The TV industry has rolled out the red carpet and is ready to celebrate on its biggest night of the year Sunday with the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.
Getting close attention this year is the best drama race, which features the first online series recognized for a major award at the Emmys. Netflixs political thriller House of Cards is up against some tough competition including Homeland, Breaking Bad and Mad Men. The latter series is looking for its fifth drama series statue, which would break the record four wins it currently shares with three other series.
Also with a shot at making history is Scandal star Kerry Washington. The best actress nominee is the first black woman to compete in the categoy since 1995. She would be the first black actress to win the top award.
How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris will host the ceremony starting at 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
Neil Patrick Harris is magical, and not just because he can sing, dance, act and host the Tony and Emmy awards. Hes actually magical, like in the abracadabra way, and has been since he was a kid.
Long before he was Doogie Howser, M.D., Harris loved magic. Every trip to his grandparents house in Albuquerque meant a visit to the local magic shop, where he used his allowance to add a card or coin trick to his collection, mastering the new illusion on the ride home.
These days, the 40-year-old entertainer injects magic into most everything he does. He levitates an Emmy trophy in advertisements for Sundays big show, which hes hosting for the second time. His How I Met Your Mother character, Barney, dabbles in magic. And Harris often does magic tricks on talk shows.
He also makes countless hours of his free time disappear as leader of the Academy of Magical Arts, which is headquartered at the famed Magic Castle on a hill overlooking Hollywood.
With the Emmys just a few days away, Harris is harried. Hes been hands-on in helping put the ceremony together, said executive producer Ken Ehrlich.
This is one guy whose title of producer isnt just a vanity title, Ehrlich said, lauding the entertainers instincts both to what makes a terrific live television show as well as to what makes a great TV show for people to watch at home.
Harriss production skills are actually award-worthy: He won an Emmy at Sunday nights Creative Arts ceremony as executive producer of last years Tony Awards.
A host of the main Emmy show, Harris says he wont sing and dance – at least not as an opening or closing number. Both he and Ehrlich say they hope something unexpected will liven up the ceremony.
Maybe I hope someones really drunk and wins, Harris deadpanned. Im hoping someone brings in a flask unattended, has some sort of problem, actual problem maybe, and we get to watch that downward spiral in front of millions. That, for me, is Emmy magic.
So, Bryan Cranston, tick tock.
Inside the theater
Inside the Nokia Theatre, stagehands were hard at work on preparing the set. The stage has been outfitted with six cubes that pivot up and down and serve as video screens.
Place cards on the chairs in front of the stages zebrawood stairs show that Jane Lynch and Modern Family stars Ty Burrell and Sofia Vergara are front-row center. Other nominees with front-row spots included Jim Parsons, Connie Britton, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
Many of the seating arrangements in different parts of the orchestra section featured unique pairings: Michael J. Fox aside Elton John, Matt Damon next to Amy Poehler and Dylan McDermott alongside Bob Newhart.
Presenters for the ceremony include: Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, Alec Baldwin, André Braugher, Bryan Cranson, Claire Danes, Jimmy Kimmel, Sofia Vergara, Diahann Carroll, Matt Damon, Emily Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel, Michael Douglas, Anna Faris, Tina Fey, Allison Janney, Amy Poehler and Kerry Washington.
Tribute to the ’60s
Emmy organizers say Carrie Underwood will perform at the awards ceremony as part of a tribute to TVs role in significant 1960s events.
The TV academy says Don Cheadle will host the segment at Sundays awards about TVs coverage of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
That will be followed by a salute to the Beatles performance on Ed Sullivans variety show in February 1964, concluding with Underwoods performance of 60s era music.
Emmys executive producer Ken Ehrlich says the segment recognizes a time that represented TVs finest hour.