Primetime Emmys 2013: Backstage

Emmy Winner Reactions Diane Haithman, Ray Richmond and Anthony D’Alessandro are contributing to Deadline’s TV coverage.

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Just as it took HBO’s The Sopranos five seasons to finally cart off the outstanding drama series Emmy, so it was with AMC’s Breaking Bad finally earning the statuette in Season 5 amidst an outpouring of hype and fan frenzy greeting the show’s wrap-up next Sunday. Creator and showrunner Vince Gilligan was typically gracious in sharing the glory and deflecting credit onto the shoulders of many others in his backstage remarks. He also admitted that he was “stunned” to have won, making him perhaps the only one in the building to feel that way. “It was a wonderful surprise,” Gilligan said, despite his show being a heavy favorite with Emmy pundits going in. Why a surprise? “Because of the fact we were nominated among so many wonderful shows,” he replied. “This is a Golden Age of television, and it’s an absolute honor to be up here and to be working in the medium.” When a question was asked about his feelings about having beat a show (House Of Cards) airing on the Internet service Netflix, it inspired Gilligan to credit video streaming and social media for Breaking Bad‘s pop cultural explosion. He declared, “I don’t even think our show would have lasted beyond Season 2 without video streaming on demand and the Internet component of it and social media…I feel like Netflix kept us on the air. It held us in good stead. It’s a bold new era in television, and we’ve been fortunate to reap the benefits of the technological developments.” Gilligan was joined backstage by the entire Breaking Bad writing and production team, resulting in 19 people crowding around the microphone. But the spokespeople were Gilligan and star/producer Bryan Cranston, himself a three-time lead actor winner for the series who lost tonight. But Cranston didn’t seem too broken up by that loss. This is the answer to a wish and a prayer for me,” he said. “This win celebrates the entire writing team, the crew and the cast who have worked so hard for us for six years. We’re so proud to be a part of this — and what a way to go out!” Cranston also noted that being able to bring the words of the show’s writers to life has been the greatest thrill of his career. “When we read these scripts, it was like unwrapping a present,” he said. “The wonderful craftsmanship that these wonderful writers behind me were able to do (was fantastic). We are the mouthpieces of the writers. That’s what makes me so proud of what happened tonight.

“After Modern Family’s 4th comedy win, co-creator (with Christopher Lloyd) Steven Levitan called it “mind-blowing” that the latest Emmy has launched the series into the four-time Emmy-winning ranks of The Dick Van Dyke Show, All In The Family and Cheers (Frasier has one more with 5). “Obviously we are beyond humbled to even be mentioned alongside those shows,” Levitan said. “ I grew up watching The Dick Van Dyke Show on WGN in Chicago. “It’s the reason I that I wanted to become a comedy writer, sitting in that office with Buddy and Sally, and do this for a living.”

In winning her third Emmy tonight (and second in a row for her HBO drama Homeland), Claire Danes expressed relief that she feels fortunate that as a very young actress, she feels fortunate not to have come of age at a time “when everyone had cameras on their cellphones.” She admitted, “I was a sloppy kid. But there weren’t millions of civilians (out there) to capture the sloppy moments. There was no going viral back in the day. I also took three years off to go to college and be an idiot in the privacy of my own dorm room.” Danes also told the assembled press that she feels “hugely blessed” to have found a role that challenges her so much every day “in all the right ways. I hope it lasts a while because it remains so compelling to me personally and creatively.” Her celebration of her third win promised to be the most muted due to her having a 9-month-old infant on East Coast time to think about. “He’s gonna be waking up pretty early,” she said. “I’m just hoping he won’t impale himself on this thing…It’ll be a while before I let him watch any Homeland episodes.”

The pundits expected that the race for lead actor in a drama was between Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad and Kevin Spacey of House Of Cards. So naturally the victory went to Jeff Daniels for HBO’s The Newsroom — his first Emmy, and his first award (as he said during his acceptance) since winning a mini golden barkalounger from the AARP. He wasn’t necessarily shocked to win but felt there were not only five other qualified nominees in his category but “10 other guys who could have been where we were. So I’m happy to win but also surprised because it could have been anybody.” Backstage, a rep for AARP jumped in to have Daniels address his pseudo-slap at the AARP, which he deftly deflected. “They did give me a golden Barcalounger…I use it to hold my meds,” Daniels said. “Look, I don’t win much, so (the barkalolunger) meant a lot and I was glad to get it.” Daniels also took the opportunity backstage to praise series creator and guru Aaron Sorkin. “Aaron does a great job of writing things that are still in the news,” he said. “He’s very good and smart about it…Every two weeks, we get 80-85 pages of Sorkin. You’ve got to spend the whole weekend memorizing what you’re going to do for the whole next week for seven months in order to make it look like the 100th performance of a play…I love the fact that Aaron Sorkin is in every scene from The Newsroom. Daniels confirmed his tweet that The Newsroom has indeed been renewed for a third season. “We just don’t know when yet,” he said. “HBO is trying to work it out with Aaron.” He also noted that he’s going to celebrate hius Emmy win by “partying ’til dawn” before getting on a plane and starting shooting on Dumb and Dumber 2. “The intellectual freefall from Will McAvoy to Harry Dunn…imagine if you will.” He teased his new comedy sequel by noting that he would be “doing some things in (the film) that will make the toilet scene from Dumb And Dumber To look lame. The best thing about it is that I get to work with a comedic genius (in Jim Carrey).”

