It was a “Breaking Bad” kind of night.
Although the AMC series ended its run almost a year ago, it was well-remembered — and honored with five awards including best drama series — at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.
Sweeping drama acting awards for Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad” took its final bows.
“Thank you so much for this wonderful farewell to our show,” said Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator.
ABC’s “Modern Family” tied “Frasier” for its five consecutive best comedy series awards, also picking up Emmys for supporting actor Ty Burrell and director Gail Mancuso.
Mr. Cranston, who won a Tony Award for playing LBJ in “All The Way” on Broadway earlier this summer, won his fourth lead acting award in the drama category, tying “NYPD Blue’s” Dennis Franz.
Noting that his family nicknamed him “Sneaky Pete” as a boy who liked to take shortcuts, he dedicated his latest Emmy “to all the Sneaky Petes of the world,” urging them to “take a risk, find a passion.”
Ms. Gunn won for the second consecutive year. She recalled getting a phone call from casting director Sharon Bialy, “who said, ‘Get your patootie in here and read for this show; it’s the best pilot script I’ve ever seen.’
“And she was right and it turned into the most extraordinary journey over the past seven years.”
Mr. Paul, who played the long-suffering Jesse Pinkman through five seasons of “Breaking Bad,” picked up his third Emmy in the drama supporting category. The acclaimed series ended its broadcast run last September.
In accepting his statuette, he addressed series star Cranston: “Bryan, there is not a single day that goes by that I do not miss running to work to be able to work opposite you.”
Moira Walley-Beckett won for best writing for the “Breaking Bad” episode “Ozymandias.”
Many who considered “The Good Wife” snubbed — it wasn’t nominated for best drama series — were no doubt appeased when Julianna Margulies won for best actress. “What a wonderful time for women in television,” said Ms. Margulies, who had previous Emmys for “The Good Wife” and in a supporting role on “E.R.”
There were more than a few sniffles during the annual “in memoriam” segment. As Sara Bareilles sang “Smile,” the parade of those who have passed rolled by onscreen. Long-time friend Billy Crystal honored Robin Williams: “It’s so difficult to talk about him in the past because he is so much a part of our lives.”
He likened the unbridled energy of Mr. Williams — who died Aug. 11 — to that of a bucking bronco.
Lead comedy series acting awards went to “The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons, his fourth, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, her third consecutive for “Veep.”
Mr. Parsons thanked his late father, Mickey, for his support, concluding, “In a career that hinges so much on confidence a lot of the time, that was a really great gift.”
Later in the show, fellow comedy actor nominee Ricky Gervais arrived to present an award and remarked, “Four years in a row — it seems unfair, doesn’t it?”
Ms. Louis-Dreyfus joked earlier that “Breaking Bad’s” Mr. Cranston looked an awful lot like a bit player from her “Seinfeld” days. Indeed, he did play a dentist on that series, and when she ran up to the stage to accept her trophy, they shared a dramatic, fake kiss.
The Emmys kicked off with host Seth Meyers introducing “Beyonce” (actually, comedy nominee Amy Poehler). She in turn presented the award for supporting actor in a comedy series to “Modern Family’s” Ty Burrell, his second Emmy for the role of endearing doofus Phil Dunphy.
Pretending his TV kids wrote his acceptance speech, Mr. Burrell read from a paper, noting he sometimes brings his real children to set: “They’re cute, they’re just not ‘I-can-support-my-whole-family cute.’ ”
Minutes later, Allison Janney won her sixth career Emmy, for supporting actress in a comedy series, “Mom.” Ms. Janney joked that she’s on a run, playing increasingly elderly characters: “I’m crossing my fingers next season, I’m incontinent.”
Four acting awards were presented at the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony a little more than a week ago, for guest stars. In drama, Joe Morton (“Scandal”) and Ms. Janney (“Masters of Sex”) were winners, as were comedy performers Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”) and Jimmy Fallon (“Saturday NIght Live.”)
Kathy Bates won the night’s first drama acting award, supporting actress in a miniseries or movie, playing a horrible racist who literally lost her head on “American Horror Story: Coven.”
Her co-star, Jessica Lange, claimed her third career Emmy, this time in the lead, also for “American Horror Story: Coven.”
But it was another FX entry that took home the miniseries Emmy: “Fargo.”
“Who else can I thank but Joel and Ethan Coen, who of course don’t watch the Emmys,” said Noah Hawley. who wrote every installment in this TV parallel universe to the Coens’ 1996 feature film. “But they let me pretend, if only for five minutes, that I was one of the greatest filmmakers alive.”
Martin Freeman was a winner for supporting in a miniseries or movie, for “Sherlock: His Last Vow.”
Both Watson (Mr. Freeman) and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) would take home Emmys, the latter for lead actor in a miniseries or movie. Neither was present to accept his award.
In the writing categories, Louis C.K. won for comedy series (“Louie”). Steven Moffat’s “Sherlock: His Last Vow” was best in the miniseries or movie category, and Sarah Silverman scored for writing in a variety special (“Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles”).
Ms. Walley-Beckett, whose “Breaking Bad” episode won in the drama series category, addressed the cast, saying, “writing for you was pure joy.”
Steven Colbert’s writers on “The Colbert Report” won this year’s Emmy, and it was little surprise that the show took its second consecutive Emmy for best variety series.
Besides Gail Mancuso for “Modern Family,” directing awards went to first-time winner Colin Bucksey (“Sherlock: His Last Vow,” miniseries or movie) and Cary Jovi Fukunaga (“True Detective,” drama series).
Glenn Weiss, in the process of directing the Emmy broadcast, won for his work on the 67th Tony Awards. “This is beyond surreal, but also, awesome,” Mr. Weiss said.
In the reality category, “The Amazing Race” won its 10th Emmy.
Mr. McConaughey, nominated for actor in a drama series (“True Detective”) was seated front and center and was singled out by a host of presenters and winners alike. Former Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel even argued that Mr. McConaughey has won so many awards this year, perhaps everyone should be spared another of his long, strange speeches.
“No offense, but how many of those speeches are we supposed to sit through?” Mr. Kimmel said. “I mean, ‘All right, all right, all right-already.’ ”
Although HBO’s adaptation of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” got 16 Emmy nominations, it wasn’t winning in a big way until it took home best movie.
Bethel Park native Scott Ferguson was a producer of “The Normal Heart.” He won a previous Emmy in the same category for HBO’s “Temple Grandin.”
“Normal Heart” director Ryan Murphy asked, “Young people watching to become Larry Kramers. To find a cause you believe in, that you will fight for, that you will die for. … This is for all of the hundreds of thousands of artists who have passed from HIV AIDS since 1981. Your memory and your passion burns on in us, and this is for them.”
Maria Sciullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.