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Emmy Awards: 'Mad Men,' '30 Rock' Big Winners

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Emmy Awards: 'Mad Men,' '30 Rock' Big Winners


Emmy Awards: 'Mad Men,' '30 Rock' Big Winners

Emmy Awards: 'Mad Men,' '30 Rock' Big Winners

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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AMC's glossy 1960s Madison Avenue saga Mad Men won the best drama trophy for a second time. NBC's 30 Rock was honored for the third time as best comedy series.


There were plenty of speeches last night at the Emmy Awards. And it was a big night for repeat winners. "30 Rock" got a third Emmy for Best Comedy Series. Bryan Cranston picked up his second straight Best Actor award for playing a chemistry teacher who cooks meth in the drama "Breaking Bad."

Mr. BRYAN CRANSTON (Actor): I've got to tell you. I'm a poor kid from the Valley. I don't know what I'm doing up here.

(Soundbite of cheering)

I feel like Cindafella.


And the 1960s advertising executives of "Mad Men" won a second time for Best Drama. Here's the creator of that series, Matthew Weiner.

Mr. MATTHEW WEINER (Creator, "Mad Men"): And I want to thank these incredible people behind me, who everybody says their show's a family - I'll wrap it up in one sec. Everybody says this - but we literally spend all this time together. We fight all the time. We have - everybody works so hard. And I'm glad that the show got its recognition.

And it is an amazing time to work in TV. And I know that everything is changing. But I'm not afraid of it, because I feel like all these different media it's just more choice and more entertainment and it's better for the viewers in the end. And I'm glad to be a part of it.

INSKEEP: But, you might say, the big winner of the night was the host, Neil Patrick Harris, who kept the show moving and got laughs by introducing presenters with obscure and ridiculous information.

Mr. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS (Host, Emmy Awards): You know him as Charles Elderberry from the 1980 ABC Afterschool Special, "Schoolboy Father." Please welcome Rob Lowe.

(Soundbite of applause)

WERTHEIMER: When last year's Emmy co-host Jeff Probst went up to collect an Emmy for his work on "Survivor," he gave Harris props during his acceptance speech.

Mr. JEFF PROBST (Host, "Survivor): Thank you very much. Neil Patrick Harris, this is how you host the Emmys. Nice job.

(Soundbite of applause)

WERTHEIMER: One thing for sure, last year, Jeff Probst wasn't singing and dancing like Harris was last night.

(Soundbite of song, "Put Down That Remote")

Mr. HARRIS: (Singing) Put down the remote. Every note from this throat is like a not-to-be-Tivo'd kiss. Don't touch that dial, because it's been quite awhile since the dial was in style. But you know what I mean. Don't jump online, because this fine mug of mine needs a huge hi-def screen. Turn off that phone, because I want you alone for the treasures I've got to share. Don't hit that fridge. Oh boy. Let's abridge your sweet derriere. Don't flip that switch. Aren't you curious which stars got Emmys vote? Don't hit the loo, and whatever you do, put down the remote. The stars are all here. Tina Fay, what a year. Sarah Palin did you no wrong…


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2009 Emmys: Same Winners, But A Better Show

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Jon Stewart accepts the Emmy for best variety, music or comedy series. This was the seventh straight win in the category for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Kevin Winter/Getty Images hide caption

Photo Gallery: The Emmy Awards
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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

When Jon Stewart paused in the middle of his acceptance speech during Sunday night's Emmy Awards to thank host Neil Patrick Harris, he did it in three capacities.

First, Stewart was a winner (accepting on behalf of The Daily Show, which was named best variety, music or comedy series). Second, he was a former awards-show host congratulating Harris on handling a job that has devoured many applicants — including the five reality show hosts who managed last year's very bad show.

But most of all, Stewart seemed to be speaking as a guy sitting through a three-hour ceremony from a probably uncomfortable seat and finding it far less agonizing than he expected.

It's not that anything was radically different about the 2009 Emmys. In fact, the awards for best drama series, best comedy series, best lead actor in a drama, best lead actress in a drama and best lead actor in a comedy went to exactly the same people and programs that won last year (see a list of winners).

The surprise was that the show itself improved substantially. Awards telecasts are notoriously — and perhaps a little ironically, in the case of the Emmys — bad television. They're usually long, boring, poorly paced affairs that drag in some places and are rushed in others. Viewers sit through clumsy clip packages and awkward musical numbers, only to see potentially interesting acceptance speeches interrupted by the orchestra as if there isn't a moment to spare.

The show started off with a silly but boundlessly energetic song that Harris delivered with a level of commitment reminiscent of his performance at the Tony Awards earlier this year. For all the cornball jokes, it wasn't inept or obligatory; if you put Harris out there, he sells what he's there to sell. Getting the show off to a strong start by leaning directly on the host was the right call.

Heidi Klum Matt Sayles/AP hide caption

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Matt Sayles/AP

Heidi Klum

Matt Sayles/AP

But the best call turned out to be grouping the awards by genre: comedy, reality, miniseries and movie, variety and drama. That structure spread the awards people were most likely to care about over all three hours, thus avoiding the giant sinkhole that plagues the middle sections of most awards telecasts, in which trophy after trophy is handed out and none of the nominees are familiar.

Most importantly, the show was paced so that almost no one was involuntarily played off the stage, and it still ended only about three minutes late. Somehow, someone ran a tight ship while remaining mostly invisible to the viewer. There seemed to be less scripted banter between presenters than usual, and there was certainly less needless filler of the "Salute to the Boom Microphone" variety.

All awards shows are exercises in silliness and vanity, to some degree. But this was a much more palatable example than most. Perhaps it's not the most enthusiastic praise one could offer, but whether you're Jon Stewart in the auditorium or a viewer at home, it could have been — and in the past, it has been — a lot worse.