International Emmys: Matthew Weiner Highlights TV's Knack for Unity on a Divisive Night
"Humanity, we are united. I've never felt closer. Nationalism drives people apart, but entertainment brings people together"
Mere minutes separated the moments when Mad Men showrunner Matthew Weiner made the comment, "Nationalism drives people apart, but entertainment brings people together," while accepting the 2014 International Emmy Founders Award inside the New York Hilton Midtown, and when the verdict to not indict a Ferguson police officer for the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown was announced, inciting protests and riots nationwide.
Nevertheless, the creator of the AMC drama was visibly emotional about receiving the honor — "I knew I was gonna win, what am I gonna get emotional about? I didn't beat anyone!" — and tried upping his spirits with the idea to cast presenters Rupert Murdoch and Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson in a sitcom. "I've already sent it to the WGA — it's mine!"
He then applauded his cast as "human vehicles who are so beautiful and so deep and never stop feeling, they do that for a living. That's why I think this show translates to other countries. People thought it wouldn't — because who gives a crap about America a long time ago?"
"We wanted to make a show about very small things that people identify with, and there are so many things in the show that come from their lives and the writers' lives, and what you're seeing, as you saw in a lot of the amazing TV that we saw tonight, is the truth, and that translates.
"Humanity, we are united. I've never felt closer. Nationalism drives people apart, but entertainment brings people together — and so do awards!" he joked.
On hand to present the honor was John Slattery — who joked, "I'm a bit confused; I thought I was here to receive an Emmy! That's not happening, right? Matt Weiner, really? He doesn't have enough Emmys?" — to his showrunner, "who gave me the best job I'll probably ever have, which is very depressing to say out loud. ... Seeing him put together this incredibly specific, emotionally complicated, intelligent funny world of unpredictable characters in a historical context we all knew, or though we knew, has been something I will never forget." Christina Hendricks added, "Matt Weiner is the kind of artist who has such a stroke a genius that everyday that you work with him, the cast and the crew in his presence strives for excellence, honesty and beauty."
After plates of tuna tartare and filet mignon were served to the ballroom of guests, British comedian Matt Lucas took to the podium to host the evening, greeting the international audience in multiple languages and delivering a few not-so-well-received jokes.
"I'm basically the British John Travolta — I'm overweight, I'm bald and, oh wait, that doesn't work because I'm gay," and calling non-scripted television the "laziest" programs on the air. However, he did note that "I'm not the most successful comic in Britain; I'm not even the most successful comic onLittle Britain," and told attendees he wouldn't be making any jokes about presenter Rupert Murdoch: "I worked very hard to get here, I am not falling on your sword!"
Throughout the ceremony, Scandal's Darby Stanchfield presented the best drama award to the U.K.'s Utopia, Power's Curtis '50 Cent' Jacksongave the arts programming honor to Canada's The Exhibition, The Good Wife's Carrie Preston named the absent Stephen Dillane of The Tunnel as best actor, and The Blacklist's Amir Arison named Dutch actress Bianca Krijgsman best actress award for The New World. She gleefully dedicated the win "to all the extras in this movie that were real refugees, and I hope they have a place to stay in Holland," she said.
Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox awarded the documentary honor to Sweden's No Burqas Behind Bars, Carolin Kebekus gave U.K.'s Educating Yorkshire the non-scripted entertainment prize, Gotham's Erin Richards gave the telenovela honor to Brazil's Precious Pearl, and Reign's Megan Follows presented the TV movie/miniseries award to Germany's Generation War. Royal Pains' Ben Shenkman awarded the comedy honor to Belgium's What If, which had showrunner Tim Von Aelst joking alongside a crowd of cast and crew members onstage, "We never though we'd win because we're from a very small country, and actually most of our viewers are up here right now!"
The inaugural award for non-English language primetime programs in the U.S. was presented to El Señor de los Cielos by The Americans' Annet Mahendru. Roberto Marinho Irineu, CEO & President, Globo Organization received the 2014 International Emmy Directorate Award. The award was presented by Rupert Murdoch, the Chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox and News Corporation and Irineu was joined on stage by Brazilian actors Milton Gonçalvez and Gloria Pires.