HBO's hit fantasy series Game of Thrones swept the 2015 Emmys on Monday morning, bringing a breath of fresh air to the awards. The whole cast and crew, including creators David Benioff and DB Weiss were present on stage to collect the Outstanding Drama Series award. It is now the second fantasy or sci-fi show to get the award, after Lost in 2005.
The top Emmy prize had always eluded the series, which is based on George RR Martin's books about blood-thirsty nobles and warring kingdoms, despite its 20 million viewers in the United States. On Sunday, it also won awards for writing, directing and for supporting actor Peter Dinklage.
Also, Mad Men star Jon Hamm finally won the best drama actor Emmy Award that eluded him seven times before, an overdue honour that was eclipsed on Sunday by How to Get Away with Murder star Viola Davis' lead actor trophy that ended a whites-only reign.
Jon Hamm, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Tambor and Julia Louis-Dreyfus with their Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in Comedy Series, respectively. (Agencies)
"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," an emotional Davis said. "You cannot win Emmys with roles that are simply not there."
Hamm bypassed the steps to the Emmy stage, scrambling onto it on his stomach. "There has been a terrible mistake clearly," Hamm said.
Jon Stewart is gone from The Daily Show but not forgotten by Emmy voters, who gave the late-night show the best variety talk series award Sunday over another host who's moved on, Stephen Colbert.
Stewart, who left the Daily Show earlier this year, warned the theater audience that the perils of leaving TV include no applause or free food.
"To everybody on television, I just want to tell you, cling to it as long as you can," joked Stewart, who's turning over Daily Show to Trevor Noah.
Jon Stewart and the cast and crew, winners of the award for Outstanding Variety Talk Series for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. (AP)
Besides Colbert, who left his Comedy Central show to become host of CBS' late-night show, the tough competition included another channel alum, John Oliver.
Transparent emerged as an early winner at Sunday's Emmy Awards, capturing a best comedy actor trophy for Jeffrey Tambor and a directing award for its creator, and giving both winners a chance to pay tribute to the show's trangender themes.
"I'd like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community. ... Thanks for letting us be part of the change," said Tambor, who plays a man journeying toward womanhood.
Jill Soloway, who based the series on the life of her own "moppa," as she calls her parent, used her directing trophy acceptance speech to ask for equal rights for transgender individuals.
"It is legal in the majority of US states to refuse to rent to trans people," she said, saying the country has a civil rights problem that must be addressed.
Peter Dinklage nabbed the best supporting drama actor award for Game of Thrones, which also won writing and directing trophies.
Peter Dinklage and Uzo Aduba accept their awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor and Actress. (Agencies)
Host Andy Samberg noted that the 67th Emmys coincided with the 67th birthday for George R.R. Martin, whose novels are the basis for Game of Thrones. A smiling Martin was in the theater audience to accept the congratulations.
Uzo Aduba won the supporting actress in a drama trophy for Orange is the New Black, which was switched under academy rules this year from comedy competition. Aduba won a guest actress award last year for her portrayal of "Crazy Eyes" in the series.
Emmys voters didn't give up their fondness for choosing the familiar over the groundbreaking in other categories as well.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was honored as best lead comedy actress for Veep for the fourth time. Allison Janney of Mom and Tony Hale of Veep were repeat winners for supporting comedy acting honors.
Janney, who plays a dysfunctional parent, thanked series producer Chuck Lorre for creating a deeply flawed character and "thinking of me to play her."
"This is nuts," said Tony Hale, thanking his show's writers and lauding his fellow nominees: "You make me laugh hard."
Olive Kitteridge, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Elizabeth Strout, nearly swept the limited series categories, with six trophies including the top award and lead acting honors for Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins and a supporting award for Bill Murray.
Regina King of American Crime won supporting actress honors for a limited series. Inside Amy Schumer won for best variety sketch series.
Amy Schumer, winner of the Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Award for Inside Amy Schumer, poses in the press room. (AP)
The Voice won a best reality series trophy, breaking the hold that The Amazing Race long hold on the category and snaring an award that always eluded American Idol.
Samberg kicked off the ceremony with a video in which he made elaborate fun of the overload of TV programs available.
"So many shows, so little," he sang, before entering a "TV viewing bunker" to binge-view on all the nominated shows. A bearded, shaggy-haired Samberg emerged to boast to contenders Jon Hamm and Kerry Washington that he had them and everyone else covered.
Appearing on stage, groomed, Samberg touched briefly on the political scene.
"Sure, Donald Trump seems racist," he said. "What else?"
He also took note of what he called the most diverse group of nominees in Emmy history. They include Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson, who could become the first non-white winner in the best drama series actress category.
"So congratulations, Hollywood, you did it. Racism is over! Don't fact-check that," Samberg said.
Big win for Game of Thrones and other Emmy highlights
Here is a list of important awards with their nominations and winner:
Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul (AMC)
Downton Abbey (PBS)
Game Of Thrones (HBO) -WINNER
House Of Cards (Netflix)
Mad Men (AMC)
Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
Outstanding Comedy Series
Modern Family (ABC)
Parks And Recreation (NBC)
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Veep (HBO)- WINNER
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler, Bloodline
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men- WINNER
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder-WINNER
Taraji P. Henson, Empire
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Will Forte, Last Man on Earth
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent-WINNER
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep-WINNER
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones-WINNER
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black-WINNER
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Niecy Nash, Getting On
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Allison Janney, Mom-WINNER
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent
Jane Krakowski, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver, Girls
Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep - WINNER