We’re off and running. The much-talked-about opening number of host Jane Lynch features the Glee star in a massive pre-taped production number having her sing and dance through the stages of a slew of hit TV shows. It opens with Leonard Nimoy who, as network president, introduces Lynch to the house of television where all TV shows are housed. The part was originally taped with Alec Baldwin but was redone after Fox cut a line about the News Corp hacking scandal. The elements are uneven, but the best bit is Lynch walking into a scene of AMC’s period ad agency drama Mad Men and being asked by Jon Hamm’s Don Draper to go fetch coffee. When Lynch fires back that she is no secretary but the host of the Emmys Pete Campbell’s Kartheiser is not impressed. “What you should be doing is learning how to type and firing the guy that gave you that man’s haircut!” Lynch tells them that a lot has changed since 1965 and now women can marry each other, nodding, “Hi, Peggy….” “Does that mean women don’t have to sleep with men anymore to make it to the top?” wide-eyed Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) asks. “No, you still have to do that,” Lynch replies. She tells the group that people can now watch television on their phones. When she adds that in the future people can fast-forward through the commercials, everyone freezes. Ad man Don Draper turns to her and gives her a steely look. “You’re going to turn around, walk out of here, and we’re going to pretend we never met you.” Lynch obliges but not before one last jab at Kartheiser, “This haircut costs more than your house. “The number spilled into the stage with a big live finale featuring Lynch hoisted up by male dancers. “Try doing this with triple Spanx,” she said after getting down.
ABC’s Modern Family is on an early roll in the supporting comedy series acting categories, dismissing some projections that, with all 6 cast members nominated in the 2 categories, they might cancel each other out. The first winner of the night is the show’s Julie Bowen for best supporting actress in a comedy series. “I don’t know what I am going to talk about in therapy next week now,” she says.
A second after she thanked her TV husband, Ty Burrell, he too walked to the stage to pick up his trophy for best supporting actor in a comedy series. Burrell talked about his dad, who passed away before he got into acting, doing “a job where every day I go to work in makeup.”
Ricky Gervais presents the director for a comedy series category in a pre-taped segment. “Sorry. I can’t be live and in person. Not after the Golden Globes. I’m not even allowed on American soil if I say something rude or offensive.”
Modern Family is going 3-for-3 with a comedy series directing award for director Michael Alan Spiller for the Halloween episode.
And now it’s 4-for-4 as Modern Family also wins for best writing in a comedy series for the “Caught in the Act” episode written by Steve Levitan and Jeffrey Richman. Levitan, noting that the episode’s main story of the Dunphy kids walking in on their parents having sex was based on his own experience, thanked his “somewhat satisfied wife and 3 traumatized children.” The director cuts to Levitan’s wife who is rolling her eyes.
After the early Modern Family sweep, Lynch comes back from commercial with “Welcome back to the Modern Family Awards.”
Then it’s Charlie Sheen, presenting the lead actor in a comedy series category. Like on The Tonight Show earlier in the week, it was not the Warlock but the old Sheen — cool, collected and gracious — who showed up. “Before I present the award in my old category I wanna take a moment to get something off my chest and say something to all my friends from Two and a Half Men,” he said. “From the bottom of my heart, I wish nothing but the best for this upcoming season. We spent 8 wonderful years together, I know you will continue to make great television. Now on to the Emmy.”
The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons repeats as a winner in the first major upset of the night. Steve Carell had been considered the sentimental favorite as this was his last chance to win an Emmy for his signature role as Michael Scott on The Office. “This is so odd for so many reasons,” are the first words out of Parsons’ mouth after taking the Emmy statuette from Sheen. He, of course, stars on a show, which like Men, is executive produced by Chuck Lorre, the object of Sheen’s insults early in the year as well as a multimillion dollar lawsuit.
The best actress in a comedy series category is being presented like a beauty pageant, with all nominees walking up onstage and holding hands while the winner is announced. And it’s also a surprising one — Mike & Molly‘s Melissa McCarthy. She broke down while accepting her Emmy — and a sparkly tiara and a big bouquet to keep with the pageant theme. She thanked series co-creator Chuck Lorre who “fought for me” and called Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. TV, which produces the show, “a handsome cheerleader in a suit.”
It seems like the TV Academy members themselves were shocked that The Amazing Race‘s 7-year winning streak in the best reality competition series category ended last year. The veteran unscripted series is back with a win. That means that the globe-trotting reality show has now won 8 out of the 9 times since the category was launched. Top Chef was the only show to ever beat Race when it nabbed the Emmy last year.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart won for best writing in a comedy/variety series, a category where it seems to alternate with fellow Comedy Central program The Colbert Report. The Colbert Report won last year, The Daily Show the year before.
The Lonely Island guys did a rousing and outrageous number of the all Emmy nominated songs with guests Michael Bolton aka Captain Jack Sparrow from his hilarious Saturday Night Live bit, as well as Maya Rudolph and Akon among others.
Don Roy King is the winner in the best director for a music/comedy/variety series for the James Timberlake/Lady Gaga episode of SNL.
The Daily Show had won the best comedy/variety series category for 8 consecutive years, prompting presenter Scott Caan to introduce the nominees with: “Here is a look at the shows that will lose to The Daily Show this year.” He was right as Stewart & Co. wins again to make it 9 in a row. Jon Stewart seems a little uncomfortable in accepting the award, and spends half of his speech praising fellow nominee The Colbert Report, calling it an “exquisite” show.
