Kyle Chandler scores upset to win Best Actor for “Friday Night Lights” and Julianna Margulies nabs Best Actress for “The Good Wife”
Emmy voters really, really liked ABC's "Modern Family" on Sunday night.
But Best Drama winner "Mad Men" could be forgiven for feeling a little jilted.
"Family" nearly made it a clean sweep, picking up the award for Best Comedy, along with statues for its writing, directing, supporting actor and actress.
"We appreciate every single second of this," Co-Creator Steve Levitan assured the crowd.
So intense was voters' love of "Family" that after one commercial break point show host and "Glee" star Jane Lynch quipped, "Welcome back to the 'Modern Family,' awards."
Less dominant was perpetual awards giant "Mad Men," which had to sweat it out until late in the evening to finally get on the board.
The swinging sixties advertising drama picked up its fourth consecutive statue for Best Drama, but the AMC series didn't earn any other awards.
However, the series fared less well than in previous years, seeing the night's other big prizes go to competitors such as DirecTV's "Friday Night Lights" and CBS' "The Good Wife."
Not so, Masterpiece's "Downton Abbey." The sumptuously mounted program capped off a strong showing by winning the Best Movie or Mini-Series statue.
The English upstairs, downstairs drama won five awards total, holding off challenges from HBO's "Too Big to Fail" and "Mildred Pierce."
"This evening it came right," creator Jullian Fellowes said, noting the difficulty of predicting a hit.
In a major upset, Kyle Chandler beat out heavily favored Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire") and Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") to pick up a Best Actor Award for playing an inspirational coach on "Friday Night Lights."
Chandler admitted he did not expect to win and had not prepared a speech.
"Let me thank the people of Austin, Texas who welcomed us into their homes…and brought the show to life," Chandler said.
Not as unexpected, was Julianna Margulies' Best Actress in a Drama Series victory, for playing the wronged political spouse in "The Good Wife."
Accepting the award, Marguilies thanked the cast of the CBS drama, producers Tony and Ridley Scott, and her husband Keith Lieberthal
"I'm so grateful you have no political aspirations," Margulies told Lieberthal.
Only a lack of nominations for "Modern Family" in the leading actor in a comedy categories could stave off a complete sweep by the ABC hit.
"I'm sorry, I'm a crier," a visibly emotional McCarthy said.
"I'm from Plainville Illinois and I'm standing here and it's kind of amazing," she added.
A more subdued Parsons thanked the academy for honoring the show and his fellow nominee and co-star Johnny Galecki.
"I don't know what I'm going to talk about in therapy now," Bowen quipped.
In a moving, slightly humorous speech, Burrell paid tribute to his late father, saying he'd be surprised by the amount of makeup he wears as part of his day job.
The evening went very differently for AMC.
In category after category, "Mad Men," saw its Emmy dominance wither Sunday evening. Margo Martindale beat out "Mad Men"s' Christina Hendricks to win a Best Supporting Actress in a Drama statue for playing the villainous crime boss in FX's "Justified."
"Sometimes things just take time, but with time comes great appreciation," Martindale said.
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"HBO…you let artists create and that's something that's rare, unfortunately," Dinklage said, pausing to thank his fellow nominees and his dog walker.
Good thing she wasn't on "Mad Men," because Kate Winslet now has an Emmy to go with her Oscar.
The English actress scored a Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series award essaying the part of a Depression-era restaurant owner in HBO's "Mildred Pierce."
Her performance as a long-suffering mother left Winslet giving shout outs to her own mother.
"It doesn't matter how old you are or what you do in your life, you'll never stop needing your mom," Winslet said.
Barry Pepper picked up an award for Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series for his role in the critically derided "The Kennedys."
Also finding herself in the winner's room, was Maggie Smith, who earned a Best Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series or Movie for her performance as an imperious duchess on "Downton Abbey."
Neither Pepper nor Smith were on hand to pick up their awards.
That wasn't the case for Guy Pearce, who was on hand to give one of the night's randiest speeches while accepting his statue for Best Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series or Movie for his performance as a caddish husband in HBO's "Mildred Pierce."
"I got to have sex with Kate Winslet many, many times…thank you for allowing me to insert myself into the world of 'Mildred,'" Pearce joked.
And you can make that Martin Scorsese, Emmy winner.
The legendary film director added the TV honor to his awards chest for his work overseeing HBO's prohibition drama "Boardwalk Empire."
A subdued Charlie Sheen helped break up the "Modern Family" onslaught, appearing on stage to present the Best Actor in a Comedy award. Despite the venom he spewed at his former sitcom "Two and a Half Men" last spring, Sheen had only nice things to say about his old show and his replacement, Ashton Kutcher.
"From the bottom of my heart I wish you nothing, but the best for this upcoming season," Sheen said.
In the reality competition series category, CBS' "The Amazing Race" reclaimed the statue it ceded to "Top Chef" last year. Prior to that loss, the show had a seven year winning streak going.
Also extending a lengthy run, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" picked up its ninth award in as many seasons for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series. The fake news show also earned an award for its writing.
Accepting the award, Stewart thanked his Comedy Central cohort Stephen Colbert saying, "I can't even believe that guy renders his character in real time.".
Poking gentle auto-tuned fun at everything from crime dramas to laugh-track infused sitcoms, Lynch inserted herself into nominated shows such as “The Big Bang Theory," "Mad Men," and “Parks and Recreation.”
There was even time for Lynch to don the red track suit favored by her "Glee" alter-ego Sue Sylvester, before taking the stage with a backup group of nattily dressed dancers. Then it was on to the opening monologue with Lynch offer some gibes about everyone from Martin Scorsese ("Boardwalk Empire") to Katie Holmes ("The Kennedys").
"There's Betty White, she's the reason we start the show at 5 p.m.," Lynch quipped.
Presumably White's also who audiences can thank for having a show that hot-footed it briskly along for three hours to reach an 8 p.m. PST curtain call.