The Sopranos finally whacked its competitors in the best-drama category at the Emmy Awards, and a comedy-series victory for ratings-starved Arrested Development proved somebody was watching — but it was HBO and its record-breaking Angels in America that fluttered away with the most trophies.
HBO’s megahit about a New Jersey mob family collected the best drama Emmy on its fifth try on Sunday, and the channel’s Sex and the City and Angels in America helped cable overshadow the traditional networks.
“We’ve put a lot of work into it and I think we’ve gotten better. It’s good that it finally paid off,” series creator David Chase said of The Sopranos, which is entering its last season.
Meanwhile, the theme was “gone, but not forgotten” in many of the acting categories as stars who ended their runs as beloved characters on The Sopranos, Frasier and Sex and the City collected most of the series trophies.
Drea de Matteo, who played the ill-fated mob girlfriend Adriana la Cerva on The Sopranos, won for best supporting actress in a drama series, while Michael Imperioli, who played her backstabbing boyfriend Christopher Moltisanti, collected the award for best supporting actor in a drama series.
“There are so many people that are responsible for this, that if I even try to thank any of them right now, I might puke, choke, cry or die. And you’ve already seen me do that,” said De Matteo, whose character met a grim end last season. She’s now on NBC’s Joey, a spin-off of Friends.
Mirroring the concern in Hollywood over the dwindling number and quality of situation comedies, the four major comedy acting awards each went for work in a series that has ended. Kelsey Grammer won his fourth Emmy for best actor in a comedy for Frasier and Sarah Jessica Parker won best actress for Sex and the City.
“I had the most extraordinary life on television,” Grammer said. “Frasier was a gift in my life and the people that I got to meet and work with were the greatest and this is just the cherry on top.”
David Hyde Pierce won a supporting actor award for Frasier, which ended an 11-year run this spring, and Cynthia Nixon won best supporting actress for Sex and the City.
“In sitcom school they tell you how great it is to have a long-running show,” said Hyde Pierce, “but they don’t tell you how hard it is to say goodbye.”
Although cable ruled the night, Fox’s Arrested Development provided a rare bright spot for broadcast television, winning best comedy series after a freshman year that was critically acclaimed but low rated.
“This is so huge for us. You know what? Let’s watch it,” series creator Mitchell Hurwitz urged viewers.
The broadcast networks also claimed honours for Allison Janney of NBC’s The West Wing and James Spader of ABC’s The Practice, who won best actor awards for drama.
“You’ve all made wonderful choices in shoes and dresses tonight and you all look absolutely beautiful,” Spader said in a lighthearted acceptance.
Angels in America, the miniseries adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the 1980s Aids crisis, won seven Emmys, including outstanding miniseries and acting trophies for Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeffrey Wright.
Kushner received a best writing award and Mike Nichols won best director.
The two-part series proved a record breaker. With the four Emmys won on September 12 at the creative arts awards, it exceeded the nine awards Roots won in 1977 to become the most honoured miniseries — and matched the 11 won by Eleanor and Franklin in 1976, the most for any programme in one season.
Streep praised Kushner’s words as the reason for the TV miniseries’ success.
“The bravest thing in the world is that writer who sits alone in a room and works out his grief, his rage, his imagination and his deep desire to make people laugh. And he makes a work of art that then transforms the world with the truth, because that’s all we want, you know,” she said. “It’s all we need.”
The edgier programming on cable has come to overshadow the more restrained fare found on network television, where language, violence and sex are dealt with obliquely.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which has spent this election year skewering the candidates for tiny Comedy Central, won an award for best variety series for the second year in a row. Stewart’s writing staff also won an Emmy. — Sapa-AP
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