The 59th annual primetime Emmy Awards paid tribute to The Sopranos, which won best series, writer and director for a drama series, even while its nominated cast members — most notably, James Gandolfini and Edie Falco — were shut out.

The sixth and final season of the landmark series won three of HBO‘s six Emmy awards: outstanding drama series, outstanding directing for a drama series (to Alan Taylor) and outstanding writing for a drama series, which went to series creator and executive producer David Chase for the final episode.

That win, plus the best drama series nod, must have been particularly sweet for Chase, who was criticized by many viewers for scripting the abrupt and (to some) unsatisfying cliffhanger ending when the screen went dark at the end of the series’ finale.

In Chase’s acceptance speech for best drama series, he singled out Gandolfini and Falco, who (in a pair of surprise upsets) failed to clinch their nominations as outstanding actor and actress in a drama series categories, which instead went to James Spader and Sally Field respectively.

HBO won three additional awards: outstanding made for television movie, for Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee; outstanding lead actor in a comedy series, to Ricky Gervais for the second and final season of Extras (a co-production with the BBC); and outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series to Jeremy Piven for his role as Ari Gold in Entourage, marking his second Emmy and third nomination.

Including last weekend’s creative arts Emmy nods, HBO leads this year’s primetime Emmy pack with 21 awards, including six to Bury My Heart — here’s its press release with more details — followed by NBC’s 19 Emmys.

Cable networks won 13 primetime Emmy awards at tonight’s ceremony, where co-presenters Glenn Close, Kyra Sedgwick and Mary-Louise Parker applauded cable for creating series featuring protagonists who "happen to be women."

AMC swept the categories in which it was nominated, placing second to HBO in cable’s primetime Emmys race. AMC won three key awards for its original Western miniseries, Broken Trail: outstanding miniseries, lead actor in a miniseries or movie to Robert Duvall, and supporting actor in a miniseries or movie to Thomas Haden Church.

"As the most watched scripted program in all of cable television in 2006, Broken Trail resonated with critics and viewers across the country and helped set a valuable standard for AMC’s original programming in the years to come," AMC’s EVP and general manager Charlie Collier commented in a press release.

USA won in two categories, with Judy Davis winning outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie for her role in The Starter Wife, and Stanley Tucci winning for outstanding guest actor for his role on Monk.

Comedy Central‘s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart won for outstanding variety, music or comedy series.

Current TV also won for outstanding creative achievement in interactive television, becoming the youngest TV to win a primetime Emmy.

"As demonstrated by how far Current has come in the past two years, the idea of participation and interactivity in media is one that resonates not only with our viewers, but also with the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences," Current co-founder and chairman Al Gore said in a statement.

The complete list of 59th annual primetime Emmy Award nominees and winners is posted here while last weekend’s primetime creative arts Emmy winners are listed here.

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