Surprise was the order of the evening as the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. bestowed top honors on the relatively little-seen classical-music comedy "Mozart in the Jungle," from Amazon Studios, and USA's high-tech thriller "Mr. Robot."
Other surprising nods went to pop diva Lady Gaga for her brief turn on FX's "American Horror Story" and to YouTube breakthrough Rachel Bloom as the star of the CW's ratings-challenged musical comedy "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."
Taraji P. Henson picked up the top acting prize for her performance as Cookie, the ex-con who has helped make Fox's hip-hop soap "Empire" a hit. The actress, who handed out victory cookies to her longtime publicist, Pamela Sharp, and several others as she marched to the stage to collect her trophy, told reporters backstage about being a bit apprehensive about doing the role because of Cookie's less-likable traits. But "I knew this was something special, something to shake up TV," Henson said.
Although the Globes draw most of their attention for kicking off the Oscar race, the TV awards play an important role in raising the profiles of new series and possibly paving the way for Emmy nominations this summer.
Streaming services such as Amazon don't typically release viewership figures, but the audience for "Mozart" — which released its second-season episodes late last month — has likely been quite small up to now. Jason Schwartzman, who appears in and executive produces "Mozart," hoped that the jaw-dropping Globe win would give the show much-needed publicity. Gael Garcia Bernal, who stars as a symphony conductor based on Gustavo Dudamel, also won in the lead actor category.
"Hopefully now people will see [the series] and watch more of it and get into different kinds of music," Schwartzman told reporters backstage.
When asked if the subject of classical music was too specialized for a general audience, co-creator Roman Coppola — son of "The Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola — said: "This is a world that interested us ... so we were never really concerned. It was a world with fascinating characters — artistic temperaments — and we thought it was intrinsically interesting."
Sam Esmail, creator of "Mr. Robot," seemed flummoxed by the win for his critically acclaimed show about a young computer hacker drawn into a conspiracy. Costar Christian Slater also won in the supporting actor category.
"My biggest expectations for this show — because it is subversive and strange — was that it would be a cult hit with a small fan base that would keep us on the air long enough for me to finish the series," Esmail said. "I can't begin to process this."
The win for Bloom and "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" recalled last year, when the CW won its first Globe for "Jane the Virgin" star Gina Rodriguez.
Bloom rushed the stage and picked up her trophy with a rapid-fire acceptance speech.
"We almost didn't have a show," Bloom said on camera. After Showtime passed, the series, about a young New York woman moving to West Covina in search of a former love interest she barely knows, was shopped around to other networks. "We felt like crap. [CW President] Mark Pedowitz picked it up, and he's the one that saved us."
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the win for Lady Gaga, who was named best actress in the miniseries/movie category, beating out veterans such as Kirsten Dunst ("Fargo"), Felicity Huffman ("American Crime") and Queen Latifah ("Bessie").
"This is one of the greatest moments of my life," Gaga said in an emotional speech. "I wanted to be an actress before I wanted to be a singer."
Oscar Isaac won as lead actor in HBO's "Show Me a Hero," while Maura Tierney scored supporting actress honors for Showtime's "The Affair." PBS' historical epic "Wolf Hall" won in the miniseries category.
Jon Hamm, the star of AMC's now-concluded "Mad Men," won top series acting honors. Backstage, he mused aloud on the winners and how the world has changed with network, cable and streaming series in the mix.
"When you look at what's on TV right now — from 'Fargo,' 'American Horror Story,' 'Narcos,'" Hamm said, his voice trailing off. "TV — what does it even mean anymore?"
Times staff writers Tre'vell Anderson, Deborah Vankin and Yvonne Villarreal contributed to this report.
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