“I’m going to sleep with it,” said Julia Louis-Dreyfus about where she’ll be keeping her record fourth Emmy trophy, which ties her with Lucille Ball’s streak. Despite the benchmark, Louis-Dreyfus explained, “I’ve actually lost many more times than I won. I’ve lost 10 times. So, it’s delicious to win.” She’s also attributed her lead actress comedy win for Veep “to the writing on the page. It’s (creator) Armando Iannucci’s voice. No one has done a show like this before.”

A slightly shellshocked Jim Parsons credited his writers backstage after winning his third Emmy as lead actor for the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory. “I think writing is the key — it’s the linchpin of whether (a show) works or doesn’t,” Parsons said. He added that the writing and consistency in his character are what make doing the show such a pleasure going through the seven season. “The decisions the writers make are what keeps Sheldon so grounded.” He made it clear that winning doesn’t get old in the slightest. He compared the instant he heard his name called as a bit like “the feeling you have when you narrowly miss getting into a car accident. The adrenalin that drives up is so severe. I’m not sure if it’s a psychological disorder or the name of the game. And how will Parsons celebrate this win? By doing the party circuit? Uh, no. He said that he would probably go to the Governors Ball but that he isn’t much for after-parties. “I prefer to (go home) and read in bed,” he said. “That’s because I’m 100.”

Onstage, Merritt Wever was practically speechless following her win for supporting actress in a comedy series for Nurse Jackie, saying little more than: “I gotta go.” Backstage, she was awkwardly apologetic. “I know, I wanted to thank a lot of people. Ugh, it’s happening again,” she grimaced about her loss for words. She stumbled through the names of “everybody at Showtime” and thanked star Edie Falco twice. How does she feel? “I don’t know yet. I’m scared, honestly. I’m scared because it was unexpected, so I don’t know how to feel yet. I mean, I have therapy next week.”

Veep castmate Tony Hale looked every bit the deer in the headlights after his upset win for supporting actor in a comedy in HBO’s Veep. Of his first Emmy win, he admitted, “It’s nuts. I have completely left my body. It’s so surreal…To be working and have this is completely mindblowing.” Hale credited the Young Actors Theatre in Tallahassee, FL for starting on the road to success and stardom. “It made a big difference in my life,” he noted. “I’m so appreciative to them for starting the ball rolling.” Hale concluded that this is actually the second Emmy in his family, his wife having already won one for makeup. “So I’m just catching up to her.”

With her work on Breaking Bad complete, best supporting actress drama winner Anna Gunn reminisced about last Sunday’s jarring episode, “Ozymandias” where she drew a line in the sand with her meth lord husband Walter White (Bryan Cranston). “All the boys get to do the stunts on the show, so it was exciting for me,” said Gunn about the scene where she slices White’s hand with a knife. “I felt that the (emotion) was a collection of what (my character) Skyler endured for five seasons. She was saying, ‘You’re not going to hurt another member of my family.’ It was very cathartic.” As far as those fans who despise Skyler White, Gunn said, “What the Skyler haters do, they do. It has nothing to do with me.”

Backstage, Bobby Cannavale recalled that when he was nominated for a Tony Award earlier in his career, he didn’t think he would win —that is, until a few moments before the winner was announced, when he suddenly got a rush of confidence that his name would be announced. It wasn’t. For his Emmy win for his role as Gyp Rosetti in Boardwalk Empire, the actor said he did not have that same rush — so was genuinely surprised to hear his name tonight. Cannavale said everything seemed to go in slow motion after the moment his name was announced for supporting actor in a drama series. He remembers his friend Jon Hamm (they play cards) giving him a thumbs up, and that’s about it. About getting good roles recently, the actor said: “This is a hustle, man… it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so I just do it.“ He said that he plans to celebrate by going to “that HBO party, to Fallon’s party, and to Hamm’s losers party. If you go to the losers party, you gotta give him $1000. And I’ll do it with my girlfriend.”

Ellen Burstyn stood backstage to blank stares from journalists for a moment: “You’ve got all the big shows (being announced) right now, you’re distracted,” she said sympathetically. Then the questions started about her second Emmy win (she took home a statuette for a guest role on Law & Order: SVU in 2009). In explaining her longevity as a performer, the elegant 80-year-old said: “I did decide early on— I was a model before I started acting, and I didn’t want to do acting that was relying on my looks. I wanted to have a long career and be working when I didn’t have those looks anymore. I really worked on becoming a good actress, as good as I could be.”

