Sur­prises, sure things and Trump joke at Em­mys

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - By David Bauder

The Emmy Awards had its share of sur­prises, sure things and Don­ald Trump jokes. One con­sis­tent theme was the con­tin­ued cre­ative ero­sion at the top broad­cast net­works, now merely an af­ter­thought on tele­vi­sion’s big­gest night.

“Game of Thrones” won best drama for the sec­ond year in a row on Sun­day, and be­came prime-time tele­vi­sion’s most-hon­ored show ever. Fel­low HBO se­ries “Veep” was named top com­edy for the sec­ond straight year and that show’s star, Ju­lia Louis Drey­fus, won best com­edy ac­tress for the fifth straight time and a record-set­ting sixth time in her ca­reer.

Other big win­ners in­cluded ac­tors Jef­frey Tam­bor, Rami Malek and Ta­tiana Maslany, along with most ev­ery­one as­so­ci­ated with the FX minis­eries, “The Peo­ple vs. O.J. Simp­son.”

Of the 27 awards handed out in prime time, six apiece went to HBO and FX. Stream­ing ser­vices Net­flix had three and Ama­zon two.

The Emmy broad­cast ro­tates each Septem­ber among the four big­gest broad­cast net­works — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — and is de­signed to drum up ex­cite­ment for the be­gin­ning of the fall season. Yet you’d hardly know those net­works ex­ist from watch­ing Sun­day’s awards. They ac­counted for four of the 27 awards, and only one for a prime-time scripted se­ries. The most-watched net­work, CBS, was shut out.

Other tro­phies were sprin­kled among USA, BBC Amer­ica, AMC and Com­edy Cen­tral — a stark il­lus­tra­tion of the chang­ing na­ture of tele­vi­sion.

“There’s great stuff on net­work, there’s great stuff on ca­ble,” said Alan Yang, who won a com­edy writ­ing award with Aziz An­sari for Net­flix’s “Mas­ter of None.” “What’s been re­ally great about Net­flix is they give us a lot of free­dom and they trust us to pur­sue what our per­sonal sto­ries are. I think they’ve been re­warded with stuff that feels a lit­tle fresh.”

“Games of Thrones,” the fan­tasy saga based on Ge­orge R.R. Martin’s nov­els, re­ceived 12 awards Sun­day and at last week­end’s tech­ni­cal arts cer­e­mony. That makes 38 to­tal in the se­ries’ his­tory, pass­ing “Frasier” as the most-hon­ored prime-time se­ries ever.

Yet the se­ries’ top ac­tors went home empty-handed. Malek, of USA’s thriller “Mr. Ro­bot,” and Maslany of “Or­phan Black” won the top act­ing tro­phies for drama se­ries.

“Oh, my God. Please tell me you’re see­ing this too,” said a stunned Malek, who par­tic­i­pates in a hack­ing con­spir­acy in a se­ries where it’s never quite sure what’s real and what’s imag­ined.

The top com­edy act­ing awards were more pre­dictable. Host Jimmy Kim­mel even jok­ingly handed an Emmy to “Trans­par­ent” star Tam­bor at the out­set of the show; he later got one for real. Tam­bor, who plays a man who has tran­si­tioned to a woman, urged Hol­ly­wood cre­ators to find roles for real-life trans­gen­der ac­tors.

An emo­tional Louis Drey­fus noted that her fa­ther had passed away only a few days be­fore. Still, she took time in her ac­cep­tance speech to note the un­com­fort­able re­sem­blance of the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal scene to the fic­tional one in “Veep.”

“I think that ‘Veep’ has torn down the wall be­tween com­edy and pol­i­tics,” she said. “Our show started out as a po­lit­i­cal satire but it now feels more like a sober­ing doc­u­men­tary.”

The pres­i­den­tial cam­paign was fore­most in many minds. Former can­di­date Jeb Bush had a cameo in Kim­mel’s open­ing skit, Emmy win­ner Court­ney B. Vance voiced sup­port for Hil­lary Clin­ton and Kim­mel jok­ingly called out pro­ducer Mark Bur­nett, seated in the au­di­ence, as the man re­spon­si­ble for Don­ald Trump. Bur­nett cast Trump in the se­ries “The Ap­pren­tice,” which broad­ened the New York busi­ness­man’s ap­peal.

Clin­ton tweeted her con­grat­u­la­tions to Kate McKin­non of NBC’s “Satur­day Night Live,” who won a sup­port­ing ac­tress award for com­edy. McKin­non’s por­trayal of Clin­ton is her best­known im­pres­sion.

Kim­mel took a breezy ap­proach to host­ing, with some of his best mo­ments com­ing in quips as the night pro­gressed, as op­posed to the more pro­duced open­ing se­quence.

“What a night for O.J.,” Kim­mel said as the Simp­son minis­eries earned five tro­phies Sun­day. “I won­der if he’s hav­ing a view­ing party with the guys.” Simp­son is serv­ing time in a Ne­vada prison

Win­ning ac­tors from the Simp­son se­ries couldn’t hide their ex­cite­ment back­stage. Ster­ling K. Brown, who won a sup­port­ing ac­tor award, said later it felt like he had floated out of his body and looked down at ev­ery­one in the crowd when his name was an­nounced. Act­ing win­ner Vance, who sweetly thanked his wife on­stage, said he’s ready to hand over his tro­phy to her.

“She’ll tell me where it will go in our house,” he said.

Back­stage, ac­tress Regina King took note of the Simp­son se­ries after win­ning a sup­port­ing award for “Amer­i­can Crime,” the only win­ner from a scripted se­ries that aired on one of the com­mer­cial broad­cast net­works.

“I’m happy to be able to stand with this in my hand for the team, happy that there was no one from ‘Peo­ple vs. O.J.’ in my cat­e­gory,” she said.

John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” won the Emmy for top va­ri­ety talk se­ries. But the night was not with­out some dis­ap­point­ment for the comic. He told re­porters later that he had been ex­cited about see­ing a seat­ing chart where he was go­ing to sit two rows be­hind Bey­once.

“It’s all I’ve been think­ing about for the past 48 hours, that I’d be look­ing at the back of Bey­once’s head for four hours and she hasn’t turned up,” he said. “So, this is nice, but this evening gen­uinely has a sense of loss. I was go­ing to stare at the back of her head and ex­pe­ri­ence hap­pi­ness in a form that I hadn’t felt.”

Mag­gie Smith was hon­ored as best sup­port­ing ac­tress in a drama se­ries for the fi­nal season of “Down­ton Abbey.” It was her third win for play­ing the for­mi­da­ble dowa­ger. As be­came her cus­tom, she didn’t at­tend the cer­e­mony. That was gag ma­te­rial for Kim­mel, who said her tro­phy would be in the “lost and found.”

As­so­ci­ated Press writ­ers Lindsey Bahr and Lynn El­ber con­trib­uted to this re­port from Los Angeles. Bauder re­ports from New York.

PHOTO BY CHRIS PIZZELLO — IN­VI­SION — AP

The cast and crew from “Game of Thrones” ac­cept the award for out­stand­ing drama se­ries at the 68th Prime­time Emmy Awards on Sun­day at the Mi­crosoft The­ater in Los Angeles.

PHOTO BY CHRIS PIZZELLO — IN­VI­SION — AP

Jef­frey Tam­bor ac­cepts the award for out­stand­ing lead ac­tor in a com­edy se­ries for “Trans­par­ent” at the 68th Prime­time Emmy Awards on Sun­day at the Mi­crosoft The­ater in Los Angeles.

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