Surviving what many considered the most competitive Primetime Emmys drama series competition in years — if not in the kudofest’s 64-year history — “Homeland” ended the four-year reign of “Mad Men” and gave Showtime its greatest triumph in the genre, emerging as the marquee program Sunday at the Nokia Theatre.
The rookie Showtime series — whose second season has a fortuitously timed second-season premiere Sept. 30 — also won both lead acting honors (for Claire Danes and Damian Lewis) in addition to drama series and came away with six Emmys overall, a total matched in 2012 only by HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” whose half-dozen came at the Creative Arts ceremony Sept. 15.
Meanwhile, ABC’s “Modern Family” continued its own march toward Emmy history, tory, winning the comedy series Emmy for the third consecutive year and five Emmys overall. Only “Frasier” (five) and “All in the Family” and “Cheers” (four each) have won the comedy grand prize more. Others to win three comedy series Emmys are “30 Rock” (the winner from 2007-09), “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Taxi.”
Though Showtime, ABC and FX (whose Louis C.K. won two Emmys for separate programs) stole a bunch of the Emmy thunder, HBO still ended up with the most Emmys of 2012 with 23, continuing a streak that dates back to 2001 when it tied with NBC. The 2008 presidential election-themed telepic “Game Change” spoke loudly for HBO on Sunday with four wins, including top miniseries/movie, giving the project five overall (a total equaled by History’s “Hatfields & McCoys”). CBS topped the broadcast nets and finished second overall with 16, followed by PBS with 12 and ABC with nine.
On the studio side, 20th Century Fox TV had an especially strong night thanks to Emmys for “Homeland,” “Modern Family” and “American Horror Story.”
The ceremony featured several sprightly comedy bits but little in the way of memorable dramatics or controversy — aside from Jon Stewart cursing in his acceptance speech during the Alphabet net broadcast. The curse was bleeped thanks to a built-in five-second delay.
Stewart was accepting the Emmy on behalf of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” which completed a perfect Emmy decade as top variety series.
“Free sandwich after 10,” Stewart joked, before attempting to put the victory into deeper perspective — and, days after cursing with unbleeped abandon on Comedy Central, running afoul of broadcast standards in the process.
“We make topical comedy, which has the shelf life of egg salad,” Stewart continued. “So to do this for 15 years and to have tangible proof that what we made wasn’t just ephemeral is wonderful. Years from now, when … aliens visit, they will find a box of these (Emmys), and they will know just how predictable these fucking things can be.”
Though Stewart attracted a moment of unexpected flash at the Nokia, the night was really about the drama competish.
“Homeland” kicked off its victory parade when exec producers Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff won the drama writing Emmy for the pilot episode of the drama about a bipolar CIA agent and an American hero with a potentially devastating secret. That award was soon followed by Danes winning lead actress honors and Lewis lead actor, the latter ending Bryan Cranston’s three-season undefeated streak with “Breaking Bad” and extending Jon Hamm’s “Mad Men” drought to five.
By bringing home Showtime’s inaugural victories in those categories, the stage seemed set for a changing of the guard in the drama series category — but with caveats that kept the suspense alive.
For one thing, “Mad Men” also came up short in the writing arena in 2011, losing to “Friday Night Lights,” and in lead acting as well. Further complicating the picture in 2012 was the spread of drama Emmys to the other nominated shows. “Boardwalk Empire” director Tim Van Patten won his category for helming the HBO period drama’s “To the Lost” episode (one of four Emmys the show earned), while Maggie Smith of PBS’ “Masterpiece” presentation “Downton Abbey” earned drama supporting actress honors and Aaron Paul of AMC’s “Breaking Bad” took drama supporting actor.
Paul was voted top drama supporting actor for the second time in three years, interrupted only by the show’s 2010-11 hiatus. Paul joined Michael Conrad, Larry Drake, Stuart Margolin and Ray Walston as performers who have won twice in the category.
However, in its bid to break a tie with “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “The West Wing” and become the first drama series to win five series Emmys — let alone consecutively — “Mad Men” fell short. Despite 17 noms, tied for the most any program had this year, “Mad Men” was shut out of the winners’ circle.
It was time for a new show and cable network to ascend.
“I want to start by congratulating Showtime on its first best drama series ever,” Gansa said. ” ‘Homeland’ stands on the shoulders of a lot of great shows over there. … This is your night as well as ours.”
In comedy, “Modern Family” is clearly the TV Academy’s fave. Following its single Emmy at the Sept. 15 Creative Arts ceremony for sound mixing, “Modern Family” added four more honors to its considerable collection, bringing its all-time total of Emmys to 12.