Big final hurrah for departing Friday Night Lights as developer/executive producer Jason Katims wins best writing in a drama series for the series finale. By upstaging heavy favorite Mad Men in the category where AMC’s period drama had 2 nominations, including Matthew Weiner’s tour-de-force Suitcase episode, is the football drama poised for another major upset tonight?
After Sheen, it was his former Two and a Half Men co-star Jon Cryer and Sheen’s replacement on the show Ashton Kutcher’s turn to present. “I am not Charlie Sheen,” Kutcher said, before turning to Cryer, “And I do not think you are a troll,” a reference to a comment Sheen had made about Cryer last spring.
Actress Margo Martindale wins the supporting actress in a drama series award for her season-long gig on FX’s Justified. “Some things just take time,” she veteran actress said about her first Emmy nomination and win at age 60. “I love you Graham (Yost) even though you killed me,” she told the Justified creator. The producers, especially Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly, who gave me another job. (She is a regular on the new CBS drama A Perfect Man)
The wide-open supporting actor in a drama series category was won by Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones, who by the way was the first actor cast in the HBO fantasy drama.
No upsets for Julianna Margulies in the best actress in a drama series category this year. The Good Wife star, who was the heavy favorite to win the category last year but lost out to The Closer’s Kyra Sedgwick, won the trophy this time.
Katims’ drama writing win was no fluke. Friday Night Lights‘ victory lap continues with a surprising win for star Kyle Chandler in the best actor in a drama series category over heavy favorites Steve Buscemi and Jon Hamm.
Host Jane Lynch: “A lot of people are wondering why I’m a lesbian. Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of Entourage.” The cast of the departing HBO comedy are presenting the writing for a TV movie/miniseries category. The winner is British writer Julian Fellowes for Masterpiece Theatre’s Downton Abbey. Like for Scorsese, this is Fellowes’ first Emmy, to join his Academy Award. Fellowes thanked the Hollywood industry for “kick-starting my second career 10 years ago” with the Oscar for Gosford Park and doing it again today with the Emmy Award. Another British-born Oscar winner, Maggie Smith, won the supporting actress in a drama series award, also for Downton Abbey.
Somewhat of an upset in the lead actor in a TV movie/miniseries category where Barry Pepper of The Kennedys gives cable upstart ReelzChannel a first Emmy Award. Pepper won over William Hurt, Edgar Ramirez and fellow Kennedys co-star Greg Kinnear.
Talent representatives are a hit tonight as they are mentioned in almost every acceptance speech, prompting one agency insider to email me: “You can tell that times are tough in the business when almost everyone thanks their agent…”
First-time Emmy Awards executive producer Mark Burnett made headlines last month when he said that he didn’t want the In Memoriam segment to be a “downer” this year. However, the segment was a tear-jerkier, set to Leonard Cohen’s beautiful ballad Hallelujah sung live by The Canadian Tenors quartet.
Guy Pearce won the best supporting actor in a TV movie/miniseries for his role on HBO’s mini Mildred Pierce. “I had a delightful experience working on Mildred Pierce — I got to have sex with Kate Winslet many, many times. I share this with you you are an outstanding woman,” he said. “Thank you for allowing me to insert myself into… your world on Mildred Pierce and to my wife who allowed me to talk about it every night I came back from work.”
Kate Winslet followed him onstage as the winner for best actress in a TV movie/miniseries, continuing the trend of Oscar winners earning their first Emmy tonight. (She’s No. 3.) Very emotional Winslet didn’t address her sex scenes with Pierce but was quick to acknowledge Mildred Pierce writer-director Todd Haynes. “This had nothing to do with me, it was all you, Todd,” she said about her win.
Commenting on Winslet’s win, Jane Lynch noted how many film actors are doing television now, so “TV actors are forced to do voice work on video games. Then the video games are turned into movies starring the same people who put the TV actors out of work. Hakuna Matata, my friends, this the circle of life.”
A big upset in the now-combined TV movie/miniseries category, which went to Masterpiece Theatre’s Downton Abbey, with HBO’s big troika of Mildred Pierce, Too Big to Fail and Cinema Verite shut out. Fellowes, who accepted the trophy, also looked genuinely surprised. “This is really a David and Goliath story with Goliath represented by some remarkable movies,” he said. “It seems extraordinary that we won.” There was an early sign of Mildred Pierce’s vulnerability at the Creative Arts Emmys where the mini entered as the most-nominated program this year with 21 noms, but ended up tied for fourth place, just one more than Downton Abbey, which had had about half of the nominations, 11.
Mad Men was shut out in every category tonight except the one that mattered the most — best drama series. The AMC period drama made it 4 in a row, matching The West Wing‘s streak, by taking the top drama series trophy over HBO’s hot newcomer Boardwalk Empire and DirecTV’s sentimental favorite Friday Night Lights. “I didn’t think this was gonna happen,” series creator Weiner said.
Another repeat, this time in the best comedy series category, won by last year’s victor and odds-on favorite Modern Family. Co-creator Levitan gave special recognition to the show’s underage actors. “Modern Family was this close to being animated, that’s how much we didn’t want to work with kids,” he admitted, and ended his acceptance speech with an anecdote about a gay couple who told him, “You don’t just make people laugh, you make them more tolerant.” Levitan agreed. “We do think that there is nothing wrong about a long and committed relationship between … an old man and a hot young woman,” a reference to the show’s couple Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara. “Looking at you tonight, I see many of you agree.” And that was the end of the show.
The complete list of winners is here.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.