Cult TV drama series Breaking Bad and comedy hit Modern Family were the big winners on Monday at the annual Emmys awards ceremony, which included a moving tribute to late Hollywood icon Robin Williams.
Royal feud saga Game of Thrones, which had garnered the most nominations, went home with none of the big prizes from the 66th Emmys, television’s equivalent of the Oscars.
Other highlights included a passionate on-stage kiss between Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and a bizarre segment in which curvy Colombian actress Sofia Vergara rotated on a platform.
“This is … a wonderful time to be working in television,” said Breaking Bad director Vince Gilligan, accepting the top prize of best drama at the climax of the three-hour show in Los Angeles.
Breaking Bad, about high school chemistry teacher-turned-drugs-kingpin Walter White, also took the best drama actor award for Cranston, and the best supporting prizes for Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn, who played his partner and wife respectively.
Modern Family won best comedy series for the fifth year in a row, equaling a record set by Frasier between 1994 and 1998.
Julianna Margulies won the award for best drama actress for The Good Wife, while best television movie went to The Normal Heart, about gay activist Larry Kramer’s work to raise HIV/Aids awareness during the early 1980s.
In a moving acceptance speech, Kramer – who is HIV positive – appeared on stage with the film’s makers, as he was applauded by the star-studded audience.
The evening’s big loser was Game of Thrones, which was shortlisted in 19 categories and has already been renewed for a fifth and sixth season.
In the end, the show left with only relatively minor prizes – joining a list of snubbed shows that also included True Detective, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.
On the comedy front, Jim Parsons won best comedy actor for The Big Bang Theory, Louis-Dreyfus best comedy actress for Veep, Ty Burrell for Modern Family and Louis CK for Louie.
There were giggles and cheers when Breaking Bad star Cranston planted a prolonged kiss on the lips of Louis-Dreyfus as she went up to collect her prize, in one of the more outrageous segments of the evening.
Funnyman Jimmy Kimmel also drew laughs, joking that Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey – nominated for bleak cop drama True Detective – was too handsome for television.
In one of the more surreal moments, Modern Family star Vergara introduced Academy of Television Arts and Sciences chief Bruce Rosenblum – and then proceeded to stand on a rotating platform, displaying her figure-hugging dress while he gave a speech.
The skit was presumably intended as an ironic comment on how boring such speeches are, but online critics immediately came out against the tableau for being sexist.
Robin Williams tribute
The ceremony took a serious turn when honoring Hollywood great Williams, who died in an apparent suicide on August 11 at age 63, rocking the entertainment world.
With emotions still raw, his friend and fellow actor-comedian Billy Crystal paid tribute to the Oscar winner.
“He made us laugh. I spent many happy hours on stage with Robin. His brilliance was stunning, the relentless energy breathtaking,” said Crystal, adding that Williams’s star remained undimmed.
“The glow will be so bright, it will warm your heart and make your eyes glisten, and you’ll think to yourselves, Robin Williams. What a concept.”
South African winner
At the 66th annual Creative Arts Emmys on August 16 South African Doug Hardy was part of the Black Sails team that won the award for outstanding special and visual effects in a supporting role.
The Creative Arts Emmy ceremony aligns with the main Emmy awards event and celebrates technical and other similar accomplishments in television.
Hardy, who was the special effects lead, was part of the production team for the US drama series.
Black Sails beat Da Vinci’s Demons, Hawaii Five-0, Mob City, Vikings and The Walking Dead, which were nominated in the same category. – AFP, with additional reporting by staff reporter