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Actor Billy Crystal (right) speaks in tribute to the late Robin Williams onstage at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre LA Live on Aug 25, in Los Angeles, California. (AFP)
Emmys exalt old favorites ‘Bad’, ‘Modern’ earn top awards

 LOS ANGELES, Aug 26, (RTRS): In a night marked by a few upsets and a host of repeat winners, “Breaking Bad” grabbed its second consecutive Emmy for best drama series while “Modern Family” made it a record-tying fifth consecutive win for comedy series. The surprise wins at the 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards came not from buzzed-about newbies such as Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” or HBO’s “True Detective” but lower-profile contenders including “Sherlock: His Last Vow.” HBO’s “The Normal Heart” and FX’s “Fargo” prevailed as expected for movie and miniseries, respectively, but the PBS drama “Sherlock” wound up leading the Emmy field overall with a total of seven wins — a result that no Emmy prognosticator managed to forecast.

CBS’ “The Good Wife” got its moment in the sun with Julianna Margulies taking her second win for lead drama actress. Julia Louis-Dreyfus scored her third straight win as lead comedy actress for HBO’s “Veep.” And Allison Janney became a rare double winner in snaring supporting comedy actress for CBS’ “Mom” — a week after landing guest actress in a drama for her turn on Showtime’s “Masters.” Jim Parsons took home his fourth win for CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” He was a double nominee for his work in HBO’s “The Normal Heart.” But the longform acting categories were shaken up by the rise of “Sherlock.”
 
“Sherlock” stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman shocked the crowd at the Nokia Theater by winning lead and supporting actor in a movie or miniseries. Cumberbatch prevailed in a race that was thought to be a duel between Billy Bob Thornton of FX’s “Fargo” and Mark Ruffalo of HBO’s “The Normal Heart.” Freeman was also an underdog against thesps from “Fargo” and “The Normal Heart.” “Sherlock” also beat “Normal Heart” and “Fargo” contenders in the longform writing category, with Steven Moffat recognized for his take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s durable sleuth. “This is utterly thrilling,” Moffat said.
 
“Breaking Bad” ran second to “Sherlock” in Emmy volume with a total of six wins, followed by “True Detective” and “Saturday Night Live” with five apiece. Among networks, HBO raked in 19, followed by CBS and PBS with 11 apiece, NBC with 10 and ABC with eight.
 
Emotional
For the “Breaking Bad” gang, the night was clearly emotional as this year’s Emmy derby marks the last awards hurrah for the show that triumphantly wrapped its run last September. “This is a wonderful farewell to our show,” “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan said, a little breathless. Gilligan was name-checked more than anyone else on the night as “Bad’s” winners effusively thanked him for the roles that changed their lives. “I miss him. I love him,” Paul said of his character, the troubled but good-hearted Jesse Pinkman. Cranston’s victory puts him in the rare class of actors who have won Tonys and Emmys in the same year. The lead drama actor category was as fierce as ever, with most seeing it as a race between Cranston and “True Detective” star Matthew McConaughey. McConaughey had the momentum of having landed the Oscar this year for “Dallas Buyers Club” in addition to the incredible actor’s-dream showcase of the Rust Cohle role in the HBO series. Cranston won a Tony for his turn as Lyndon B. Johnson on Broadway this spring in the historical drama “All the Way.”
 
“True Detective” landed the drama directing win for first-time nominee Cary Joji Fukunaga, who helmed all eight hours of the series. “This is awesome,” Fukunaga said. “I’m at a loss for words.” “Breaking Bad’s” Moira Walley-Beckett won for drama writing for the much-praised “Ozymandias” episode. “Modern Family’s” streak now makes it a tie with NBC’s “Frasier” for consecutive wins in the category. Producers and cast members looked shocked as they trundled on stage. “It’s all a wonder that we get to do this for a living, that we get to be the ones up here when there are so many deserving shows, that we get to touch so many people’s lives, and that we get to work with such extraordinary people like this every single day,” “Modern Family” co-creator/exec producer Steven Levitan said. “ ‘Modern Family’ has been a big, beautiful dream for the last five years, and we thank you for not waking us up.”
 
“Modern Family” also grabbed the trophies for supporting comedy actor, for Ty Burrell (his second win), and for comedy series directing, for Gail Mancuso, with her second straight win. Louis C.K. got the applause for comedy writing for FX’s “Louie.”
 
Earned
“The Colbert Report” earned its second consecutive Emmy for best variety series, topping the heavily-favored “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Underscoring the surprise, Fallon joined “Colbert Report” team on stage Monday night to deliver the acceptance remarks. The bit was clearly orchestrated in advance — but it also highlighted the fact that Fallon will soon be going head-to-head with “Colbert” host Stephen Colbert when the latter relocates to CBS’ prime latenight berth next year. “I want to see the envelope,” Fallon joked. Colbert showed genuine emotion as he thanked viewers for sticking with Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” for nine years. And he gave a sincere shout-out to his family: “Thank you for all your patience with me.” For “The Normal Heart,” the Emmy win capped a long and tortured journey to the screen for the landmark drama about the beginnings of the AIDS crisis by playwright/activist Larry Kramer.
 
