Top Emmys go to Breaking Bad and Modern Family

Comedian Billy Crystal delivers touching tribute to Robin Williams

Comedian Billy Crystal paid tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards. Crystal and Williams had starred together in the 1997 comedy "Fathers' Day" and remained friends. Video: Reuters


For all the talk about newcomers raising the game of television, the industry yesterday 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.

Breaking Bad, AMC’s unlikely tale of a teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White, won the night’s biggest honor, the Emmy for best drama series, for the second year in a row while lead Bryan Cranston took best drama actor for the fourth time in that role.

It was a nostalgic vote of sorts for the series after it ended on the fifth season with widespread acclaim and devoted binge-watching fans.

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It held off the ballyhooed HBO anthology, True Detective, the bayou thriller starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and fellow film star Woody Harrelson, who Cranston beat.

“Thank you so much for this wonderful farewell to our show,” said Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, who also celebrated Emmy wins in best supporting actor and actress categories for Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn.

“This is indeed a wonderful time to be working in television,” Gilligan added. “I think you all know that.”

Modern Family, ABC’s light-hearted take on contemporary family dynamics, won its fifth consecutive Emmy for best comedy series, leaving Netflix Inc’s dark jailhouse comedy “Orange Is the New Black” as one of the big losers of the night.

The 66th annual Primetime Emmys took a somber turn toward the end to remember Robin Williams, the versatile actor and comedian who died two weeks ago in an apparent suicide at the age of 63.

With a lump in his throat and a tremble in his voice, actor Billy Crystal remembered the madcap performer as “the brightest star in a comedy galaxy” and concluded: “Robin Williams - what a concept.”

Broadcasters defy predictions

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.”

Mirroring Hollywood

Jim Parsons won his fourth lead acting Emmy for playing the pedantic nerd Sheldon in the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory, and Louis-Dreyfus won her third consecutive Emmy for her role as the foul-mouthed, gaffe-prone US Vice President Selina Meyer on HBO’s political satire Veep.

“I love the idea of being powerful and powerless at the same time, it mirrors Hollywood in some ways,” said Louis-Dreyfus of her Selina character.

In other comedy awards, comedian Louis CK won his second writing award for his FX show Louie, and Stephen Colbert’s Comedy Central fake news show The Colbert Report won the Emmy for best variety program for the second consecutive year.

The miniseries Fargo, based on the cult film from the Coen brothers, gave FX Networks its first Emmy for a program, but actors from the critically acclaimed miniseries lost out on awards despite being heavy favourites, especially lead actor Billy Bob Thornton.

HBO’s The Normal Heart earned best TV movie honours for its depiction of the early fight against AIDS.

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.

One of the big surprises of the night was Sherlock: His Last Vow, which won a total of seven Emmys for the US public broadcaster PBS, more than any other show.

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.


The Complete List of Emmy Winners

Best Comedy: Modern Family

Best Drama: Breaking Bad

Best Variety Series: The Colbert Report

Best Reality Competition Series: The Amazing Race

Best Mini-series: Fargo

Best Television Movie: The Normal Heart

Lead Actor, Comedy: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Lead Actress, Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Lead Actor, Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Lead Actress, Drama: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Supporting Actor, Comedy: Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Supporting Actress, Comedy: Allison Janney, Mom

Supporting Actor, Drama: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Supporting Actress, Drama: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

Actor, Mini-series/Movie: Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock

Actress, Mini-series/Movie: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven

Supporting Actor, Mini-series/Movie: Martin Freeman, Sherlock

Supporting Actress, Mini-series/Movie: Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven

Best Directing, Comedy: Gail Mancuso, Modern Family

Best Directing, Drama: Cary Joji Fukunaga, Breaking Bad

Best Directing, Mini-series/Movie: Colin Bucksey, Fargo

Best Directing, Variety Special: Glenn Weiss, 67th Annual Tony Awards

Best Writing, Comedy: Louis C.K., Louie

Best Writing, Drama: Moira Walley-Beckett, Breaking Bad

Best Writing, Mini-series/Movie: Steven Moffat, Sherlock: His Last Vow

Best Writing, Variety Special: Sarah Silverman, Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles