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Emmys 2011: Or is that the ‘Modern Family’ awards?

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As host Jane Lynch put it during the Emmy Awards ceremony: “Welcome to the ‘Modern Family’ awards.” In the first backstage interview of the night in the press room, winners Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen took the stage together –- which makes sense. As husband and wife on the ABC comedy series, the actors said they lean on one another for support and “fear management.” “He’s a rock on the set at all times,” Bowen said.

Burrell threw the praise back in Bowen’s direction: “That the straight person wins an Emmy –- that doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “The fact that she won is due to her resourcefulness as an actress.” Bowen, though, seemed shocked to be taking home the statue: “I thought it was a lock on Betty White.”

Both actors said they take particular pride in the show’s potential to help change misconceptions about gay people. “It feels very, very good to be on a show that seems like it’s slowly changing a lot of minds,” Burrell said.

As for Bowen? “As a straight woman I feel marginalized,” she joked. “No, I’m thrilled, and it’s absurd it’s even an issue, but I’m thrilled we’re helping to change minds.”

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Steve Levitan, the show’s co-creator and executive producer, also had a golden night, with a win for writing for a comedy. When asked what he thought of all the show’s trophies, Levitan called it thrilling: “It’s an embarrassment of riches. From the bottom of my heart, I felt Ty and Julies deserved this. I’m thrilled about their wins. … To tell you the truth, it’s a little surreal. We’re going to have a lot of fun tonight.”

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-- Deborah Vankin and Yvonne Villarreal


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