LOS ANGELES >> Kim Lane and Margie Benefield of Rockmart, Georgia, were among hundreds of fans in the bleachers Sunday at the 67th prime-time Emmy Awards, hoping to catch a glimpse at history before it happened.
Television’s annual celebration of itself is always a big night, but performers and shows this time could be setting records and making breakthroughs.
First, the stars had to navigate a sweltering afternoon in which the temperature in downtown Los Angeles was pushing 100 degrees. “Even being from the South, this is hot,” Lane said.
Taraji P. Henson of “Empire” used a cardboard fan to create a breeze for herself, while actress Jaimie Alexander used an electric fan from the moment she stepped onto the red carpet, putting it away only to take photos.
Henson and Viola Davis of “How to Get Away with Murder” have a chance to become the first African-American to win as best drama series actress. “I gotta win! I gotta win for history!” an exuberant Henson said when asked about the prospect last May.
Gender-identity issues brought to the fore by Caitlyn Jenner and others likely will be a notable part of the ceremony airing live on Fox with host Andy Samberg.
“Transparent” star Jeffrey Tambor, considered a front-runner for the best comedy actor trophy, would earn the first Emmy for portrayal of a transgender character.
Bradley Whitford received a guest-actor trophy for his cross-dressing “Transparent” character at the creative arts Emmys last weekend.
The freshman Amazon series is a contender for best comedy honors, and a victory would make it the first online program to capture top series honors.
Others vying for that crown are the Netflix series “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” They became competing siblings when the TV academy moved “Orange” from the comedy to drama category.
“Game of Thrones,” this year’s top nominee overall, could make a notable showing with a best drama victory: It would become the second fantasy or sci-fi show to get the award, following “Lost” in 2005.
Its competition includes the final season of “Mad Men,” poised to set a record as the most honored drama series ever with a fifth award. The cast hasn’t fared as well, never winning despite repeated nods.
Making a last stand are star Jon Hamm, whose portrayal of troubled ad man Don Draper has been nominated for each of the drama’s eight seasons, along with best actress nominee Elisabeth Moss and supporting actress contender Christina Hendricks.
When it comes to ratings, Fox is counting on more than the audience’s love of TV as the attraction. “Fox NFL Sunday” is broadcasting from the red carpet and the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys telecast precedes the awards.
Having football as the lead-in to 2013’s Emmys made the ceremony a winner for CBS with 17.8 million viewers, the biggest audience in eight years. Last year’s 15.6 million viewers was the second-highest total for the period.
Benefield and Lane, who are both elementary school teachers and close friends, have been to the Emmy bleachers at least eight times. Benefield said she was excited to get to see the “Downton Abbey” cast and was hopeful that Hamm would finally get an Emmy.