LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The groundbreaking action series 24, which turns one dangerous day into a season, ended Sunday with a bang as it won Emmys for best drama series and best actor for its Toronto-bred star, Kiefer Sutherland.
The Office was honoured as best comedy although its star, Steve Carell, lost the award for best actor in a comedy series to Tony Shalhoub of Monk.
One Emmy front-runner, sexy medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, was shut out in the awards.
"Every once in a while you’ll have an evening that just reminds you that you’re given too much and this is that evening," Sutherland said. "This experience on 24 has been nothing but remarkable for me."
In the audience was his father, Donald Sutherland.
"What a nice evening this has been for us. My father’s sitting over there. We’re going to have to go out for dinner now," said Sutherland.
Although Emmy nominations rule changes left some grumbling about snubbed shows including Lost, the revisions may have opened the door for an offbeat series like The Office to be nominated and for 24 to prevail.
Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Julia Louis-Dreyfus of the freshman comedy The New Adventures of Old Christine struck Emmy gold with lead actress awards for drama and comedy, respectively.
"Well, I’m not somebody who really believes in curses _ but curse this, baby," Louis-Dreyfus said, hoisting her trophy and making a veiled reference to the so-called "Seinfeld curse" that kept three of its stars from launching successful new series.
The Emmy ceremony initially followed a predictable path Sunday as Tony Shalhoub won his third acting trophy for Monk and departed series Will & Grace, The West Wing and Huff earned bittersweet toasts. Until the finale, the surprises in the ceremony were courtesy of host Conan O’Brien and his inventive comedy bits, including a running gag that had Bob Newhart’s life threatened if the show ran long. Winning didn’t take the sting out of cancellation for at least one star.
"It’s not supposed to work this way, is it, when you say goodbye to something?" said Blythe Danner, named best supporting actress in a drama for Huff.
"I guess I have to thank Showtime, even though they cancelled us," Danner said, with a smile.
Megan Mullally was honoured for her supporting actress work in the sitcom Will & Grace, which wrapped up its eight-year run.
And Alan Alda was named best supporting actor in a drama for his role as a Republican presidential candidate on The West Wing, cancelled after seven seasons.
Alda wasn’t on hand to accept the award. But he might have become blase: In recent years, he also had an Oscar nomination for his role in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, a Tony nomination for his Broadway performance in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross, and another Emmy bid for West Wing _ none of which he won.
His win was the 26th Emmy for the White House drama, a drama series record. The show had been tied with Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law with 25.
Jeremy Piven of Entourage was named best supporting actor in a comedy.
The ceremony opened with a filmed comedy bit in which O’Brien was seen sipping champagne aboard a jetliner. "What could possibly go wrong tonight?" he says _ before the plane crashes onto an island resembling the one in ABC’s drama.
After being greeted by Lost star Jorge Garcia, O’Brien fled through a mysterious hatch and ended up crashing through other series including The Office, 24 and House.
"Subject could be anemic, possibly albino," was the diagnosis of House star Hugh Laurie.
O’Brien was equally self-deprecating before he started a song-and-dance number.
"It’s my second time hosting. And as you’ll see tonight, the third time’s the charm," O’Brien said.
The ceremony honoured producer/host Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame, who has been recovering from a stroke he suffered in 2004.
"I have accomplished my childhood dream, to be in show business. Everybody should be so lucky, to have their dreams come true. I’ve been truly blessed," said Clark, his speech somewhat strained. He was seated at a podium on stage when he was introduced.
Barry Manilow serenaded Clark with the show’s bouncy theme song before collecting his own Emmy for the special Barry Manilow: Music and Passion.
Aaron Spelling, the prolific producer who died in June at 83, was paid a tearful tribute by his one-time stars, including Jaclyn Smith, Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson of Charlie’s Angels and Joan Collins and Heather Locklear of Dynasty.
Throughout the ceremony, veteran comedian and TV star Newhart popped up occasionally for O’Brien’s gag.
"The show has rarely has come in on time. Why? Because there’s no real consequences," O’Brien said as Newhart was wheeled onstage in what Conan warned was an airtight container _ with just three hours of air, the ceremony’s scheduled running time.
"Yes. It’s very simple. If the Emmys run one second over, Bob Newhart dies," O’Brien said," as Newhart’s famous deadpan expression showed a tinge of alarm. "So keep those speeches short, ladies and gentlemen. Bob Newhart’s life in your hands."
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the satirical newscast, reaped two Emmys, for best variety, music or comedy and the writing award for that category. Stewart cracked after the first honour: "I think this year you actually made a terrible mistake. But thank you."
American Idol, the blockbuster TV talent show, lost again in the reality-competition category as The Amazing Race picked up its fourth award.
Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, presenting the reality award, took the opportunity to vent about being eclipsed by Manilow’s special in the variety, music or comedy program category.
"I lost to Barry Manilow … I lost to the Copacabana," wailed Colbert.
Kelly Macdonald was named best supporting actress in a movie or miniseries for The Girl in the Cafe, closing the book on one of Emmy’s odder nominations. (The drama also was named best made-for-TV movie.) Ellen Burstyn’s nomination in the category, for the TV movie Mrs. Harris, was a head scratcher _ her cameo was clocked at 14 seconds. She didn’t attend the ceremony.
Cloris Leachman, also competing for Mrs. Harris, failed to extend the Emmy record she set just last week as most-honoured performer ever. Her total reached nine when she won a guest-actress award for Malcolm in the Middle at the Creative Arts Emmys.
Besides Leachman, other guest actors in drama and comedy series honoured at the Creative Arts awards were Leslie Jordan for Will & Grace, Patricia Clarkson for Six Feet Under and Christian Clemenson for Boston Legal.