.
"Boardwalk Empire" was the overall winner with eight, but only one on Sunday.
But the biggest surprises were in the acting categories. Kyle Chandler of "Friday Night Lights" was named best actor in a drama.
"I didn't think this would happen so I didn't write anything," said the star of the little-seen series, looking dumbfounded. It was the third nomination and first win for the actor who plays Eric Taylor, the head coach of a fictional Texas high-school football team.
With no Bryan Cranston, who has won the last three best actor in a drama awards, out of the way because "Breaking Bad" wasn't eligible this year, most people expected "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm on his fourth straight try or six-time nominee Hugh Laurie of "House" to win.
Meanwhile, Steve Carell, up for the sixth straight time as Michael Scott on "The Office," was overlooked again in the best actor in a comedy category, losing to Jim Parsons. Looking at the trophy, "The Big Bang" star said, "I was assured by many people that this wouldn't happen." It was his second straight win.
When the best actress nominees in a comedy were announced, the actresses all came up on the stage, receiving a standing ovation for their gesture of solidarity, and then they all gathered around and hugged Melissa McCarthy of "Mike and Molly" when her name was announced by Rob Lowe. "Holy S-moke!" she exclaimed, not expecting to win.
Julianna Margulies took home an Emmy for her role on "The Good Wife." The best-drama actress thanked CBS "for allowing us to be the show we are," and then thanked her husband for being his "good wife." It was her second nomination for the role, having been passed over last year.
Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet won as lead actress in a miniseries for the title role in HBO's "Mildred Pierce." Clearly excited she bounded on stage when her name was called in an tight-fitting red dress.
"I didn't think we were going to win anything." Just prior to her victory, Australian Guy Pierce receive the trophy for best supporting actor in a miniseries for his role of the cad in "Mildred Pierce." "I had sex many, many times with Kate Winslet for this role," he joked, adding that he never expected it to result in an award.
Barry Pepper, who wasn't at the ceremony, was named best actor in a miniseries for playing Bobby Kennedy in the little seen and poorly reviewed "The Kennedys."
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" won the award for Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy for the ninth time in a row. It also took home a writing award.
"If the world needs to repopulate, I think Sofia Vergara and Rob Lowe would be a good start," joke Stewart. He then acknowledged his Comedy Central mate Steven Colbert for his work.
"Amazing Race" won in the reality competition. Up until last year when "Race's" seven-year streak ended when "Top Chef" took the trophy, the show had been the only winner in the category.
"We don't know why sometimes it comes right, " said "Downton Abbey's" Julian Fellows, about why sometimes projects are unexpected hits when accepting the award for the miniseries. The Oscar-winning writer-producer also took the best writing trophy in the category, while Maggie Smith, who was not at the show, was named best supporting actress for the series.
"Modern Family" took home the first four awards of the evening, setting off the upsets. Julie Bowen became a surprise winner over Emmy host Jane Lynch, who was up for "Glee," and Betty White "Hot in Cleveland" as best supporting actress in a comedy,
"Oh my god. I don't know what I'm going to talk about in therapy next week," said a clearly surprised Bowen.
She was followed by a win by Ty Burrell as comedy's best supporting actor, who beat out three other "Modern Family" nominees in the category, including last year's winner, Eric Stonestreet. Burrell talked about his late father never seeing him act. "I wonder what he thinks about me going to work every day in full makeup," he joked.
The sitcom quickly chalked up two more awards -- for directing and writing.
Margo Martindale was named as the best supporting actress in a drama for playing Mags Bennett, the rural Kentucky crime boss on "Justified." "Sometimes it takes time," said the veteran actress who was a popular winner, "and with time comes appreciation."
Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese won his first Emmy for helming the first episode of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." He thanked his cast, including star Steve Buscemi -- "always amazing."
Peter Dinklage won best supporting actor in a drama for "Game of Thrones." "Wow I followed Martin Scorsese. .." then he thanked his dog sitter."
But it wasn't a typical HBO night, although it still won the most Emmys of any network with 19 altogether. Fifteen of them were given out at the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony held on Sept. 10.
The show, which was produced by reality TV's Mark Burnett, was mostly lackluster. Perhaps they should have gotten the folks from "Glee" instead of just Lynch, who couldn't overcome her material.
In the opening, a pre-record segment, the actress sang about the glories of television as Lynch walked through a number of different series sets -- including "The Big Bang Theory" -- before eventually, coming out onto the stage in a shiny gray dress with a slew of dancers for the live portion of the show.
Fox cut a clip out of the opening segment that featured Alec Baldwin because it contained a joke about the News Corp. phone hacking scandal. The network said it believed the joke was inappropriate to make light of an issue being taken very seriously by the company.
Even Charlie Sheen was low-keyed. Before announcing the best actor in a comedy award, Sheen, whose flameout last spring resulted in him getting ousted from his hit series, "Two and a Half Men," issued an apology of sorts.
"I want to take a moment to get something off my chest and say a few words to everyone here from 'Two and a Half Men,"' said the actor who appeared much calmer than when he left the show. "From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best from this upcoming season. We spent eight wonderful years together, and I know you will continue to make great television."
Now if the Emmy show could do that.
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