The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in Prime Time television programming from June 1, 2011, until May 31, 2012, were held on Sunday, September 23, 2012, at Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles, California. ABC televised the ceremony in the United States. Comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel hosted the Primetime Emmys for the first time. Kimmel and Kerry Washington announced the nominations on July 19, 2012. Nick Offerman was originally scheduled to co-announce the nominations but had to cancel due to travel delays. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony was held on September 15 and was televised on September 22, 2012, on ReelzChannel.
The award for Outstanding Drama Series went to Showtime crime drama Homeland, the first for that network, and which broke Mad Men’s four-year hold on the award; while the Outstanding Comedy Series award went for the third year in a row to ABC’s Modern Family. This was the first ceremony that none of the four major American broadcasting TV networks were nominated in the categories of Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. For Britain, the ceremony was noted for the successes of actors Damian Lewis of Homeland and Maggie Smith of Downton Abbey.
Of the latter, Dame Maggie not only was PBS’ first win in her category, she had won the previous year, for the same role in another category. Hers was also the first win in a major acting category for a Drama Series for PBS since 1975.
Mad Men set a new record for the largest “shutout” in Emmy history, receiving nominations for 17 awards and winning none. This broke the previous record of 16 nominations without a win, set by Northern Exposure in 1993 and The Larry Sanders Show in 1997. This record was broken by The Handmaid’s Tale in 2021, which did not win any of its 21 nominations that year.