LOS ANGELES • It was business as usual in the two major categories at the Emmys on Sunday night, as HBO's Game Of Thrones and Veep repeated as winners for best drama and comedy.
But for a ceremony that can be numbingly predictable, the Emmys were energised by a rash of first-time winners in the acting categories and a tour de force in the limited series category by FX's The People V O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. The success of the series set the theme for the evening as Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance and Sterling K. Brown all scored their first Emmy victories.
After Paulson was named best actress, she got up from her seat and gave a big hug to Marcia Clark, the losing prosecutor she played in the 10-episode drama, and whom she brought as her date to the ceremony. Paulson's performance was a sympathetic one and it has been a year of redemption for Clark.
"I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial and careless in my judgment," Paulson said, choking up as she directed her comments to Clark. "And I am glad to be able to stand here today in front of everyone and tell you I'm sorry."
Drama Series: Game Of Thrones
Comedy Series: Veep
Mini-Series or Movie: The People V O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
TV Movie: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Variety Talk Series: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Variety Sketch Series: Key & Peele
Actor in a Comedy Series: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Actor in a Drama Series: Rami Malek, Mr Robot
Actress in a Drama Series: Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Actor in a Mini-Series or Movie: Courtney B. Vance, The People V O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Actress in a Mini-Series or Movie: Sarah Paulson, The People V O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Reality Host: RuPaul Charles, RuPaul's Drag Race
Reality Competition Programme: The Voice
Writing for a Comedy Series: Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, Master Of None (Parents)
Writing for a Drama Series: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game Of Thrones (Battle Of The Bastards)
Writing for a Mini-Series or Movie: D.V. DeVincentis, The People V O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia)
Rami Malek won his first Emmy as well in a wide open race for best actor in a drama, for his role as the tortured hacker in United States' Mr Robot. A stunned Malek quoted his hallucination-suffering character: "Please tell me you're seeing this, too."
And in a big upset, Tatiana Maslany won as best actress in a drama for her numerous performances as a group of clones in BBC America's Orphan Black, beating the likes of Robin Wright, Claire Danes and last year's winner, Viola Davis.
Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon also provided a change of pace, upsetting Allison Janney, a seven-time Emmy winner, for best supporting actress for comedy.
Likewise, Louie Anderson won his first Emmy in the best supporting comedy category for his role as a suburban mother in FX's Baskets. There was also a changing of the guard in the variety category, as HBO's Last Week Tonight With John Oliver ended the 13-year run of Comedy Central victories.
There were familiar winners as well. In the comedy category, Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her fifth consecutive best actress award for her role on Veep, and Jeffrey Tambor, for the second year in a row, for his role as a transgender woman in Transparent.
This was the second consecutive year that Game Of Thrones and Veep took top honours, which helped propel HBO to six Emmys on Sunday night and 22 Emmys overall (some categories were awarded previously), the biggest haul of any programmer. FX was right behind with 18 wins, including six on Sunday.
Thrones once again led all shows with 12 wins, including three on Sunday, but there is some good news for its rivals in the drama category: Next year, it will not be eligible for the Emmys. HBO elected to start the show's seventh season in the summer of next year, outside of the Emmy-eligiblity window.
"If your show doesn't have a dragon or a white Bronco in it, go home." Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel, joking in his opening monologue about the dominance of Game Of Thrones and The People V O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
"Since you're good at keeping things safe, I have a job for you - my Twitter account. Put that in the vault, please! You all are over here using your skills to protect best voiceover in a French sitcom. Meanwhile, I'm butt naked on CNN." Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones, joking with the Emmy accountants from Ernst & Young about the hack of her Twitter account and personal website that led to a leak of naked photos
"She showed up at the Oscars to get an Oscar, she showed up at the Tonys, she goes to the Soul Train Awards every year. But is she here in this audience tonight? I don't see her. She's Downton Absent, that's what she is. For the ninth time. What is wrong with us? Why do we keep nominating this woman? She's treating us like the People's Choice Awards." Kimmel calling out Maggie Smith for never attending the Emmys
"There's 17 million Asian Americans in this country and 17 million Italian Americans - they have The Godfather, Goodfellas, Rocky, The Sopranos, we've got Long Duk Dong. So we have a long way to go, but I know we can get there. Asian parents out there, if you can get your kids cameras instead of violins, we'll be all good." Master Of None co-writer Alan Yang, accepting his Emmy for comedy writing
In a sign of the expected Emmys dominance for Game Of Thrones and O.J., the show's host Jimmy Kimmel said in his opening monologue: "If your show doesn't have a dragon or a white Bronco in it, go home."
Not surprisingly, this year's divisive election played a significant role in this year's ceremony.
It started with the opening sketch, in which Kimmel hitched a ride to the ceremony with several celebrities. Among them was Jeb Bush, one of several Republicans defenestrated by Trump, who said that he was now driving for Uber. "If you run a positive campaign, voters will ultimately make the right choice," Bush said, adding: "That was a joke."
Comedian Aziz Ansari, of Netflix's Master Of None, declared that he was going to enforce Trump's policies and order Muslims and Hispanics out of the audience. "America Ferrera?" he said to the actress. "Nice try changing your name to America. You're not fooling anybody!"
Lamenting the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency, Kimmel took a jab at reality show producer Mark Burnett, who was one of the creators of NBC's The Apprentice, which made Trump a nationwide television star. With ABC's camera firmly squared on Burnett - who laughed the entire time, despite the charged barbs - Kimmel said that if Trump is elected president, Burnett is the man to blame.
"If it wasn't for television, would Donald Trump be running for president? Thanks to Mark Burnett, we don't have to watch reality shows anymore because we're living in one," Kimmel said.
Later in the night, after The Voice won best reality show, Burnett, a producer for that show, shot back at Kimmel saying that the host gave "another five minutes of free publicity" for Trump.
Kimmel took the stage afterwards and had his own retort: "That Emmy is going on the hood of Trump's limousine, isn't it?"
Louis-Dreyfus, who plays vice- president-turned-president Selina Meyer, said upon winning her Emmy: "Our show started out as a political satire, but it now feels more like a sobering documentary."
NYTIMES, REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST
The best dressed...
Emmy winner Sarah Paulson looked wonderful in a sequin- dangling, emerald-green Prada gown that would have cowed a more timid soul.
Priyanka Chopra wowed the crowd in a pleated one-shoulder red Jason Wu goddess gown
Cutouts turned out to be one of the evening's biggest trends and slicing a panel out of a dress paid dividends. It worked for Tracee Ellis Ross in this white Ralph Lauren Collection gown.
Kristen Bell looked radiant in a floral, crystal-embroidered gown by Lebanese couturier Zuhair Murad.
Claire Danes wore a gold Schiaparelli Couture gown and too much bronzer. New York Post proclaimed that she was channelling Donald Trump's orange glow.