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The Crazy Emmy Awards

Neil Patrick Harris waits forever to sing. An actress you’ve never heard of gives the best speech ever. Jeff Daniels shocks us. And more of the wildest moments from this year’s show.

Neil Patrick Harris Watches TV

When Neil Patrick Harris signs on to host an awards show you expect kick lines and belting and bedazzled tuxedos and a chorus of tap dancers and showgirls and circus acts and razzle and dazzle and, like, fun. Yet the Emmy Awards began on Sunday night with nearly 10 minutes of Neil Patrick Harris sitting and watching TV. Really, he sat in a recliner and watched TV. For roughly eight minutes. It was the peak embodiment of “giving people exactly what they do not want.” He then began his monologue, listing the 17 cameras, 20-something musicians, hundreds of people working backstage, 6,000 people in the audience, and millions of viewers around the world watching the ceremony on TV. If you listened closely, you could hear all those people grunting, “Sing, dammit!” at the same time.

Tina Fey and Poehler Save Him (Duh)

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Our Emmy Predictions!

He Said, He Said

The Battle for Best Show

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Will it be another win for ‘Homeland,’ or will ‘Breaking Bad’ sneak in and take it? Will it be a big year for ‘Girls’? Ahead of Sunday's Emmys, Kevin Fallon and Marlow Stern debate.

OUTSTANDING DRAMA
Breaking Bad  
Downton Abbey  
Game of Thrones 
Homeland
(2012 Winner)  
House of Cards  
Mad Men

OUTSTANDING COMEDY  
30 Rock  
The Big Bang Theory  
Girls  
Louie  
Modern Family
(2012 Winner)  
Veep

Marlow: And then there were two... [Slow clap] Last year’s Emmys was all about Homeland, which swept all three major categories (Outstanding Drama, Best Actor, Best Actress), and it’s up for even more awards this year. But I thought Homeland slipped a bit in Season 2 with storylines more erratic than Carrie Mathison off her meds wielding a ball of yarn. I’ve got to go with Game of Thrones here in the Outstanding Drama category. The show is only getting better, and the third season was outstanding. You had the Machiavellian Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) amassing her slave army one clever deal/massacre at a time, Peter Dinklage chewing up scenery, and—gasp!—The Red Wedding which, with its slit throats, flying arrows, and pregnant belly-shivving, made the Internet lose its collective shit. Creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss brought the fire and brimstone this season, and for this, deserve the shiny hardware. 

Kevin: This year’s Outstanding Drama nominees, for the first time, don’t include a single series from the four major broadcast networks. It’s a shame because my personal list of best dramas from the last TV season, for example, would have included Parenthood (which accomplishes the rare feat of being earnest without being cloying), The Good Wife (the best legal drama on TV), and Scandal (which each week had me gasping and thinking, Wow, this was such a good episode" and then I’d look at the clock and realize it’s only been 20 minutes).  

Scary Good

Everyone Loves Vera

She’s already been nominated for an Academy Award, and now she’s up for an Emmy for her turn as Norma Bates in A&E’s ‘Psycho’ drama, ‘Bates Motel.’ The beloved Farmiga talks to Anna Klassen.

How do you breathe life into a character whom audiences identify as nothing more than a corpse sitting in a basement?

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A&E

Ask Vera Farmiga, the star of A&E’s Psycho prequel, Bates Motel. The actress plays Norma Bates, who became a Hollywood horror icon in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic. But in Psycho, Norma is never seen—alive, that is—though she’s often heard inside the head of her deranged serial-killer son, Norman.

Praised by many, Farmiga’s performance in Season 1 earned her an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. “It’s the most powerful form of encouragement,” she tells The Daily Beast. “I know that the category is cutthroat, and there are a lot of deserving women. It’s so darn special.”

So Long, Stefon!

This Interview Has Everything ...

After eight seasons, Bill Hader left ‘Saturday Night Live’ last season, earning his second consecutive Emmy nod on the way out. He talks to Kevin Fallon about his favorite ‘SNL’ memories and everyone’s favorite club enthusiast, Stefon.

Saturday Night Live says goodbye to veteran cast members and hello to new faces each season. The revolving door at Studio 8H is part of the show’s tradition and one if its biggest appeals. That doesn’t mean that when Bill Hader announced his departure from the series last season we weren’t secretly hoping for that revolving door to jam.

Bill Hader as Stefon

Bill Hader as Stefon on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” (Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank, via Getty)

Hader spent eight very strong years on Saturday Night Live, proving himself to be a comedic chameleon as capable of disappearing into spot-on celebrity impressions (nailing everyone from Franklin Roosevelt to Phil Spector and Clint Eastwood) as he was crafting some of the sketch show’s most original, not to mention most hilarious, characters. The rush of joy viewers felt, for example, as Hader slid behind the “Weekend Update” desk in his rolling chair dressed as crazed party promoter Stefon is a Belushi/Ferrell/Wiig kind of rarity.

