Emmys salute "Sopranos" with best drama win

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LOS ANGELES, Sep 17 (Reuters) The US television industry paid a final Emmy tribute on Sunday to ''The Sopranos'' and sent America's favorite mob family off with the prestigious award for best drama in a night otherwise filled with upsets.

The telecast took an emotionally charged political turn when veteran Sally Field took the stage for her surprise Emmy win as best actress in a drama in ABC's ''Brothers&Sisters,'' playing a mom whose son ships off to serve in the Iraq war.

''I'm proud to be one of those women, and let's face it, if mothers ruled the world, there would be no goddamned wars in the first place,'' Field said to applause in a comment partially bleeped from the live Fox network telecast.

Still, ''The Sopranos,'' which ended its six-season run on HBO in June, was the center of attention for much of the evening, despite being upstaged in all four of the acting categories for which it was nominated.

One of the biggest upsets came as James Spader of ABC courtroom series ''Boston Legal'' was named best actor in a drama series over James Gandolfini, the sentimental favorite to claim a fourth prize for his role as conflicted mob boss Tony Soprano.

''I feel like I just stole a pile of money from the mob, and they're all sitting right over there,'' said Spader, accepting his award and indicating the ''Sopranos'' cast.

Edie Falco, who had won three Emmys for her ''Sopranos'' role as Tony's long-suffering wife, lost out this year to Field.

But moments later, ''The Sopranos'' made Emmy history as the first American series to win the award as best drama for its swan-song season. The show, widely praised by critics as the greatest drama in US TV history, won the same award in 2004.

''This amazing cast is really what it comes down to. It really is all about them,'' series creator and executive producer David Chase said from the stage after the show clinched awards for best directing and writing in a drama.

COMEDIES AT WORK Shows with workplace settings dominated the race for some of the major comedy awards. NBC's low-rated but critically lauded show-within-a-show, ''30 Rock,'' was crowned best comedy in a triumph that gave the series some critical recognition as it struggles to find an audience going into its second season.

As expected, America Ferrera was named best actress in a comedy for her breakout role as the plucky but homely fashion magazine assistant on the new ABC hit ''Ugly Betty.'' Britain's Ricky Gervais was a surprise winner for best actor in a comedy for his role as a 40-something actor who gives up his day job to pursue movie stardom in HBO's ''Extras.'' He upset two front-runners who play bosses from hell -- Steve Carell of NBC's ''The Office'' and Alec Baldwin of ''30 Rock.'' Otherwise, key moments of the Emmy telecast played like a ''Sopranos'' farewell party.

The cast of the Tony-winning Broadway hit ''Jersey Boys,'' tracing the rise of 1960s pop stars Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, took to the stage of the Shrine Auditorium to perform a musical salute to ''Sopranos,'' which was based in New Jersey.

The entire ''Sopranos'' cast then gathered on stage to take their bows to a rousing standing ovation.

In one of the biggest Emmy snubs, the Fox talent search ''American Idol,'' the most-watched show on US television, lost out for a fifth straight year to the CBS hit ''Amazing Race'' in the contest for best competitive reality show. The defeat was especially disappointing to Fox and ''Idol'' producers, given the network aired the show hosted by ''Idol'' emcee Ryan Seacrest.

Reuters SYU DB1057

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