The Emmys opened on a shocker as Julie Bowen ("Modern Family") won Best Supporting Comedy Actress. Among those she bested were reigning champ Jane Lynch ("Glee") who was hosting the Emmys as well as another frontrunner, five-time Emmy champ Betty White ("Hot in Cleveland"), and her co-star Sofia Vergara. Bowen started the ball rolling on a "Modern Family" sweep as it won all five of its categories capping off the night by with a repeat win for Best Comedy Series.
All the pundits were predicting Steve Carell to finally prevail with his sixth straight Best Comedy Actor bid for "The Office." While this category has had many repeat winners -- Tony Shalhoub ("Monk") and Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock") being the most recent -- nobody predicted Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") to return to the podium.
The next category brought the next surprise as Melissa McCarthy ("Mike & Molly") won Best Comedy Actress over frontrunners Laura Linney ("The Big C") and Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"). McCarthy generated much goodwill with her heartfelt surprise when she found out she was a contender while presiding over the nominations announcement. And she had the added exposure as the breakout star of the hit summer movie "Bridesmaids." Back in 2007, Katherine Heigl ("#Grey's Anatomy#") got a similar boost from "Knocked Up," a film by "Bridesmaids" producer Judd Apatow, when she surprised with her supporting drama actress win.
The drama races had their share of surprises too. "Friday Night Lights" earned its first bid for Best Drama Series for its final season. It lost that race to four-time champ "Mad Men." However, "FNL" showrunner Jason Katims won the writing award for the series finale, denying a fourth straight win for "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner. And "FNL" star Kyle Chandler claimed the Best Drama Actor award over rivals Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") and Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire").
The biggest shock of the night came when Barry Pepper won Best Movie/Miniseries Actor for "The Kennedys." Pepper played Robert Kennedy in this critically lambasted miniseries that got bounced by the History Channel and eventually aired on Reelz. His co-star Greg Kinnear, as John F. Kennedy, was thought to have an outside shot since he had considerably more screen-time than Pepper. But a victory over Edgar Ramirez ("Carlos") would have been astonishing no matter who won.
Though "Mildred Pierce" led with 21 nominations, it was the evening's biggest loser, edged out by "Downton Abbey" in the top race as well as writing, directing and supporting actress; Maggie Smith triumphed over a trio of women from this HBO mini - Melissa Leo, Mare Winningham and Evan Rachel Wood.
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