HBO’s “Game Change” won big at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday night, beating out History’s ratings smash — and red-state favorite — “Hatfields & McCoys” to win the oustanding miniseries or movie prize.
“Game Change,” adapted from Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s bestselling account of the 2008 presidential election, picked up four prizes overall, including the Emmy for oustanding lead actress, which went to Julianne Moore for her portrayal of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Director Jay Roach and writer Danny Strong also won in their categories.
The rousing endorsement of “Game Change,” which drew more than 2 million viewers when it premiered in March, about a sixth of the audience of the miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys,” was a reflection of the way politics factored into this year’s Emmys, even if the 2012 election didn’t come up much during the show.
For a minute during Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue, it looked like viewers might be in for a long night of Mitt Romney bashing. After comparing the Republican presidential candidate’s upbringing to “Downton Abbey,” Kimmel guessed there were perhaps 40 Republicans among the “godless liberal homosexuals” filling the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. “That’s why Kelsey Grammer didn’t come tonight,” he said, a reference to the “Boss” star’s conservative politics.
But the rest of the evening was largely devoid of election-year messaging. Taking to the mike to accept the award for oustanding miniseries or movie, “Game Change” executive producer Tom Hanks sounded a bipartisan note. “We’d like to thank our Founding Fathers for the democratic process that they came up with that has provided not only us but HBO and all the comedy series here with a plethora of material that just seems to go on and on and on,” Hanks said.
Moore’s acceptance speech was more barbed. “I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down,” she said. But later, as she fielded questions from reporters backstage, the actress was less personal. “This is not as much about Sarah Palin as it is about the process,” she said.
Even Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who picked up an Emmy for her portrayal of a female vice president on the HBO comedy “Veep,” used her time at the podium to crack wise, not to grandstand. “It’s a bit mystifying to me because people say that this show is a comedy, and yet I don’t see anything funny about me being vice president of the United States,” she joked.