“Homeland,” which puts the battle against terrorism on American soil, was honored as best drama series at Sunday’s Emmys and earned trophies for stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. “Modern Family” was named best comedy.
“We feel so lucky, lucky not only to have jobs in these challenging times, but to have jobs that we love with people we love,” said Steven Levitan, co-creator of “Modern Family.”
The drama “Homeland” stopped “Mad Men” in its tracks, denying the show a record-setting fifth trophy and kept Bryan Cranston from his fourth consecutive best actor in a drama award for “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm an also-ran once more.
The Emmys refused to play it predictably Sunday, with Jon Cryer of “Two and a Half Men” earning a best actor award and Jimmy Kimmel proving a game but uneven host.
“I’m one of those pesky Brits, I apologize,” said Lewis, who plays an American in the espionage thriller. “I don’t really believe in judging art, but I thought I’d show up just in case.”
Danes, eye-catching in a bright yellow dress that gracefully draped the pregnant actress, was effusive.
“My husband, my love, my life, my baby daddy, this doesn’t mean anything without you,” she said to her spouse, actor Hugh Dancy.
Backstage, Danes said she particularly appreciated one fan: President Obama has said he’s a fan of “Homeland,” about a Marine and former POW who’s suspected of working for al Qaeda.
“No pressure,” the actress said. “It’s way cool that he is a fan. It speaks to the relevancy of the show and it’s hugely validating.”
The acting trophies, along with a best writing award for the show, gave “Homeland” momentum as it headed toward the best drama award.
Aaron Paul won best supporting drama actor for “Breaking Bad” and “Homeland” won the best writing award.
“Thank you so much for not killing me off,” Paul said of his drug-dealing character’s lucky survival. “Thank you Hollywood for allowing me to be part of your group,” he added, noting he’d moved from Idaho to pursue his dreams.
On the comedy side, Emmy voters decided that “Two and a Half Men” with Cryer and without Charlie Sheen is really good, as Cryer claimed the best comedy actor trophy.
“Don’t panic, people. Something has clearly gone terribly wrong. I’m stunned,” said Cryer, who on the red carpet before the show has expressed confidence he wouldn’t win. Among others, he beat out two-time winner Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory.”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was honored as best actress in comedy for “Veep.”
Andy Griffith topped a segment honoring industry members who died during the previous year. Ron Howard, who played Griffith’s son Opie in “The Andy Griffith Show,” said he belonged “in the pantheon.”
“Dang if he didn’t make it look powerful easy while he was going about it,” Howard said.
Phyllis Diller, Davy Jones of “The Monkees,” Sherman Hemsley and Richard Dawson were among the others honored in a montage.
Perhaps Kimmel’s most notable achievement was a prank: Inviting “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan to lie on the stage, then asking viewers to post on Facebook and tweet that Morgan “just passed out” and turn on ABC right now to see it. It worked, with the message going viral and maybe even boosting the Emmy audience for a few moments.
Maggie Smith was honored as best supporting drama actress for her tart-tongued dowager in “Downton Abbey,” unhurt by the program’s move from the miniseries category.
“Homeland,” the domestic espionage thriller, won the best drama writing award.
“Modern Family” made it look easy as the comedy won the best directing trophy and Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen claimed supporting actor awards.
Stonestreet was funny and touching as he accepted for his role as half of a devoted gay couple.
“I wouldn’t be standing here without Jesse Tyler Ferguson, there is no Cam without Mitch,” he said, saluting his co-star. “We get the awesome opportunity to play these two characters on TV and show America and the world what a loving couple we can be just like everybody else.”
Among reality competitors, “The Amazing Race” was honored as best reality series, its ninth time in 10 nominations for the award. Tom Bergeron of “Dancing With the Stars” won as best host of a reality series.
Julianne Moore’s uncanny take on Gov. Sarah Palin in the TV movie “Game Change,” about the 2008 presidential campaign, earned her best actress honors.
“I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down,” Palin said, beaming.
Kevin Costner was named best actor for the history-based miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” while Tom Berenger was named best supporting actor for the project and Jessica Lange won supporting actress honors for “American Horror Story.” “Game Change” was crowned best series.
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” proved unstoppable, winning its 10th consecutive best variety show trophy. Stewart, discussing the lasting value of his show, apparently forgot that what flies on free-wheeling cable gets censored on network television.
“Years from now when the Earth is just a burning husk and aliens visit, they will find a box of these, and they will know, just how predictable these (several bleeps) can be,” he said.
Standup comic Louis C.K. won the Emmy for best comedy writing for “Louie” and for the special “Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre.” Said the comedian after his second win: “Thank you to audiences around the country who still go to see live comedy.”
“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane found presenting can be tricky.
“Oh, the mic’s over there,” he said, after discovering he was on the wrong side of the stage. “This is what happens when you don’t come to rehearsal,” MacFarlane said.