SAG Awards TV: 'Downton Abbey', 'Modern Family' Top Field Of Fresh Drama, Returning Comedy Winners, Alec Baldwin Completes '30 Rock' Sweep

On TV, comedies repeat much better than dramas. SAG-AFTRA applied that rule to its awards this year, picking first-run winners on the drama side and repeat ones in comedy.

The biggest surprise of the night came in the final TV category, best ensemble in a drama series, which went to British import Downton Abbey. Only five actors of the show’s 22-member cast were on hand to accept the award, and all appeared stunned. “Shut the french windows!,” co-star Phyllis Logan exclaimed Downton Abbey-style for one of the most original winner reactions ever. This marked the first SAG Award for Downton Abbey in its first year competing as a drama series against such heavyweights as Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Related: SAG Awards Winners: ‘Argo’ Cast, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence

In the individual drama acting categories the SAG Awards corrected some head-scratching previous snubs. Bryan Cranston won his first SAG Award for his acclaimed performance on AMC’s Breaking Bad. And Homeland’s Claire Danes landed her first SAG Award for her role after the Showtime drama was inexplicably shut out from the nominations last year. Cranston ended his SAG Award drought in a big way, winning twice tonight, also sharing in Argo‘s best feature ensemble win.

SAG-AFTRA members love Alec Baldwin. “Oh my god, this is ridiculous,” were Baldwin’s first words when taking the stage to accept his seventh consecutive SAG Award, completing his streak of winning the award for every season of his departing NBC comedy 30 Rock. The series, whose finale airs on Thursday, received a nice farewell tonight, with statuettes for both of its stars, Baldwin and series creator Tina Fey. Fey used her acceptance speech to plead for viewers to watch the 30 Rock series finale, which airs against CBS’ juggernaut The Big Bang Theory. “Just tape The Big Bang Theory for once for crying out laud,” Fey said. Still smarting over Girls creator/star Lena Dunham’s apparent age dig at the Golden Globes, Fey said about fellow nominee and long-time friend Amy Poehler, “I’ve known you since you were pregnant with Lena Dunham.” Two weeks ago at the Golden Globes, Dunham raised eyebrows when she thanked fellow best comedy actresses, including Fey and Poehler, who “got me through middle school,” triggering a quick snarky response from Globes hosts Fey and Poehler.

Related: SAG Awards Film: ‘Argo’s On A Roll. Is It Unbeatable Now?

More than any other voting group, SAG tends to stick with favorites. For the past six years, only three actors have won for best actor/actress in a comedy series: Baldwin, Fey (4 times) and Betty White (2). The SAG Awards also went with a repeat winner in the best comedy series ensemble category, which went to ABC’s Modern Family for a third consecutive year.

On the longform side, the SAG Awards rubber-stamped Julianne Moore and Kevin Costner’s awards season sweep as the duo added Actor statuettes to the Emmys and Golden Globes they won for their starring roles in HBO’s Game Change and History’s Hatfields & McCoys, respectively.

In one of best matched SAG Award presenter-recipient pairs, Moore, who won for her portrayal of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, introduced the best actress in a comedy series category, which was won by the other actress known for her spot-on impersonation of Palin, Fey. “You betcha,” Moore exclaimed when opening the envelope, using Palin’s most famous catch phrase, before reading off Fey’s name.

(Photos by Getty Images)

  1. If it wasn’t for Sarah Palin, Julianne Moore would be following up after a pointless remake of Carrie, she’d be playing the lead role in the Cujo remake.

  2. One question to the experts: Will Alec Baldwin bei eligble for another SAG-race next year? – I think “yes”, as SAG goes by the calender year and the last episodes of 30 Rock could be entered into the race.

    1. Thank God it’s ineligible. It needs to air six episodes during calendar year to be eligible. It will have aired four.

  3. Tina Fey really didn’t say “tape” “The Big Bang Theory,” did she? That’s a typo, right? This from the woman Hollywood thinks is the hippest thing on the planet. Maybe Lena Dunham has a point.

  4. Isn’t 30Rock’s one hour finale supposed to air at 9pm and into the new drama at 10? Or is CBS planning to air a special ‘bang’ at 9pm?

