Past Winners Do Well At 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

Plenty of statuettes were handed out Monday night at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. ABC's Modern Family won for best comedy series and AMC's Breaking Bad won best drama series.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

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And I'm David Greene. The Emmy Awards were held last night. Among the big winners were AMC's "Breaking Bad" and ABC's "Modern Family," named best drama and comedy series. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says most of the winners were pretty safe picks at a time when TV has been producing some of its most challenging work.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: So many experts predicted movie star Matthew McConaughey would dominate this year's Emmy Awards, and presenter Jimmy Kimmel couldn't stop talking about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS")

JIMMY KIMMEL: You were great in "True Detective." You really - you may well be the best actor. But you just won the Oscar, like, five months ago. It's - no offense, but how many of these speeches of yours are we supposed to sit through?

DEGGANS: But most of the trophies last night went to people who won before, like "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston, a fact that even surprised Cranston when he beat McConaughey to win the award as best actor in a drama.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS")

BRYAN CRANSTON: Even I thought about voting for Matthew.

DEGGANS: Almost a year after its final episode aired, "Breaking Bad" won nearly every major award it was nominated for in drama, including supporting actor honor for costar Aaron Paul and a supporting actress award for Anna Gunn. In comedy, "Modern Family" earned its fifth consecutive award as best comedy series, tying a record set by the '90s sitcom "Fraser."

In fact, almost everyone who got an acting award in comedy and drama last night gad already won an Emmy. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, named best actress in a comedy for HBO's "Veep," won her fifth Emmy Monday. The "Good Wife" star Julianna Margulies, who won best actress in a drama, took home her third trophy. And Allison Janney, already named best guest actress in a drama on Showtime's "Masters Of Sex" won a second Emmy this year as supporting actress in a comedy for CBS's "Mom."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS")

ALLISON JANNEY: I play a mom on "Mom." I play a grandmother, and as of last season, I play a great-grandmother. And I'm just crossing my fingers this season I'll be incontinent.

DEGGANS: This wasn't what most experts predicted, with multiple nominations for online series like Netfilx's "Orange Is The New Black." Even host Seth Meyers joked that streaming video might become more popular than cable TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS")

SETH MEYERS: Not very nice when someone younger comes along, is it, cable? Cable is looking at Netflix the way Justin Bieber looks at One Direction.

DEGGANS: But the results Monday led Netflix star Ricky Gervais to joke about how he almost never wins.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS")

RICKY GERVAIS: Twenty-one times - 21 times I've been nominated, lost 19. It's like a cruel joke. It's like they're going, oh, you're great. And I'm like, yeah, come over. (Unintelligible) you're brilliant. Am I? No, no, you're not. You're not so good.

DEGGANS: Comic Billy Crystal added a poignant note with a tribute to longtime friend Robin Williams who unexpectedly took his own life two weeks ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS")

BILLY CRYSTAL: It's very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives.

DEGGANS: It seems many voters responded to the turbulence of today's TV industry with its safest slate of winners yet. The result was a safe and uneventful broadcast, an odd tribute to a TV industry that's producing some of its most groundbreaking work yet. Eric Deggans, NPR News.

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