Emmys 2015: Many Firsts for Actors, and a Victory Lap for HBO

21 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2015 Emmys make history in spite of lackluster host Andy Samberg.

The author of the books which inspired the hit HBO TV series was in attendance as Thrones took home the gongs for outstanding drama series, writing, and direction, as well as best supporting actor for Peter Dinklage. The host of the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards offered a terrific taped opening, singing about the crazily proliferating number of good TV shows and the pressure to watch them.Heading into Fox’s broadcast of the Emmy Awards Sunday night, the question was which Samberg would arrive to host: The sometimes gratingly smug performer who broke out on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, or the assured, charming and generous actor who has garnered critical acclaim on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Viola Davis made her best actress speech; “The only thing that separates women of colour from anything else is opportunity.” She added; “You cannot win an Emmy for roles for things that are simply not there.” It took 8 nominations before finally landing the Emmy for best actor in a drama for his role as Don Draper in Mad Men. “There’s been a mistake, clearly. HBO’s Game of Thrones filled the vacancy left by Breaking Bad, topping Mad Men in its last year of eligibility, and Modern Family was denied a record sixth Emmy trophy by Veep’s somewhat surprising triumph in the category. Not only did Thrones snap its drama category runner-up streak, but the series picked up Emmys for outstanding supporting actor (Peter Dinklage), writing (David Benioff and Dan Weiss) and direction (David Nutter) on Sunday night. It’s impossible to have done this show with this incredible cast, these incredible people, our incredible writers, our incredible crew,” Jon said after making a rather interesting entrance onto the Emmy stage. With a total of 12 Emmys this year (including eight won at the previously held Creative Arts Emmys), Thrones broke a major record by surpassing The West Wing to take home more TV Academy awards in a single year than any other show.

And live from the Microsoft Theater, he was smooth, saucy, purposefully goofy and assured — even if he just couldn’t resist a couple of not very funny Donald Trump wisecracks. Wearing what seemed to be a permanent yet unforced goofy grin, Samberg rolled through the show with a minimum of friction and a great deal of fun — starting with a terrific opening number built around the difficulty facing anyone, even an Emmys host, who hopes to keep up with the current flood of new TV shows. Overall, his childish humor dragged down the show: “I haven’t seen ‘Olive Kitteridge,’ I’ve only seen half of ‘Kitteridge,’ ” he said with his trademark enormous grin. The slyest remark about a would-be great series was delivered when Samberg reminded viewers they had said good-bye this season to beloved series including “Mad Men” and “Parks and Recreation,” and also to “True Detective” (the HBO drama suffering a critically lambasted second season) even though, as he observed, it’s “still on the air.” Samberg set the tone for a breezy, fun night, but a two-pronged display of activism was sparked with back-to-back trophies for the Amazon series “Transparent,” which stars Jeffrey Tambor as a man transitioning to a woman. “We don’t have a trans tipping point yet, we have a trans civil rights problem,” said Jill Soloway as she collected her award for best director of a comedy. “I had a teacher who used to say when you act, you have to act as if your life depends on it,” he said. “And now I’ve been given an opportunity to act because people’s lives depend on it.” And every “Mad Men” fan (and many other well-wishers) heaved a huge sigh of relief when, his last time at bat, Jon Hamm finally won the best actor trophy. He did, however, let us know why he was the ideal choice: “ ’Cause I done watched every damn show … and I’m white.” Jokes about Bill Cosby, Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis and Donald Trump mixed with sight gags built around Jane Lynch, Adrien Brody and Girls.

The ubiquitous Amy Schumer got an award for sketch her show Inside Amy Schumer, although her limelight was almost stolen by Hollywood’s other major Amy, Poheler, who turned up in the auditorium wearing a hoodie and sunglasses. But arguably the night’s most thrilling moment — in the ironic category — was thanks to James Cordon, host of CBS’ “The Late Late Show,” whose witty setup managed to turn what is routinely the Emmycast’s most enervating moments into a hoot: the obligatory introduction of the Ernst & Young accounting team that tabulates the Emmy votes. “If you had told me as a small child growing up in England,” said Cordon said in mock-wonder, that he would grow up to present to Emmy’s audience of millions this august trio from the Ernst & Young accounting firm, “I would have said, ‘Sod off! Andy Samberg proved to be an affable if not outstandingly memorable host, channelling Billy Crystal in an opening montage and providing a comedic highlight with a spoof of the final scenes of Mad Men. I’m only a boy, and my brain doesn’t have the room to dream that big.’ But here I am!” But first he reminded the audience of his awful ordeal, and his “long road back,” before assuring fans his famous raunchy comedy style was on the comeback trail.

