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Kevin Costner has already won two Oscars for Dances With Wolves (directing and best picture) 21 years ago, so how will a first Emmy win impact his career going forward? “Hollywood works off perception,” said Costner, “I know what success means to people who deal with perception…I’ve been writing a lot of things. I haven’t really worked in five years because I had three babies with my wife, that is I haven’t worked a fraction of my counterparts. I’ve been writing and looking to direct a feature, but also writing some television because that’s how these stories play out. I’m not certain my children know that I’m an actor. My three and five-year old think I’m in construction, because I spend most of my time around a house we’re constructing…I’m a writer-oriented actor and I think the perception (from Hatfields & McCoys) is going well for me… I’m in love with history and I plan to go heavy into more. I would like to direct more features; there’s this book series The Explorers Guild that I’ve worked on for five years. For me, most of the projects I work on are three or four years in the works.”
Standing alongside Costner in the Emmy press tent was best supporting actor winner for a movie/miniseries, Tom Berenger, who commented about the moral of Hatfields & McCoys: “We’ve seen this kind of violence before in terms of clan warfare and blood vendetta in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Balkans — it’s all very similar. I don’t know if it ever ends. If you show it, people understand it a little more.”
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Steven Levitan appeared backstage for a second time, clutching two Emmys and this time accompanied by the huge cast and creative staff of Modern Family, including the kids. His happiness at Modern Family’s third win for best comedy series did not seem dampened by the fact that his onstage speech, the last one of the Emmy telecast, was cut off at the end. “I tend to be long winded so I think I got what I deserved,” he joked, adding: “I didn’t know.” Writer Danny Zuker joked that, from the beginning, the cast and the creative team “were so relieved to have a job. We forgot you could have a job and be really, really proud of it.” Sofia Vergara, resplendent in a glittering green dress, smiled sweetly and said: “To be able to have a show like this for me is a dream, so even though Julie [Bowen] keeps winning all my awards, I am still very happy and I will still keep coming.” She also weathered a few of the requisite jokes about her figure and gamely showed off her gown: “I like it because it’s sexy,” she purred.
Heading into Emmy season, Jessica Lange was considered a lock for a best supporting Emmy actress win in FX’s American Horror Story, especially after her recent SAG and Golden Globe trophies for playing the twisted southern belle Constance Langdon. Now the actress says that her recent Emmy trophy “has a sister at home in my study for the one I won for Grey Gardens.” Upon hearing her name called as a winner, the first thought that crossed her mind: “I realized I have such a long way to walk (to the podium).” Backstage, Lange discussed the vibe for season two of American Horror Story and her character Sister Jude, “It’s a more complex story. Ryan (Murphy) tries to create things around themes. Last year it was infidelity and this year it’s about faith and madness. The themes are bigger this year, which allows us to go further and my character goes from A to Z in this season.” As far as Murphy’s decision to take a 180 with the American Horror Story plot and characters, Lange explained “I was actually excited by the idea. To return and revisit the (old story in season one) was less interesting then starting a fresh one with a whole new time, place and circumstance. I’m actually enjoying it. It’s like doing a different film.” When asked if American Horror Story would have fared better at the Emmys if it competed as a drama series rather than in the longform category, Lange said, “I don’t know. That’s an area I wouldn’t be able to speak to.
Backstage, Game Change writer Danny Strong said he continues to delve into political material despite the risks of criticism “because these stories are extremely dramatic, the stakes are incredibly high, you have fantastic characters and really important moments in American history that are worthy of being dramatized.” He added that the best way to stave off criticism is to make the films as truthful and accurate as possible so that as a writer you know that any badmouthing is “partisan attacks, not people dealing with the reality of the film.”
Director Jay Roach, who followed Strong on the backstage dais, echoed Strong’s sentiments, saying the most difficult thing about the process of making the movie was “just being aware that we’d be under so much scrutiny every second. It made it very important for us to just get it right. Julianne [Moore] was the bravest actress on the planet to take that on.”
“Nice to see you all, what’s up? I won two Emmys,” said a happy Louis C.K. backstage, clutching his golden statuettes one in each hand. He was asked to compare tonight’s experience to winning a team Emmy for his work on the Chris Rock show in 1999. “They are equally really strong memories. Chris is the best comedian in the world and he took us along for this amazing ride. I was in this spot, but over there behind ten other people,” he joked. “This is great though, this is nice. Two is weird and excessive, but I’m happy. Thanks for asking. “ He added that he hopes the reason that his current show is doing better than his short-lived HBO sitcom Lucky Louie is “I’m better than I was before. Hopefully I’ll be better later too. Hopefully what I am doing now won’t be considered that good later. I just keep trying to get better.” He added: “Older people are smarter and funnier.”
Aaron Paul seemed wholly sincere in his surprise in winning for his Breaking Bad role over cast member Giancarlo Esposito. “Giancarlo, it doesn’t make sense to me that I was on that stage and you’re not,” he said. “It’s so bizarre that I’m standing in front of all of you right now. I don’t know if you saw my speech, I was out my head, I was truly not expecting it, I didn’t prepare anything, I was just shaking and trying not to sob.” About the ending of the show in fall, 2013, he said that Breaking Bad fans “would be disappointed by a happy ending. I don’t think that’s what our fans want. It’s not going to be a fairy tale ending.” He added: “I hope [my character] Jesse survives, I think he deserves to.”
