Sept. 23--It was a surprisingly "Bad" night at the 65th Primetime Emmys, which were held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Sunday.
After losing four times before, AMC's "Breaking Bad" finally was named best drama, and there were a number of unexpected wins during the night, as television academy voters began reaching a little more beyond their comfort zone.
"I didn't see this coming," said Vince Gilligan. "Breaking Bad" 's creator, upon accepting the award as best drama.
Not everything was unexpected, though. For the fourth year in a row, "Modern Family" was named best comedy, giving the major networks some solace in an evening dominated by cable, especially HBO. The premium cable network won 27 Emmys overall, including those from last week's creative arts awards.
In a win out of nowhere, Jeff Daniels took home the best actor in a drama statuette for his role of news anchor Will McAvoy in HBO's "The Newsroom."
"Well crap, I didn't expect this.," said Daniels after he bounded onto the stage. The veteran actor -- who beat Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad," "Mad Men's" John Hamm, "Homeland's" Damian Lewis, and Kevin Spacey of "House of Cards," -- clearly didn't expect the honor. He joked that the last award he got was from the AARP, for the best actor over 50.
Claire Danes got her third Emmy and second in a row for playing the bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison in Showtime's "Homeland."
"All actors know how indebted they are to their writers, especially on television." She then paid a personal tribute to Henry Bromell, a writer on the series who died this year. Earlier, he had been honored for best writing on a drama series. The award was accepted by his wife.
Skyler-haters got their comeuppance, as Anna Gunn won her first Emmy as best supporting actress for playing Walter White's long-suffering wife on "Breaking Bad."
Another underdog was Bobby Cannavale, recently seen in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," who won as best supporting actor in a miniseries for his role as a gangster (what else?) on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." He played tribute to fellow nominee Mandy Patinkin of "Homeland."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her second Emmy in a row as best actress in comedy for playing blatantly ambitious Vice President Selina Meyer on HBO's "Veep."
"So much good fortune -- it's almost to much to bear," she said, as she was joined on stage by Tony Hale, who plays her chief aide, Gary Walsh, on the show. As she continued her acceptance speech, he whispered in her ear as his character on the show does, reminding her of who she should thank.
Earlier, Hale won best supporting actor in a comedy series for his role, another surprise.
"Here's the deal. Even to be on a list with those guys is crazy humbling. This is mind-blowing," Hale said about the other nominees, including three from "Modern Family."
But in more predictable mode, Jim Parsons got his third Emmy for playing nerd Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory."
"It's so silly to be emotional," he said as he held back the emotion.
Speaking of emotion, Michael Douglas beat his co-star Matt Damon as best actor in a miniseries or movie. The Oscar winner played TV's Liberace, beating out his co-star Damon, who portrayed the gay pianist's lover in HBO's Beyond the Candelabra."
"This was a two-hander, and you're only as good as your other hand," Douglas joked from the stage to a laughing Damon. "You deserve half of this."
Named the best TV or miniseries, "Candelabra" was the big numbers winner of the evening, taking home three trophies Sunday night and 11 altogether. Feature filmmaker Steven Soderbergh won as best director for the movie.
"If Michael and Matt don't show up with those performances, we don't have a movie," said Soderbergh.
Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" finally beat its' network 11 o'clock hour buddy -- "The Daily Show" for two awards. "The Emmys are so good this year," joked Stephen Colbert as he looked at the statue for best writing on a variety series. "First, I want to thank 'The Daily Show' for setting such a high standard." Later, when the series won the best variety show, he thanked Jon Stewart, adding "Jon never told me how good this would feel."
In the first surprise of the night, Meritt Weaver, who plays Zooey Barkow on Showtime's "Nurse Jackie," was named best supporting actress in a comedy. After saying thanks, "I gotta go, bye," was Weaver's entire acceptance speech as they tried to move things along on the show, which was shown on CBS. "Best acceptance speech ever," quipped host Neil Patrick Harris.
Lara Linney was named best actress in a movie or miniseries for her role on Showtime's "The Big C," beating favorite Jessica Lange from "American Horror Story: Asylum." It was Linney's fourth Emmy.
"She's such a great actress she didn't need to show up," quipped Damon, accepting the award for the actress, who was shooting on location.
David Fincher ("The Social Network") was named best director of a drama series for the first episode of network's "House of Cards." It was the only win for the series on Netflix, the streaming video service.
NBC's singing competition "The Voice" did something "American Idol" couldn't do: It won best reality show award, breaking "The Amazing Race's" longtime string.
The show began rather tepidly. In a film clip, the "How I Met Your Mother" star Harris sat down in front of a bank of TV sets watching clips of shows and complaining that the were too many series to watch. He walked out on stage and then began a meandering monologue, joined at one point by four previous hosts --Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon and Jane Lynch.
Then there was a interruption by Kevin Spacey -- a la his "House of Cards" character ("It's all going according to my plan," he told the camera from a seat in the audience.)
Also from the audience, Tina Fey and Amy Pohler advised Harris to twerk and take his pants off.
None of the flatness of the show was Harris's fault. It was unevenly paced, and sometimes the acceptance speeches were more interesting.
Don Cheadle presented a segment marking the 50th anniversary of coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and performance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show 80 days later on Feb. 9, 1964. Pop star Carrie Underwood, a product of "American Idol," sang "Yesterday" as images of the Beatles and others of the era were shown in the background (in black and white, of course).
There were two dance numbers in the show. Harris did one with Nathan Fillion and Sarah Silverman that was "the arbitrary number in the middle of the show" number. Later, Harris did one based on the best drama nominees before "Project Runway" stars Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn gave best choreographer award to "So You Think You Can Dance's" Derek Hough.
Robin Williams offered the first tribute of the evening. He called his mentor Jonathan Winters, who died earlier this year, "a big brilliant kid who never grew up," adding " his riffs were mini-movies."
Later Jane Lynch talked movingly of "Glee" co-star Cory Monteith. "He was not perfect," she said about the actor who died of a drug overdose.
Edie Falco remembered "Sopranos" co-star James Gandolfini ("I was lucky to know Jim the man"),
Michael J. Fox honored his "Family Ties" producer Gary David Goldberg, and Rob Reiner had fond memories of his "All in the Family" co-star Jean Stapleton.
After being introduced by Douglas and Damon, Elton John performed a tribute to the pianist and TV with a new song called "Home Again."
"This may be one of the saddest Emmys of all time but we could not be happier," cracked "Modern Family" creator Steven Levitan said, referring to the night's many memorials and tributes -- not to mention we could have been watching the finale of "Dexter" or the second to last episode of "Breaking Bad" instead.
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