The premium cabler takes more than half of the awards with 14 of 26, including outstanding drama for Game of Thrones and outstanding comedy for Veep. Comedy Central is second with four Emmys.
HBO, no stranger to Emmy success, outdid itself by capturing more than half of all awards during the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards show, hosted by Andy Samberg, on Sunday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. It was the first time in Television Academy history that a single network won more than half of all Primetime Emmys.
The impressive haul consisted of four Emmys each for the political comedy Veep and the epic fantasy drama Game of Thrones and six for the four-hour limited series Olive Kitteridge, a drama spanning more than two decades in the lives of a Maine schoolteacher and her family, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout.
The accomplishment nearly eclipsed another historic Emmy moment. Viola Davis, of ABC's How to Get Away with Murder, became the first African American to win in the category of lead actress in a drama.
In addition, Jon Hamm, of the AMC drama Mad Men, broke through with his first Emmy when he won for lead actor, a category for which he was previously nominated in each of the last seven years. “There’s been a terrible mistake,” he said in his acceptance remarks. “I thank you for that.”
In addition to the 14 Primetime awards HBO garnered Sunday, the network won 29 at last Saturday’s Creative Arts Emmys, for a total of 43. Comedy Central captured four Primetime Emmys, including one for variety sketch series (Inside Amy Schumer) and one for variety talk series (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).
ABC and Amazon Instant Video won two Emmys each. CBS, NBC, AMC and Netflix each won an Emmy, as well.
Davis’s win led to an emotional moment in the telecast. Accepting the award, she began by quoting Harriet Tubman and went on to say, “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You can not win an Emmy for roles that are not there.”
Davis was one of three African-American actresses honored with Emmys. The others were Regina King, supporting actress in ABC’s limited series American Crime, and Uzo Aduba, supporting actress in Orange Is the New Black, the Netflix drama set in a women's prison. It was Aduba's second consecutive award for the role of inmate Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren, though last year she won in the category of guest actress in a comedy (due to a rules change, the show competed as a drama this year). Her achievement put her in the company of actor Ed Asner, who won Emmys for the role of journalist Lou Grant in both a comedy series (The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and a drama series (Lou Grant).
The evening’s final award, for outstanding drama, was presented by a thankful Tracy Morgan, a surprise attendee who received a standing ovation for his hard-fought recovery from an automobile accident that left him in a coma for eight days. "I miss you guys so much," said the former Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock star, who noted that he has only recently been feeling himself, so “a whole lot of women going to get pregnant at the after party.” The comment echoed a line of his 30 Rock character Tracy Jordan.
Amazon Instant Video’s Emmys were for Transparent, a comedy about a family adapting to the news that its patriarch, played by Jeffrey Tambor, is transgender. Tambor, who won for lead actor in a comedy, said he dedicated his performance and his award to the transgender community. Jill Soloway, whose own parent was the inspiration for the series, won for directing of a comedy series. Her acceptance speech included a plea for transgender rights.
The telecast included a tribute to some of TV’s most popular performers and programs that won’t be back next season. Comedy Central’s Stewart, who departed The Daily Show in May, won Emmys for writing and as a producer. In addition, Chuck O’Neil won for directing the variety series.
Veep’s four Emmys were for outstanding comedy, lead actress (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), supporting actor (Tony Hale) and writing. Veep’s win for outstanding comedy dethroned ABC’s Modern Family, which had won in the previous five years. Louis-Dreyfus's Emmy was her fourth in a row for the role of U.S. Vice President — and eventually President — Selina Meyer, and the sixth Emmy of her career.
Game of Thrones, the medieval fantasy about rival dynasties vying for the coveted Iron Throne, won for outstanding drama. In addition, Emmys were awarded to the show's Peter Dinklage for supporting actor, David Nutter for direction and writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. It was a fine birthday present for George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of novels upon which the program is based, who was seated in the theater and was celebrating his 67th birthday on Sunday. Between the eight awards it won at the Creative Arts Emmys on September 12 and the four tonight, Game of Thrones took 12 overall — the most ever by a series in a single year.
Olive’s garden of Emmys consisted of one for outstanding limited series or movie, as well as for lead actress Frances McDormand, lead actor Richard Jenkins, supporting actor Bill Murray, writer Jane Anderson and director Lisa Cholodenko.
For the second time, NBC’s The Voice won the Emmy for outstanding reality-competition program. It previously won the award in 2013.
Allison Janney of CBS’ Mom received a statuette for supporting actress in a comedy — repeating her win for the same role last year. It was her seventh acting Emmy, tying her for second place with Ed Asner and one shy of the record set by Cloris Leachman. Said Janney, pointing to her Emmy after she left the stage: “I’m calling this one Ed.”
The executive producer of the show was Don Mischer, his thirteenth time overseeing television's biggest night.
Samberg, an alumnus of Saturday Night Live, proved to be an agile and popular host, mixing comic lines with taped segments that showcased his vocal range. His opener, a piece that showed him preparing for his hosting job by hunkering down for a year in a viewing bunker, also served to pay tribute to the abundance of original programming now available to viewers.
A complete list of this year's Emmy Awards nominees and winners is available here.