So as difficult as it is to come to terms with Hader’s exit from SNL, there is at least some solace to be had in the knowledge that he scored his second consecutive Emmy nomination for best supporting actor in a comedy for his swan-song season. With the Emmys coming up and SNL heading back into production imminently—for the first time in almost a decade without Hader—we chatted with the star about his fondest memories from his time on the show, what he’ll miss most (and least) about it, and what it is that makes Stefon so funny.

Julie Bowen already has won two Emmys for her performance as hilariously frazzled mom Claire Pritchett on ‘Modern Family.’ Competing for the fourth consecutive time at this year’s awards, the defending Emmy champ picks her most memorable moments from the fourth season of the hit ABC comedy.

Claire Takes Over the Snack Bar
Episode 22: “My Hero”

Ordinarily so much of comedy acting and TV acting exists in the writing. Basically, as long as you don’t screw up the words and have extremely talented writers like we do, then you’re going to be OK. Sometime you get these scenes that are really physical. It’s like playing the piano or something—you have to hit all these notes at the right time and in the right way and make it look natural. There’s something incredibly scary and so deeply satisfying about that, because it’s work I can do.  

They write a lot of physical comedy for me because I think they know I can’t tell a joke. What they usually write for me for physical comedy is that I’m good at being really bad at physical things, like tripping and falling. I’m good at that because it’s really me. So then they write something like this, and it’s the complete opposite. Like I’m going to have to be really good. It’s like dancing or playing music. I’m terrible at that. But I am Type A and I’m good at practicing. They said I didn’t have to do it on roller skates. But I did have to do it on roller skates, because she would. And it’s so much funnier to have somebody flying by. I’m a terrible roller skater as well. I went to a lesson or two beforehand. But it was… basically the goal was not to die. I have not gone back on skates since.

Emmy Nominee

Meet the Hilarious Nurse Zoey

Merritt Wever plays the funniest character on ‘Nurse Jackie’ and turned a stock girlfriend into a crowd favorite on ‘New Girl.’ She tells Jason Lynch about her comedic improvisations and her second Emmy nomination.

Put Merritt Wever in front of a camera, and she’s fearless. For five seasons, the actress has played one of TV’s most unique characters as Nurse Jackie’s peculiar, hilarious Zoey Barkow. From the moment her intern nurse—clad in scrubs dotted with bunnies and cats—arrived at All Saints Hospital in 2009, she routinely stole scenes from Edie Falco, whether gleefully dancing at the prospect of eating pancakes or asking a hospitalized film critic, “Why do you feel as though Hollywood has such disdain for cats?” Then, Wever’s guest stint last spring on New Girl turned a potential throwaway role—as Elizabeth, the former girlfriend of Schmidt (Max Greenfield), who seemingly was introduced only to springboard him back to Cece (Hannah Simone)—into one of the season’s comedic high points.

Merritt Wever

Merritt Wever appears in a scene from "Nurse Jackie." (David M. Russell/Showtime )

But put the actress in front of a reporter, and all that confidence evaporates. “I know, I’m not a great interview!” she keeps repeating apologetically over lunch at a midtown Manhattan diner. “I’m sorry I don’t have anything better for you. I hate this!”

The Curator

Connie Britton’s ‘Nashville’ Favs

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Katherine Bomboy-Thornton/ABC

In Season 1 of ‘Nashville,’ Connie Britton’s country-music superstar Rayna Jaymes weathered a rivalry with a young industry upstart, left her husband for her alcoholic ex-lover, and, oh, yeah, performed at the Grand Ole Opry. Britton, who received an Emmy nomination for best actress for her portrayal, picks her favorite moments from the show.

‘The Wrong Song’

Episode 7: “Lovesick Blues”

It was funny—when the script came for that episode, I read it, and when I got to the end, I got chills a little bit. I felt as if our show had just begun. In a way it felt to me like, OK, here we go. It felt like a very well-earned and well-wrought moment. Shooting it was a blast. Hayden [Panettiere, who plays Juliette Barnes] and I got to perform on the stage at the Ryman together. I really love working with her, so it was really fun. We don’t end up having that much story together a lot of the time. It was just really, truly a high point for me doing this show. Performing on the Ryman stage—people live their whole lives to step on that stage. Sometimes I really pinch myself when I’m doing this job.

