In terms of the former, for the sixth year running, CBS's The Amazing Race was named best reality series. But in the newly-created best reality show host category, it was Survivor's Jeff Probst who raced away with the Emmy Sunday night.
"Thank you for allowing reality in," said Probst during his acceptance at Los Angeles's Nokia Theater.
As for finally getting funny, after an otherwise slow start, 30 Rock was showered with Emmys – and an octogenarian comedian named Don Rickles showed he could still bring an audience to its feet.
Overall, the top winners were those with the most nominations: HBO's miniseries John Adams, NBC's comedy 30 Rock and AMC's drama Mad Men.
For the second consecutive year, 30 Rock was named outstanding comedy series. Its male lead, Alec Baldwin, won in the acting category. "It's the greatest job I ever had in my life," he said, calling the show's creator, writer and star Tina Fey "the Elaine May of our generation."
Fey Shouts Out to Julia Louis-DreyfusNot long afterwards, Fey picked up her second Emmy of the night – the first was for writing 30 Rock – as that show's outstanding lead actress in a comedy. She revealed that when she doesn't know what to do in a scene, her husband advises her to act like Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
"So, thanks, Julia. It's really working out for me," said Fey, as a bemused-looking Louis-Dreyfus flashed her a thumbs-up.
Damages star Glenn Close, the outstanding lead actress in a drama series, said of her sister nominees – Sally Field, Mariska Hargitay, Holly Hunter and Kyra Sedgwick, as well as Helen Mirren and Judi Dench – "We're proving that complicated, powerful, mature women are sexy, high entertainment and can carry a show."
Zeljko Ivanek, outstanding supporting actor for dramatic series winner, also on Damages, thanked Close and the TV academy voters, "who," he said, "made my parents very, very happy tonight."
Best actor in a drama series winner, Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, whose victory was something of an upset, gasped when his name was announced. Picking up his trophy the AMC-series star said of Emmy, "She's bald, too."
HBO's historical drama, John Adams, was voted top mini-series, with producer Tom Hanks collecting the Emmy from presenter Sally Field, who played his mother in Forrest Gump. She asked, "You been a good boy?" "Yes, Mom," he replied. The project's leading man, Paul Giamatti, received the genre's best actor Emmy, and said his casting proved "Anybody can be president. Anybody."
Laura Linney (who played Abigail Adams) picked up a best actress Emmy, as did Tom Wilkinson (Benjamin Franklin). Adams was also honored for its screenplay.
AMC's Mad Men creator and executive , Matthew Weiner, also clinched the Emmy for dramatic-series writing.