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With Frances McDormand in its corner, 'Olive Kitteridge,' becomes Emmy's big winner

At the start of the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards, it wasn't looking like a good night for the printed word.

Host Andy Samberg's opening musical number was all about the burden of keeping up with the high volume of acclaimed series on TV. During his monologue, there was even an off-screen voice and graphic that said, "Suck it, books."

Yet it was "Olive Kitteridge," an HBO limited series based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, that stacked up six trophies, the most of the night.

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Elizabeth Strout's 13 interconnected stories set in a fictional Maine town with a prickly, middle-school math teacher as the central character doesn't sound flashy. But it helps when Academy Award-winning Frances McDormand — beloved in the industry for her devotion to her craft — becomes passionate about a piece of material. She pushed hard to get the title made after reading it six years ago.

The cachet of getting the series made at HBO helped. Although the premium cable network is known for its acclaimed series, winning the trophies for drama ("Game of Thrones") and comedy ("Veep") series on Sunday, it still remains the best outlet for high-minded and ambitious long-form projects. Since 2000, HBO won the miniseries category seven times.

"Olive Kitteridge" had another Emmy-friendly name attached in Tom Hanks, who along with Playtone Productions partner Gary Goetzman were executive producers. Hanks now has five Emmy wins as an executive producer for HBO projects.


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