The Emmys welcomed plenty of movie stars to television’s biggest awards show, including Julia Roberts, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Spacey, Mark Ruffalo and the reigning Oscar winner for best actor, Matthew McConaughey. All were sent home empty-handed.
Instead, the Emmys opted for the tried and true Monday night, giving a long goodbye kiss to “Breaking Bad” and its cast, and the fifth straight award for best comedy to ABC’s “Modern Family.”
Bryan Cranston, who played the memorable meth dealer Walter White on “Breaking Bad,” won his fourth best drama actor Emmy, tying him with another four-time winner, Dennis Franz. Aaron Paul won his third supporting actor award playing Cranston’s fictional colleague in crime. Anna Gunn, who played Cranston’s wife, won for the second straight year and the series won its second consecutive best drama award.
The bounty proved Emmy voters have a long memory, since the “Breaking Bad” finale aired 11 months ago.
“Thank you for this wonderful farewell to our show,” creator Vince Gilligan said.
“Modern Family” co-creator Steve Levitan almost seemed at a loss for something new to say as the ABC show matched the five-year winning streak of “Frasier” in its heyday. Actor Ty Burrell won a best supporting actor award.
“It’s a wonder that we get to do this for a living, that we get to be the ones up here when there are so many deserving shows,” Levitan said.
For much of the evening, the Emmys seemed to bask in Hollywood’s glow, especially McConaughey’s aura. He was the willing foil for jokes, particularly by Jimmy Kimmel. “You don’t belong here,” Kimmel said. “And take Julia Roberts with you.”
Director Gail Mancuso of “Breaking Bad” chose to look at McConaughey as she was accepting her award. “I knew if I had to look at my cast, I would tear up,” she said backstage. “I thought, ‘what’s the next best thing? Matthew McConaughey.’ He was sitting right there.”
Yet the only time McConaughey went on the stage was when he and “True Detectives” co-star Woody Harrelson were presenters. Their HBO series was the subject of much pre-show hubbub — many in Hollywood thought it should be in the miniseries category, not drama — but it proved a moot point as the major awards went elsewhere.
Roberts and Ruffalo weren’t honored for their roles in the HBO movie about the early days of AIDS, “The Normal Heart,” although the project won the Emmy for best TV movie.
Jumping back and forth between television and feature films isn’t as unusual as it used to be, with television in a robust creative period. But with a lot of quality work out there, names aren’t enough to guarantee an award.
Emmys host Seth Meyers made note of the unusual time slot for the awards show, on a Monday (Sunday is the usual date) in late August. It was NBC’s turn to air the show, and the network didn’t want to pre-empt its lucrative Sunday night NFL football package.
“If I understand television, it means the Emmys are about to be cancelled,” Meyers joked.
Once the awards began, some of television’s royalty added to their trophy cases. Jim Parsons, star of television’s most popular comedy, “The Big Bang Theory,” won his fourth straight award for best comedy actor. It was the third year in a row for Julia Louis-Dreyfus of HBO’s “Veep” to win the best comic actress award.
Julianna Margulies, the star of CBS’ “The Good Wife,” was the beneficiary of an especially strong season for the show, winning her second Emmy as best actress in a drama.
For all the pre-show talk about new forms of television distribution, it was a good night for network television, between Margulies, Parsons and “Modern Family.” Allison Janney won a best supporting actress award for her role in the freshman CBS sitcom, “Mom.”
Netflix and its biggest shows, “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” didn’t win any major awards.
The Emmys included a touching tribute to Robin Williams, who died earlier this month, by his comedian friend Billy Crystal.
“He made us laugh. Hard. Every time you saw him,” Crystal said.
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