Los Angeles “Mad Men” and “30 Rock” led a pack of Emmy winners who successfully defended their titles at Sunday’s show, but the snappy ceremony and a star turn by host Neil Patrick Harris made the evening far from a rerun.
AMC’s glossy 1960s Madison Avenue saga “Mad Men,” which last year became the first basic-cable show to win a top series award, won the best drama trophy for a second time.
“It is an amazing time to work in TV,” said “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner. “And, I know that everything is changing, but I’m not afraid of it because I feel like all these different media is just more choice and more entertainment. It’s better for the viewers in the end and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
NBC’s “30 Rock,” a satirical take on life inside a TV variety show, was honored for the third time as best comedy series, while star Alec Baldwin won his second award as best comedy actor.
“We want to thank our friends at NBC for keeping us on the air … even though we are so much more expensive than a talk show,” said “30 Rock” creator and star Tina Fey, referring to Jay Leno’s new daily prime-time comedy show, which NBC likes to note is cheaper to produce than a scripted series.
Baldwin, accepting his acting trophy for “30 Rock” from “Brothers & Sisters” star Rob Lowe, joked, “I’ll be honest with you. I’d trade this to look like him.”
Glenn Close’s performance as a ruthless trial attorney on “Damages” and Bryan Cranston’s turn as a meth-making, cancer-stricken teacher on “Breaking Bad” were honored with the top drama series acting Emmys, the second consecutive trophies for both.
“Oh my goodness,” exclaimed Cranston. “I’m a poor kid from the valley. I don’t know what I’m doing up here. I feel like Cinderfella.”
Close called it a “huge privilege” to be part of entertainment community, then tweaked her show’s writers.
Her role is “maybe the character of my lifetime, depending on what they do this season,” Close said.
Michael Emerson, who plays the cruelly devious Ben on “Lost,” and Cherry Jones, the stalwart U.S. president on “24,” were honored as best supporting actors in drama series.
“Wowza,” Jones said. Emerson accepted his award for what he called “the role of my lifetime.”
Toni Collette of Showtime’s “United States of Tara” was honored as best lead actress in a comedy series for her role as a mother with multiple personalities.
“Wow, this is insanely confronting,” said a beaming Collette. She thanked series creator Diablo Cody, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Juno.”
Collette’s victory deprived Fey of “30 Rock” of winning a second consecutive award in the category. But Fey took the stage a few moments later to acknowledge a guest actor award she received for her Sarah Palin impersonation on “Saturday Night Live.”
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” won the trophy for best variety, music or comedy series, its seventh in a row.
“Grey Gardens,” the story of a reclusive mother and daughter who were relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the Dickens adaptation “Little Dorrit” won for best movie and miniseries, respectively.
Harris, a nominee as well as host, lost to Cryer for his role on “How I Met Your Mother” but won on-stage accolades for his emcee work, including a heartfelt compliment from Jon Stewart.
“The Amazing Race” won its seventh consecutive Emmy in the outstanding reality-competition category.