Los Angeles — Emmys night was a monster one for HBO, picking up 14 Emmys on the strength of Game of Thrones, selected for Outstanding Drama, along with Outstanding Comedy Veep and a bunch of trophies for Olive Kitteridge. Comedy Central picked up four, while broadcast had a rough night: ABC won two, NBC and CBS one apiece, and host Fox was shut out.
Jon Hamm finally claimed Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series honors for his work on Mad Men.
A youthful Andy Samberg, resembling a kid on prom night in his bow-tie and tux, delivered some song and dance, and well received humor, as the 67th Primetime Emmys kicked off. He began the Fox telecast with a musical number nodding to this golden age of television, joking about going into hermit mode to watch every show on TV today, including the several dozen with “Wives” in the title.
In his monologue, Samberg noted the more diverse players in television. “Racism is over,” he quipped. “Don’t fact check that.”
Nine minutes in, he ripped off the inevitable Donald Trump joke. The funnyman’s jokes went over very well among the Microsoft Theater attendees.
Amy Poehler and Amy Schumer then took the stage to present the first award, for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy.
“We are Amy,” said Poehler, speaking for the pair, before Allison Janney was awarded for Mom.
Janney too broke into song to thank various TV execs and supporters, including Nina Tassler and Les Moonves, and sounded a note of hope for those suffering from addiction.
The braintrust of Veep—Simon Blackwell, Armando Ianucci and Tony Roche—claimed the trophy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. And the Veep-ple did not have to wait long to get back onstage, with Tony Hale stepping up to get the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
The Emmy for Oustanding Directing For a Comedy Series went to Jill Soloway of Transparent. She thanked "God-ess" for her good fortunate, as well as Amazon for giving her and the crew artistic freedom on the series. She also made a pitch for more equitable treatment of transgender people.
Next up to the stage for an award was the Transparent star, Jeffrey Tambor, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Tambor said he was honored for the "privilege and responsibility" of playing a transgender lead, thanked Soloway for "changing my life", and dedicated his award to the transgender community.
Veep continued its hot hand, with lead Julia Louis-Dreyfus getting Lead Actress in a Comedy. "I love powerful, funny women," she said, saluting nominees Amy Poehler, Lisa Kudrow and others. "I love you gals."
For Outstanding Reality--Competition Program, NBC's The Voice claimed the Emmy, beating The Amazing Race, Dancing With the Stars and others. Mark Burnett accepted the award.
An emotional Jane Anderson took the trophy for Outstanding Writing For a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special, a salute to her work on Olive Kitteridge.
For Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series Or Movie, Regina King of American Crime got her first-ever Emmy. "John Ridley, you are genius," she said of the show's creator. She thanked her son in the audience for making motherhood her greatest accomplishment.
John Oliver then stepped up to award Outstanding Directing For a Limited Series, Movie or Dramatic Special. The Last Week Tonight host took a humorous swipe at Jeopardy!'s longevity, including Alex Trebek's "passive aggresive" put-downs of contestants' hobbies, then gave the trophy to Lisa Cholodenko for Olive Kitteridge.
HBO's Kitteridge stayed top of mind when Bill Murray won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Alas, the crowd favorite was unable to attend and claim his award in person. But Frances McDormand was next, getting the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie.
Introducing presenter Lady Gaga as "a nice lady who's good at piano," Samberg segued into Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. Gaga then called out winner Richard Jenkins, giving Olive Kitteridge yet another plaudit. It was Jenkins' first Emmy. He thanked "the incredible women" that made Kitteridge, based on a novel by Elizabeth Strout, happen.
Kitteridge's streak was broken when the Outstanding Writing For a Variety Series award came up. The scribes from The Daily Show With Jon Stewart climbed onstage for the award.
The Outstanding Variety Sketch Series award was much anticipated, with Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele and Saturday Night Live all in the running. Schumer won. "We care so much about this show," an ecstatic Schumer said, adding that the program "fights for what we believe in."
Daily Show got next honors with Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series, Chuck O'Neil winning for the first time after a dozen nominations. Daily kept up its hot hand by winning Outstanding Variety Talk Series. Former host Jon Stewart said, "To everybody on television, I just want to tell you, cling to it as long as you can...It is a barren wasteland out there," with little applause for former TV show hosts.
The prestigious Outstanding Writing For a Drama Series went to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for HBO's Game of Thrones. That beat out heavy hitters The Americans, Better Call Saul and a pair of Mad Men entries.
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series went to a tearful Uzo Aduba of Orange is the New Black; she won last year when the show was in the comedy category. "I'm so thankful to stand aside a cast of artists who are so brilliant," she said, adding a heartfelt shout-out to her family.
Game of Thrones then got back onstage, with David Nutter winning Outstanding Directing For a Drama series. The win was HBO's 11th, way ahead of Comedy Central's four and Amazon Studios' two. HBO made it an even dozen when Peter Dinklage of Thrones was selected for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. "We're only as good as our writers, and I'm lucky enough to work for the greatest writers," he said.
One of the most eagerly awaited awards was for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and Mad Men's Jon Hamm finally got his prize. "There’s been a mistake clearly,” he quipped before growing pensive. "It's impossible to be named with all those extraordinarly gentlemen."
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series went to Viola Davis of How to Get Away With Murder. An intense Davis quoted Harriet Tubman in a passage about the challenges of being an African-American woman. "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," she added. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."
Next up was Outstanding Comedy Series, which went to HBO's Veep. "If Veep is about one thing, it’s about hope," said Armando Ianucci,who thanked the whole of America for being "so welcoming to the Brits on the show."
Tracy Morgan got a huge welcome when he came out to present Outstanding Drama Series. "It's been a long road back," he said before slipping into joke mode.
The night's final envelope opened up to reveal Game of Thrones. Exec producer David Benioff thanked HBO, the blockbuster winner on the night, for "believing in dragons."
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.