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HBO Wins Big At Emmys, While Host Fox Loses Everything
September 20, 2015  | By David Bianculli  | 2 comments

There were lots of happy winners at Sunday’s Emmy Awards, but perhaps none happier than HBO, which ended the evening with top honors for two first-time winners: Veep as best comedy, and Game of Thrones as best drama…

HBO, which also nabbed six Emmys for its Olive Kitteridge miniseries, wasn’t the only big winner of the night. Amazon’s Transparent won three Emmys, including one for comedy actor Jeffrey Tambor, and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won three more Emmys under Stewart’s final year as host.

And Viola Davis (right) winning the Outstanding Drama Actress Award for ABC's How to Get Away with Murder, not only received one of only two of her network's major acting category Emmys (the other being Regina King's Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for American Crime), but the first Emmy ever won by an African-American in her Lead Actress category. She injected the proceedings with an emotionally charged surge of black pride, saluting actresses of color who came before her, and extolling writers and casting directors to expand their vision.

“You cannot win an Emmy,” she said, “for roles that simply aren’t there.”

Speaking of not winning an Emmy: Fox, the network that hosted the Emmys this year, didn’t win a single award. Not one.

That had to hurt.

It’s worth noting that once upon a time, cable programs weren’t even eligible for Emmy awards. They had to settle for their own statuettes and ceremony, the CableACE Award. It was an honor handed out from 1978 to 1997, to recognize  programming that originated on cable rather than broadcast TV. (The Emmys didn’t acknowledge cable-made programming until 1988, when it grudgingly allowed non-broadcast artists and programs to sit at the adult’s table and compete with the big boys.)

Perhaps broadcast TV ought to think about another type of segregated awards structure, and launch a ceremony that’s open only to traditional broadcast television. So few Emmys were won Sunday night by CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and CW that it doesn’t take that long to list them, and most were in minor categories.

Supporting actress Emmys were won by Allison Janney for the CBS sitcom Mom and, in the limited series category, Regina King for ABC’s American Crime. NBC’s Saturday Night Live was for best special for its 40th anniversary celebration, and NBC’s The Voice won in the Reality Series category.

And that was it, until Viola Davis got away with Murder near the awards ceremony’s end. Otherwise, for the last two hours of the show, the major networks might as well have beaten the limousine jam and left early.

There were lots of big winners, of course, but they all came from cable or streaming services. And most of them were the favorites, either sentimentally or by oddsmakers.

Jon Hamm (above) won for the first time, finally, in his last chance of winning an Emmy for his role as Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men. Jeffrey Tambor (top) won for his socially significant starring role in Amazon’s Transparent, one of three Emmys picked up by that show. (The others were for direction and for guest actor Bradley Whitford.) Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer won as best sketch variety series, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus won another Emmy as the star of HBO’s Veep.

That show, however, also won for writing, for supporting comedy actor (Tony Hale), and the big prize of Outstanding Comedy Series, breaking the streak of ABC’s Modern Family.

Netflix earned two Emmys this year, both for acting: guest actor Reg E. Cathay on House of Cards, and supporting actress Uzo Aduba (left) on Orange is the New Black. That may not sound like much, but it’s one more than CBS earned, thanks to Allison Janney.

HBO’s Olive Kitteridge miniseries racked up six Emmys in the Limited Series subcategory, all of them significant, including a clean sweep of major writing, directing, and acting awards (Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins for actor and actress, with Bill Murray winning for supporting actor).

The momentum for Veep and Game of Thrones, relatively deep into their respective runs, was surprising and significant – while the surprise appearance, at the end of the night, of Tracy Morgan, 15 months after his near-fatal auto accident, was a sweet touch. His former Saturday Night Live castmate Andy Samberg, who hosted the Emmy telecast with a few risky punch lines but with an overall ease and charm, was visibly touched, as was the audience, which gave Morgan a supportive standing ovation. For more on the Emmys, listen to my report today on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross or visit the Fresh Air website.

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Fox was the big winner in the category, "Best Larding of an Awards Show with Promos for their Fall Season." (Somewhere in the third hour, I began to suspect there were more program promos in the show than paid ads.) And since the bottom line is still the bottom line, that may end up being worth more to them than all the little Emmy statuettes in all the trophy cases and credenzas at Fox headquarters.
Sep 21, 2015   |  Reply
ABC won two. Don't forget Regina King's much deserved emmy, not to mention all the amazing work she did on the much missed Southland.
Sep 21, 2015   |  Reply
Linda, you fixed it in the third graf from the top, but you didn't catch the second reference in the third graf from the bottom. Please fix it forthwith.
Sep 21, 2015
Linda Donovan
You're right, of course, mikindc, and we're not quite sure how we missed it. Fixed. Thank you. And we agree with you on "Southland."
Sep 21, 2015
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