Last season's lowest-rated network was the biggest winner at Sunday night's 59th annual Emmy Awards bash, while last season's top-rated network took only a single trophy. NBC took home seven awards, including best comedy series -- 30 Rock.HBO's The Sopranoswon for best drama, best writing and best directing but failed to nab honors for the series' top stars. ABC won six awards, including a Best Actress in a Drama award to Sally Fields for Brothers & Sisters in the show's first year. America Ferrera won the comparable award in comedy for Ugly Betty,while James Spader won for Best Actor in a Drama (Boston Legal). Ricky Gervais took the comedy acting award for HBO's Extras. The Daily Show With Jon Stewarton Comedy Central was named best variety, music, or comedy series. CBS won just one Emmy, with its The Amazing Racetaking the award for best reality-competition program (beating American Idol, among other shows in the category; Idol, the highest-rated weekly show,has never won an Emmy). Fox, which broadcast Sunday night's ceremonies, went home empty handed.


Critics gave Ryan Seacrest mixed notices for his role as host of Sunday night's Emmy Awards. Matthew Gilbert in the Boston Globesaid that "Seacrest benefited from rampant not-so-great expectations." David Bianculli in the New York Daily Newsvoted him Most Camera-Shy Performer, then noted: "He was AWOL so long during the opening hour, after his initial appearance, that it seemed he'd been voted off." But Edward Wyatt in the New York Times observed that Seacrest was "known for keeping a weekly live television show running on time, a feat that can do more to win the enthusiasm of the sometimes jaded Hollywood audience than a monologue of predictable jokes." Frazier Moore of the Associated Press pronounced Seacrest "fine as ringmaster." On the other hand, Robert Bianco in USA Today noted, "Had he been content to simply keep the show moving, he might have been bearable. Instead, he worked the crowd like he was back at American Idol, making more of a nuisance of himself with each appearance, apparently not realizing that the occasion called for a classier act." Tom Shales in the Washington Postconcluded that Seacrest "proved a poor choice to emcee this year's Emmys; his material was weak, and Seacrest tried to keep up a hipper-than-thou attitude that fell flat."


Fox's censors were never asleep at the switch during Sunday night's Emmys telecast, which aired with a 5-second time delay. Launching into a denunciation of the war in Iraq and noting that her character on Brothers and Sistersis the mother of a young man heading off to war, Fields said, "Let's face it, if the mothers ruled the world, there would be no God-damned wars in the first place." Her remarks were cut off after the word "God" Critic Doug Elfman in the Chicago Sun-Times commented that "the Emmys were so boring, the only fun part was seeing Sally Fields and Katherine Heigl say dirty words and Ray Romano say a synonym of one. But Fox censored each outburst, killing the only rare moments of true personality." (Heigl was seen uttering "the S-word" after the announcement that she had won the award for best supporting actress in a drama, and Romano used a variation of "the F-word" when he commented on his former TV wife Patricia Heaton taking up with Back to Youcostar Kelsey Grammer.)


More people tuned in to football Sunday night than to the Emmys. A runover of the CBS NFL contest scored a 13.1/23 during the 7:00 p.m. hour (shared with 60 Minutes), while NBC's Sunday Night Football averaged an 11.5/17 from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. By contrast, the Emmys averaged a 10.6/16 from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., the lowest ratings ever for the awards telecast, down a whopping 19 percent from last year's Emmys show, which was telecast on NBC. (Countdown to the Emmys drew a disappointing 6.5/12 in the 7:00 p.m. hour).


The gossip website TMZ says it has obtained an audio recording of the confrontation between O.J. Simpson and a sports memorabilia dealer that led to Simpson's arrest in Las Vegas over the weekend. The website published excerpts from the six-minute incident today (Monday) and said it would air them on its nationally syndicated TMZ-TVtonight. The website claimed that the tape was recorded by Thomas Riccio, co-owner of the auction house Universal Rarities, who says he accompanied Simpson to a hotel room at the Palace Station Casino last week where the encounter took place and turned on a digital tape recorder as they entered the room. "Simpson is clearly the ringleader," TMZ observes, at one point telling someone in the room, "Think you can steal my s**t and sell it?" According to TMZ the men in the room were recorded admitting that they didn't have the right to the memorabilia in the room and at another point one of the men is heard remarking that he helped Simpson stash away money in offshore bank accounts.