Sopranos bows out with top Emmy honours

United Sates mob drama The Sopranos said its final farewells when it picked up the top award at the 59th annual Emmy awards in Los Angeles on Sunday at television’s equivalent of the Oscars.

The groundbreaking HBO series, which ended in June after an eight-year run, took home the awards for outstanding drama, best writing and directing, but unexpectedly failed to score any prizes in the acting categories.

In the comedy awards, NBC’s 30 Rock, set in the offices of a New York television studio, picked up the top prize, while the acting awards were shared by Ricky Gervais for his series Extras and America Ferrera for Ugly Betty.

“This is really great,” Sopranos creator David Chase said, accepting the best drama award.

“I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, but maybe the best thing about this has been working with this cast. They are great.

“I couldn’t have done it by myself, it seems like I did, but I didn’t,” Chase said. “This amazing cast is really what it comes down to, the whole thing, it really is all about them,” he said.

James Spader took the outstanding lead actor in a drama award for his role as a quirky attorney in Boston Legal, edging out James Gandolfini, who had been tipped for his portrayal of Mafia boss Tony Soprano.

“I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob and they’re all sitting right over there,” Spader said, accepting his award.
Hugh Laurie had also been tipped for the award for his role as a cranky doctor in House.

The Sopranos had missed the top prize five times in the past, winning the most sought-after winged statuette of the evening just once before, in 2004.

Other shows competing for the top award were ABC hospital drama Grey’s Anatomy, law Boston Legal, also from ABC, Fox’s House and NBC’s science fiction series Heroes.

Cable channel HBO won the contest with 21 Emmys, followed by NBC, which had a total of 19, well ahead of CBS’ 10, ABC’s nine and Fox’s seven.

Two-time Oscar winner Sally Field took home outstanding lead actress in a drama and her third Emmy for the series Brothers & Sisters, edging out Edie Falco, nominated as for her role as Tony Soprano’s long-suffering wife Carmela.

The top comedy award was more of an open field, with strong contenders in spoof workplace documentary The Office, which won last year, and Ugly Betty, about a smart but unattractive woman working at a fashion magazine.

But it was 30 Rock that took home the top prize in the category.

“We have the best cast and crew in all of television and on behalf of every one of them I want to thank every parent, child, spouse and gay partner of every person that works on our show,” said creator and lead actress Tina Fey.

The show also beat out strong challenges by HBO’s, Entourage an insider take on the world of celebrity in Hollywood, and popular sitcom Two and a Half Men, starring Charlie Sheen.

Fey and Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman lost out in the lead actress in a comedy award to America Ferrera for Ugly Betty.

“It is truly an amazing, wonderful thing that happens when your dreams come true,” Ferrera told the start-studded gala at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium.

Ricky Gervais won the best comedy actor for his Extras in a surprise win.

Alec Baldwin, who plays a difficult boss in 30 Rock, had been tipped for the award, along with Steve Carell for The Office and Tony Shalhoub, chasing his fourth win for his role as an obsessive-compulsive detective in Monk.

But perhaps the biggest cheer of the evening went to former vice-president and now environmental campaigner Al Gore, accepting an award for his Current TV—a cable channel based on viewer-created content.

“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,” Gore said, after being greeted with a standing ovation and screams from the audience.

Legendary crooner Tony Bennett also picked up three awards, including best individual performance in a variety or music program.

Historical HBO special Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee won the outstanding made-for-television-movie trophy but failed to win any other major category besides technical awards, despite being the most nominated programme with 17 nods.

Veteran actors and Oscar winners Robert Duvall and Helen Mirren picked up the top acting awards for a miniseries or movie for the Western Broken Trail and crime drama Prime Suspect: The Final Act respectively.—AFP

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