Ryan Seacrest hosted the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards without a hitch last night, proving wrong the critics who thought he couldn't do the job. But to be fair, he really didn't have many opportunities to go astray.
Following a musical number by an animated Stewie and Brian from Family Guy, the American Idol emcee opened the show by meandering around the celebrity-filled audience and engaging in Idol (sorry) chit-chat, but after that, his presence on the show was minimal.
One presence that was anything but minimal was HBO's The Sopranos, which, going into its final season, was an early favorite to dominate the awards show. The show took home three Emmys, including the top prize for Outstanding Drama, and was "honored" with a singing and dancing tribute from the cast of the musical Jersey Boys.
NBC's 30 Rock won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy, beating out The Office, Ugly Betty, Entourage, and Two and a Half Men. The prize caught executive producer/star Tina Fey a bit off guard, who jokingly thanked the "dozens and dozens" of viewers who watched the show.
In the lead acting categories, Boston Legal's James Spader had better watch his back, because he nabbed the award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series right from under fan favorite James Gandolfini from The Sopranos. Extras' Ricky Gervais was awarded the prize for best actor in a comedy series, but in his absence, presenters Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart "gave" it to their friend and nominee Steve Carrell from The Office. Carrell, a former coworker with the duo from The Daily Show, then leaped onto the stage and engaged in a mock group hug.
As for the ladies, Sally Field had a chance to give another memorable awards-show acceptance speech (Remember her "You like me!" speech at the 1985 Oscars?), and she delivered. Flustered and fidgety, Field ran through her thanks before making her statement on the situation in Iraq and forgetting what she originally intended to say. "Here's to war," she said, holding her Emmy aloft and not quite getting her point across. As for comedy, first-time Emmy winner America Ferrera won the award for her role as Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty.
Supporting acting nods went to Lost's Terry O'Quinn as the conflicted John Locke, Entourage's Jeremy Piven as the douchebag Hollywood agent Ari Gold, Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl (who corrected the presenters for pronouncing her name incorrectly--it's HI-gul), and My Name is Earl's Jaime Pressly for her spot-on trailer-trash act as Joy.
Other highlights (or lowlights) of the ceremony:
--Conan O'Brien's nomination video for outstanding writing in a variety program, which featured the redheaded one in a truck piling in day laborers, many of them Hispanic, for each one of the writers' names read off. It went over well with some, and didn't with others.
--Prime Suspect: The Final Act's Helen Mirren, winner for actress in a miniseries or movie, actually telling the producers to start up the music so she could end her speech and giving America (the country, not the actress) a backhanded compliment.
--Presenter and octogenarian Elaine Stritch stumbling through lines and admitting that she didn't "know that hell [she] was doing." However, the actress--an Emmy winner for her guest appearance on 30 Rock--managed to pull it off with charm rather than pity.
--A reunion of the cast of Roots in a celebration of its 30th anniversary.
--Fox's attempt to bring in "the cool kids" by having MySpace president Tom Anderson (he's totally one of my friends!) announce the Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Television over a webcam. For those keeping track at home, Fox owns MySpace.
--Ryan Seacrest dressed in a full getup from The Tudors, saying the costume was "gay," then joking that maybe he should keep it in his personal wardrobe. Sure you were joking, Seacrest. Suuuuuuuuuure. (I kid!)
--The nonappearance of Britney Spears, who was rumored to be a target of Fox.
A partial list of the nominees and winners (in bold) from last night's Emmys ceremony are listed below:
Outstanding Drama Series
Boston Legal, ABC
Grey's Anatomy, ABC
The Sopranos, HBO
Outstanding Comedy Series
The Office, NBC
30 Rock, NBC
Two and a Half Men, CBS
Ugly Betty, ABC
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Laurie, House
Denis Leary, Rescue Me
James Gandolfini, The Sopranos
James Spader, Boston Legal
Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Patricia Arquette, Medium
Minnie Driver, The Riches
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Ricky Gervais, Extras
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Michael Emerson, Lost
Michael Imperioli, The Sopranos
T.R. Knight, Grey's Anatomy
Masi Oka, Heroes
Terry O'Quinn, Lost
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos
Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers & Sisters
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy
Aida Turturro, The Sopranos
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Conchata Ferrell, Two and a Half Men
Jenna Fischer, The Office
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Jaime Pressly, My Name is Earl
Holland Taylor, Two and Half Men
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
American Idol, FOX
Dancing With the Stars, ABC
Project Runway, Bravo
The Amazing Race, CBS
Top Chef, Bravo
Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series
Late Night With Conan O'Brien, NBC
Late Show With David Letterman, CBS
Real Time With Bill Maher, HBO
The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Comedy Central
Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program
Ellen DeGeneres, 79th Annual Academy Awards
David Letterman, Late Show With David Letterman
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
Jon Stewart, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Tony Bennett, Tony Bennett: An American Classic
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Scott Ellis for 30 Rock, "The Breakup"
Julian Farino for Entourage, "One Day in the Valley"
Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant for Extras, "Orlando Bloom"
Will Mackenzie for Scrubs, "My Musical"
Ken Kwapis for The Office, "Gay Witch Hunt"
Richard Shepard for Ugly Betty, "Pilot"
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Felix Alcala for Battlestar Galactica, "Exodus, Part 2"
Bill D'Elia for Boston Legal, "Son of the Defender"
Peter Berg for Friday Night Lights, "Pilot"
David Semel for Heroes, "Genesis"
Jack Bender for Lost, "Through the Looking Glass"
Thomas Schlamme for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, "Pilot"
Alan Taylor for The Sopranos, "Kennedy and Heidi"
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Ronald D. Moore for Battlestar Galactica, "Occupation/Precipice"
Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof for Lost, "Through the Looking Glass"
David Chase, Matthew Weiner for The Sopranos, "Kennedy and Heidi"
Terence Winter for The Sopranos, "The Second Coming"
David Chase for The Sopranos, "Made in America"
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Robert Carlock for 30 Rock, "Jack-Tor"
Tina Fey for 30 Rock, "Tracy Does Conan"
Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant for Extras, "Daniel Radcliffe"
Greg Daniels for The Office, "Gay Witch Hunt"
Michael Schur for The Office, "The Negotiation"