“We were outside shooting on Friday when the space shuttle Endeavour flew over our set,” said Steve Levitan, who shares showrunning duties with Christopher Lloyd, “and everyone stopped, and at that moment suddenly we weren’t big important people making television anymore, because it was super-loud and our sound guy said we couldn’t.
“We actually ran up onto a roof nearby like little kids, and we all watched it together. It was an amazing moment, one of many that we have had over the past 3 ½ years for which we feel so grateful.”
Levitan won an Emmy for directing the laffer’s “Baby on Board” episode. Eric Stonestreet, a nominee for all three years of “Modern Family” and a winner in 2010, nabbed his second Emmy for comedy supporting actor in a competition that again featured three co-stars from his show (Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ed O’Neill). Julie Bowen repeated as comedy supporting actress winner for “Modern Family, edging nominees including co-star Sofia Vergara and the late Kathryn Joosten (“Desperate Housewives”).
“I want to thank me for hiring me as a director when no one else would,” Levitan quipped. “I wouldn’t be standing here without my faith in me.”
Without any “Modern Family” entrants in the lead acting categories, that left the door open for Julia Louis-Dreyfus to win actress accolades in HBO’s “Veep” and for Jon Cryer of “Two and a Half Men” to do the same for actor. Cryer, in the debut year of “Men” without Charlie Sheen, became the first past supporting comedy actor champ to make the leap to a lead acting victory while playing the same character since Kelsey Grammer as Frasier Crane on “Cheers” and “Frasier.”
Though he lost to Cryer in acting, Louis C.K. came away with the comedy writing Emmy for his FX half-hour dramedy “Louie” — as well as the trophy for writing for a comedy special for “Live at the Beacon Theatre,” a standup spesh that made its debut online ($5 per viewer) before migrating to FX.
CBS’ “The Amazing Race” took reality-competition series honors for the second consecutive year and the ninth time in the past 10 years. (Fellow Eye series “Undercover Boss” was named top reality show at the Creative Arts Emmys.)
Glenn Weiss, directing Sunday’s Emmy ceremony, got to tell a camera to point at himself after he scored the variety special directing Emmy, for CBS’ presentation of the 65th Annual Tony Awards. For the year, CBS’ Tony, Kennedy Center and Grammy specials combined for eight Emmys.
Tom Bergeron won his first Emmy for hosting ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” officially ending the reign of “Survivor” frontman Jeff Probst, who had won the award in its first four years of existence before going without a nomination this year.
In addition to its movie/minis award, HBO’s “Game Change” came away
with three individual Emmys on the night, for writer Danny Strong, director Jay Roach and lead actress Julianne Moore.
“Longform miniseries and movies, I think, are better than ever,” said “Game Change” exec producer Tom Hanks.
Added Moore: “I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down.”
Fellow film stars Kevin Costner and Tom Berenger rode away with lead and supporting actor Emmys for History miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” while “American Horror Story” parlayed its controversial movie-miniseries entry into a supporting actress victory for Jessica Lange, giving the FX endeavor two Emmys overall amid its 17 noms.
Preceding the In Memoriam segment of this year’s Emmys, Ron Howard offered a special tribute to the late Andy Griffith.
“Andy’s legacy of excellence, accessibility and range puts him in the pantheon,” Howard said. “But dang if he didn’t make it look powerful easy.”
And the winnners are:
“Modern Family” – ABC
“Homeland” – Showtime
“Game Change” – HBO
ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Kevin Costner – “Hatfields & McCoys”
DIRECTING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Jay Roach – “Game Change”
ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Julianne Moore – “Game Change”
WRITING FOR A MINISERIES, MOVIE OR A DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Danny Strong – “Game Change”
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Tom Berenger – “Hatfields & McCoys”
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Jessica Lange – “American Horror Story”
VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY PROGRAM
“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” – Comedy Central
DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Glenn Weiss – “65th Annual Tony Awards” – CBS
WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Louis C.K. – “Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater” – FX Networks
ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Claire Danes – “Homeland”
ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Damian Lewis – “Homeland”
DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA
Tim Van Patten – “Boardwalk Empire” – “To The Lost”
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Maggie Smith – “Downton Abbey”
WRITING FOR A DRAMA
Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff – “Homeland”- Pilot
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Aaron Paul – “Breaking Bad”
HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
Tom Bergeron – “Dancing With the Stars”
REALITY PROGRAM – COMPETITION
“The Amazing Race” – CBS
ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”
ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Jon Cryer – “Two And A Half Men”
DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY
Steven Levitan – “Modern Family” – “Baby on Board”
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Julie Bowen -“Modern Family”
WRITING FOR A COMEDY
Louis C.K. – “Louie” – “Pregnant”
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Eric Stonestreet – “Modern Family”
ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”