Yet Thrones managed its first drama series win after racking up more nominations than any program, and only lost one major category for which it was nominated (Lena Headey and Emilia Clarke each lost best supporting actress to Uzo Aduba for Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black). Donald Trump was the night’s biggest villain, regularly the butt of derogatory remarks or mickey-taking (only True Detective 2 came close to receiving as much negative attention), while Jimmy Kimmel provided another Emmy first by partially eating the envelope while presenting the best comedy actor award. Her win also marked the rare victory for a broadcast network in a night dominated by cable. (It’s relevant that the best commercial of the evening likewise employed three African-Americans: Taraji P. The final piece of evidence: Moments after Hamm had voiced brief, moving thank-you’s for his long-deserved and much-belated win, Samberg, grinning, got the show back on its goofy track. Directing and writing wins made its eventual victory at the end of the show something of an obvious choice. (Peter Dinklage also nabbed his second supporting win for his work on the fantasy-drama.) Mad Men did not go completely without.

The usually funnyman got serious for a few moments as he celebrated being able to attend this year’s awards after a horror car crash that left him in a coma for 8 days. “When I finally regained consciousness, I was ecstatic to learn I wasn’t the one who messed up,” he joked. “Only recently I’ve started to feel like myself again.” The response when the actor’s name was read and the standing ovation he received capped off months of industry-wide predictions that no one else stood a chance in the race. Backstage, the showrunners were asked by reporters why Thrones finally won this year. “We knew that there would be some resistance at first to a show set in this genre … we knew it would take a while,” Benioff said. “But we’d hoped if we did our jobs and if we were fortunate enough to be blessed with the cast and crew that we were blessed with … and if we got lucky, that we’d get there eventually.” The victory must be particularly sweet for the Thrones team given the controversy surrounding season 5. Mediaworks unsurprisingly didn’t trouble the scorers – although one question still remains – just who does have the rights to House of Cards season three? Thrones has raised eyebrows and generated pundit protest every year for its brutal depiction of a world inspired by Medieval Europe, but complaints reached a fever pitch during season 5 after a young likable character was raped and another was burned alive (a U.S. senator famously declared she was quitting Game of Thrones).

Sunday’s three-hour Emmy telecast on Fox did well honoring the numerous shows and people who left the tube this year, including David Letterman, Jon Stewart, “Mad Men,” “Parenthood,” “Nurse Jackie” and more. Her win for the ABC drama, coupled with Regina King’s supporting trophy for network neighbor American Crime, were the only scripted victories for the Big Four. (Allison Janney also won for Mom, and The Voice nabbed topped reality competition — stealing it back, again, from The Amazing Race.) In the streaming race, Amazon just slightly upstaged Netflix with its two wins.

In a limited series field dominated by HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, the wonderful Regina King stopped the sweep with a supporting actress win for ABC’s equally wonderful American Crime. The producers also declined to make the Hollywood media rounds during Emmy voting season to drum up support for their show, as is customary for nominated producers, and instead remained focused on making season 6. And there were also a few nice moments of emotion, including the return of Tracy Morgan as a presenter and a salute to the year’s TV goodbyes and finales that rightfully treated them as history to be honored, not plot points to be protected. Fellow showrunner Damon Lindelof, who produces HBO’s The Leftovers, was among those who made a compelling case for GoT to take the top prize. “As someone who makes television, I watch that show and I do not know how they do it,” Lindelof told EW in a discussion of the show’s fifth season. “When I was watching [episode 8] “Hardhome” this season, I was just like, “That’s one of the most excellent hours of television I’ve ever seen.

Like all modern awards show hosts, he did throw a few jabs at some of the folks in the room, but they were generally mild, which is what the job requires. That does not, however, mean that Fox’s football announcers and the Emmys are a good match — as witness a horrific pre-Emmys Kick-Off that was almost enough to make you run screaming back to the empty idiocies of E!.

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