NBC’s White House saga The West Wing won its fourth Emmy Award for best drama despite shrinking viewership, while CBS’s Everybody Loves Raymond was honoured as best comedy.
James Gandolfini, who plays the hulking mobster on HBO’s The Sopranos, and Edie Falco, who portrays his long-suffering wife, swept the top drama acting awards.
Yesterday’s ceremony was both celebratory and bittersweet, with homage paid to a number of performers and industry figures who died this year including Bob Hope, John Ritter, Gregory Hines and Fred Rogers.
Tony Shalhoub, who plays an obsessive-compulsive detective on the USA cable network’s Monk, beat broadcast network stars for best actor in a comedy. Debra Messing, after three unsuccessful tries, won best comic actress for Will & Grace.
Although The Sopranos claimed four awards, compared to two for The West Wing, the HBO mob drama again was denied the top award. TV academy voters have yet to crown a cable series as best drama.
“I wish for everyone a working experience like we have,” Falco said, adding “we have inadvertently created the perfect working environment”.
The fourth time was the charm for Messing.
“Oh my God,” said an exuberant Messing, who was nominated three times before and went home empty-handed. “I never thought this was going to happen.”
Tyne Daly was honoured for her supporting role in the CBS drama series, Judging Amy, while Joe Pantoliano – who lost his head on The Sopranos – won best supporting actor in a drama series.
CBS’s The Amazing Race won the first-ever Emmy in the reality competition category, beating the more popular series American Idol and Survivor.
Everybody Loves Raymond won for best writing in a comedy series. The Sopranos won best writing in a drama series.
The West Wing received the Emmy for best directing for a drama series, while the award for best mini series went to the science fiction drama Steven Spielberg Presents Taken, which received a panning from critics in Britain.
Cher – The Farewell Tour was named best variety, music or comedy special.
Dame Maggie Smith has picked up a best actress Emmy Award in the US for her portrayal of an English novelist who survives a terrorist bombing on a train.
The British star was named best lead actress in a TV mini series for her role in the HBO drama My House in Umbria at the star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles last night.
Bill Cosby received the second Bob Hope Humanitarian Award with a self-effacing speech in which he thanked his wife, Camille, for 40 years of unconditional love.
Veteran news anchor Walter Cronkite paid tribute to Hope, who died at age 100 this summer.
HBO won a leading 18 Emmys, followed by CBS with 16, NBC with 15 and ABC with nine. Fox and PBS earned seven each.