'Sopranos,' 'Angels' Blessed at Emmys

The Emmy Awards were full of bada-bing Sunday night.

The HBO mob show "The Sopranos" won its first outstanding drama Emmy, unseating the incumbent "West Wing," which won the previous four years. It was the first time a cable show won the Emmy for best drama.

"Sopranos" cast members Michael Imperioli and his on-screen girlfriend Drea de Matteo both won in the supporting acting categories.

Matteo, whose character was whacked last season, said she couldn't thank everyone in her speech because, "I might puke, choke, cry or die — and you’ve already seen me do that."

HBO's miniseries "Angels in America," which came into the night with a leading 21 nominations, was also blessed Sunday.

Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Jeffrey Wright and Mary-Louise Parker all won acting awards for their work in the miniseries about AIDS. "Angels" author Tony Kushner and its director Mike Nichols both took home awards for outstanding writing and directing, respectively. And "Angels" won for best miniseries.

In fact, "Angels" was a record breaker. With the four Emmys won Sept. 12 at the creative arts awards and the seven it won Sunday, it exceeded the nine awards won by "Roots" in 1977 to become the most honored miniseries. It matched the 11 won by "Eleanor and Franklin" in 1976, the most for any program in one season.

The big wins for "Angles" were expected, but TV's highest honor also had some major surprises in store.

The wacky Fox show "Arrested Development" won for outstanding comedy series. The program, which is a critical hit but a ratings disappointment, beat out old standbys "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Sex and the City."

"This is so huge for us. You know what, let's watch it," said series creator Mitchell Hurwitz, encouraging viewers to tune in.

In another twist, James Spader of "The Practice" beat critical favorites James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos" and Anthony LaPaglia of "Without a Trace" in the outstanding actor in a drama category.

"Sopranos" star Edie Falco, who has won the Emmy three times and was widely expected to win again, lost this year to "West Wing" star Allison Janney. This was Janney's fourth Emmy for her role on the White House drama.

"Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker won her very first Emmy for lead actress in a comedy -- after five previous losses -- for her final season of the HBO hit.

"This is great punctuation for the end of a long sentence, I mean a really good sentence,” Parker said while clutching her Emmy.

Kelsey Grammer, who ended his long run playing Dr. Frasier Crane, won in the outstanding lead actor in a comedy. In his acceptance speech, Grammer paid tribute to fellow nominee John Ritter who passed away last year.

"He was a terrific guy and his death was a shock to all of us. And he'll be missed, not only just for his kindness but also for his work." Grammer said of Ritter who last starred in "8 Simple Rules."

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 wrapped a six-year run.

In the reality genre "The Amazing Race" bested TV heavies Mark Burnett and Donald Trump by beating both "Survivor" and "The Apprentice."

Host Garry Shandling repeatedly poked fun at reality TV, joking about "Extreme Makeover," Paris Hilton and The Donald in his monologue.

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

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," which has spent much of this election year skewering politicians, won an award for best variety series for the second year in a row. The writing staff also won an Emmy.

Acting awards for guest roles were given out at a previous ceremony. Emmys for best guest actress and actor in a drama series went to William Shatner and Sharon Stone for episodes of "The Practice."

For guest actor and actress in a comedy series, the winners were Laura Linney for NBC's "Frasier" and John Turturro for USA's "Monk."

HBO received a dominant 32 awards in the 56th annual prime-time Emmys. Fox collected 10, followed by NBC with 8, ABC and PBS with seven each and CBS with two.

With all the surprises during the broadcast, it's fitting that even the red carpet before the show was different than last year.

"The View" co-host Star Jones did the E! fashion commentary and interviews instead of Joan and Melissa Rivers.

"Sex and the City" co-star Kim Cattrall said with Jones interviewing the stars the red carpet was "not as scary as it usually is."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.