You definitely recognize their names and faces, but many of the winners at Sunday night's Emmys were actually first-timers.
Is it possible that Sarah Jessica Parker was an Emmy virgin before last night? And that HBO's most talked-about drama, "The Sopranos," was never recognized by Emmy voters?
In the most highly anticipated award of the night, HBO's "The Sopranos" won its first award for best drama, beating out four-time winner "The West Wing." Though it was in good company with fellow nominees "24" and "CSI," the shocking twists and intense acting on the "The Sopranos" made it the clear-cut favorite. (Too bad we have to wait until 2006 for any new episodes.)
But the boss didn't come out on top. James Gandolfini lost to James Spader for best actor in a drama, which bodes well for Spader's "Practice" spin-off, "Boston Legal."
Other first-time winners from "The Sopranos" were Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo. Good choices.
After all, who could forget Imperioli's drug-addled Christopher battling with his addictions? Or almost killing Adriana, the love of his life? It's hard to imagine anyone else playing the role.
Same goes for de Matteo (the recently whacked Adriana), who won the Emmy for best supporting actress in a drama. Lesson to all you actors out there: Getting killed on TV is actually good for your career. Not only did de Matteo snag the Emmy, she also got to move from dreary New Jersey to the sunny beaches of Los Angeles with Emmy nominee Matt LeBlanc.
But "The Sopranos" wasn't HBO's only shining star Sunday night. In its final hurrah, "Sex and the City" also took home some big awards. Cynthia Nixon won her first Emmy for best supporting actress--beating out co-stars Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis. To finish out the fab foursome, Sarah Jessica Parker won the award for best actress in a comedy. (It seems impossible, but it was her first acting award too.)
But, the biggest first-time winner was "Arrested Development," which won for best comedy series. This hysterical show about a dysfunctional family beat long-running series "Sex and the City," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Will & Grace." Even though its audience numbers are low, "Arrested Development" is a critical favorite--and definitely one of the best shows on TV. My advice? Check it out.
But there were some returning winners last night, proving that the fourth time can be the charm.
"The West Wing's" Allison Janney won her fourth Emmy. So did David Hyde Pierce and Kelsey Grammer.
Grammer and Pierce--like Parker--took home Emmys not because they were the best in their categories, but because their shows have ended.
Pierce beat out two of my favorite (and better) actors from last season: Jeffrey Tambor ("Arrested Development") and Sean Hayes ("Will & Grace"). And Grammer's fourth win seemed like his millionth, even though the late John Ritter had been getting some serious buzz before the show.
Jon Stewart and the "The Daily Show" beat out the $50 million man Dave Chappelle for the best variety, music or comedy series. No shocker there, since millions of Americans get their daily news from this hysterical made-up show. And critical favorite (and my favorite) "The Amazing Race" beat out fan-favorite "The Apprentice" to win its second award for best reality-competition program.
How's this for reality: Most of this year's acting winners were from shows that are no longer on the air. At least next year's Emmy pool will have some real first-timers.--korey karnes is a redeye special contributor.