The Curator

My Favorite ‘Newsroom’ Moments

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Jeff Daniels in HBO's "Newsroom". (Melissa Moseley/HBO)

During the first season of Aaron Sorkin’s acclaimed HBO series ‘The Newsroom,’ ACN anchor Will McAvoy delivered a four-minute rant about why America isn’t the greatest country in the world. He clashed with corporate and reported on the death of Osama bin Laden—stoned. Jeff Daniels, who received a Best Actor Emmy nomination for the performance, picks his Will highlights.

Will McAvoy’s Epic America Speech

Episode 1: ‘We Just Decided To’

I want to say it was about four pages of dialogue. It’s just one long string of a monologue, but Aaron really worked on it and rewrote it about half a dozen times. It was Day 3 of the pilot, and we had 18 days to shoot it. We didn’t know if we had a series, or if we had a Will McAvoy. It’s placed five minutes into the first episode, so everyone knows—me included—that people are sitting there with their remotes in their hands giving us 10 minutes to win them over. So five minutes in, Aaron writes this speech that just clears the room. We had three executives from HBO there, Aaron, and others, and the first take, it was there. Aaron came over and said, “You’re pitching a no-hitter. I’m going to go back and sit down.” We had 500 college kids sitting there as extras, and there were several times I’d get done and they’d just start applauding. It was about what the speech said. The way it was written, who wrote it, and what he had to say at the time it was aired, I think the speech will outlive both Aaron and me. I’ve had actors who I revere who’ve pulled me over and said, “It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen on television.” Whether it is or not is up to others to decide, but I think it’s going to have an impact.

Emmys 2013

Elisabeth Moss’s Other Star Turn

The ‘Mad Men’ star talks about how she nailed an Australian accent, carried the star’s responsibility on her shoulders, and other tough aspects of filming her Emmy-nominated performance in the crime drama ‘Top of the Lake.’

In addition to her Mad Men recognition, Elisabeth Moss also received a best-actress Emmy nomination for her haunting turn as Robin Griffin, a detective investigating a missing pregnant girl in the magnificent Sundance Channel miniseries Top of the Lake. She explains how she pulled off four of the role’s most daunting aspects.

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David Wenham and Elisabeth Moss in a scene from “Top of the Lake.”

The Australian Accent

For six months, to anybody that would listen, I was like, if we don’t get it right, no matter how good [the rest of the miniseries] is, I’m going to get creamed for this accent! In the end, it actually helped, because it made me work hard on it, to the point where Jane [Campion, the director] and my dialect coach would say, “It’s going to be OK. You can do it. Don’t worry.” They were trying to calm me down, and I was saying, “No, you guys, this is serious. I have to get this perfectly.” And I also felt an allegiance and a responsibility to the project, because I didn’t want to let anybody down.

Emmys 2013

Moss’s Favorite ‘Mad Men’ Scenes

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AMC

Emmy nominated ‘Mad Men’ star Elisabeth Moss curates her favorite scenes from the hit AMC show.

Peggy Olson has enjoyed a wondrous, emotional ride on AMC’s acclaimed Mad Men. Starting out as Don Draper's secretary and then his protégée, she watches her career blossom until she has become his potential replacement. Over the course of the show, no one changes more than Peggy. Elisabeth Moss, who received a Best Actress Emmy nomination for her performance, her fifth consecutive nomination for the role, discusses her favorite Peggy moments from the past six seasons.

Peggy Discovers Her True Calling During the Belle Jolie Lipstick Panel

Season 1, Episode 6: ‘Babylon’

The Curator

My Top ‘Game of Thrones’ Moments

Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones. (Keith Bernstein/HBO)

Sweet Mother of Dragons! Daenerys Targaryen has had quite a ride on the acclaimed HBO series. She thwarted dual assassination attempts and several piggish men on her path to assembling a formidable slave army. Emilia Clarke, who received a Best Supporting Actress Emmy nomination for her riveting turn, discusses her most memorable scenes from the past season.

The Assassination Attempt on Daenerys

Episode 1: ‘Valar Dohaeris’

This scene was one of the few scenes we shot in Essaouira in Morocco, right by the coast. There was a fish market right next door, so it was a very interesting day filming. It’s an interesting place to start with Dany, because she’s really up against it, and must get her army together. We had a very nice-looking bug on a stick, which was creepy, but yes, the bug was CGI. One of the most exciting bits about filming Dany’s storyline is I get to look at the final product and see if my imagination was right. You always have that nervous point of, “Maybe that expression wasn’t right? Maybe it was a friendly bug!” [Laughs] But this season is an example of a huge character arc for her, in terms of what she starts with, and what she finishes with. It’s been a slow build with her, and I think that’s what’s given her the strength to achieve what she’s managed to achieve.