12:00 AM EDT, August 26, 2014
"Breaking Bad" broke big Monday night at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, taking home the honor for best drama for its final season, along with statues for stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn. Cranston expressed surprise: "Even I thought about voting for Matthew," he joked of fellow nominee Matthew McConaughey.
As master of ceremonies, first-time host Seth Meyers made it look easy. Which isn't all that surprising. After more than half a decade delivering punch lines behind the desk at “Saturday Night Live's” “Weekend Update” — and six months into his tenure as the host of his own talk show on NBC — Meyers delivered his monologue like a man who understood just how far to push the envelope (not very far) while still serving up legitimately funny material.
“This year we're doing the Emmys on a Monday night in August,” he said, “which if I understand television, means the Emmys are about to get canceled.” Meyers' target was the business of show as opposed to anyone specific in the audience. Considering how sensitive nominees have been in years past, this was probably the smart move. And so, more well-aimed digs at the industry.
“We're doing the show on Monday in part because MTV aired the Video Music Awards last night,” he said. “That's right, MTV still has an award show for music videos even though they no longer show music videos. That's like network TV holding an award show and giving all the awards to cable and Netflix. That would be crazy. Why would they do that?”
Ironically, a striking number of early winners were from the old guard broadcast networks, including “Modern Family” for best comedy (its fifth win in a row) and a number of acting wins: Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”) Allison Janney (“Mom”) and Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”) and Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”). Top reality competition went to a perennial favorite, CBS's “Amazing Race,” and for execs who have been wringing their hands over the very real threat of cord-cutters and declining audience share, these wins probably relieved some of that anxiety — for one night, anyway.
A repeat winner who also made her name on a broadcast sitcom was Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who took home her third Emmy in a row for HBO's “Veep,” and delivered a show-stopping moment on her way to the stage, a make-out session with onetime “Seinfeld” love interest Cranston. Other Emmys went to “Breaking Bad” for writing (Moira Walley-Beckett) and director Cary Fukunaga for his visually distinctive work on HBO's “True Detective.” “Sherlock: His Last Vow” nabbed three Emmys in the miniseries category, including lead actor for Benedict Cumberbatch, supporting actor for Martin Freeman and a win for writer Steven Moffat.
Early on, presenter Jimmy Kimmel came out to zing to Matthew McConaughey, who was nominated for “True Detective.” The actor, he claimed, didn't even own a TV; he “traded his television for conch shell full of weed.” And then Kimmel extolled the virtues of McConaughey's good looks. “That is not a television face.” Kimmel pointed to Ricky Gervais of Netflix's “Derek”: “That is a television face.”
A handful of winners can trace their early careers back to Chicago, including Gail Mancuso, the “Modern Family” director who grew up in suburban Cook County, and a trio of Northwestern University alums: Louis-Dreyfus, Gunn and best variety show winner Stephen Colbert, the latter win a nice send-off to his Comedy Central show before he moves on to take over for David Letterman on CBS next year.
There wasn't a hallmark joke to hang the show on, or even anything that memorable, but the night's sharpest lines belonged to Meyers, also a Northwestern alum. “The Emmys are my favorite award show. Sure, the Golden Globes has alcohol and everybody's always talking and moving around. Here, everyone sits silently in one place, and just waits for the pills to kick in. Tonight, we are all Crazy Eyes.”
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