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‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Modern Family’ earn top Emmy Awards

Cloquet native Jessica Lange accepts the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her role in "American Horror Story: Coven" during Monday’s 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

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,” partly set in Duluth, and Mark Ruffalo of HBO’s “The Normal Heart.” Freeman also was an underdog against actors 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.

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

Underscoring the surprise, Fallon joined the “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 late-night 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.”

On the long-form 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 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.

Monday’s 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony was 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, a Cloquet native, won for lead actor in a movie/

miniseries, marking her third win for the role.

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.”

“Fargo’s” Colin Bucksey won for long-form directing for the “Buridan’s Ass” episode of the FX miniseries.

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.”

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

Key Emmy winners

BEST DRAMA SERIES

“Breaking Bad”

ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”

ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad”

BEST COMEDY SERIES

“Modern Family”

ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”

ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

Allison Janney, “Mom”

BEST MINISERIES

“Fargo”

BEST TV MOVIE

“The Normal Heart”

ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock: His Last Vow”

ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Coven”

BEST REALITY TV PROGRAM

“Shark Tank”

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