UPDATED: It took a full nine minutes for Jimmy Kimmel to unleash the first Donald Trump joke of the evening, but he did it with gusto, blaming television for Trump being in the running for the presidency, instead of being home tonight, “rubbing up against his wife Malaria as she pretends to go to sleep.”
“Thanks to Mark Burnett, we don’t have to watch reality shows anymore because we’re living one,” said Kimmel, deriding the Briton Burnett as “a sneaky little crumpet muncher.”
Looking cool and relaxed, and fully ready to skewer the industry on its big night, Kimmel’s opening bit saw him having some car trouble en route to the Emmys, as he got rides from James Corden, who insisted on some Carpool Karaoke, Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep mode, and Jeb Bush himself, among others.
“I’m in between jobs right now,” Bush said, noting how Uber pays 12 bucks an hour.
Kimmel finally landed a ride on a Game of Thrones dragon the rest of the way to the Microsoft Theater.
“If your show doesn’t have a dragon or a white Bronco in it, go home now,” said Kimmel.
The night’s first trophy, for best supporting actor in a comedy, went to Louie Anderson of FX’s Baskets.
The award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, given out by Julie Bowen and Matt LeBlanc, went to Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang of Netflix’s Master of None. Yang said Asian Americas equal Italian Americans in this nation. While the Italians have The Godfather, The Sopranos, Goodfellas and other beloved entertainment, “We got Long Duck Dong,” he said in a relatively obscure 16 Candles reference. “We got a long way to go.”
Top comedy supporting actress went to Kate McKinnon of Saturday Night Live.
Best directing for a comedy series went to Transparent creator Jill Soloway, her second Emmy win in two years. Kimmel had some fun with the not-typically-comedic half-hour being classified as a comedy. “Transparent was born a drama but identifies as a comedy,” quipped Kimmel.
Outstanding lead actress on a comedy, presented by Keegan-Michael Key, was given to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, her fifth consecutive win with Veep. She thanked the crew, among others. “The hours you work on our show are unforgivable,” she said.
Louis-Dreyfus then apologized for the current political climate. “Veep has torn down the wall between comedy and politics,” she said. “It was political satire, and now it’s a sobering documentary.” Turning pensive, she tearfully saluted her father, who passed away in recent days.
Jeffrey Tambor, star of Transparent, then saluted his old pal, the late Garry Shandling, who hosted the Emmys multiple times in his colorful career. The two were on The Larry Sanders Show together.
Best comedy actor was Jeffrey Tambor, his second honoring in as many years. His award proved Kimmel to be prophetic, as the host had started off the ceremony by handing a trophy to Kimmel, saying he’d simply eliminate the long buildup. To creator Jill Soloway, he said, “You changed my life, you changed my career, you changed everything.”
Tambor urged network execs and directors to “give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions, give them their story. Do that.”
The Voice won best outstanding reality competition. Mark Burnett plugged the show’s new season, and mentioned “Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys—your next Supreme Court judges.”
“That Emmy is going on the hood of Trump’s limousine,” joked Kimmel.
Kimmel noted the undernourished stars in the room, then had the child actors from Netflix’s Stranger Things hand out PB&J sandwiches from their bicycles.
Guest actor in a comedy went to Peter Scolari of HBO’s Girls, while guest actress was given to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live.
Outstanding writing in a limited series went to D.V. DeVincentis of The People v. O.J. Simpson, which had three entrants in the category, while FX sibling Fargo had two.
Outstanding supporting actress in a limited series was awarded to Regina King of American Crime, her second consecutive win. She thanked ABC for “having the guts” to have the moody drama on the network.
Outstanding directing in a limited series was given to The Night Manager’s Susanne Bier, her first win after two nominations. The series, based on a John LeCarre novel, ran on AMC.
Sterling K. Brown won for best supporting actor in a limited series for his work on The People v. O.J. Simpson. “Thank you for giving a brother a chance,” he said to his producers.
