Sopranos hit the high note at Emmys

Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo, who played a hard-luck mob couple in The Sopranos, won Emmys last night for best supporting actor and actress in a TV drama series.

The stars of two departing series captured the comedy supporting actor and actress awards: David Hyde Pierce for Frasier, which ended its 11-year run, and Cynthia Nixon for Sex and the City, which ended a six-year run.

"There are so many people that are responsible for this, that if I even try to thank any of them right now, I might puke, choke, cry or die. And you've already seen me do that," said de Matteo, whose character was bumped off last season. She's now on NBC's Friends spin-off "Joey."

"Being on The Sopranos is the greatest thing in the world. ... For an actor if this was the only thing I'd done I'd be OK with that - probably," said Imperioli, who plays Tony Soprano's luckless nephew and has directed some episodes of the series.

Hyde Pierce was honoured for the fourth time as best supporting actor for Frasier.

"In sitcom school they tell you how great it is to have a long-running show, but they don't tell you how hard it is to say goodbye," said Hyde Pierce.

Nixon beat two of her former colleagues, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis.

The spectre of reality TV hung over the night honouring the best of scripted television. The Emmys were referred to as "the ultimate reality show" and host Garry Shandling poked fun at Extreme Makeover, Paris Hilton and Donald Trump in his opening.

"It's to the point now when a commercial comes on I go, 'Thank God, professional actors in a story,"' he quipped.

Frasier, which had a chance to add to its record 31 Emmys, Friends and Sex and the City were taking a final Emmys bow yesterday.

HBO's Sex and the City was the leading comedy nominee at the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, with 11 bids including ones for best-comedy series and for star Sarah Jessica Parker. Kelsey Grammer of Frasier and Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc of Friends were nominated for acting trophies.

The most-nominated drama series was HBO's The Sopranos with 20, including bids for James Gandolfini and Edie Falco. Although both actors have won before, the mob story has yet to snatch the top drama award.

Its competition included NBC's four-time winner The West Wing.

HBO's miniseries Angels in America, the leading nominee with 21 bids, tried to ascend to record Emmy heights. The drama about the AIDS crisis in the 1980s won four awards at the September 12 creative arts ceremony for craft achievements and was competing in seven categories Sunday.

The benchmarks: Eleanor and Franklin, whose 11 awards in 1976 are the most for any program in one season, and Roots, the most-honoured miniseries with nine awards in 1977.

Awards in 27 categories were presented at the ceremony broadcast by ABC.

The third Bob Hope Humanitarian Award was to be presented posthumously to actor, producer and philanthropist Danny Thomas, with his daughter, actress Marlo Thomas, accepting.

EMMYS: THE LIST

List of winners at Sunday's 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:

Drama Series: The Sopranos, HBO.

Comedy Series: Arrested Development, Fox.

Miniseries: Angels in America, HBO.

Variety, Music or Comedy Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Comedy Central.

Made-for-TV Movie: Something the Lord Made, HBO.

Reality-Competition Program: The Amazing Race, CBS.

Actor, Drama Series: James Spader, The Practice, ABC.

Actor, Comedy Series: Kelsey Grammer, Frasier, NBC.

Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Al Pacino, Angels in America, HBO.

Actress, Drama Series: Allison Janney, The West Wing, NBC.

Actress, Comedy Series: Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City, HBO.

Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Meryl Streep, Angels in America, HBO.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Michael Imperioli, The Sopranos, HBO.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: David Hyde Pierce, "Frasier, NBC.

Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Jeffrey Wright, "Angels in America, HBO.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Drea de Matteo, The Sopranos, HBO.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Cynthia Nixon, Sex and the City, HBO.

Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Mary-Louise Parker, Angels in America, HBO.

Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program: Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, HBO.

Directing for a Drama Series: Deadwood: Deadwood: Pilot, HBO.

Directing for a Comedy Series: Arrested Development: Pilot, Fox.

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: "Angels in America, HBO.

Directing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: The 76th Annual Academy Awards, ABC.

Writing for a Drama Series: The Sopranos: Long Term Parking, HBO.

Writing for a Comedy Series: Arrested Development: Pilot, Fox.

Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: "Angels in America, HBO.

Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Comedy Central.

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