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'Breaking Bad,' 'Modern Family' earn top Emmy Awards in night of repeats and upsets

The cast and crew of ABC's "Modern Family" pose with their award for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California August 25, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The cast and crew of ABC's "Modern Family" pose with their award for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California August 25, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

LOS ANGELES - In a night marked by a few upsets and a host of repeat winners, “Breaking Bad” grabbed its second consecutive Emmy for best drama series while “Modern Family”made it a record-tying fifth consecutive win for comedy series.

The surprise wins at the 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards came not from buzzed-about newbies such as Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” or HBO’s “True Detective” but lower-profile contenders including “Sherlock: His Last Vow.” The PBS drama, which also airs on the BBC, led the field among all winners with a total of seven bids — a result that no Emmy prognosticator managed to forecast.

“Sherlock” stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman shocked the crowd at the Nokia Theater by winning lead and supporting actor in a movie or miniseries. Cumberbatch prevailed in a race that was thought to be a duel between Billy Bob Thornton of FX’s “Fargo” and Mark Ruffalo of HBO’s “The Normal Heart.” Freeman was also an underdog against thesps from “Fargo” and “The Normal Heart.”

The drama series duel was paced by the heat for “True Detective” and the industry adoration for “Breaking Bad.” In the end, Emmy voters couldn’t help but shower the love on “Bad.” Bryan Cranston won his fourth Emmy for lead actor, Aaron Paul won No. 3 for supporting and Anna Gunn took her second straight win.

“This is a wonderful farewell to our show,” “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan said, a little breathless as he accepted the show’s second consecutive win for drama series.

“Modern Family’s” streak now makes it a tie with NBC’s “Frasier” for consecutive wins in the category. Producers and cast members looked shocked as they trundled on stage.

The lead drama actor category was one of the most competitive this year, with most prognosticators seeing it as a race between Cranston and “True Detective” star Matthew McConaughey. Cranston is coming off a win in the category last year and a Tony for his work on Broadway in “All the Way.”

“The Good Wife” got its moment in the Emmy sun as Julianna Margulies landed her second win for lead actress in a drama for the CBS series.

In the Emmy duel between “True Detective” and “Breaking Bad,” Cary Joji Fukunaga earned the drama series Emmy directing trophy for his work on “Detective,” while Anna Gunn landed win No. 2 for supporting drama actress for AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”

Aaron Paul won a third supporting drama actor for his work on “Bad.” The series that ended its accolade-laden run last year also won drama series writing, for Moira Walley-Beckett’s “Ozymandias” episode.

“The Colbert Report” earned its second consecutive Emmy for best variety series, topping the heavily favorited “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

Underscoring the surprise, Fallon joined “Colbert Report” team on stage Monday night to deliver the acceptance remarks. The bit was clearly orchestrated in advance — but it also highlighted the fact that Fallon will soon be going head-to-head with “Colbert” host Stephen Colbert when the latter relocates to CBS’ prime latenight berth next year.

“I want to see the envelope,” Fallon joked. Colbert showed genuine emotion as he thanked viewers for sticking with Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” for nine years. And he gave a sincere shout-out to his family: “Thank you for all your patience with me.”

Another emotional winner was Aaron Paul, collecting his third statuette for supporting drama actor for AMC’s “Breaking Bad.” Paul was clearly feeling the finality of the show having ended its run last fall. “I miss him. I love him,” Paul said of his character, the troubled but good-hearted Jesse Pinkman.

On the longform side, “The Normal Heart’s” long journey to the screen was capped Monday with the Emmy win for best movie. And FX’s “Fargo” landed the win for best miniseries. Both of those wins were the closest thing to sure-things that existed this Emmy season.

The HBO telepic about the beginnings of the AIDS crisis, based on the play by Larry Kramer, was the heavy favorite in the movie category. So was FX’s “Fargo,” which prevailed in the miniseries category.

“Normal Heart” producer-director Ryan Murphy credited stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts for getting the project made at HBO, after Kramer faced decades of stops and starts in trying to get his work on screen.

