The Sopranos turned its startling cut-to-black final season into Emmy gold last Sunday, winning the best drama series award, and newcomer 30 Rock was named best comedy series.
â€œIn essence, this is a story about a gangster,â€ said The Sopranos creator David Chase. â€œAnd gangsters are out there taking their kids to college, and taking their kids to school, and putting food on their table.
â€œAnd, hell, let’s face it, if the world and this nation was run by gangstersâ€ — Chase paused and shrugged, as everyone laughed — â€œmaybe it is.â€
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.
James Spader was named best drama series actor for Boston Legal, and talked as if he had pilfered it from fellow nominee, Sopranos star James Gandolfini.
â€œOh my goodness, I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob. And they’re all sitting over there,â€ Spader said, acknowledging him and the rest of The Sopranos cast in the Shrine Auditorium audience.
Sally Field was honoured as best actress in a drama for Brothers & Sisters. â€œHow can that be? These wonderful actors,â€ 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.
Supporting actor honours went to stars of Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, Entourage and My Name is Earl.
â€œMy own mother told me I didn’t have a shot in hell at winning tonight,â€ said Katherine Heigl of Grey’s Anatomy. â€œThis is my dream come true. I’ve been doing this for 17 years.â€
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 honoured for achievement in interactive television.
â€œWe 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,â€ said Gore.
Queen Latifah helped salute the groundbreaking miniseries Roots on its 30th anniversary. The saga about a black American family’s history â€œbrought great honour to the art form that we celebrate tonight,â€ she said.
â€œLet us all work to ensure that we all honour the legacy of Roots not just tonight but in everything we do,â€ added Roots star John Amos, reunited onstage with his castmates to yet another standing ovation.