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Emmys 2014: 'Breaking Bad,' 'Modern Family' win big

Bryan Cranston accepts the award for outstanding lead

Bryan Cranston accepts the award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for “Breaking Bad’ at the 66th Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP / Vince Bucci

"Breaking Bad" emphatically sealed its claim as one of the best series in TV history by winning its second consecutive Emmy for outstanding drama series at Monday night's 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

The AMC series also won for outstanding lead actor (Bryan Cranston), supporting actress (Anna Gunn), supporting actor (Aaron Paul) and writer (Moira Walley-Beckett).

Cranston won his fourth Emmy for a drama, which amounted to one of the biggest surprises of the night.

"Oh wow," he said. "Even I voted for Matthew [McConaughey]," who was widely considered a lock for this award.

"Modern Family" also made a pitch for Emmy history by winning its fifth straight Emmy for best comedy. Only "Frasier" -- which won from 1994 to 1998 -- has had a five-win streak. Next year's Emmys will be interesting indeed.

Meanwhile, Julianna Margulies won her second best actress in a drama for "The Good Wife" -- her first was in 2011. With that victory she denied Kerry Washington a huge symbolic victory as the first African-American actress to have won best actress in a drama.

Highlights included:

MEYERS' OPEN. "Late Night's" Seth Meyers, host of the show, had a potentially thankless job as host of the first Emmys telecast on a Monday since 1976. His solution? The obvious one, of course. Make fun of TV and Monday: "People don't remember the 1976 Emmys because they were held on a Monday," while noting that all of the dramas selected for an Emmy that year were cop shows. He also got off a good one concerning the poor odds for survival for actors on "Game of Thrones": "If you're an actor on 'Game of Thrones,' I imagine you wait for next week's script the way most people wait for biopsy results." Voters "were voting for best hat." Excellent open for Meyers.

COMEDY KING AND QUEEN. Jim Parsons and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a pair of the most honored actors in Emmy history, made another big splash, winning respective outstanding lead actor and actress in a comedy, but their winning style was notable to the point of remarkable. "Big Bang Theory" star Parsons -- who won his fourth Emmy, tying Michael J. Fox and Kelsey Grammer for the most in history -- thanked his late father, Mickey Parsons. "Veep" star Louis-Dreyfus, who got her third win in a row, got (and accepted) a long, languorous kiss from "Breaking Bad's" Cranston. (She also won for "Seinfeld" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine.")

DYNAMIC DUO. Woody Harrelson and McConaughey, co-nominees as best actor for a drama in HBO's "True Detective," announced the winner for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries (Benedict Cumberbatch of PBS' "Sherlock: His Last Vow"). But first, the jokes: McConaughey said the little bit of advice, or "worldly Woody wisdom," he got from his co-star: " . . . just forget about it." (That was a common refrain of Harrelson's character in the series.) Harrelson, in a cutting and funny reference to online charges that "Detective" scribe Nic Pizzolatto may have lifted lines from author Thomas Ligotti (denied by all parties): "I'm grateful you had all of the plagiarized lines."

WEIRD, WACKY STUFF. Weird Al Yankovic at the Emmys? Why not? In a musical number that seemed to indicate the 66th annual Emmys were tilting toward either a drinking game -- or a smoking one -- Al sang a medley of best drama title songs that turned them (and their respective shows) into a Weird Al-alt universe of strangeness and chemically altered misfires. (And who says the Emmys aren't up to date?)

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