“It took the superpowers of Erin Brockovich and the Incredible Hulk to get this thing alive,” Murphy said. He dedicated the win to “the hundreds of thousands of artists who have passed from HIV/AIDs since 1981. Your memory and your passion burns on in us.”

“Fargo” scribe Noah Hawley thanked the Coen brothers for embracing his vision of a re-imaging of their 1996 feature. “They let me pretend, if only for five minutes, that I was one of the greatest filmmakers alive,” Hawley said of his reaction when the brothers gave him the thumbs up on his initial “Fargo” script.

Benedict Cumberbatch pulled off an upset Emmy win for “Sherlock: His Last Vow,” topping higher profile competition including “Fargo’s” Billy Bob Thornton and “The Normal Heart’s” Mark Ruffalo in the lead actor in a movie or miniseries category.

But Emmy voters as expected crowned FX’s “Fargo” in the miniseries category.

Monday’s 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony has marked by upset surprises and repeat winners, Kathy Bates landed in the former category, taking supporting actress in a miniseries or movie for “American Horror Story: Coven,” beating out higher-profile competition in Julia Roberts (nommed for “The Normal Heart”) and Allison Tolman, who generated so much buzz for her breakthrough role in FX’s “Fargo.”

Bates’ “Coven” castmate Jessica Lange won for lead actor in a movie/miniseries, marking her third win for the role.

Another surprise winner was Martin Freeman in the supporting miniseries/movie category for PBS’ “Sherlock: His Last Vow.” Freeman is also nommed for lead actor in a movie/miniseries for “Fargo.” In the longform supporting field, Freeman triumphed over celebrated perfs by cast members from HBO’s “The Normal Heart” and his own “Fargo.” “Sherlock” also won for longform writing, for scribe Steven Moffat.

The ceremony opened with familiar faces making trips to the stage, as Jim Parsons won lead actor in a comedy for “The Big Bang Theory” for the fourth time, Julia Louis-Dreyfus scored her third straight trophy for “Veep” and Ty Burrell claimed Emmy No. 2 for “Modern Family.”

Parsons took the gold last year, as well as in 2010 and 2011.

‘Fargo’s’ Colin Bucksey won for longform directing for the “Buridan’s Ass” episode of the FX mini. The British director topped more high-profile competition, including “Normal Heart’s” Ryan Murphy. “I’m so glad I got back from the loo in time,” the helmer quipped in accepting the award.

Allison Janney won supporting comedy actress for CBS’ “Mom.” It’s her sixth career Emmy and second this month, after winning guest drama actress for Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.” Janney hailed her costar Anna Faris for giving her the platform to shine in the series about a mother and daughter who are both struggling with addiction.

“She’s the sister I never had, she’s the daughter I never had. She’s everything I never had,” Janney said of Faris.

CBS’ “The Amazing Race” bagged its 10th award for reality-competition program.

Louis C.K. scored for writing a in comedy series for the “So Did the Fat Lady” episode of his FX series “Louie.” Among his thank-yous C.K. cited Conan O’Brien for “giving me my first job in television.” Gail Mancuso landed the comedy directing trophy for the “Vegas” episode of “Modern Family.” Mancuso won the category last year, also for “Modern Family.”

Burrell’s win marks his second victory in the category for his role as goofy dad Phil Dunphy on the ABC domestic laffer. Burrell, who first won in 2011, read an acceptance speech written by the show’s younger actors, making cheeky references to the fact that none of them have ever been nominated for an Emmy.

“We do something totally different than they do — we complain,” Burrell read, describing the difference between the work done by the younger actors — Nolan Gould, Sarah Hyland, Rico Rodriguez and Ariel Winter — compared to the six adult stars.

Sarah Silverman won for writing for a variety special for her recent HBO effort “Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles.” Glenn Weiss won variety special directing for CBS’ telecast of the 67th annual Tony Awards. Weiss accepted the award from the control room of the Emmycast, where he was working.