LOS ANGELES — “Breaking Bad” may have been off the air for nearly a year, but it was fresh in the minds of Emmy voters. At Monday night’s 2014 Emmy Awards, the series won five statuettes, including for drama series, lead actor, supporting actor and actress, and writing.
“Thank you so much for this wonderful farewell to our show,” creator Vince Gilligan as he accepted the series trophy during the ceremony telecast by NBC from Nokia Theatre.
Bryan Cranston earned his fourth Emmy for lead actor for his role as Walter White. It had been hotly contested race between Cranston and Matthew McConaughey for “True Detective.”
“Even I thought about voting for Matthew,” Cranston said in a humorous acceptance speech, adding that he didn’t know why he’d been “blessed with an abundance of good fortune in my life. …
“I love to act, it is a passion of mine,” he said, “and I will do it till my last breath.”
Anna Gunn picked up her second consecutive trophy for supporting actress, and Aaron Paul won his third in the supporting category.
“My God, ‘Breaking Bad,’ it has changed my life,” said Paul.
Writing honors for the series went to Moira Walley-Beckett.
The 2014 Emmys looked a lot like the 2013 Emmys. Not only was “Breaking Bad” a repeat winner but “Modern Family” also was a rerun, winning its fifth consecutive trophy for comedy series.
Ty Burrell also won supporting actor for the comedy, and Gail Mancuso won for direction.
Julianna Margulies won her second Emmy for lead actress in a drama series for “The Good Wife.”
“What a wonderful time for women on television,” she told the audience.
A heartfelt highlight was Billy Crystal’s tribute to his “greatest friend,” Robin Williams .
Crystal had been silent since the comedian’s death two weeks ago at age 63.
“He made us laugh big time,” Crystal said. “I spent many happy hours with Robin on stage. I kept thinking if I could put a saddle on him and stay on for eight seconds I was going to be OK. …
Crystal told the rapt audience, “For almost 40 years, he was the brightest star in the comedy galaxy.”
Before Crystal’s tribute, Sara Bareilles sang Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” during the “In Memoriam” segment that included nods to Philip Seymour Hoffman, James Garner, Lauren Bacall, Don Pardo and Eli Wallach.
In other awards, “The Colbert Report” won its second consecutive trophy for variety series. It was a fond farewell to the series, which will be ending when Stephen Colbert replaces David Letterman as CBS’ “Late Show” host next year.
“It has been a ton of fun to do the show for the last nine years,” said a grateful Colbert as he accepted the award.
Emotions ran high when “The Normal Heart,” a drama about the early days of the AIDS crisis, won best movie.
It took nearly 30 years for Larry Kramer’s semi-autobiographical play to reach the screen, and the author and activist, who is battling the disease, was part of the group accepting the Emmy.
“This is for all of the hundreds of thousands of artists who have passed from HIV/AIDS since 1981,” said Ryan Murphy, the film’s executive producer and director, as he accepted the award.
Looking over at the frail Kramer, Murphy said, “We did this for him.”
“Fargo” — inspired by the 1996 Joel and Ethan Coen film — won best miniseries and picked up a trophy in directing for Colin Bucksey.
Jessica Lange won for lead actress in a miniseries or movie for “American Horror Story: Coven.”
“I’m profoundly surprised,” said Lange of her third Emmy. “I don’t know what to say.”
Earlier, her costar in the miniseries Kathy Bates won supporting actress.
“Sherlock: His Last Vow” won three Emmys in the miniseries and TV movie genre — for lead actor Benedict Cumberbatch, supporting actor Martin Freeman and writer Steven Moffat.
But the tried and true dominated the show. Julia Louis-Dreyfus won her third consecutive Emmy as lead actress in a comedy series for “Veep.”
In addition, Jim Parsons — who will now make $1 million an episode as ultimate nerd Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory” — earned a bit more gold as he picked up his fourth Emmy as lead actor in a comedy series.
Allison Janney picked up her sixth career Emmy, for supporting actress in a comedy series for “Mom.” Just last week at the Creative Arts Emmys, Janney won for guest actress in a drama series for “Masters of Sex.”
“No. 6,” she said, holding up the Emmy on Monday night, “let’s go!”
Louis C.K. also earned his sixth Emmy, winning in comedy writing for his series “Louie.”
“The Amazing Race” took its 10th Emmy in the reality competition.
In other races, Cary Joji Fukunaga won best director for the drama series “True Detective.” It was the only award the series won Monday night.
Sarah Silverman received the Emmy for writing for the variety special “Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles.” And Glenn Weiss accepted the Emmy for variety special for directing the 67th Tony Awards as he was directing Monday night’s show.
As the evening began, first-time host Seth Meyers was finding his footing in the opening monologue. At one point, he said nominees were like jokes — “they all can’t be winners.” But Meyers seemed to find his groove as he talked about everything from the show being on Monday night for the first time in almost four decades to the murkiness of the categories (Is it comedy? Is it drama?) and even the penchant of “Game of Thrones” for killing off its lead characters.