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Host Jimmy Kimmel kicked off the 68th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday by making it clear that "Game of Thrones" and "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" were the night's big nominees.
"If your show doesn't have a dragon or a white Bronco in it, go home now," Kimmel joked.
HBO's dragon-filled drama led the pack with an astounding 23 nominations, the most of any series, with FX's "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" right behind with 22 nominations.
"The People v. O.J. Simpson" win big
But it was "The People v. O.J. Simpson" that racked up the most wins.
Sarah Paulson received a standing ovation as she walked to the stage to accept her first-ever Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her portrayal of former Los Angeles County prosecutor Marcia Clark.
The actress also brought Clark to the ceremony as her guest.
Paulson praised Clark, who famously lost the criminal murder case against former NFL star Simpson, for being a “complicated, whip-smart giant hearted mother-of-two who woke up every day and put both feet on the floor and dedicated herself to righting an unconscionable wrong, the loss of two innocents, Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown."
She also gave an "I love you" shoutout to her girlfriend, "Two and a Half Men" star Holland Taylor.
Paulson's co-star Sterling K. Brown won a supporting actor award for his portrayal of Clark's co-prosecutor Christopher Darden, beating cast mates John Travolta and David Schwimmer for the award.
Courtney B. Vance, one of the series' two lead actors, won his category for his portrayal of defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, the mastermind of Simpson's legal "Dream Team." Vance beat his cast mate, Cuba Gooding Jr., who portrayed Simpson, for the win.
Best shows — from "Veep" to "Game of Thrones"
The Emmys are known for repeatedly honoring its favorites and this year was no exception. For the second year in a row, "Veep" nabbed the best comedy series award, and "Game of Thrones" won the best drama award. Best limited series? "The People v. O.J. Simpson," of course.
Funny ladies shine — and cry
Julia Louis-Dreyfus made history when she picked up her fifth consecutive Emmy for lead actress work on "Veep." Louis-Dreyfus broke the record she shared with Candice Bergen and Mary Tyler Moore for most wins in the category.
"I’d like to take this opportunity to personally apologize for the current political climate," Louis-Dreyfus joked. "I think ‘Veep’ has torn down the wall between comedy and politics. Our show started out as a political satire, but now feels like a sobering documentary."
The actress finished her acceptance speech by tearfully dedicating her award to her father, who died last Friday.
Kate McKinnon also cried when picking up her first-ever Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on "Saturday Night Live." The actress thanked her own late father, "who made me start watching 'SNL' when I was 12."
Tina and Amy make history
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler walked onstage to present an award, but first took some well-deserved we-time to publicly acknowledge they, too, made history last weekend at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The comedians won the the first-ever shared Guest Actress in a Comedy Series award for hosting "Saturday Night Live" together.
In more consecutive wins, "Transparent" actor Jeffrey Tambor won again for Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Maura Pfefferman, a member of the trans community, in Amazon's "Transparent." The show's director, Jill Soloway, picked up her second directing award for the groundbreaking series.
Regina King won her second consecutive Emmy for her spellbinding work on "American Crime."
Surprise first-time wins
Tatiana Maslany beat veteran actresses Viola Davis, Claire Danes, Robin Wright and more, to win the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for playing several creepy clones in the critically acclaimed BBC America cult hit "Orphan Black."
"Mr. Robot" star Rami Malek won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama award for his portrayal of Elliot Alderson, a vigilante hacker who struggles with mental illness.
Election year jokes
Kimmel poked plenty of fun at politicians. In a pre-taped opening bit, Kimmel stumbled into a limousine driven by former Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush. The host also addressed "Celebrity Apprentice" producer Mark Burnett, who was sitting in the audience, to blame him for Republican nominee Donald Trump's rise in popularity.
"Thanks to Mark Burnett, we don’t have to watch reality shows anymore, we are living in one," Kimmel said.
Matt Damon heckles Kimmel
Kimmel's faux nemesis Matt Damon showed up to heckle the host after "Jimmy Kimmel Live" lost the Variety Talk Show category to HBO's ""Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."
“I’m sorry, this is so humiliating,” Damon said. “You lost and you now you have to stand out here in front of everybody.”
The Maggie Smith Rule
'Downton Abby" star Dame Maggie Smith beat not one, not two, but three "Game of Thrones" actresses — Lena Headley, Emilia Clark and first-time nominee Maisie Williams, as well as other stars — to nab the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama award.
In his opening monologue, Kimmel, ribbed the British actress for never showing up to the Emmys, and created the Maggie Smith Rule that prohibited absent stars from getting their awards.
“Maggie, if you want this, it will be in the lost and found," Kimmel said.
The Fonz salutes Garry Marshall
Henry "The Fonz" Winkler gave a special tribute to Hollywood director and "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall, who died last July of complications from pneumonia. Marshall spent decades working in television as a writer, actor and director before directing some of Hollywood's most iconic feature films including "Pretty Woman," "Beaches" and "The Princess Diaries."
"He was loyal. He had generosity of spirit and knowledge. I should know. He gave me my career," said Winkler.