"Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston opened the 71st Emmy Awards, television's answer to the Oscars, in Los Angeles on Sunday with a tribute to the small screen's so-called golden era.

"Television has never been bigger. Television has never mattered more. And television has never been this damn good," he said.

TV stars from Westeros to the White House hit the red carpet under sunny skies as "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" take their final tilts at Emmys glory.

The long-running HBO smash hits have 74 Emmys between them, and hope to add to their record hauls before they bow out at the glittering ceremony in downtown LA's Microsoft Theater.

The final season of "Thrones" is widely tipped to win the prestigious best drama prize, where it is up against BBC America's "Killing Eve," AMC's "Better Call Saul," Netflix's "Ozark" and HBO stablemate "Succession."

The first award of the night, for best supporting actor in a comedy, went to Tony Shalhoub ("The Marvelous Mrs Maisel").

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Emmys 2019
The stage is prepared ahead of the 71st Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles on September 22, 2019. Photo: AFP / Frederic J. BROWN