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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Saving the world from assorted terrorists paid off for the cast of "24" at Sunday night's Primetime Emmy Awards.
The Fox thriller picked up the award for best drama and star Kiefer Sutherland picked up the award for best actor in a drama for playing crusading CTU agent Jack Bauer.
"What a nice evening this has been for us; my father's sitting over there," he said, pointing to Donald Sutherland, who also was nominated for his role in "Human Trafficking." "We're going to have to have dinner now. (Watch the Emmy go to '24' -- 2:11)
"Every once in a while, you're going to have an evening that reminds you that you have too much," he said.
HBO was the big winner of the evening with 26 awards, including nine Emmys for the miniseries "Elizabeth I." (Watch the stars strut their stuff on the red carpet -- 1:31)
Mariska Hargitay won the best actress in a drama award for her role in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
Former "Seinfeld" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus was clearly shaken after winning the Emmy for best actress in a comedy for "The New Adventures of Old Christine."
"I'm not somebody who really believes in curses, but curse this, baby," she said, referring to the difficulty she and her "Seinfeld" castmates have had duplicating the show's success.
She almost forgot to thank her husband, comedian Brad Hall, during her acceptance speech.
"The Office" won the award for best comedy series.
Tony Shalhoub won the best lead actor in a comedy Emmy for his role as the neurotic detective in the USA series "Monk."
"I couldn't quite process (the win). ... What comes after deja vu?" Shalhoub asked reporters.
"Will & Grace" star Megan Mullally took home the first award of the evening, winning for supporting actress in a comedy.
Mullally thanked her co-stars and crew on the show, which wrapped up its run this year.
"We had eight great years of happy employment and that's more than most people could ever hope for," she said.
Alan Alda won the Emmy for supporting actor in a drama for the role of Sen. Arnold Vinick in NBC's "The West Wing, " which also went off the air this year.
Alda's win was the 26th for the show, tying it with "Hill Street Blues" for the most total Emmy's for a drama.
Blythe Danner won best supporting actress in a drama for her role in Showtime's now-canceled series "Huff."
"It's a sweet way to say goodbye," she said.
Jeremy Piven of "Entourage" was named best supporting actor in a comedy. (Watch Jeremy Piven relive the moment -- 2:36)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" picked up the award for best variety, music or comedy series.
"I think this year you made a terrible mistake, but thank you," Stewart said before praising his staff and network Comedy Central. The show also won in the best variety, music or comedy writing category.
The NBC comedy "My Name is Earl" won the awards for best writing and best directing in a comedy, which added to the two awards it picked up at an August 19 ceremony.
"The Amazing Race" won the Emmy for best reality show for the fourth straight year, beating out "American Idol," " Survivor," "Project Runway" and "Dancing With the Stars."
Clark, Spelling honored
"Idol" host Simon Cowell was greeted with a smattering of boos when he introduced a tribute to legendary television producer and former "American Bandstand" host Dick Clark.
Clark, who is recovering from a stroke, then introduced singer Barry Manilow, who put off having hip surgery to perform the "American Bandstand" theme song, for which he wrote the lyrics.
"I have accomplished my childhood dream to be in showbiz," Clark said. "Everyone should be so blessed."
Manilow went on to win an Emmy for individual performance in a variety or music program for his PBS special "Manilow: Music & Passion."
"This goes into the operating room with me tomorrow morning as a good-luck charm," Manilow said after accepting the trophy.
He told reporters that Clark is "getting through" after the stroke.
"I think he's done as great as can be expected. He's a communicator and (the stroke) stopped him from communicating," Manilow said. "But he still has got his sense of humor and he has his sense of self about him."
The ceremony also honored Aaron Spelling, the force behind shows such as "The Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," "Dynasty," and many more. Spelling died in June at age 83.
"He had his share of serious projects, but no one did guilty pleasure better than Aaron," said "7th Heaven" star Stephen Collins.
"Dynasty" star Joan Collins credited Spelling for reviving her career.
"Thank you Aaron, I owe you one, baby" she said, pointing to the sky.
Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, the original stars of "Charlie's Angels," gave a tearful tribute, thanking Spelling for catapulting them to stardom and then being kind and supportive once they got there.
"I can still smell the pipe and the cologne he wore every day," said Kate Jackson. "I can feel his arm around my shoulder and the thrill I first felt when he looked at me and said 'Baby, you have stardust in your eyes.' "
This year's Emmys earned controversy for some of the other nominations.
A change in judging procedures was intended to lead to a more diverse slate of nominees, given that in the past, the television awards have tended to be beholden to a handful of favorites. The results were mixed.
Newcomer "Grey's" and previously ignored "Two and a Half Men" picked up plenty of kudos, but "Lost," last year's best drama, came up empty in that category, and "Sopranos" leads --and perennial favorites -- James Gandolfini and Edie Falco were shut out.
Emmy host Conan O'Brien poked fun at the controversy. (Watch Conan describe his Emmy aspirations: "My goal is to do a really bad one" -- 2:49)
In the show's opening montage, O'Brien wound up on an island after a plane crash and was greeted by "Lost" star Jorge Garcia.
O'Brien told Garcia he had to get to the Emmys and asked him to come with him.
"We weren't exactly invited," Garcia said.
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