Jon Hamm scoops best actor gong, but Thrones lords it over rivals
Long-standing barriers fell at last night's Emmy Awards.
Viola Davis became the first non-white actress to claim top drama series acting honors, Jon Hamm finally won for Mad Men, and Game of Thrones overcame voters' anti-fantasy resistance to snare the most trophies ever in a season.
An emotional Davis, who won for her portrayal of a ruthless lawyer in How to Get Away With Murder, invoked the words and spirit of 19th-century African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
"I can't seem to get over that line," she quoted Tubman as saying.
"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," Davis added. "You cannot win Emmys with roles that are simply not there."
Empire star Tariji P Henson, another black nominee in the category, stood and applauded Davis' win. Other African-American actresses who prevailed last night were Uzo Aduba and Regina King, who won for supporting performances.
Mad Men star Hamm claimed the best drama actor Emmy that eluded him seven times before. He bypassed the steps to the stage, scrambling onto it on his stomach.
"There has been a terrible mistake, clearly," said Hamm, who played troubled ad man Don Draper in the series that ended its run without adding another best-drama trophy to its haul of four previous wins.
It lost to Game of Thrones, which became only the second so-called "genre" series, after sci-fi drama Lost, to win. The blood-soaked fantasy saga won a combined 12 Emmys on Sunday and at the previous creative arts awards, eclipsing the nine-awards record set by The West Wing in 2000.
With a total of 26 Emmys since it became eligible to compete in 2011, Game of Thrones is tied with Hill Street Blues and The West Wing as the most-honored drama series ever. Sitcom Frasier remains the overall winner with 37 awards.
Peter Dinklage nabbed the best supporting drama actor award for Game of Thrones, which also won writing and directing trophies. Tracy Morgan, the actor-comedian seriously injured last year in a car accident, made a triumphant return to reveal Game of Thrones as best drama series.
Host Andy Samberg noted that the 67th Emmys coincided with the 67th birthday for George RR Martin, whose novels are the basis for Game of Thrones. A smiling Martin was in the audience to accept the congratulations, and was onstage for the big win.
On the comedy side, political satire Veep claimed the top series award that had gone to Modern Family for five consecutive years.
Jon Stewart is gone from The Daily Show but not forgotten by Emmy voters, who gave the late-night show the best variety talk series award Sunday over two hosts who have moved on, Stephen Colbert and David Letterman.
Stewart, who left the Daily Show earlier this year, warned the audience that the perils of leaving TV include no applause or free food.
"To everybody on television, I just want to tell you, cling to it as long as you can," joked Stewart.
Transparent emerged as an early winner, capturing a best comedy actor trophy for Jeffrey Tambor and a directing award for its creator.
Aduba won the supporting actress in a drama trophy for Orange is the New Black.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was honored as best lead comedy actress for Veep for the fourth time. Allison Janney of Mom and Tony Hale of Veep were repeat winners for supporting comedy acting honors.
Olive Kitteridge, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, nearly swept the limited series categories, with six trophies, including the top award and lead acting honours for Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins and a supporting award for Bill Murray.
HBO dominated the Emmys with 43 awards, followed by NBC with 12, and Comedy Central and FX Networks with eight each.