Glenn Close, of Damages, and Bryan Cranston, of Breaking Bad, win as drama stars

By Stephen M. Silverman
September 20, 2009 11:00 PM
Mathew Imaging/WireImage

Comedy rocked once again at the 61st Primetime Emmys, where 30 Rock was named top sitcom series and its lead male star, Alec Baldwin, outstanding actor in a comedy series. Both also took the titles last year.

“That was a real nail biter,” said the show’s creator, producer and star Tina Fey when she accepted the award toward the end of Sunday night’s ceremony. She also thanked NBC for keeping the show on the air, even though, as she pointed out, it is more expensive than a talk show.

For the second consecutive year, AMC’s Mad Men, a period ’60s look at Madison Avenue’s advertising world and those who worked in it, was named outstanding drama series.

Bryan Cranston of AMC’s Breaking Bad – and not that same network’s resident sex symbol, Jon Hamm of Mad Men – won the Emmy for outstanding leading actor in a drama series. In an eloquent speech, Cranston said, “I’m a poor kid from the [San Fernando] Valley. I don’t know what I’m doing up here.”

PHOTOS: Emmys Best Dressed Stars!

Glenn Close, star of FX’s Damages, was named best actress in a drama series and thanked the other actresses nominated, whom she called “my category sisters.” She called her TV character, high-powered lawyer Patty Hewes, “the role of a lifetime – depending on what the writers do with her this season.”

AMC’S Mad Men was recognized for its writing, specifically the episode titled “Mediations in an Emergency.”

Michael Emerson, dramatic supporting actor winner for ABC’s Lost, admitted to “living out a character actor’s dream,” because what started as a guest spot “is now the role of a lifetime.”

Cherry Jones, a first-time Emmy nominee, took home the gold as outstanding dramatic supporting actress for her role as the President on FOX’s ’24’. She promised that her statuette will be on the crafts service’s table when the series resumes filming Monday.

Jessica Lange thanked the TV Academy for honoring her as best leading actress for the HBO movie Grey Gardens, and acknowledged that such meaty roles don’t come around for her that often anymore. She also paid tribute to costar Drew Barrymore, whom Lange called “brilliant” and “generous.” The two starred as the real-life, eccentric Beales, mother Big Edie (Lange) and daughter Little Edie (Barrymore), the indigent cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

PHOTOS: 10 Amazing Moments You Didn’t See on TV

Grey Gardens, which took its title from the Beales’ rundown East Hampton estate, was also named best TV movie, and Ken Howard was cited as outstanding supporting actor in a TV movie. In his acceptance speech he mentioned his 2000 kidney transplant.

Though it was bypassed for best reality show (in favor of The Amazing Race), FOX’s American Idol was honored for its director Bruce Gowers, for the Final Three episode.

Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won the Emmy for best writing of a variety series, then went on to be named outstanding music, variety or comedy series (for the seventh consecutive year). Host Stewart thanked the crowd for giving him the Emmy and then the opportunity “to go backstage and watch a football game.”

Hugh Jackman‘s opening number when he hosted the 81st annual Academy Awards was named best song.

The first half of the three-hour ceremony, which CBS broadcast live from Los Angeles’s Nokia Theater, devoted the majority of its time to honoring comedy performers, with 30 Rock‘s Baldwin, The United States of Tara‘s Toni Collette, Two and a Half Men‘s Jon Cryer and Pushing Daisies‘ Kristin Chenoweth ending up in the winners’ circle. Host Neil Patrick Harris also kept things hopping – and funny.

For a complete list of Emmy winners and nominees, click here.