KATHERINE HEIGL 88 224.
(photo credit: AP)
The Sopranos turned its startling cut-to-black final season into Emmy gold Sunday, winning the best drama series award, and newcomer 30 Rock was named best comedy series.
The mob saga's victory was nearly unprecedented, with only one other drama series, 1977's Upstairs, Downstairs, having claimed the top trophy after leaving the air.
"In essence, this is a story about a gangster," said The Sopranos creator David Chase. "And gangsters are out there taking their kids to college, and taking their kids to school, and putting food on their table.
"And, hell, let's face it, if the world and this nation was run by gangsters" - Chase paused and shrugged, as everyone laughed - "maybe it is."
Freshman 30 Rock, set in the world of a late-night show akin to Saturday Night Live and created by SNL veteran Tina Fey, could be buoyed by its award. The critically acclaimed comedy has lagged in the ratings.
Fey, who also stars in the series, jokingly thanked "dozens and dozens of viewers."
Sopranos stars James Gandolfini and Edie Falco didn't fare as well their show Sunday.
James Spader was named best drama series actor for Boston Legal, and talked as if he had pilfered it from fellow nominee Gandolfini.
"Oh my goodness, I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob. And they're all sitting over there," Spader said, acknowledging him and the rest of The Sopranos cast in the Shrine Auditorium audience.
Sally Field was honored as best actress in a drama for Brothers & Sisters. Falco was among her competitors.
"How can that be? These wonderful actors," Field said. Clearly flustered, she lost her train of thought at one point, shouting at the audience to stop applauding while she struggled to finish her acceptance speech.
America Ferrera of the campy Ugly Betty was named best actress in a comedy series.
HBO won a leading 21 awards, edging NBC's 19 trophies. ABC and CBS tied with 10 each, followed by PBS with nine and Fox with seven. The total reflect awards given Sunday and at last week's creative arts ceremony.
The biggest laugh of the night was earned by presenters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, after they announced that Ricky Gervais of Extras had won the award for best comedy series actor.
"Ricky Gervais could not be here tonight. Instead we're going to give this to our friend, Steve Carell," Stewart said. Carell, a nominee for The Office, bounded on stage, sharing a group hug with Stewart and Colbert.
The Emmys spread the awards wealth.
Supporting actor honors went to stars of Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Entourage and My Name is Earl.
"My own mother told me I didn't have a shot in hell at winning tonight," said Katherine Heigl of Grey's Anatomy. "This is my dream come true. I've been doing this for 17 years."
A mob family, a former vice president and the cast of Roots brought the audience to its feet at the ceremony.
Al Gore received a standing ovation as his Current TV channel, which features viewer-created videos, was honored for achievement in interactive television.
"We are trying to open up the television medium so that viewers can help to make television, and join the conversation of democracy, and reclaim American democracy by talking about the choices we have to make," said Gore, whose global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth received an Oscar earlier this year.
Another standing ovation greeted the sprawling cast of The Sopranos, which gathered on stage after the drama had claimed honors for best writing and directing. Actor Joe Mantegna paid tribute to the show as "having changed the face of television."
The usually staid awards needed attention from the censors from the start, with first presenter Ray Romano. He joked about his former Everybody Loves Raymond wife, Patricia Heaton, sleeping with her new Back to You co-star Kelsey Grammer.
But he used a stronger word, which prompted Fox to black out the show for a few seconds. Heigl mouthed another expletive, which Fox unsuccessfully tried to evade with a different camera shot.
Terry O'Quinn, who plays the mysterious John Locke on Lost, was named best supporting actor in a drama.
"Sometimes when we're rolling around in the jungle in the mud, hitting each other and stabbing each other, I wonder what it would be like to bake up a sheet of cookies on Wisteria Lane and get one of their checks," O'Quinn said, referring to Desperate Housewives.
"Then I think about my castmates and crewmates, and I realize why I have the best job in the world," said O'Quinn, whose award came in a resurgent creative season for the series.
Jeremy Piven, who plays a slick Hollywood agent on the comedy Entourage, was another early winner.
"What an embarrassment of riches to even be able to play this role," said Piven. "I want to thank our entire crew. I don't know any of their names," he joked.
Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen) was honored as best actress in a miniseries or movie for Prime Suspect, making her the category's biggest winner with four awards.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart received its fifth consecutive trophy as best variety, music or comedy series. Stewart noted the satiric news show sent a correspondent to Iraq this year who "found laughs in hell. I think it's the proudest thing we found so far."
In an animated opening, cartoon characters from Family Guy spoofed the industry in a song-and-dance number on a specially designed set-in-the-round at the Shrine Auditorium.
Then host Ryan Seacrest took over.
He saluted hosts of years past, including Johnny Carson, Conan O'Brien and Ellen DeGeneres: "Sure, they were brilliant, if that's what you're into." After briefly bantering with audience members, the American Idol host turned the ceremony over to the awards and to those with comedy on their resumes.
Even Kanye West did his part, competing in a "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" spoof with Rainn Wilson of The Office. Told to finish off the lyrics of West's new single, "Stronger," West sang "you" instead of "ya" and Wilson got it right.
"I never win," muttered West, jokingly; he's been publicly peeved over previous awards show losses.
Emmy winners list
Drama Series: The Sopranos
Comedy Series: 30 Rock
Miniseries: Broken Trail
Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Made-for-TV Movie: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Reality-Competition Program: The Amazing Race
Creative Achievement in Interactive TV: Current
Actor, Drama Series: James Spader, Boston Legal
Actor, Comedy Series: Ricky Gervais, Extras
Actor, Miniseries: Robert Duvall, Broken Trail
Actress, Drama Series: Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Actress, Comedy Series: America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Actress, Miniseries: Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect: The Final Act
Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Terry O'Quinn, Lost
Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Supporting Actor, Miniseries: Thomas Haden Church, Broken Trail
Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy
Supporting Actress, Comedy Series:Jaime Pressly, My Name Is Earl
Supporting Actress, Miniseries: Judy Davis, The Starter Wife