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‘The Crown,’ ‘Ted Lasso’ Lead Emmys in Streaming’s Big Night

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·5 min read
‘The Crown,’ ‘Ted Lasso’ Lead Emmys in Streaming’s Big Night
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(Bloomberg) -- Netflix’s “The Crown” won best drama series at the Emmy Awards Sunday night, giving the streaming service the top prize on the TV industry’s biggest night for the first time.

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A lush period piece about the British royal family, “The Crown” won best drama series in its fourth season, which depicted Prince Charles’s romance with Princess Diana, as well as his affairs with Camilla Parker-Bowles, his future wife. The show also won the prizes for best writing and directing of a drama series, as well as all of the four acting awards. Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit,” about a chess prodigy, won best limited series.

The Emmy Awards were a reminder of just how much the industry has changed since Netflix released “Lilyhammer,” its first original series, in 2012. Netflix won more awards, 44, than any network. Apple, which makes most of its money selling smartphones and tablets, won more awards than any major broadcast network. Disney+, a streaming service that is less than two years old, won more than ABC, once the flagship of their owner the Walt Disney Co.

The annual telecast drew an audience of 7.4 million viewers, up 16% from last year’s program, according to preliminary ratings released by CBS, which carried the show. It was the most-watched Emmy telecast since 2018.

This breakthrough for streaming perpetuated Hollywood’s ongoing failure to diversify its ranks of writers, directors and actors. Almost all of the winners were white, and no person of color spoke as a winner until nearly two hours into the show, when Ru Paul took home an award for outstanding competition program. Paul was followed shortly by Debbie Allen, who won the governors award.

The Emmy Awards, given by the Television Academy, are considered the highest honors in the TV business. The show isn’t watched by as many people as the Oscars or the Grammys, and awards programs in general have been losing viewers in recent years. Still, the wins can provide a publicity boost, particularly for new services looking to acquire subscribers and attract talent.

Netflix has spent hundreds of millions of dollars chasing awards ever since “House of Cards,” its first show to receive universal acclaim. It has plastered Los Angeles with billboards, hosted public events and mailed stacks of DVDs to voters.

The company has earned more than 100 nominations the past four years and competed with HBO to secure the most wins. Yet it had never won the top prize in any category, which many Hollywood executives took as a sign of the industry’s reluctance to embrace the streaming outsider.

Peter Morgan’s show about the British royal family had been nominated for best drama series for its first three seasons. Produced by Sony Pictures and Left Bank Pictures, the series is one of the most expensive productions on television, costing upwards of $10 million an episode. The money is evident on screen in the ornate costumes and sets.

“The Crown” edged out Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” as well as another Netflix show, the romance drama “Bridgerton.” While “The Mandalorian” didn’t win any of the top Emmys, it did fare well at the Creative Arts Emmys, which took place last weekend. The show won prizes for music composition, stunts and visual effects.

Apple Inc. started the night as a big winner with “Ted Lasso,” its comedy about the U.S. coach of a British soccer club. The show was named the year’s best comedy series, and won four of the seven comedy awards. Star Jason Sudeikis won the prize for best actor and co-stars Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein earned best supporting actress and actor.

The show was nominated for 20 Emmys, the most ever for a first-year comedy. It is Apple’s first big breakout hit in terms of critical plaudits, social media conversation and industry prestige, and the wins Sunday night should drive more customers to Apple TV+, the iPhone maker’s paid streaming service.

Produced by Warner Bros.’ TV studio, “Ted Lasso” just concluded its second season and has been renewed for at least one more.

Many Hollywood figures have expressed skepticism about Apple’s foray into entertainment. It has not acquired a catalog of shows to fill out its library for Apple TV+, and it has been wary of igniting controversy with its programs. Yet the company dominated one category at the TV industry’s biggest annual gala less than two years after introducing the service.

Netflix’s toughest competition Sunday night came from HBO and HBO Max. The limited series “Mare of Easttown” won three acting awards, including best actress for Kate Winslet. She played the titular Mare, a detective investigating a series of murders in rural Pennsylvania. Co-stars Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson won for supporting roles.

‘Cultural Moment’

“It was this cultural moment and gave people something to talk about other than a global pandemic,” Winslet said during her acceptance speech.

HBO also won for “Last Week Tonight,” its topical news show, and “I May Destroy You,” a limited series about a woman struggling to process her sexual assault.

Comedian Cedric the Entertainer hosted the show, which aired live on both CBS and Paramount+. The academy put on an in-person ceremony at the L.A. Live entertainment district in downtown Los Angeles. Last year, the academy held a smaller ceremony, delivering the statuettes to winners at their homes.

“They said this was outdoors; it’s not,” actor Seth Rogen joked in presenting the first award. “Why is there a roof? It’s more important we have chandeliers than we make sure we don’t kill Eugene Levy.”

(Updates with rise in ratings in fourth paragraph)

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