Surprise winner Melissa McCarthy turned the 63rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday into a Chicago-centric celebration.
McCarthy, star of CBS’ Chicago-set “Mike & Molly” and Plainfield native, was flabbergasted win her name was announced as outstanding actress in a comedy.
“I’m from Plainfield, Ill., and I’m standing here and it's kind of amazing!” McCarthy gasped, saying after her thanks. “Holy smokes.”
The 41-year-old actress has had a breakout year. Not only did her sitcom become a hit in its first season, but she wowed critics with her performance in the hit film “Bridesmaids.” She beat out frontrunners Laura Linney (“The Big C”) and Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”).
McCarthy also was part of one of the Fox broadcast’s best bits Sunday, which may or may not have been scripted. When nominee Amy Poehler’s name was called, she walked on stage as if she won, then stood there to make it look like the nominees were supposed to stand up there. The “Parks and Recreation” star was joined by McCarthy, then Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), Martha Plimpton (“Raising Hope”) and the previously mentioned nominees.
They all stood together, holding hands as if they were finalists for Miss America. When McCarthy won, a crown was placed on her head and roses and the Emmy were put in her hands.
The show, which was hosted by Chicago native and “Glee” star Jane Lynch, was a mixed bag. Lynch’s opening number was fun, as was a wacky but inexplicable production number by The Lonely Island and Michael Bolton, who sang a medley of the popular and raunchy songs Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone have written for “Saturday Night Live.”
But the ceremony dragged in its middle section, despite heroic efforts—and many zingers—from Lynch, who got her start in the Chicago theater and improv comedy scene. One of my favorites: “You know, a lot of people are curious why I'm a lesbian. Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of ‘Entourage.’”
ABC’s comedy “Modern Family” dominated early in the evening, winning awards from Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell in the supporting acting categories and for directing and writing, which gave Lynch the opportunity for another joke.
“Welcome back to the ‘Modern Family’ awards!” she quipped.
Adding to the Chicago feel of the night was Julianna Margulies, who won the dramatic actress award for her Chicago-set lawyer drama “The Good Wife.” (Sure, it’s filmed in New York, but I’ll allow it.)
One of the night’s biggest surprises was “Friday Night Lights” star Kyle Chandler’s win over heavy favorite Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” in the lead dramatic actor race. “Mad Men” did top “Friday Night Lights” to win the outstanding drama award.
Chandler, McCarthy, Bowen and Burrell were all first-time winners. TV and film veteran Margo Martindale also won her first Emmy, the supporting actress award for the drama “Justified.” The actress, who played the hard, vengeful matriarch of a marijuana-growing family in the FX series, was much more emotional than her character.
"Sometimes things just take time, but with time comes great appreciation,” she said. She went on to thank “the kick-assest cast on television.”
Charlie Sheen provided one of the broadcast’s tensest moments. The actor, who was fired from “Two and a Half Men” earlier this year due to substance-abuse problems and a feud with his boss, Chuck Lorre, presented the award for lead actor in a comedy.
“Before I present outstanding lead actor in a comedy series, my old category, I want to set something straight,” Sheen said as a hush fell over the audience. “I want to take a moment to get something off my chest and say a few words to everybody here from 'Two and a Half Men.’
"From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season. We spent eight wonderful years together and I know you will continue to make great television.”
Sheen seemed sincere, but then again, he is an actor. I wonder how much he was paid to eat that crow. After his speech, he announced Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory” as the winner.
“This is so odd for so many reasons,” Parsons said as he accepted the award for the second year in a row.
Odd indeed, considering that many thought Steve Carell would finally win his first Emmy in the category, for his last season on “The Office.”
But as Lynch cracked earlier in the evening when she lost out to Bowen. “There are losers … And if I wasn’t hosting this show, I’d be home by now eating a tub of turkey meatballs. In the dark.”
Emmy night’s notable Chicago connections
- Host Jane Lynch is from Chicago and worked in the comedy scene here.
- Winner Melissa McCarthy is from Plainfield, Ill.
- Winner Kyle Chandler once starred in the Chicago-filmed and set “Early Edition.”
- Winner Juliana Margulies stars in the Chicago-set “The Good Wife,” and once starred in the Chicago-set and partially filmed “ER.”
- Nominees Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert worked at Second City in Chicago.
- “Entourage” star and presenter Jeremy Piven is from Evanston.
- Nominee Martha Plimpton in an ensemble member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre.