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Awards

HBO and FX reign over the Emmys with ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’

Thanks to O.J. Simpson, the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards partied like it was 1995.

“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” the FX limited series that dramatized the sensational murder case and trial that divided a nation more than two decades ago, became the most celebrated program of the year at Sunday’s ceremony held at the Microsoft Theater and telecast on ABC.

FULL COVERAGE: Complete winners listMemorable moments | Red carpet | Photo highlights | Fashion | HBO party

The series won five trophies, including the award for limited series, movie or special. It was also honored for limited series actor (Courtney B. Vance), actress (Sarah Paulson), supporting actor (Sterling K. Brown) and writing (D.V.   DeVincentis).

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On the series side, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” marched into Emmy history with three wins, including drama series, for the second consecutive year. The series now has the most Emmy wins of any drama or comedy in history with 38, surpassing the previous record of 37 held by “Frasier.” 

The fantasy series also won for writing for a drama (David Benioff and D.B. White), and directing (Miguel Sapochnik).

Maggie Smith, who won her third supporting actress in a drama award for “Downton Abbey,” once again stymied the “Game of Thrones” competitors in that category. If she ever gets the award, that is — Emmys master of ceremonies Jimmy Kimmel joked that since she did not attend the ceremony, she would not get the statuette.

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Kimmel knew early on that “O.J. Simpson” and “Thrones” were likely to dominate the proceedings. “If your show doesn’t have a dragon or a white Bronco in it, go home now,” he quipped during his opening monologue.

Later Kimmel pondered whether Simpson, who is imprisoned at Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada, was “having a viewing party with the rest of the guys.”

But the night also had its share of surprise winners in the drama category with Rami Malek winning lead actor for “Mr. Robot,” Tatiana Maslany for lead actress in “Orphan Black,” and Ben Mendelsohn for supporting actor in the Netflix series “Bloodlines.” 

Louie Anderson’s win for supporting actor in a comedy on the FX series “Baskets” was also a refreshing move.

The night solidified the industry’s prevailing view that cable and streaming services are at the vanguard of creativity in television. Only four awards out of the 27 presented at the ceremony went to programs that air on the four major English-language broadcast networks. Online streaming services Netflix and Amazon collectively earned more honors than ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox on the night — and received major exposure on the ABC telecast.

The wins by Malek of USA Network’s “Mr. Robot” and Maslany for BBC America’s “Orphan Black” were for shows with less-than-massive audiences but have been championed by TV critics and vocal fans.

Netflix earned wins with Aziz Ansari, who shared a comedy series win for writing “Master of None.” The streaming service was also recognized for “Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping,” which won for writing for a variety special, and Ben Mendelsohn for “Bloodline.”

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“Transparent,” the groundbreaking comedy from Amazon Studios about a transgender parent, had repeat winners as Jeffrey Tambor was honored for the second consecutive year for lead actor in a comedy and series creator Jill Soloway picked up her second win as director for a comedy series.

The Emmys for “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” helped boost FX, the 21st  Century Fox-owned cable network that has positioned itself as a sanctuary for creative freedom on an ad-supported TV platform. FX tied HBO with six wins, with honors for “Baskets” in addition to the limited-series wins for its Simpson drama.

Combined with its 12 wins at the Creative Arts Emmys last week, the 18 total wins for FX is a record for a basic cable network.

While HBO had to share the limelight, its night was far from shabby. The cable channel’s White House spoof “Veep” earned the Emmy for top comedy series for the second consecutive year.

“Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her fifth consecutive lead actress in a comedy award. It was her sixth lead actress win overall, a record for the category. Her tearful acceptance speech was the most emotional of the night as her win came just two days after the death of her father, William Louis-Dreyfus.

“I’m so glad that he liked ‘Veep’ because his opinion was the one that really mattered,” she said.

John Oliver was a winner for his weekly comedic news commentary program “Last Week Tonight,” giving HBO its first Emmy in the variety talk series category since “Tracey Takes On...” was honored in 1997.

The broadcast network winners included NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kate McKinnon for supporting actress in a comedy and “The Voice,” which won for the third straight year in the reality competition program category.

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Regina King won her second consecutive trophy for supporting actress in a limited series or movie for her work on ABC’s “American Crime Story.”

Fox’s live presentation of “Grease” was honored for directing for a comedy special.

The BBC’s “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride” was honored for TV movie. Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” earned a win for variety sketch series.

Susanne Bier won for directing for a limited series, movie or dramatic special for her work on AMC’s “The Night Manager.”

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MORE:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes Emmy history

Why all the love for ‘People v. O.J.’? ‘The case touches on everything that America is obsessed about’

What was really inside the ‘Stranger Things’ kids’ sandwiches? And did anyone eat them?

Jeffrey Tambor: I’d like to be the last cisgender man playing a transgender woman

Louie Anderson hopes ‘Baskets’ will help people embrace different families instead of labeling them ‘those weirdos’


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