LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - HBO again grabbed the most prizes at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, but the premium cable network’s little TV movie “Temple Grandin” stole the thunder of its $200 million-plus miniseries “The Pacific.”
“Temple Grandin,” the decidedly uncommercial true story of an autistic woman who revolutionizes slaughterhouses, ended up with seven awards, including three acting honors. With 15 nominations, it enjoyed one of the best success rates.
“The Pacific” captured eight awards, including best miniseries, more than any other show, but most of the prizes for the World War Two drama were in technical categories. It led the contenders with 24 nominations, followed by “Glee” (19) and “Mad Men” (17).
Time Warner Inc-owned HBO snagged 25 Emmys from 101 nominations overall, its haul boosted by a pair of high-profile wins for its Jack Kevorkian biopic, “You Don’t Know Jack.” Last year, it ended up with 21 wins from 99 nominations.
ABC ranked No. 2 among the networks with 18 wins, including six for its newly crowned best comedy winner “Modern Family.” It was followed by Fox (11), CBS (10) and NBC (8).
While Walt Disney Co-owned ABC can claim bragging rights for “Modern Family,” one of the biggest new comedies last season, the show was produced by the studio arm of rival broadcaster Fox, a unit of News Corp.
CBS is a unit of CBS Corp, whose Showtime premium cable division won seven prizes. NBC is a unit of General Electric Co.
Three shows grabbed four wins each: cable channel AMC’s best drama winner “Mad Men,” Fox’s rookie comedy-drama “Glee,” and the Disney cartoon “Disney Prep & Landing.” “Mad Men” was produced for Cablevision Systems Corp-owned AMC by Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
The TV movie and miniseries categories are traditionally the bathroom-break parts of the three-hour Emmy ceremony. The broadcast networks have ceded the formats to niche players looking for prestige projects.
That sums up “The Pacific,” which depicted combat in the Philippines and other Asian-Pacific battlefields. The bloody saga served as a companion piece to the network’s European-set “Band of Brothers,” which won six Emmys in 2002. Both were executive-produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
“There is no economic model that says you should put on a 10-part miniseries and make cash on it and yet somehow they (HBO executives) had faith enough in order to do so,” said Hanks as he accepted the award for best miniseries on Sunday.
Virtually no expense was spared making the miniseries, which was largely shot in Australia. One beach-landing scene, involving 300 actors working over four days, cost about $5 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
But ratings were disappointing, and the miniseries failed to capture any Emmy acting nominations. Its only rival for best miniseries was the unheralded production “Return to Cranford.”
Little glamour surrounded “Temple Grandin,” which took about 10 years to bring to the screen. Its heroine, Grandin, on hand at the ceremony, was largely unknown to star Claire Danes and director Mick Jackson, both of whom won Emmys.
“I can’t imagine any other broadcasting organization making ‘Temple Grandin,’” Jackson told the Los Angeles Times in July. “On the face of it, it’s a story about an autistic woman who can’t bear to be hugged by her mother and who grows up to invent better slaughterhouses. You try pitching that in a meeting.”
The film premiered on HBO in February amid rave reviews but little mainstream attention. A DVD was released in August on the heels of its Emmy-nomination haul. Julia Ormond and David Strathairn won Emmys for supporting roles.
“You Don’t Know Jack,” which also received 15 nominations, won for Al Pacino’s lead role as assisted-suicide physician Kevorkian and for Adam Mazer’s script.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Peter Cooney