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'Sopranos' Only Sure Thing Among Night of Emmy Surprises

Though HBO’s “The Sopranos” took the statue for best drama series as expected, the rest of the 59th annual Primetime Emmy Awards included surprise upsets in an array of categories.

NBC led among the networks with seven Emmy Awards, followed closely by ABC and HBO with six each.

NBC’s “30 Rock” bested favorites “The Office” and “Ugly Betty” for comedy series.

In one of the bigger surprises, “Boston Legal” actor James Spader overthrew “Sopranos” kingpin James Gandolfini and this year's Golden Globe winner, “House” actor Hugh Laurie.

“I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob, and they’re all sitting right over there,” Mr. Spader said.

But the biggest surprise came from one of the more anticipated winners: Sally Field, whose heartfelt affirmation of motherhood on the Emmy stage when accepting her award for "Brothers & Sisters" segued into a critique of the war in Iraq.

“At the heart of Nora Walker, she is a mother,” Ms. Field said of her character. “May they be seen, may their work be valued and raised, and to especially the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait – wait for their children to come home for from danger, from harm’s way and from war… if the mothers ruled the world there would be no goddamn wars in the first place.”

At the word “goddamn,” Ms. Field’s comments were bleeped from the telecast. Fox says the comments were removed due to the profanity and not the political content. Backstage, Ms. Field shrugged off the cut comments.

“Oh well … I've been there before,” she said. “I shouldn’t have said the ‘god’ before the damn.”

In another twist, Ricky Gervais won for lead actor in a comedy series for his HBO program “Extras,” besting Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”), Charlie Sheen (“Two and a Half Men”) and Steve Carrell (who plays the role in the American version that Mr. Gervais originated in the British original).

Accepting the statue on Mr. Gervais’ behalf, Jon Stewart said, “Ricky Gervais could not be here tonight. Instead we’re going to give this to our friend Steve Carell.” Mr. Carell bounded onstage and embraced Mr. Stewart and his co-presenter Stephen Colbert.

NBC’s leading tally was aided by its presentation of the special “Tony Bennett: An American Classic,” which earned three awards – tying several shows for the most Emmys awarded Sunday night. “The Sopranos” also won three, as did PBS’ “Prime Suspect” and AMC’s Western miniseries “Broken Trail.”

“I knew the second or third day into the script that it was going to be a hit,” said Robert Duvall, who picked up an Emmy for his performance in “Trail” and was an executive producer as well. “The Western is here to stay and I’m very glad I could be a part of it.”

In the lead actress in a comedy series category, “Ugly Betty” newcomer America Ferrera followed up her Golden Globe win by taking home an Emmy.

“It is truly an amazing, wonderful thing that happens when your dreams come true,” she said. “I just wish that for everybody.”

Another first-time winner: Former Vice President Al Gore, whose Current TV was honored for the creative achievement in interactive television category.

"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,” Mr. Gore said.

The Emmys opened with a flurry of supporting acting statues handed out to Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”), Katherine Heigl (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Jeremy Piven (“Entourage”).

Jaime Pressly also won a supporting honor for “My Name Is Earl.”

“This is the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Ms. Pressly, her voice breaking. “This ‘little engine that could’ finally did.”

The producers of the prime-time ceremony on Fox kept the show running at a breezy pace, punctuated by a few humorous taped segments. The awards opened with a song from “Family Guy” animated duo Stewie and Brian that included jabs at NBC’s hiring of Isaiah Washington and “Scrubs” star Zach Braff.

But the joke was on Fox when the network failed to win any of its 28 nominations. Even “American Idol,” which was expected to finally overthrow “The Amazing Race” as the perennial winner of the reality competition category.

Backstage, “Race” executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer said he wasn’t bothered by the ongoing “Idol” losses.

“They beat us in viewers every week so I don’t feel bad for them,” he said.

Emmys host Ryan Seacrest, coming off double duty co-anchoring the red-carpet arrivals show for cable network E!, was a competent ringmaster. Contrary to some media reports, Mr. Seacrest didn’t sing or duck a monologue, but attempted some light jokes to warm up the crowd.

“All of [the Emmy-goers] are talented, all are looking incredible and all passed on hosting this year,” he says. Then: “I’m the first host in history in the Emmys who cared enough to ask, ‘Who are you wearing?’”

The Emmy Awards were held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.


WINNERS BY NETWORK (Primetime and Creative Arts Emmys)

21 WINS
HBO

19 WINS
NBC

10 WINS
ABC
CBS

9 WINS
PBS

8 WINS
CARTOON NETWORK

7 WINS
FOX

4 WINS
AMC
DISCOVERY
SHOWTIME

2 WINS
BRAVO
COMEDY CENTRAL
NICKELODEON
TNT
USA

1 WIN
ABC FAMILY
CURRENT TV
STARZ KIDS AND FAMILY
SCI-FI CHANNEL

Updated at 12:58 p.m.

Comments (1)

will:

What were the remarks cut from Sally Fields Emmy
acceptance speach?

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