The sleek '60s drama Mad Men made Emmy history Sunday as the first basic-cable show to win a top series award, while the sitcom 30 Rock and its stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin also emerged as winners.
"We're all so very grateful to have jobs in this turkey-burger economy," Fey said after accepting the best comedy series trophy for her satire about a late-night TV show.
Glenn Close of Damages and Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad captured drama acting trophies.
Dianne Wiest of In Treatment and Zeljko Ivanek of Damages won supporting acting honors for the drama series. Jean Smart of ABC's Samantha Who? was honored as best supporting actress in a comedy series, with Jeremy Piven her actor counterpart for Entourage.
Don Rickles was honored for best individual performance in a variety or music program for Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.
Best reality-competition program went to Amazing Race, the show's sixth award.
As the evening progressed, politics went from having a cameo to a co-starring role.
"I really look forward to the next administration, whoever it is," Jon Stewart said as he accepted the best variety, music or comedy series award for The Daily Show. "I have nothing to follow that. I just really look forward to the next administration."
Later, Stewart and Stephen Colbert, whose The Colbert Report won a writing trophy, teamed to present an award — and exchange banter in which they used a package of prunes as a metaphor for the upcoming presidential election.
"America needs prunes. It may not be a young, sexy plum. Granted, it's shriveled and at times hard to swallow. But this dried-up old prune has the experience we need," Colbert said.
The award for best TV movie went to Recount, about the contested 2000 Bush-Gore contest.
John Adams, about the founding father, was named best miniseries and won other awards including acting trophies for Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson.