The 63rd edition of Primetime Emmy Awards contained enough surprises to confound oddsmakers as well as skeptics who consider the awards show too predictable.
Modern Family, the ABC production won Best Comedy Series award for the second straight year and another two acting prizes (for Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell, who play a harried married couple) as well.
Mad Men, about the New York ad industry in the 1960s, won its fourth consecutive Emmy as Best Drama, a feat last achieved by NBC’s White House series The West Wing nearly a decade ago.
Jim Parsons of CBS’ nerd sitcom The Big Bang Theory repeated his win from last year, Actor in Comedy Series award and Julianna Margulies, a previous winner for ER, won Actress in Drama Series Award for CBS’ legal drama The Good Wife.
Melissa McCarthy of the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, Kyle Chandler of the now-canceled small-town soap Friday Night Lights, and Barry Pepper for his role as Robert F. Kennedy in the controversial Reelz miniseries The Kennedys were the other surprises of the Sunday evening ceremony.
At Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony held at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles and hosted by Jane Lynch of Glee and aired live nationwide on Fox, the win for Mad Men was almost unexpected, according to its creator.
“Oh, my goodness,” said Matthew Weiner, as the cast crowded behind him onstage.
“I did not think that was going happen.”
Some of the observers had speculated that voters at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences might pass the baton instead to either of two acclaimed new HBO dramas, the Prohibition mob story Boardwalk Empire or the fantasy Game of Thrones.
Boardwalk Empire won only one award for Oscar-winning film director Martin Scorsese, who had never previously won an Emmy. PBS’ Downton Abbey drama miniseries was ranked second.
“I must say, this is something I really never dreamed of,” Martin Scorsese told reporters backstage of his win for Boardwalk Empire.
“It’s a different medium in a way, although we approached <<Boardwalk Empire>> as a film — a very long film. It’s just as exciting.”
The British winners of Emmy Awards 2011 were Maggie Smith (for Downton Abbey), Julian Fellowes (who created and wrote much of Downton Abbey) and Kate Winslet, who won the award for the title role in HBO’s miniseries remake of Mildred Pierce.
“Oh, I didn’t think I was going to win anything!” Kate Winslet said onstage.
Kyle Chandler won Actor in Drama Series Award as Eric Taylor, the stoic football coach on Friday Night Lights, which this year wrapped up five critically acclaimed but perilously low-rated seasons, first on NBC and then on DirecTV.
Kyle Chandler’s competition include three multiple Emmy nominees who have never won: Jon Hamm of Mad Men, Hugh Laurie of Fox’s House and Michael C. Hall of Showtime’s Dexter.
“I did not write anything and now I’m starting to worry,” Kyle Chandler said during his speech.
Other first-time winners included supporting actor, drama, Peter Dinklage, for his part as the Imp, a crafty and debauched member of the ruling family in Game of Thrones; and supporting actress, drama, Margo Martindale, for her role as an unlikely crime boss in FX’s Justified.
Peter Dinklage summed up the unpredictable nature of the evening by saluting his rivals for the supporting dramatic actor category, including John Slattery of Mad Men and Alan Cumming of The Good Wife.