You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

64th Primetime Emmy Awards

At an awards show notorious for predictability in so many categories, it's crucial for every other element of the Emmys to inject some life into the proceedings. Luckily, the 64th edition of the kudocast was up to the task.

Host: Jimmy Kimmel

At an awards show notorious for predictability in so many categories, it’s crucial for every other element of the Emmys to inject some life into the proceedings. Luckily, the 64th edition of the kudocast was up to the task.

For every sleep-inducing repeat win — take a bow, “Modern Family,” “The Amazing Race,” “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” — the Emmys managed to scatter just enough moments of laughter and drama to make producers for the Academy Awards and Golden Globes want to take notes.

That said, much of what energized this year’s Emmys most was unplanned by its producers: the surprising sweep of Showtime’s “Homeland” and memorable acceptance speeches from the likes of Aaron Paul and Steve Levitan. “I wouldn’t be standing here without your faith in me,” Levitan tells himself aloud, acknowledging the absurdity of an executive producer winning for a directing assignment he gave himself.

But so much else about the night was right, starting with host Jimmy Kimmel. Though his opening monologue was way too tame for someone capable of Gervais-ian savagery, as attendees of the annual ABC upfront presentation can attest to each May, Kimmel was that rare example of a host who seemed to get better as the night wore on.

Kimmel may want to consider making Tracy Morgan a permanent co-host once “30 Rock” ends. While a social media prank that attempted to convince those on the Internet that Morgan had collapsed on stage probably played better on paper than in its actual execution, another bit in which Kimmel drummed his parents out of the theater put his newly minted sidekick to better use.

It was the pretaped segments that may have delivered the evening’s biggest laughs, the highlight being a reimagining of what AMC’s “Breaking Bad” would have been looked like were it filmed “Andy Griffith Show”-style before cable programming was invented. The show opener was good too, though perhaps for no other reason than providing the indelible image of “Girls” star Lena Dunham sitting on a toilet naked eating birthday cake.

While most of the audience may not have gotten a joke drawn from a series that is at best a cult hit, it was the closest the Emmys got to delivering what many thought the night seemed to miss most: a Dunham acceptance speech.

Truth be told, the first hour of the Emmys wasn’t its best. Kimmel’s soft material and the dreary sameness of “Modern Family’s” dominance saw to that. But the evening seemed to elevate once Paul took to the stage and exhibited actual emotion in his acceptance for supporting actor in a drama. It was as if the glib mood that pervaded the assembly-line efficiency that carried the comedy categories along faded, and the show slipped into a higher gear.

The night got better as Kimmel got more comfortable and “Homeland” started to string together win after improbable win, setting up some suspense for the final minutes as to whether it had the momentum to spoil “Mad Men’s” quest for a fifth consecutive win in the drama series category.

There were so many other small ways that the Emmys stayed as vital as it’s had the fortune of remaining in recent years. The acceptance-speech bits worked more often than not. Julia Louis-Dreyfus pretending to mix up her speech with Amy Poehler’s was a cute touch. Stewart getting tackled by Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon as he struggled his way to the stage was a total riot.

Another small but wonderful bit: the cast of “Big Bang Theory” riffing to the sight of the Ernst & Young accountants doing their traditional walk on stage. “Good to see him back in action after blowing out his finger during a Powerpoint presentation,” enthused Jim Parsons, in character as Sheldon Cooper.

Another idea that may have sounded better on paper was the pretaped introductions featuring the nominees in some of the lesser categories, which weren’t as consistently funny as they needed to be to really work. And the slog that is the movies/miniseries category was only enlivened so much by watching HBO’s “Game Change” run the table — Don Mischer et al needed to put a little more creativity into this section of the show.

Still, the point is that the Emmycast tries hard — and succeeds more often than not — to strike a good balance between satisfying its industry constituents while remaining appealing to a broad audience.

64th Primetime Emmy Awards

Special; ABC, Sun. Sept. 23, 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET

Production: Broadcast live from the Nokia Theater. Executive producer, Don Mischer; co-executive producer, Charlie Haykel; producer, Juliane Hare; co-producer, Danette Herman; supervising producer, Eric Cook; director, Glenn Weiss; production designer, Steve Bass; lighting designer, Robert A. Dickinson; music director, Steve Jordan. 3 HOURS

Cast: Host: Jimmy Kimmel

More TV

  • Gina Rodriguez'Someone Great' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Gina Rodriguez Apologizes After Rapping N-Word in Deleted Instagram Video

    “Jane The Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez has released an apology video shortly after she used the N-word while rapping along to a Fugees song in a video posted to her Instagram story. In the original video, which has since been deleted, Rodriguez raps along to “Ready or Not” while having her hair and makeup done. [...]

  • Tom Succession

    'Succession' Season 2 Finale Scores Over 1 Million Viewers

    “Succession” concluded its second season with a tense Roy family yacht trip, watched by over 1 million total viewers. According to HBO, 1.1 million total viewers tuned in to Sunday’s finale across all platforms, which is up 12% on the season 1 closer which garnered 1 million sets of eyeballs. The premium cabler expects total [...]

  • 100 Días para Enamorarse

    Pierluigi Gazzolo on Viacom International Studios, the Spanish-language Market

    CANNES —  The L.A. Screenings represented the coming out of Viacom International Studios, which hit the market, then Conecta Fiction in Spain, with a powerful presentation of trailers. The Conecta Fiction lineup signaled that VIS is also open to co-production and collaboration with creators in not only Latin America but far beyond; “To Catch a [...]

  • Lagardere Acquires Spanish Outfit Veranda; Launches

    Lagardere Launches New Production Label Cameron's

    Lagardère Studios is ramping up its content strategy with launch of Cameron’s, a new production label dedicated to international programming. Cameron’s is being created by Jean-Charles Felli and Christophe Tomas, who previously founded Save Ferris Studios. The label will be delivering content mainly for streaming services. Felli and Tomas have tapped Gregory Cantien as managing [...]

  • eSports

    eSports Comedy Scores Put Pilot Order at CBS

    CBS has given out a put pilot order for a comedy set in the world of eSports, Variety has learned. The untitled single-camera series follows a recently retired pro basketball star who attempts to reconnect with his estranged son by buying an eSports franchise. Dan Kopelman will write and executive produce. Aaron Kaplan and Dana [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content