First off, Michael Douglas was asked whether his onstage speech — with its apparent double-entendres about a “two–hander” and being “on the bottom and on the top” — was scripted. The actor said he was surprised by the reaction to two-hander: “In acting, we have an expression called a two-hander” which means you are only as good as your partner,” he explained He admitted with a grin: “The bottom and the top, I thought about.” The actor waxed sober when he was asked to explain another onstage comment, this one about being hopeful about seeing his son Cameron again soon. “my son is in federal prison. He was a drug addict a large part of his life,he was arrested for selling drugs.” Now Cameron is in solitary confinement and Douglas has been told he can’t see his son for 2 years. “I’m disappointed with my son, but I have reached a point where I’m very disappointed with the system.”

James Cromwell nabbed the role of the treacherous Dr. Arthur Arden/Hans Gruber in American Horror Story: Asylum, because he plays bad so well. The actor mentioned that his nice-guy exterior is always a draw for directors, such as Curtis Hanson with L.A. Confidential, because the audience never foresees the 180-turn he takes with his characters. “I think I got the role because they (the producers) saw me in Waiting For Godot at the Mark Taper Forum, and I was loud, blustery, angry and a Fascist in that play. And they thought, ‘Yeah, he looks really mean.'” But we won’t be seeing Cromwell’s wrath in American Horror Story: Coven. “The cast consists of mostly women, except for Evan Peters. So, I moved on to another series, Betrayal,” said the actor.

Backstage, Gail Mancuso, winner of best directing for a comedy series for Modern Family, reiterated her thanks to her parents for letting her “watch TV as much as possible,” including Alfred Hitchcock. “I saw a lot of good programs, they were really smart.” She added that she also had a funny family: “My father was really funny growing up, my brothers were really fun, it was a natural progression,” she said.

Backtage, Tina Fey noted that 30 rocks, so to speak — she said that’s the age she finally started working in TV. It’s also the age of her co-winner Tracey Wigfield. “I’m already a monster,” Wigfield observed cheerfully (Wigfield also amused the gang backstage by pointing out that her gown was “from the mall in Topanga” and saying she plans to get drunk with her parents to celebrate the win). Fey said she was amazed that Emmy voters even remembered 30 Rock, which went off the air in January. She called the show a “labor of love” and praised NBC for sticking with the “weird tone of the show” despite low ratings. “We got to make the show we wanted to make,” she said. Fey was asked if there would be a 30 Rock reunion in 5 or 10 years. She rolled her eyes. “It’s be an IMAX movie, and it will be one minute long, and it will be shown at the American Museum of Natural History,” Fey joked. Fey was also asked her thoughts about SNL newcomer Cecily Strong become the a new Weekend Update anchor on the show. “I think she’s a good choice,” Fey said. She added that she will miss Strong’s funny characters during the news segment but “you have to be kind of comfortable being yourself on camera. I think she will be great at it.”

It was long expected that if a singing competition show were ever to win the top reality-competition series Emmy, it would be American Idol. That it was NBC’s The Voice that finally dethroned longtime annual champ The Amazing Race turned out to be yet another in a night of upsets. Executive producer Mark Burnett backstage credited the show’s “brilliant format from John de Mol and a brilliant production team” for the win. He continued, “‘The Voice‘ is like producing an awards show on the fly with massive pyrotechnics and massive effects. Our academy has honored that.” It also honored a show other than nine-time winner Amazing Race for the second time since the reality-competition category was established. But as he has long done, Burnett eschewed any comparisons to Idol. “This is a very different show,” he maintained. “It’s a kind show. There’s no humiliation in ‘The Voice.’ People said these kinds of shows couldn’t work without humiliation, and that’s not true.” Burnett said he never felt any real comparison to Idol was genuine.”

“Losing cast members for me means not only saying goodbye to friends, but a whole repertoire of characters and sketches I’ve already figured out,” explained Emmy winner Don Roy King about the challenges in the next season of Saturday Night Live. The directing trophy marked his fourth for the late night show and one of the forthcoming change-ups this year are those sketch comedians who’ve built their reputation on YouTube. Nonetheless, he doesn’t expect the number of filmed segments on SNL to outweigh the live bits. “These (new) guys bring a different quality, but are prepared to do the live stuff,” asserted King. A weekly uphill battle for the director is, of course, throwing the show together in two and half days. “On Wednesday, we do our read through. That night, Lorne Michaels picks the sketches. Thursday and Friday, we rehearse and on Saturday, we fly. It’s a remarkable mountain to climb, but it’s an exhilarating high.

In a night of upsets, Abi Morgan’s win for her teleplay for the BBC America miniseries The Hour had to be one of the biggest. It beat out heavy favorite Richard LaGravanese’s adaptation for Behind The Candelabra, among others. Asked backstage how she’d get her Emmy trophy back to England, Morgan blurted, “I’m leaving all of my luggage and just taking this!”

Dancing With The Stars star Derek Hough apologized for saying “excited a couple of times. Can you tell I’m excited? I’m just very very excited right now.” He applauded the show’s producers for supporting him by letting him “bring in big contraptions and spend a lot of money” to bring his winning dances to life.

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  1. Much deserved win for Merritt! She’s fabulous on Nurse Jackie. :)

    I honestly do not know a thing about Veep and don’t know a soul who watches it! But kudos to JLD!

  2. James Cromwell played Stretch Cunningham on All in the Family. Too bad no savvy journalist asked him about the Jean Stapleton tribute.

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