BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" -- but not anymore for Kiefer Sutherland.
Shouts and applause trailed the "24" star, who finally snagged a best actor Emmy after five years of being nominated for the TV drama, as he swept into Fox's after-party Sunday night at the posh restaurant Spago.
Sutherland seemed dazed and flattered by all the attention.
"It's surreal. It's surprisingly humbling when you look out and you see all those other actors -- such great actors, and such great shows. I'm very thankful and grateful," Sutherland told The Associated Press just after ducking into the soiree.
"24," in which Sutherland plays the counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer, also won for best drama series and best directing in a drama at Sunday's ceremony.
"I think I jumped up more when Kiefer won than when I won," said "24" director Jon Cassar, clutching a winged statuette in each hand. "That's the win we had to have. There was no way he could work that hard. I can't imagine an actor getting nominated five years in a row like that and not winning."
Inside the bash, throngs of guests stood shoulder-to-shoulder and barely had room to shimmy to disco spun by DJ Pesce. Instead, they chomped on shrimp, lobster and slivers of pizza, and celebrated all things "24."
Even "Rescue Me" star Denis Leary, who competed in the best actor category, championed Sutherland's win.
"It really couldn't have happened to a nicer guy," Leary said.
Later, the actor joked that he just barely nabbed himself an award while sitting at the Governors Ball with Tony Shalhoub, who won best actor in a comedy series for USA's "Monk."
"I took it and almost got away with it, but he noticed," Leary said.
While Fox picked up 10 awards in all, HBO snagged the most -- 26, including awards given out at last week's creative arts ceremony. ("Creative arts" is the Emmy term for categories such as nonfiction shows, guest appearances and technical jobs like sound editing.) NBC picked up 14 awards, the most for any broadcast network.
Other parties around town treated Emmy winners and losers to equal amounts of food, music, merriment, and sometimes, mayhem.
The grand Governors Ball at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles kicked off just after the ceremony with a performance by singer Seal, who stood on a revolving stage.
Guests dined on avocado filled with shrimp and crab, fillet of beef and a milk chocolate mousse for dessert.
At HBO's lavish shindig at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, an underwater theme featured starfish-shaped designs on carpets and tablecloths lit by soft orange lights.
A DJ and three percussionists pumped out jazzy tunes, and guests feasted on beet salad, chicken, seared tuna and gnocchi.
Yards from his "Sopranos" co-star James Gandolfini, Steve Van Zandt ate and voiced his support for HBO's crop of winners, including Jeremy Piven of "Entourage," who won best supporting actor in a comedy, and Jeremy Irons, who snagged an acting award for the TV movie "Elizabeth I."
However, Van Zandt said he was "a little disappointed" that Steve Carell of "The Office" didn't win for best comedy series actor. The NBC series was named best comedy.
As for his own mobster show, "we didn't expect to win anything this year. With these shows you get some heat in the beginning, and some heat in the end. '24' certainly deserves to win," Van Zandt said.
TV Guide's party at Social Hollywood -- former home of the famed Hollywood Athletic Club -- brought out a radiant-looking Mariska Hargitay of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," who carried her award for lead actress in a drama.
Those who couldn't get into rock R&B singer Pink's ultra packed performance in the venue's giant ballroom could stick around afterward for the star-stuffed "Battle of the Network Stars" band with "Desperate Housewives" hunk James Denton on bass and "House" doctor Hugh Laurie on keyboard.
Over at the joint "Entertainment Tonight"-People magazine party at the Mondrian Hotel's Asia de Cuba restaurant and Skybar, Prince jammed his way through a funky hour and a half set.
Flanked by two sparkly dressed dancers, he got the crowd singing along to such hits as "Purple Rain" and "Let's Go Crazy."
Bradley Whitford of "The West Wing" emerged from the crowd sweaty and smiling.
"I'm so sad the show is over," one admirer told Whitford.
Another concertgoer, Sara Ramirez from "Grey's Anatomy" -- which was noticeably shut out of the awards -- seemed optimistic.
"We're new. '24' has been on for five years. Sure, a part of me was disappointed, but we're still new. Next year, I think," she said, smiling.