Cult TV drama series “Breaking Bad” and comedy hit “Modern Family” were the big winners Monday at the annual Emmys, which paid moving tribute to late Hollywood icon Robin Williams.
Royal feud saga “Game of Thrones,” which had garnered the most nominations, went home with none of the big prizes from the 66th Primetime Emmys, television’s equivalent of the Oscars.
Other highlights included a passionate on-stage kiss between Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and a bizarre segment in which curvy Colombian actress Sofia Vergara rotated on a platform.
“This is… a wonderful time to be working in television,” said “Breaking Bad” director Vince Gilligan, accepting the top prize of best drama at the climax of the three-hour show in Los Angeles.
“Breaking Bad,” about high school chemistry teacher-turned-drugs-kingpin Walter White, also took the best drama actor award for Cranston, and the best supporting prizes for Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn, who played his partner and wife, respectively.
“Modern Family” meanwhile won best comedy series for the fifth year in a row, equaling a record set by “Frasier” between 1994 and 1998.
Julianna Margulies won the best drama actress for “The Good Wife,” while best television movie went to “The Normal Heart,” about gay activist Larry Kramer’s work to raise HIV/AIDS awareness during the early 1980s.
In a moving acceptance speech, Kramer — who is HIV positive — appeared on stage with the film’s makers, wrapped in a scarf and hat as he was applauded by the star-studded audience.
The evening’s big loser was “Game of Thrones,” which was shortlisted in 19 categories and has already renewed for a fifth and sixth season.
In the end, “Game” left with only relatively minor prizes — joining a list of snubbed shows also including “True Detective,” “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”
On the comedy front, Jim Parsons won best comedy actor for “The Big Bang Theory,” Louis-Dreyfus best comedy actress for “Veep,” Ty Burrell for “Modern Family” and Louis C.K. for “Louie.”
There were giggles — and cheers — when “Breaking Bad” star Cranston planted a prolonged kiss on the lips of Louis-Dreyfus as she went up to collect her prize, in one of the more outrageous segments of the evening.
Funnyman Jimmy Kimmel also drew laughs, joking that Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey — nominated for bleak cop drama “True Detective” — was too handsome for television.
“Beautiful son of a bitch. That’s not a television face, that’s a movie star face,” Kimmel joked.
Robin Williams tribute
In one of the more surreal moments, “Modern Family” star Vergara introduced Television Arts and Sciences President Bruce Rosenblum — and then proceeded to stand on a rotating platform, displaying her figure-hugging dress — while he gave a speech.
The skit was presumably intended as an ironic comment on how boring such speeches are — but online critics immediately mauled it for being sexist.
British comic Ricky Gervais meanwhile joked about missing out on an Emmy for his show “Derek.”
“Hello. I lost again! That’s good. Twenty-one times! Twenty-one times I’ve been nominated. Lost 19. It’s a cruel joke,” he said.
He then read out the speech he said he had prepared, beginning “Ha, ha. I won! I knew I would because I am the best actor,” adding that he was “better” than his five fellow nominees.
“Look at their stupid faces. Thank you to the Emmy voters who are never wrong. Well, we know that’s bollocks now,” he said.
But the ceremony took a serious turn when honoring Hollywood great Williams, who died in an apparent suicide on August 11 at age 63, rocking the entertainment world.
With emotions still raw, his friend and fellow actor-comedian Billy Crystal paid tribute to the Oscar winner during the “in memoriam” part of the primetime program.
“He made us laugh. I spent many happy hours on stage with Robin. His brilliance was stunning, the relentless energy breathtaking,” said Crystal, adding Williams’ star remained undimmed.
“The glow will be so bright, it will warm your heart and make your eyes glisten, and you’ll think to yourselves, Robin Williams. What a concept.”