Lead actress in a limited series was picked up by Sarah Paulson, her first win in six tries. She played prosecutor Marcia Clark in FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson, and brought the real Clark along with her for the night. From the podium, Paulson apologized to Clark for the way she’d been viewed after Simpson walked.
To show creator Ryan Murphy, she said, “I owe you everything.”
The ceremony quickly turned into a celebration of all things People v. O.J. Simpson. Courtney B. Vance grabbed the lead actor in a limited series Emmy for his role as Johnny Cochran on the series. “I have to believe that Johnny Cochrane is somewhere, smiling up at us tonight,” quipped Kimmel.
Outstanding TV movie went to PBS series Sherlock, before the highly competitive outstanding limited series prize went to The People v. O.J., beating out American Crime, Fargo, The Night Manager and Roots. Exec producer Brad Simpson called it a “true collaboration” for the writers, cast, crew, studio and network.
FX has six Emmys at this point, well ahead of the pack.
Kimmel had some fun with the variety categories, noting the lack of variety among show hosts. Outstanding writing for a variety special went to Patton Oswalt for his special Talking For Clapping, which aired on Netflix. It’s his first Emmy.
Outstanding variety series went to Last Week Tonight With John Oliver on HBO. He thanked HBO for being “incredibly supportive,” and Jon Stewart “for everything.”
Directing for a variety special went to Thomas Kail and Alex Rudzinski for Fox’s musical Grease: Live. “I wouldn’t want to be those guys when Kanye finds out they beat out Beyonce,” said Kimmel.
Comedy Central’s Key & Peele won for variety sketch series. “I love you, Detroit,” concluded Keegan-Michael Key.
Guest actor in a drama was Hank Azaria in Showtime’s Ray Donovan, and guest actress in a drama was for Margo Martindale for her turn in The Americans on FX.
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss of Game of Thrones won for writing in a drama series. Weiss thanked HBO for its “support in keeping this giant lizard flying.”
Maggie Smith of Downton Abbey won supporting actress in a drama. Earlier in the show, Kimmel teased Smith for never turning up at the Emmys. “We’re not mailing this,” said Kimmel. “Maggie, if you want this, it’ll be in the lost and found."
The prize for outstanding directing in a drama went to Miguel Sapochnik of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Supporting actor in a drama went to Ben Mendelsohn of Netflix’s Bloodline.
Introducing the In Memoriam segment, Henry Winkler saluted Garry Marshall.
Easing into the telecast’s final 20 minutes, best actor in a drama was awarded to Rami Malek of USA’s Mr. Robot, beating out some heavy hitters in Liev Schreiber, Kyle Chandler, Matthew Rhys and Kevin Spacey. It was his first win, and he appeared shocked. “Please tell me you’re seeing this too,” he said. Malek cited creator Sam Esmail as a “pure visionary” and the “absurdly gifted cast” he works with.
“There’s a little bit of Elliot in all of us,” Malek said of his alienated character.
Lead actress in a drama went to Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black, her first Emmy win. “I feel so lucky to be on a show that puts women at the center,” an emotional Maslany said of the BBC America series.
The outstanding comedy series Emmy was grabbed by HBO’s Veep, its second consecutive win in the category. David Mandel claimed the prize. He credited Jim Downey, Al Franken, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David for teaching him to write comedy. Larry David had presented the award.
“This is for chubby Jews on the Upper West Side, wherever you are,” Mandel said.
Veep beat out Black-ish, Master of None, Modern Family, Transparent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Silicon Valley.
The night’s final prize was awarded by Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits, former partners on NYPD Blue. Game of Thrones beat out Downton Abbey, The Americans, House of Cards, Homeland, Better Call Saul and Mr. Robot for best drama.
“We have the best cast that I think has ever been assembled,” said David Benioff.
D.B. Weiss added that they were standing on stage, claiming TV’s biggest prize, because of the world author George R. R. Martin created, and because HBO “graciously kept the lights on.”
The “craziest crew in show business,” he added, is set to return to Belfast and make more Game of Thrones.