Emmy Awards: Jeff Daniels among the surprise winners
BY LORI RACKL TV Critic September 22, 2013 7:50PM
65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Show
Actor: Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
Actress: Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Supporting actor: Bobby Cannavale, “Boardwalk Empire”
Supporting actress: Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad”
Directing: David Fincher, “House of Cards”
Writing: Henry Bromell, “Homeland”
Series: “Modern Family”
Actor: Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
Actress: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Supporting actor: Tony Hale, “Veep”
Supporting actress: Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie”
Directing: Gail Mancuso, “Modern Family”
Writing: Tina Fey, Tracey Wigfield, “30 Rock”
Miniseries / Movie
Miniseries or Movie: “Behind the Candelabra”
Actress: Laura Linney, “The Big C: Hereafter”
Supporting actor: James Cromwell, “American Horror Story: Asylum.”
Supporting actress: Ellen Burstyn, “Political Animals”
Directing: Steven Soderbergh, “Behind the Candelabra”
Writing: Abi Morgan, “The Hour”
Variety Series: “The Colbert Report”
Directing of a variety series: Don Roy King, “Saturday Night Live”
Writing of a variety series: “The Colbert Report”
Reality competition series: “The Voice”
Choreography: Derek Hough, “Dancing With the Stars”
Updated: September 23, 2013 12:04AM
This year’s Emmys delivered more surprises than usual — both the good kind and the bad.
Ably hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, the 65th annual awards ceremony handed out plenty of hardware to first-timers and long shots, a refreshing change for a group of notoriously monogamous voters known for finding something they like and rewarding it over and over again.
The night’s first win set the tone for other shockers later in the evening.
Merritt Wever looked as stunned as anybody when she defeated the formidable “Modern Family” competition to clinch best supporting actress in a comedy for her work in Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie.”
If there were an award for shortest speech of the night, Wever would have won that, too.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “I gotta go. Bye.”
The night’s big upset came courtesy of Jeff Daniels. The rookie nominee sent jaws dropping — including his own — when he won the top drama acting prize for his role as sanctimonious broadcast journalist Will McAvoy in HBO’s polarizing drama “The Newsroom.”
Daniels bested three-time winner Bryan Cranston, who deserved a fourth statuette for his mesmerizing portrayal of chemistry teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White in “Breaking Bad.” He also beat out some stiff competition in last year’s winner Damian Lewis (“Homeland”), Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”) and Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), who now has tied the record for the most losses (six) in the category. Some day, that poor guy will catch a break.
Daniel’s speech, unlike his character, was humble.
“Well, crap, didn’t expect this,” the Michigan native said, joking that his only other award came from the AARP and now he’ll have to move his golden Barcalounger.
Another head-scratching “Breaking Bad” loss was had when voters denied Aaron Paul a hat-trick for best supporting actor. The Emmy instead went to Bobby Cannavale for his borderline cartoonish turn as a gangster on “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO’s Prohibition-era show that was noticeably absent from the outstanding drama noms.
“This just in: No one in America is winning their Emmy office pool,” joked Harris during the CBS telecast.
The awards show got off to a shaky start with a headache-inducing taped bit about Harris binge-watching the entire television season. He was ushered into a room full of TVs by CBS chief Les Moonves dressed as a security guard — a cameo likely lost on 95 percent of viewers.
Things rebounded quickly at the Nokia Theatre when Harris was joined onstage by previous hosts including Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien and Jane Lynch, who insisted she wasn’t asked back as emcee because she’s a woman.
“I don’t think anyone who saw you that night thought of you as a woman,” Harris told the Dolton native.
When they all started bickering, the camera cut to nominee Kevin Spacey of Netflix’s “House of Cards.”
“It’s all going according to my plan,” Spacey said in his scheming character’s Southern drawl.
The night surely didn’t go to according to Netflix’s plan. The streaming service made headlines for cracking several top-tier categories when the Emmy nominations were announced, but its sole award Sunday was for directing.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler stuck the intro’s landing from the front row, where they encouraged Harris to twerk.
“Yo, N.P.H., take those pants off,” Poehler said while stuffing her face with popcorn. “America wants to see what you’re working with.”
Harris, who was hosting the show for the second time, proved to be a class act. The additional “In Memoriam” segments were a nice touch, too, especially Edie Falco’s teary tribute to “The Sopranos” star James Gandolfini and Lynch’s honest homage to “Glee’s” Cory Monteith.
“He was not perfect,” Lynch said about the 31-year-old actor, who died of a drug and alcohol overdose this summer. “His death is a tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that is brought on by addiction.”
The night ended up being good for “Breaking Bad.” The AMC hit was redeemed by a couple of overdue first-time wins, one in the top drama category and the other for supporting actress Anna Gunn, the Northwestern grad who’s nothing short of fantastic as Walter White’s often vilified wife, Skyler.
Surprising no one was perennial Emmy darling Julia Louis-Dreyfus — another Northwestern alum — walking away with her fourth statuette and second for lead actress as Vice President Selina Meyer in “Veep.”
In accepting her award, Louis-Dreyfus made a show of handing her purse to co-star Tony Hale, who plays Selina’s personal aide on the HBO political comedy. Fresh off his own Emmy win, Hale dutifully stood behind Louis-Dreyfus at the podium and quietly reminded her whom to thank — a list Louis-Dreyfus squeezed a laugh out of by deliberately omitting Hale.
Emmy voters stayed faithful to Claire Danes, too, giving her top prize for the second year in a row for her work as a bipolar CIA officer with a propensity for chin quivering.
Danes is amazing in the role, but it would have been nice to see the academy make history by bestowing the award on another actress proficient in the art of face-crying: Kerry Washington. The “Scandal” star would have been the first African-American to win best lead drama actress in Emmy’s 65-year history. The last time a black actress was even nominated in the category was in 1995 with Cicely Tyson.
Just when it looked like the love affair with “Modern Family” might be over, the ABC sitcom snagged its fourth consecutive win for best comedy. Voters gave a similar stamp of approval to three-time winner Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory.” But they shook up the status quo by breaking the longest winning streak in Emmy history, crowning “The Colbert Report” best variety series over “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” a 10-time victor.