“Normal Heart” producer-director Ryan Murphy credited stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts for getting the project made at HBO, after Kramer faced decades of stops and starts in the feature realm. “It took the superpowers of Erin Brockovich and the Incredible Hulk to get this thing alive,” Murphy said. He dedicated the win to “the hundreds of thousands of artists who have passed from HIV/AIDs since 1981. Your memory and your passion burns on in us.” Murphy also challenged younger viewers to emulate the activists in “Normal Heart” and “find a cause you believe in, that you will fight for, that you will die for.”
 
“Fargo” scribe Noah Hawley thanked the Coen brothers for embracing his vision of a re-imaging of their 1996 feature. “They let me pretend, if only for five minutes, that I was one of the greatest filmmakers alive,” Hawley said of his reaction when the brothers gave him the thumbs up on his initial “Fargo” script. The strong reception for “Fargo” has marked a new career milestone for exec producer Warren Littlefield. After years of victories at the Emmys during his run at NBC in the 1980s and ‘90s, Littlefield acknowledged that the return to the winner’s circle with the project he’d pushed to adapt for TV for years felt “pretty special.”
 
‘Fargo’s’ Colin Bucksey won for longform directing for the “Buridan’s Ass” episode of the FX mini. The British director topped more high-profile competition, including “Normal Heart’s” Ryan Murphy. “I’m so glad I got back from the loo in time,” the helmer quipped in accepting the award. Another surprise winner was Kathy Bates for supporting actress in a miniseries/movie for “American Horror Story: Coven.” She leap-frogged higher-profile competition in Roberts, nommed for “The Normal Heart,” and Allison Tolman, who generated so much buzz for her breakthrough role in FX’s “Fargo.”
 
Bates’ “Coven” castmate Jessica Lange won for lead actor in a movie/miniseries, marking her third win for the role. Janney scored her sixth career Emmy with her win for “Mom.” She hailed series co-creator Chuck Lorre and her costar Anna Faris for giving her the platform to shine in the show about a mother and daughter struggling with who are both struggling with the consequences of years of bad behavior.
“She’s the sister I never had, she’s the daughter I never had. She’s everything I never had,” Janney said of Faris.
 
Adding to the trend of repeat winners was CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” which made it an even 10 wins for reality-competition program. Sarah Silverman was among the winners who was truly shocked to be making the trip to the stage. Silverman won writing for a variety special for her HBO special “Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles.” Glenn Weiss took the variety special directing honor, for helming CBS’ telecast of the 67th annual Tony Awards. Weiss accepted the award from the control room of the Emmycast, where he was busy directing. “This is beyond surreal, but also awesome,” Weiss said. At Monday’s Primetime Emmy Awards, Billy Crystal led the audience in a moving tribute for comedian and Emmy-winning actor Robin Williams, who died Aug. 11. Crystal, a life-long friend of Williams, founded and hosted the Comic Relief benefit performances with the comedian, and the two starred together in Ivan Reitman’s “Father’s Day.”
 
Following the ceremony’s In Memoriam segment, featuring Sara Bareilles performing Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile,” Crystal entered the stage as a photo of Williams filled the large screen of the Nokia Theatre. He told a story about his experiences with Williams doing comedy, playing baseball and attending family gatherings. “It’s so hard to talk about him in the past because he was such a presence in all of our lives,” Crystal said. “For almost 40 years, he was the brightest star in our comedy galaxy. The brilliance was astounding, the relentless energy was thrilling.”
 
A montage played afterwards highlighting Williams’ comedic chops on various latenight shows and comedy specials. Louis C.K. spoke backstage about the late actor: “He was my friend, I loved Robin very much. I grew up watching him, he was someone who worked so hard at it and was explosive with energy. He reached out to me a couple of years ago just because he was a fan of my show... I met him in San Francisco, I went to his house... he was on my show and he was a big influence on me as a person and comedically.” Before the tribute, Allison Janney explained the significance of the green ribbons worn by some attendees. “Everyone is wearing the green ribbons for depression. I dealt with it firsthand. I lost someone dear to me. I very much want to see what he says. I know there’s not going to be a dry eye in the house.”
 
Kathy Bates also had a Williams memory: “When I won my Golden Globe, it was before cell phones and I asked if anyone had a quarter to call my mom. Robin stepped up and said, here’s a quarter. I never forgot that kindness. Years later, I was up for an Oscar and he had won the year before for supporting. He was giving the award for ladies. Dame Judi Dench won. He came to me on the commercial break and said, I really wish I could have read your name. Are you OK? I know what it’s like to lose. I really wanted to say, I won this time. This is for you.” Williams starred in “Happy Days” spin-off “Mork & Mindy” from 1978 to 1982 as the eccentric extraterrestrial Mork. “Mork & Mindy” was one of Williams’ breakthrough roles, earning him an Emmy nomination for lead actor in a comedy series.
 
