It wasn’t TV’s Emmy night, it was HBO’s.
The premium service, which led the pack with 124 primetime nominations, grabbed 32 trophies Sunday night to easily top the network ranks at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Fox was second with 10 and NBC third with eight.
Home Box Office’s previous best Emmy take was 24 in 2002.
Leading the way was miniseries Angels in America and pay TV’s two biggest hit series, The Sopranos and Sex and the City.
Indeed, David Chase’s mob show became the first cable show to nab outstanding-drama-series laurels -- an honor it had missed in four previous tries. The series also picked up Emmys in the supporting-actor (Michael Imperioli’s Christopher) and supporting-actress Drea de Matteo’s Adriana) categories, as well as best writing for the “Long Term Parking” episode, in which de Matteo’s Adriana got rubbed out.
While the TV community honored the mob dramedy’s supporting players, its central characters, James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, got whacked in their attempts to again win the lead-actor and lead actress-awards, which went to James Spader (The Practice) and Allison Janney (The West Wing), respectively.
Angels in America -- the miniseries adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s -- grabbed seven Emmys Sunday night. Coupled with the four Creative Arts awards it secured Sept. 12, Angels surpassed Roots as the most-decorated miniseries in TV history, and it tied 1976 telefilm Eleanor and Franklin as the long-form project with the most Emmys.
Emmys for Angels last night were bestowed for lead actor (Al Pacino), lead actress (Meryl Streep), supporting actor (Jeffrey Wright), supporting actress (Mary Louise Parker), writing (Kushner) and directing (Mike Nichols).
Sex and the City, whose Manolo Blahniks have trod into syndication land, went out with a bang as Sarah Jessica Parker won her Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for her portrayal of Carrie Bradshaw.
Parker was joined by castmate Cynthia Nixon, who gained the nod for supporting actress over sister Sexers Kim Cattral and Kristin Davis, not to mention Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Megan Mullaly (Will & Grace).
However, Sex’s run didn’t climax with an outstanding-comedy-series trophy, as that distinction went to Fox’s highly acclaimed, if not watched, Arrested Development, which also outpaced CBS’ Everybody LovesRaymond, NBC’s Will & Grace and HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In fact, Larry David’s misanthropic self-depiction was topped by Kelsey Grammer’s last go-round as Frasier Crane, and three Curb entries for outstanding director for a comedy series also came up dry.
HBO’s rookie Western, Deadwood, earned an Emmy notch for outstanding director for a drama series -- a category that featured an ER installment, a pair of Sopranos episodes and an entry from FX’s plastic-surgeon skein, Nip/Tuck.
The premium network was also feted on the other long-form side of the ledger: Its Something the Lord Made won for best telepic.
Cable’s other big winner Sunday night was Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which copped two trophies for outstanding variety, music or comedy show and writing for the same. The satiric send-up of the news also won those distinctions last year.