“Homeland” was at home during Sunday’s (September 23) 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, winning six statuettes, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Actor and Actress for leads Damian Lewis and Claire Danes. Also winning big were the ABC comedy “Modern Family” and HBO’s miniseries “Game Change.”
The telecast kicked off with a sketch set 20 minutes before showtime, in which a bevy of best actress nominees were gathered around the ladies’ room mirror practicing their “surprised faces.” When a mysterious woman ran into a stall and began weeping, “American Horror Story” actress Connie Britton went to investigate, mistakenly opening the wrong stall door and revealing a naked Lena Dunham perched on the toilet eating a cake. It was Kathy Bates who finally broke down the correct door, exposing host Jimmy Kimmel and his Botox-botched face — the reason for his tears and insistence that he couldn’t go on stage. Not to worry, the assembled actresses told him, they’d punch his mug back into shape. Multiple right hooks and left jabs later (and with a pants assist from previous Emmy host Ellen DeGeneres), Kimmel took the Nokia Theatre stage.
The emcee whizzed through his opening monologue, extolling our nationalistic pride in the small-screen medium. “Television is an American institution, and yet one out of five acting nominees tonight are British, which I don’t understand,” Kimmel mused. “I guess we’re supposed to reward them because their actors went to the Royal Shakespeare Company and ours were discovered at the mall.” After going political (“Being a Republican in Hollywood is like being a Chick-fil-A sandwich on the snack table at ’Glee.'”), Kimmel singled out 26-year-old writer-director-actor Dunham. “I don’t have a joke here,” he said. “I just wanted to make them feel bad about themselves.”
Amy Poehler and Louis C.K. presented the first award of the night for Supporting Actor in a Comedy to “Modern Family” actor Eric Stonestreet. The two-time winner beat out co-stars Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell for the honor. “I never knew I’d be on TV as a gay man,” Stonestreet said during his acceptance speech. “But I love the pictures of hairy chests you guys are sending me.” Stonestreet’s co-star Julie Bowen also won her second Emmy for Supporting Actress in a Comedy. Lead acting wins went to “Two and a Half Men” star Jon Cryer (also his second Emmy), as well as “Veep” actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. As Louis-Dreyfus began to thank the cast of “Parks and Recreation” and children Archie and Abel, it became clear she and fellow nominee Amy Poehler had swapped acceptance-speech notes.
The reality category followed, in which “The Amazing Race” took home the Emmy for Outstanding Reality Show Competition. And after five consecutive nominations, Tom Bergeron won Reality Show Host for his work on “Dancing With the Stars.” “This is particularly satisfying since Betty White always kicks my a– at our mixed martial arts class,” he joked of his fellow nominee, adding, “I want to thank Jeff Probst for not being nominated. That helped.”
Next up was the drama category, where “Homeland” leads Claire Danes and Damian Lewis jump-started their series’ winning ways. “I don’t believe in judging art, but I thought I’d show up just in case,” Lewis said. It should be noted (before the Jon Hamm apologists write in) that Lewis’ win meant the “Mad Men” star has now been nominated for his performance on the AMC drama five years in a row with no win. Aaron Paul won his second Emmy for Supporting Actor in “Breaking Bad,” while a missing-in-action Maggie Smith won Supporting Actress for her Dowager Countess role on “Downton Abbey.”
Perhaps needing a little levity after the seriousness of the drama category, Kimmel enlisted the help of “30 Rock” actor Tracy Morgan for a Twitter prank, asking the audience to tweet “OMG! Tracy Morgan just passed out at the Emmys. Tune into ABC now,” while Morgan lay on the podium. “Tell Kerry Washington I’m all right,” he yelled as he was finally dragged from the stage.
Jon Stewart was the star of the variety category, taking home his 10th consecutive Emmy for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” “We were told we get a free sandwich after 10,” he joked, before graciously recognizing his fellow nominees.
In the TV miniseries or movie category, Jessica Lange won her second Emmy for her portrayal of complicated Constance Langdon on the FX series “American Horror Story.” “It’s been such a wild ride,” Lange recalled. “It started more than a year ago. I got a call out of the blue from Ryan Murphy, who I’d never met who made me, I must admit, more promises than any man I’d ever met before and they all came to pass.” Supporting Actor went to “Hatfields & McCoys”’ Tom Berenger, while his co-star Kevin Costner won Lead Actor. HBO’s “Game Change” swept the rest of the category, notching wins for Outstanding TV miniseries or Movie, Lead Actress (Julianne Moore), Writing (Danny Strong) and Directing (Jay Roach).
As part of the In Memoriam tribute, actor/director Ron Howard gave special tribute to his “Andy Griffith Show” co-star Andy Griffith, who died in July. “I had the great fortune to play his son Opie for eight seasons,” Howard said. “I was able to grow up professionally in that collaborative, fun but hard-working environment that was defined by Andy’s taste, creative energy, unwavering respect for the audience and the unique possibilities that he believed our show could offer. Andy’s legacy of excellence, excitability and range puts him in the pantheon.” Dick Clark, Sherman Hemsley, Andy Rooney, Steve Jobs, Patrice O’Neal and Whitney Houston were among those remembered in the slideshow set to “The Way We Were,” penned by composer Marvin Hamlisch, who also passed this year.
And then there were two. Awards, that is. Julianne Moore presented the award for Outstanding Drama Series, which went to “Homeland,” the first Outstanding Series win for Showtime. Then, perhaps to no one’s surprise, “Modern Family” was awarded the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy, presented by Michael J. Fox.