Though he mostly worked on film for the remainder of his career, Williams continued to make guest appearances on both drama and comedy series. He received two Emmy nominations for guest actor in a drama series for roles on “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
More recently, Williams made guest appearances on comedy series such as “Louie,” “Wilfred” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” He starred in CBS’”The Crazy Ones” in 2013, his only other leading sitcom role, which was cancelled after one season. He also received a nod for outstanding variety, music or comedy special for 2010’s “Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction.” For all the talk about newcomers raising the game of television, the industry on Monday chose to bestow its top Emmys on the long-running shows “Breaking Bad” and “Modern Family” and long-time television actors who held off challenges from film stars.
 
“This is indeed a wonderful time to be working in television,” Gilligan added. “I think you all know that.”
There were plenty of laughs in television’s biggest night, from Julia Louis-Dreyfus passionately locking lips with “Seinfeld” guest star Cranston to Melissa McCarthy asking if her car would be towed. When asked about the prolonged smooch later, Cranston quipped: “I think it’s not a question of ‘why?,’ more a question of ‘why not?’” First-time Emmys host, comedian Seth Meyers, took early pokes at the stalwart broadcasters facing edgy competition from Netflix, the first outlet to win acclaim for original content streamed online with political thriller “House of Cards.” But this year’s Emmys, handed out by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, signalled that there was still plenty of love for the likes of ABC and CBS, particularly in the realm of comedy.
 
ABC’s “Modern Family” made history by tying 1990s NBC sitcom “Frasier” for the most comedy victories.
“‘Modern Family’ has been a big, beautiful dream for the last five years and we thank you for not waking us up,” said series co-creator Steven Levitan. Although the big broadcasters did not have a horse in the race for best drama, Julianna Margulies won best drama actress for her role as lawyer Alicia Florrick in CBS’s “The Good Wife.” “I feel like this is the golden age of television, but it’s also the time for women in television,” said Margulies. “I feel very grateful to be here.” The premium cable outlet HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, scored more Emmys than any other network with 19 wins out of its 99 nominations. But it failed to win big in top-line categories and its fan favorite, the medieval fantasy “Game of Thrones,” lost out again in the drama race.
 
For the first time in some 40 years, the Emmys were moved up from their usual Sunday night spot in September so as not to conflict with NBC’s ratings-powerhouse “Sunday Night Football” and MTV’s Video Music Awards. In the supporting actor race, Freeman was up against “Fargo” costar Colin Hanks, as well as “Normal Heart” stars Jim Parsons, Joe Mantello, Alfred Molina and Matt Bomer. Series creator Steven Moffat’s work on “Sherlock: His Last Vow” also won Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special, although the show missed out on scoring the Outstanding Miniseries award which went to Freeman’s “Fargo,” while “Normal Heart” scored best movie.
 
Backstage, Moffat told reporters, “I didn’t think we’d win anything, genuinely... very shocked and surprised.” While he pointed out that the show has won plenty of awards outside America, they had almost written off any chance of an Emmy given that the show is aging. “We’re delighted that we’ve made it here and hopefully that it will get more people watching.” As for how they plan to top last year’s highly rated season, Moffat declared, “We have a plan to top it, and I do think our plan is devastating. We practically reduced our cast to tears by revealing the plan.” He said he and co-creator Mark Gatiss are probably “more excited than we’ve ever been” about where the show is heading.
 
Moffat joked that Cumberbatch is now “too big to come to the Emmys,” but admitted that wrangling the busy stars has always been a challenge, given that they have no ongoing deals with the cast and are required to pitch them every year. “We all know what’s happening with ‘Sherlock’ is unusual, we know this won’t happen again in our lives... we’re keen to keep making ‘Sherlock’ as long as it’s a good show,” he promised. For a show with such dark undertones and subject matter, the cast and crew of “Breaking Bad” is always jovial for interviews — and backstage at the Emmy Awards after their multiple wins was no exception.
 
Supporting actor in a drama winner Aaron Paul started things off by sharing details of the “Breaking Bad”-themed scavenger hunt for show memorabilia he hosted on Monday, saying it started with costar RJ Mitte sitting in an IHOP and ended with Paul running around in his hazmat suit. He said the hunt was a way to give back to the fans. Paul and costar Betsy Brandt also talked about separating themselves from key traits of their characters on the show. While he said he doesn’t plan to stop using his character’s de facto catchphrase “bitch,” Brandt said she did trot out her character’s favorite color for this special occasion. “I don’t ever wear purple, but I wore purple shoes for our last Emmy hurrah” — #BreakingBad’s Betsy Brandt #Emmys— Whitney Friedlander (@loislane79) Aug 26, 2014
 
And while series creator Vince Gilligan did not take home the Emmy for directing a drama (that honor went to “True Detective’s” Cary Fukunaga), he was thrilled the show took home the top prize at their last turn at bat. “This is the icing on the cake,” he said. “It’s the cherry on top. It’s the hot fudge. I’m getting hungry.”

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