HBO's double Emmy whammy

Network steals the show with longform pair

Oh well, so much for poor HBO.

The network that purportedly has fallen on hard times and taken it on the chin of late with its original series programming sneaked in while no one was looking and stole the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards out from underneath the dogpile, using the double longform whammy of "John Adams" and "Recount" to snare 10 Emmys, or more than one-third of the total handed out Sunday.

In the midst of a contentious presidential election, it's probably appropriate that the most attention was cast on our second president. The much-praised $110 million-plus HBO miniseries that carried his name set an Emmy record by winning a total of 13 statuettes: five on Sunday to go along with eight earned during the Creative Arts ceremony on Sept. 13.

The 13 -- which included wins for top miniseries as well as for stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, co-star Tom Wilkinson and its writing -- obliterated the record for most wins by a single Emmy project in a given year, 11, jointly shared by the 1976 miniseries "Eleanor and Franklin" and 2004's HBO mini "Angels in America."

But if "Adams" was the cake, "Recount" was the icing. It won the top made-for-TV movie prize, while Jay Roach won for his direction. The TV-movie trophy is, of course, nothing new in the HBO world; it has dominated the category with greater consistency than perhaps any other network has a single Emmy category. The victory was HBO's 14th for original telefilm in 16 years. Since 1994, HBO's only losses in the category were in 2000 to ABC's "Tuesdays With Morrie" and in 2004 to TNT's "Door to Door."

In taking home five Emmys in the six movie/miniseries categories Sunday, HBO nearly duplicated the longform category sweep of 2004 -- the only time it has been done. But there probably weren't a lot of tears being shed by network brass in going 5-for-6.

Beyond longform, the network also slipped in and snatched a couple of series Emmys, too -- albeit for acting -- with Jeremy Piven winning his third Emmy as comedy supporting actor for "Entourage" and Dianne Wiest winning her second Emmy overall and first for the HBO therapy half-hour "In Treatment."

It could have been an even greater HBO avalanche had the network not passed on the AMC hour "Mad Men" that was first pitched to HBO. That series won for top drama and direction of the pilot episode (to creator Matthew Weiner).