If there was a theme running through the 61st Annual
Primetime Emmy Awards, broadcast Sept. 20 on CBS, it was one of wry
desperation. From host Neil Patrick Harris' opening number--with its chorus
imploring "Don't touch that remote!"--to Tina Fey's, tongue-in-cheek "thank
you" to NBC Universal executives for keeping 30 Rock "on the air even though we are so much more expensive than
a talk show," this year's Emmys played like an elegy to a dying business model.
Mathew Wiener, the creator and executive producer of AMC's Mad Men, which took home its second consecutive
Emmy for outstanding drama series, asserted somewhat impoliticly in his
acceptance speech for best writing that he "may be the only person in this room
in some ways who has complete creative freedom."
Later, accepting the Emmy for outstanding drama series, he
said he wasn't "afraid" of the tumult in the industry. "It means more choice
and more entertainment. And it's better for viewers in the end," he said. "And
I'm glad to be a part of it."
In fact, this year's Emmys, which had the misfortune to air
opposite a close NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, was a
much improved telecast over last year's debacle, which split hosting duties
among reality hosts. Harris gamely kept the action moving along, and the show
ended just a few minutes after 11 p.m.
But the winners looked a lot like last year's winners. Along
with repeat wins for 30 Rock and Mad Men in the comedy and drama
categories (both shows also won for writing), there were dÃ©jÃ vu moments in the
actor and actress in a drama categories.
Glenn Close took home the lead actress in a drama statue for
the second consecutive year for FX's Damages.
Close saluted her "category sisters," which included Holly
Hunter, Sally Field, Kyra Sedgwick, Mariska Hargitay and Elisabeth Moss.
Her speech came soon after the In Memoriam montage, which
seemed to go on especially long this year ending with Natasha Richardson, Paul
Newman, Michael Jackson, Don Hewitt, Patrick Swayze, Farrah Fawcett and Walter
Ever gracious, Close said she was honored to be in the
company of her fellow television artists.
"Looking at who we lost this past year," she said, "you
think what a legacy we have."
Bryan Cranston seemed genuinely surprised to have won a
second consecutive statue for AMC's Breaking
Bad. "I'm just a poor kid from the Valley. I don't know what I'm dong up here,"
he said. "I feel like Cinder-fella."
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series went to Alec
Baldwin for his role in the NBC comedy 30 Rock. Baldwin
chose to honor Lorne Michaels, who was also thanked earlier in the evening by
fellow 30 Rock star Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake, who won for guest
hosting Saturday Night Live.
Toni Collette won her fist Emmy for lead actress in a comedy
series for Showtime's United States of Tara.
Kristin Chenoweth took home the award for supporting actress
in a comedy series for the canceled ABC dramedy Pushing Daisies. Jon
Cryer took home the best supporting actor in a comedy series for CBS' Two and
a Half Men.
A tearful Chenoweth joked, "I'm unemployed now so I'd
like to be on Mad Men. I also like The Office and 30 Rock,"
before adding, "Thank you so much to the Academy for recognizing a show
that's no longer on the air."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus continued the "please watch"
lament in her speech introducing the nominees for best supporting actor in a
comedy, saying she was honored to be presenting "for the last official
year for broadcast network television."
The Amazing Race once again took the Emmy for
Outstanding Reality Competition Program. This marks the seventh straight year
that the program has won in the category. Survivor's Jeff Probst, who
took home the Emmy for Outstanding Host in a Reality Competition Series,
suggested backstage that it was time
for Race to follow Oprah Winfrey's
lead and withdraw from Emmy competition.
Gardens picked up
multiple awards including outstanding made-for-TV movie and outstanding actress
for Jessica Lange and supporting actor for Ken Howard.
Howard, who starred in the '80s TV series The White
Shadow and has had numerous supporting roles in television and film, pronounced his win "very
encouraging" and noted that he would make his speech "as brief as
possible in the hopes that it won't be interrupted by a rapper or a congressman."
Lange, who beat out her co-star, Drew Barrymore, said, "This
part was a gift and they really don't come along that often for me anymore."
Brendan Gleeson won the award for actor in a movie for his
portrayal of Winston Churchill in HBO's Into the Storm.
Ellen Burstyn and Michael J. Fox won for their work as guest
actors in drama series for Law &
Order: Special Victims Unit and Rescue
Michael Emerson took home the award for supporting actor in
a drama series for Lost. Calling the win a "character actor's
dream," Emerson said his role as the evil Benjamin Linus, which began as a
guest spot, has become the "role of a lifetime."
It was a good category for broadcast television, with Cherry
Jones taking home the supporting actress in a drama statue for playing President
Allison Taylor on 24. In her acceptance speech Jones said she shares the
statue with the cast and crew of the Fox drama and "it would be on the
craft services table tomorrow."
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart won a pair of key
awards, winning for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy series, as well as for
Outstanding Writing in a Variety, Music or Comedy Series. Accepting the Emmy
for outstanding variety program, Stewart thanked Harris for his deft hosting,
saying "these shows they usually suck."