Gone but not forgotten by voters, "The Sopranos" claimed its final Emmy as best dramatic series. Winners in other top categories were scattered across the prime time landscape like the bodies of the show's fallen characters across New Jersey.
A stunned James Spader felt like he just "stole a pile of money from the mob" in winning best drama series actor as a devilish lawyer on "Boston Legal" at Sunday night's ceremony. And Sally Field was her flustered self as winner of best actress in a drama for her matriarchal role in "Brothers & Sisters."
Spader rubbed out three-time winner James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos" and last year's upset victor, Kiefer Sutherland of "24."
Twenty-two years after her immortal Oscar speech, the Fox network really did NOT like Sally Field.
Accepting her Emmy, Field stumbled halfway through, lost her train of thought, screeched at the audience to stop applauding so she could finish talking -- and then was bleeped by Fox censors as she stammered through an anti-war rant.
"And, let's face it, if the mothers ruled the war, there would be no (expletive) wars in the first place," Field said, but Fox cut away for much of her comment.
Backstage, Field told reporters that she wanted to recognize mothers who wait for their sons to come home from war. She added, however, that she "didn't have a political agenda."
Told that she had been bleeped, Field responded: "Oh well. I've been there before. Well, good. I don't care. I have no comment other than, oh well. I said what I wanted to say. I wanted to pay homage to the mothers of the world, and let their work be seen and valued."
Pressed for more comment, she responded: "I think probably shouldn't have said the God in front of the ... I would have liked to have said more bleeped-out words."
Field, 60, had her first starring roles on television in the 1960s shows "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun." But she may be most remembered for her much-parodied 1985 speech accepting the best-actress Oscar for "Places in the Heart," which included the famous line: "I can't deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you really like me."
Presenter Ray Romano also got attention from the evening's word police.
Fox blacked out the show for a few seconds when Romano used a strong word in a joke about his former "Everybody Loves Raymond" wife, Patricia Heaton, sleeping with her new "Back to You" co-star Kelsey Grammer.
Supporting dramatic actress winner Katherine Heigl of "Grey's Anatomy" mouthed another expletive, which Fox unsuccessfully tried to evade by switching camera angles.
"30 Rock" took top comedy series honors for its behind-the-scenes look at the craziness of a late-night sketch show.
Tina Fey, the show's star and creator, acknowledged the show's low ratings in its freshman year by thanking its "dozens and dozens of viewers."
Ricky Gervais of "Extras" beat out Steve Carell of "The Office" for lead comedy series actor. Gervais originated the buffoonish boss role that Carell fills on the American version of the British sitcom.
The biggest laugh of the night was earned by presenters Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, after they announced that Gervais won.
"Ricky Gervais could not be here tonight. Instead we're going to give this to our friend, Steve Carell," Stewart said. Carell bounded on stage, sharing a group hug with Stewart and Colbert.
America Ferrera, TV's breakout star as the dumpy fashion magazine assistant on "Ugly Betty," was the lone acting front-runner to win. She added an Emmy as leading comedic actress to her Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild victories this year.
"This is such an amazing, wonderful achievement," Ferrera said. "The award is to be able to get up and go to work tomorrow."
Regarded as one of television's best-ever series, "The Sopranos" aired its final show this past June, leaving many viewers grumbling about its enigmatic, cut-to-black ending.
Yet the show got some final respect Sunday night with two standing ovations — first, when the cast was introduced, and again when the series received the night's top honor.
"In essence, this is a story about a gangster," show creator David Chase said. "And gangsters are out there taking their kids to college, and taking their kids to school, and putting food on their table.
"And, hell, let's face it, if the world and this nation was run by gangsters" — Chase paused and shrugged, as the audience laughed — "maybe it is."
Rookie host Ryan Seacrest of "American Idol" was seen sparingly after opening the three-hour telecast. Instead, he turned the Shrine Auditorium's in-the-round stage over to the veteran comedy chops of Romano, Ellen DeGeneres and Lewis Black.
One of the night's other standing ovations went to former vice president Al Gore, whose Current TV channel, which features viewer-created videos, was honored for achievement in interactive television.
"We are trying to open up the television medium so that viewers can help to make television, and join the conversation of democracy, and reclaim American democracy by talking about the choices we have to make," said Gore, whose global-warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" received an Oscar earlier this year.
Queen Latifah helped salute the groundbreaking miniseries "Roots" on its 30th anniversary. The saga about a black American family's history "brought great honor to the art form that we celebrate," she said.
"Let us all work to ensure that we all honor the legacy of `Roots' not just tonight but in everything we do," added "Roots" star John Amos, reunited onstage with his castmates to yet another standing ovation.