LOS ANGELES - "Homeland," which puts the battle against terrorism on American soil, was honored as best drama series at Sunday's Emmys and earned trophies for stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. "Modern Family" was named best comedy.
"We feel so lucky, lucky not only to have jobs in these challenging times, but to have jobs that we love with people we love," said Steven Levitan, co-creator of "Modern Family."
"Homeland" stopped "Mad Men" in its tracks, denying the show a record-setting fifth trophy and kept Bryan Cranston from his fourth consecutive best drama award for "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm an also-ran once more.
“Homeland” star Damian Lewis accepts the award for best actor in a drama
The Emmys refused to play it predictably Sunday, with Jon Cryer of "Two and a Half Men" earning a best actor award and Jimmy Kimmel proving a game but uneven host.
Danes, eye-catching in a bright yellow dress that gracefully draped the pregnant actress, was effusive.
"My husband, my love, my life, my baby daddy, this doesn't mean anything without you," she said to her spouse, actor Hugh Dancy.
The acting trophies, along with a best writing award for the show, gave "Homeland" momentum as it headed toward the best drama award.
Aaron Paul won best supporting drama actor for "Breaking Bad."
"Thank you so much for not killing me off," Paul said of his drug-dealing character's lucky survival. "Thank you Hollywood for allowing me to be part of your group," he added, noting he'd moved from Idaho to pursue his dreams.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was honored as best actress in comedy for "Veep."
Andy Griffith topped a segment honoring industry members who died during the previous year. Ron Howard, who played Griffith's son Opie in "The Andy Griffith Show," said he belonged "in the pantheon."
"Dang if he didn't make it look powerful easy while he was going about it," Howard said.
Phyllis Diller, Davy Jones of "The Monkees," Sheman Hemsley and Richard Dawson were among the others honored in a montage.
Earlier in the show, Kimmel dared to mock the in memorian package that typically airs at awards shows with one showing him in various guises. Josh Groban sang a mournful "You're Beautiful" in background.
"I will be missed," Kimmel said.
Maggie Smith was honored as best supporting drama actress for her tart-tongued dowager in "Downton Abbey," unhurt by the program's move from the miniseries category.
"Modern Family" made it look easy as the comedy won the best directing trophy and Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen claimed supporting actor awards. There was at least a minor backlash online as some questioned whether the show had a deserving season.
Stonestreet was funny and touching as he accepted for his role as half of a devoted gay couple.
"I wouldn't be standing here without Jesse Tyler Ferguson, there is no Cam without Mitch," he said, saluting his co-star. "We get the awesome opportunity to play these two characters on TV and show America and the world what a loving couple we can be just like everybody else."
Among reality competitors, "The Amazing Race" was honored as best reality series, ninth time in 10 nominations for the award. Tom Bergeron of "Dancing With the Stars" won as best host of a reality series.
Julianne Moore's uncanny take on Gov. Sarah Palin in the TV movie "Game Change," about the 2008 presidential campaign, earned her best actress honors.
"I feel so validated because Sarah Palin gave me a big thumbs down," Palin said, beaming.
Kevin Costner was named best actor for the history-based miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys," while Tom Berenger was named best supporting actor for the project and Jessica Lange won supporting actress honors for "American Horror Story." ''Game Change" was crownd best series.
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" proved unstoppable, winning its 10th consecutive best variety show trophy. Standup comic Louis C.K. won the Emmy for best comedy writing for "Louie" and for the special "Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre."
Said the comedian after his second win: "Thank you to audiences around the country who still go to see live comedy."