LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Cult ad agency drama “Mad Men” won the best drama Emmy for the fourth year late Sunday, while “Modern Family” again took the comedy glory at US television’s awards show.
British shows also triumphed at the annual Hollywood show, the Oscars of the small screen, with Kate Winslet leading a string of Brits taking gongs, notably for “Downton Abbey.”
“Mad Men,” which has spawned a host of lookalike shows, fought off the strongly-tipped “Boardwalk Empire” to take the best drama Emmy at the climax of the show.
The brilliantly-stylized AMC show, about life in a 1960s New York advertising agency, won even though its last series ended in October 2010, and it will not return to the screen until next March.
“We are so grateful to the television academy for recognizing this show again, recognized by our peers. We want to thank the fans of the show who support it so wholeheartedly,” said executive producer Matthew Weiner.
The “Mad Men” success came shortly after “Titanic” co-star Winslet won the best actress in a mini-series Emmy for her role in period drama “Mildred Pierce.”
The Oscar-winning star plays a divorcee single mother who opens a restaurant to survive in the Great Depression in the drama, for which her English-born Australian co-star Guy Pearce won best supporting actor Emmy moments earlier.
Winslet gave a short acceptance speech saying she “didn’t think we were going to win anything” — until her gong it had been having a disappointing night — before thanking her mother.
Winslet’s success came on a big night for another British period drama, “Downton Abbey.”
The show, about the aristocratic Crawley family, pipped “Mildred Pierce” to win best mini-series, while Maggie Smith won best supporting actress, Julian Fellowes best writer and Brian Percival best director.
In other drama categories, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese won best drama director Emmy for his pilot of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” while best drama actor went to Kyle Chandler for football drama “Friday Night Lights.”
While “Mad Men” and Winslet were the highlights on the drama front, “Modern Family” was the unquestioned comedy king at Sunday night’s ceremony.
The show, which casts a satirical light on the lives of three families, started the night by winning the first four Emmys announced, and ended it with the best comedy gong, for the second year running.
Julie Bowen won for best supporting actress in a comedy, best supporting actor went to Ty Burrell, best director to Michael Spiller and best comedy writers Steve Levitan and Jeffrey Richman.
“Welcome to the Modern Family awards,” ad libbed hostess Jane Lynch at one point during the glittering show at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” was the other big comedy winner of the night, taking the Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series award for an astonishing ninth year in a row.
“We’re acutely aware of how fortunate we are to win this once,” Stewart said.
Jim Parsons won his second straight Emmy for best actor in “The Big Bang Theory,” while Melissa McCarthy was best actress for “Mike & Molly”.
Comic turns also included Britain’s Ricky Gervais, in a cut-edited recorded contribution riffing on his reputation for saying the unacceptable at awards shows, notably last year’s Golden Globes where he was host.
Charlie Sheen, sacked from hit TV series “Two and a Half Men” after a very public meltdown, drew admiration by wishing the show’s makers all the best with his replacement, Ashton Kutcher.
Kutcher, who came on later in the show to present another category’s winner, drew laughter when he deadpanned, on taking the stage: “I am not Charlie Sheen.”