Backstage, the always-witty Tom Bergeron said: “I wasn’t kidding when I thanked [Jeff Probst] for not being nominated” in the category during his acceptance speech. “I was stunned that he wasn’t nominated. But it probably didn’t hurt,” he added with a wry smile. Bergeron called his job on DWTS “the most relaxing part of my day. I love live TV. They provide an incredible playground for me. I am never more comfortable than when I am live onstage on that show.” Bergeron addressed recent confusion about popular dancer Maks Chmerkovskiy leaving the show: “His contract runs through 2013, and he is thinking about pursuing acting and other opportunities, but he is going to be with us beyond this season,” Bergeron said. And he refused to say which returning contestant he’s looking forward to having back on the All Stars edition of the show in the upcoming season: “If I answer that question, I piss off 12 people. I am looking forward to them all equally.”
If Jon Cryer — who switched categories this year from supporting to lead — appeared completely shocked onstage to have won for lead actor in a comedy, he seemed equally surprised and flustered backstage while meeting the press. “I’m as shocked as you people,” Cryer assured, “and that’s why my speech sucked.” His speech was indeed muted and very much deer-in-the-headlights. He said that it was a little bit like an out-of-body experience. “Your mind goes back and forth,” Cryer admitted. “It was like, OK, did I hear a name similar to mine?…You don’t want to get up to the microphone before the applause dies down, that would be hugely embarrassing.” Fortunately, he didn’t. In fact, Cryer thought Jim Parsons was going to win. “Clearly, ‘Big Bang’ is still at the top of its game. And Jim hasn’t gotten any worse. I just didn’t for a minute think I was going to win.” The past year since Charlie Sheen left Two And A Half Men has been challenging, he admitted. “When Charlie and I were doing the show together, it really rested on Charlie, he was in practically every scene,” he said. “The last year, the series has changed to more of a partnership with Ashton (Kutcher). And it’s been a blast.” With Sheen things were more or less automatic, he added, and he didn’t need to think about it. “Now, with Ashton, I research things a little bit more.”
Despite multiple Emmy wins, Bertram van Munster, executive producer of The Amazing Race, said backstage: “I just don’t know how it happens, I’m shaking in my boots, there was heavy competition. “ He called the program a “true reality show — no judges.”
A beaming Julie Bowen was excited after winning her second straight Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy and remained proud to be playing a character as colorful as Claire on Modern Family. “Claire is a great mom and she’s taught me to be ballsy and that you don’t have to be a kid’s best friend and look at every single crayon drawing and say, ‘We’re going to frame it’,” she said. “Claire has given me that confidence.” She was also asked to elaborate about having set a record in her acceptance by saying the term “nipple covers” three times. “”It makes me laugh every day,” she admitted, “Every day, there’s some poor girl who has to pull me aside and hand me these bits of rubber and it makes me laugh.” Bowen also asserted that she’s particularly proud of the fact that both Ann Romney and Michelle Obama have said that Modern Family is their favorite show. “It means there is a place on the couch where people can come together, and laughing is all that matters. We don’t pretend to be important in the way national and international matters are.” As for her own favorite show, she added, “I never miss an episode of Breaking Bad or Mad Men.”
By the time Steven Levitan came backstage to celebrate his comedy directing Emmy, cast members Eric Stonestreet had Julie Bowen had already walked away with the supporting actor and actress awards for comedy series. Could this third win foreshadow a third series win for Modern Family? : “I’m praying that everybody doesn’t get sick of us. This has so far exceeded my expectations,” Levitan said. For his own award, he joked: “ There was incredible competition. My money was on ‘Palestinian Chicken,’ ” he said, referring to the critically acclaimed episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Onstage, Eric Stonestreet exhorted struggling actors not to give up, to keep going to those “auditions in Santa Monica” and one day it will pay off. Backstage, the actor echoed the sentiment. “You don’t become an actor because you want to rest on your laurels,” he said. “You want to get in there and keep doing it, because some people, some of whom could be in this room, are ready to take us down a notch when the time comes. We know this isn’t going to last forever. Someday, we’re going to be the ‘old’ show”. During his acceptance speech, Stonestreet also thanked his onscreen partner, Jesse Tyler Ferguson. “There would be no Cam without Mitch,” he said. Backstage he insisted that the ensemble cast, who always submit themselves in the supporting categories, support and root for each other. “ I was pulling for Jess, and Julie [winner Julie Bowen was pulling for Sophia [Vergara],” he said. “It’s nice to win, but we want to spread it around, too. The cast of Modern Family, they are my family.” But Stonestreet joked that among the male cast members who were nominated but did not win, “It’s going to be pretty violent, I’m sure. Ed is going to try his Brazilian jujitsu on me. And Jesse is probably going to cock his hip like this,” he said, suddenly popping into character.