Emmy put a stop to the madness Sunday night and instead got caught up in the psychological thrills of "Homeland."
Showtime's intensely gripping game of political cat-and-mouse between a CIA operative and a traitorous former Marine captured the prize for outstanding drama during television's big bash, denying "Mad Men" a chance at Emmy history.
"Mad Men," AMC's snazzy period piece about the golden age of Madison Avenue, came into the night with four straight best-drama awards. Another victory would have broken a tie with landmark shows "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law" and "The West Wing," placing it on a TV pedestal all its own.
But voters apparently were in the mood for something new and they found it in"Homeland," a first-year cable drama that drew raves from critics and viewers, including President Barack Obama, who has admitted to being seduced by its juicy intrigue.
"Homeland" also swept best-acting drama awards with Claire Danes and Damian Lewis grabbing the hardware, and for best writing.
The "Mad Men" streak may have been snapped, but Emmy didn't completely eschew reruns. "Modern Family," ABC's heartfelt and hilarious series about an extended family spanning three households, posted a three-peat as TV's top comedy, and "Modern Family" casemates Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen both won their second Emmys as supporting actors.
While the Emmys are designed to celebrate extraordinary programming, the telecast often
Even worse: A social-media prank, in which he asked viewers to send out Twitter and Facebook messages about comedian Tracy Morgan fainting on stage, pretty much bombed.
Kimmel also failed to earn his first Emmy as his late-night
"They always told me you can do anything you set your mind to, so this year I set my mind to winning an Emmy," Kimmel explained. "And guess what, mom and dad? I didn't win. ... And so I'm devastated because you lied to me."
What did prove to be a winner in this election year was politics. Not only did "Homeland" feel the Emmy love, but "Game Change," an HBO film about the 2008 presidential race, struck gold, and "Veep," an HBO Beltway satire, picked up a best-actress in a comedy award for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
"Game Change" won for best movie/miniseries, directing (Stanford grad Jay Roach), writing and lead actress. The latter award went to Julianne Moore for her uncanny imitation of Sarah Palin, which turned out to be even better than Tina Fey's.
"I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumb's-down," Moore said, clutching her Emmy.
Louis-Dreyfus, who won her third Emmy -- for three different shows -- also played a politician in "Veep," a frazzled vice president.
"People say this show is a comedy and yet I don't see anything funny about me being vice president of the United States," Louis-Dreyfus cracked during an acceptance speech in which she pretended to have mistakenly swapped notes with fellow nominees Amy Poehler.
The "Homeland" victory was the first best-drama award for Showtime, which has long played second fiddle to pay-cable rival HBO, despite producing some of prime time's best and edgiest shows in recent years.
Danes, who plays a bipolar CIA operative in the series, was considered a slam dunk for a performance so astonishing it couldn't be ignored. But Lewis, while certainly deserving, was a big surprise, knocking off three-time champ Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") and leaving Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") out in the cold once again.
"I don't really believe in judging art, but I thought I'd show up just in case," Lewis said. "It turned out all right."