- Associated Press - Monday, September 19, 2011

Even if your favorite nominee got snubbed, Sunday’s Emmy telecast could have been the most satisfying in memory.

It was funny, bright and skillfully hosted by “Glee” star Jane Lynch.

It moved at a brisk clip, free of the usual stumbles and lulls, and, even better, it flowed almost seamlessly, a next-to-impossible feat for any awards show.

Production values at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles were eye-popping, from the setting - an omega-shaped arch through which presenters made their entrance - to a tour-de-force comic musical number spearheaded by Andy Samberg and fellow “Saturday Night Live” performers that might have had some viewers scratching their heads in bewilderment but had to leave them dazzled nonetheless.

Yes, “Modern Family” cleaned up - winning five Emmys (including best comedy, supporting-acting trophies for TV parents Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell, and best writing and direction).

But Mark Burnett, the pasha of reality TV, was the night’s behind-the-scenes winner. Taking over for the first time as executive producer of the Emmys, he gave the show a rare measure of class and pizazz.

Best of all with the Emmys, there were startling surprises among the winners - and none undeserving.

After weeks of speculation over who would win for best actor in a drama (the long-denied Jon Hamm for “Mad Men” or Hugh Laurie for “House”?) Kyle Chandler’s name was called for his performance as a Texas high school football coach in the final season of “Friday Night Lights.”

“I knew for a fact I would not be standing here. I did not write anything, and now I’m starting to worry,” Mr. Chandler said with a palpable mix of unease and joy. It was a glorious moment for him as well as for the show, which was critically acclaimed but struggled for an audience while its never-say-die football team played by the motto “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory” earned his second trophy in the best-actor category - no big surprise.

But Melissa McCarthy of “Mike & Molly” rocked the room as she was honored as best lead actress in a comedy series with an Emmy and a glitzy prom queen’s crown.

“Wow! It’s my first and best pageant ever,” said the beaming Miss McCarthy, who, moments earlier, had broken with tradition along with her fellow nominees by jumping up onstage as their names were called. This display of solidarity earned them a standing ovation from many in the audience.

It was a night of good will, even from bad boy Charlie Sheen, a surprise presenter.

Mr. Sheen, who has been on a fence-mending TV tour of late, presented the lead-comedy-actor award but took time onstage to make nice with his former “Two and a Half Men” colleagues. He was fired from the show in March after bitterly clashing with its producer and studio, and he subsequently was replaced by Ashton Kutcher. On the Emmy show, he seemed intent on burying the hatchet.

“From the bottom of my heart, I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season,” he said, addressing the “Men” cast and crew. “I know you will continue to make great television.”

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