  5. You know it angers me that with all that love and ratings in USA Downton Abbey actors never show up to those awards. Like Lady Mary was showing up because she was nominated. But other just ignored it. Why? There is such a free publicity. Your pictures everywhere, interviews, you will be relevant and it might help you to get roles in Hollywood.

    Especially actress that plays Lady Cybil. She is the one that most of all fits in the Hollywood rate. She has the face, she can play girlfriend in some big movie. And she wasn’t there.

    They don’t have money to fly to USA? Why they don’t show up? And this is how they ended. They were given such a prestigious award and only few, very supporting actors showed up to receive it. Except Lady Mary because she was nominated.

    But it was amazing when Downton Abbey won and actors were walking to the stage and all the other actors/nominees around them were like: “Whaaaat? What just happened. Who are those people? It should have been between Mad Men and Homeland. How those people sneak in”.

    You can find on Youtube and re-watch. It’s priceless. Usually when some favorite show wins then there are screams, some people jump from their sits, hysterically and happy clapping. And when Abbey won then they were just sitting there in shocking disbelief.
    Abbey actors were walking past Breaking Bad people, Ben Affleck. John Hamm had priceless bitch face. I was actually embarrassed for Hollywood actors. It’s like they no idea who those English people are and why they took away their win.

    1. Maggie Smith travels for basically nothing. She traveled for “Best Exotic” but she has been open in saying she prefers against it.

      And it’s hard to blame them, the flight from UK to LA is a chore.

    2. Glad that someone else noticed the smug reactions of people like Jon Hamm and Ben Affleck when Downton Abbey. They are so used to people fawning over them that they are shocked, just shocked, when someone else gets the praise. Fact is that DA is a great show AND loved by fans, so well deserving of awards. Also, I agree that it would probably have done DA more service if more actors showed up but I don’t fault them for not having the time or the money to be able to come. Keep in mind DA aired in the fall in England and many of the actors are probably doing other things right now.

    3. Dear Shy,
      You are a douche. You clearly do not understand anything about women and the aspirations and expectations they have of their careers if you write such idiotic statements as ‘she can play girlfriend in some big movie’. There is nothing more boring for any actress I’m sure than playing girlfriend in a big movie, which is also boring for the audience, or at least some of us who would like to see a more interesting representation of women on screen. After all half the population of the planet, contrary to your belief, are not on Earth just to be men’s girlfriends. They have lives, careers, plans and interests and problems of their own, that deserve their own films.

      1. I’m She. Not Him.

        About Cybil – i’m just being realistic. Wasn’t Jessica Brown Findlay auditioning to play in Captain America? Or sequel of that movie? I’m sure I heard her name. She auditioned for a few big movies to basically play girlfriend next to brave hero.

        Jessica Brown Findlay has Face that suits in Hollywood. They defiantly won’t put poor Lady Edith alongside Captain America. And I don’t see Jessica Brown Findlay play more serious roles because she is weak actress. I almost hated Sybil in DA. That’s why my whole comment was. Not because I hate women or something.

        I just don’t believe that Jessica Brown Findlay can be successful is serious movies.

  6. This comment, with its grammatical errors and references to actors by their character names, is one of the funniest things I have read in all my years of reading Deadline comments. You know, some actors may actually have work or family obligations which prevent them from spending a few days flying into LA and back to accept an award (or not, since they didn’t expect it)…although they are clearly letting down their Russian Los Angeles-based fans.

    1. Yes, grammatical errors. Sorry. English is not my first language. But you understood me, did you?

      I referred to actors by their character names because was too lazy to find on net correct spelling of their names. Guilty. But also, believe me – nobody in USA will identify characters by their names. I will write: Laura Carmichael and Siobhan Finneran and people will have no idea I’m talking about Lady Edith and Sarah O’Brien. Actors in Downton Abbey are not stars, most of the people know them by their character names. I’m not sure people even know Michelle Dockery is Lady Mary.

      About: “some actors may actually have work or family obligations which prevent them from spending a few days flying into LA”… They are nominated to prestigious awards in USA. In one second DA can loose it’s momentum and will be never nominated again on Globes or SAGs. And 95% of those actors will never have the chance to attend those prestigious american awards, walk the famous red carpet, meet those A-list stars. It’s their choice. But it’s really stupid how they missed their opportunities.

      And they WON award! And then there were basically none to receive it.

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