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2011 Emmys Insider

Emmys 2011
Americans just love their TV! Despite what one may have heard about the popularity of video games and all the things that can be done on the latest gadgets of Apple, etc., television is really what brings Americans together in our living rooms. On Sunday night’s 63rd Emmy broadcast from the Nokia Center, television’s best was celebrated in typical Hollywood style, which means there were plenty of dazzling dresses and diamonds on display on the red carpet and also a few of those moments that are refreshingly unscripted.

Half the fun of watching the Emmys is keeping score of the announced winners compared to your picks. The odds are in your favor if you picked “Modern Family†to sweep most of the categories it was nominated in and Jon Stewart’s “The Daily News†to score another win in the Variety, Music or Comedy category. But the real excitement at the Emmys is about watching an underdog get a surprising win, get emotional, shed a few tears, talk off script and say things that are completely unexpected.

With host Jane Lynch the centerpiece of a rousing musical opening that included Leonard Nimoy and a host of set pieces from popular TV shows, the broadcast got off to an energetic start and proceeded to showcase sometimes predictable winners, but also a few real surprises.

ABC’s “Modern Family” juggernaut picked up where it left off last year with wins for best comedy series, writing, direction, supporting actress Julie Bowen, and supporting actor Ty Burrell. In accepting his award, creator Steve Levitan cited not only the show’s ample lineup of talent, but also its empathy for interracial and same-sex couples. Other winners in the category were the “Big Bang Theory” with repeat winner Jim Parsons and “Mike and Molly” where Melissa McCarthy won for lead actress in a comedy series. In one of those surprising Emmy moments, all nominees, including Edie Falco, Tina Fey, Laura Linney, Amy Poehler and Martha Plimpton rushed the stage when announced like finalists in a beauty pageant. When Melissa McCarthy won for her role in CBS’ “Mike & Molly,” not only was she given the award, she was also crowned and offered bouquet of roses. “Holy smokes!” she exclaimed. “It’s my first and best pageant ever. Sorry, I’m a crier. I’m from Plainfield, Ill, and I’m standing here and it’s kind of amazing.” So all of you actresses out there who think you’re not pretty enough or don’t fit the right figure profile, let Melissa McCarthy be an inspiration to you.

With Jane Lynch as host, you knew there had to be some biting comedy, and she didn’t disappoint. In what may have been the best barb of the night, Jane Lynch introduced the cast of HBO’s recently retired comedy series by saying, “A lot of people are curious why I’m a lesbian. Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of ‘Entourage.'”

Other big winners on Sunday night’s show were AMC’s “Mad Men,†the highly stylized Madison Avenue period drama which earned its fourth consecutive Emmy for drama series (and also inspired at least two new 60s-period shows on the fall slate).

That bastion of broadcast creativity, HBO, was a big winner on Sunday with its tough period mini-series “Boardwalk Empire†which took home 8 Emmys and a directing award for Martin Scorsese, and “Mildred Pierce,” which had 21 nominations heading into the show, taking home 5.

Though it recently ended, critical favorite “Friday Nights Lights” was finally given some of the respect it deserved all along, taking home Emmys for best writing in a dramatic series (by showrunner Jason Katims) and best lead actor statue for Kyle Chandler. Accepting his award, Katims quoted the series’ T-shirt-worthy slogan “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.”

In an intriguing moment, ripe for a live Emmy situational disaster, Charlie Sheen came on as a presenter and in a surprisingly classy move, offered his best wishes to “Three and a Half Men,†the show he departed after a series of controversial public incidents. “From the bottom of my heart,†Sheen said, “I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season. I know you will continue to make great television.†It was an act of uncommon generosity from the man who had become a sensation with his boastful tabloid headlines.

In other key awards, Julianna Margulies won again for lead actress in CBS’ “The Good Wife,” supporting actor in a drama series went to Peter Dinklage for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Margo Martindale picked up her first Emmy for supporting actress in a drama series in FX’s “Justified.”

If you were looking for a good old-fashioned Steve Martin/Chevy Chase type of moment, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon did their best when they scuffled on the floor and Kimmel grabbed Fallon’s acceptance speech out of his pocket (Fallon was nominated for Best Variety, Music or Comedy Series). Riffing on Fallon’s fake script, Kimmel said, “Another note to self: Hold trophy like it’s the Lion King baby.”

In a centerpiece music performance, Lonely Island delivered a hilarious live medley performance, featuring guest appearances by Michael Bolton, Maya Rudolph, John Stamos, Ed Helms and Akon. The musical trio, led Andy Samberg, had three songs nominated for Best Original Song, and they really stole the show on Sunday’s prime time broadcast.

In the highbrow division, “Mildred Piece†failed to live up to pre-Emmy expectations. It took key awards for Kate Winslet and a supporting actor trophy for Guy Pearce, but it was the PBS miniseries “Downton Abbey” that won four awards in the category, including best Miniseries or Movie. Barry Pepper took the lead actor Emmy in a TV miniseries or movie for his role as Robert F. Kennedy in the Reelz Channel’s “The Kennedys.”

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