Mad Men and Modern Family won the top drama and comedy prizes at the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday on a night full of surprises and new faces.
Modern Family also brought first-time wins for Julie Bowen and her screen husband Ty Burrell in the supporting acting slots, and the ABC mockumentary won Emmys for directing and writing.
Canadian actor Barry Pepper won best actor in a mini-series for his role as Robery Kennedy in The Kennedys.
The miniseries, which also starred Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, had a difficult run in the United States.
History Channel commissioned and partially financed the $30-million drama, but ultimately dropped the Toronto-shot venture from its schedule amid suggestions that Kennedy supporters were unhappy with the project.
It eventually aired on Reelz Channel south of the border and in Canada on Global and History Television.
Julianna Margulies, star of The Good Wife, beat Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men in the race for best dramatic actress, while Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights crushed the hopes of front-runner Jon Hamm as best drama actor.
The stylish 1960s advertising drama also lost the best drama writing award to Friday Night Lights. But in a last-minute cliff-hanger, Mad Men won the best drama series Emmy for the fourth consecutive year.
"I did not think that was going to happen," creator Matthew Weiner said, accepting the trophy.
Kate Winslet added her first Emmy, as widely expected, to her Oscar, for her lead role in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce. But the British period show Downton Abbey, shown on PBS, won the award for best miniseries.
Margo Martindale was an emotional first-time Emmy winner for her supporting actress drama role in Justified and Emmy rookie Peter Dinklage won for his turn as the clever but rude Tyrion in HBO's popular medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones.
Melissa McCarthy won lead comedy actress at her first shot for her role in Mike & Molly on CBS while Jim Parsons made it two in a row for his lead comedy actor role as the geeky physicist of The Big Bang Theory.
Parson's win meant a fifth Emmy defeat for departing The Office star Steve Carell, who had been tipped to finally win an Emmy after his final season as clueless manager Michael Scott.
The awards began on a controversial note when it was revealed that a taped comedy routine by Alec Baldwin for the show was cut from the telecast because it contained a joke about the News Corp. phone hacking scandal.
The actor was to be part of an opening video for Sunday night's ceremony airing on Fox, a News Corp.-owned network. But he tweeted before the awards that the network had killed his joke about the hacking scandal in Britain involving the now-closed News of the World tabloid.
Fox said it believed the joke was inappropriate to make light of an issue being taken very seriously by the company.
First-time Emmy producer Mark Burnett, whose string of reality TV hits includes Survivor, was in charge of the ceremony, but kept mum when asked about Baldwin.
"There's nonstop drama, but everything is fine," he said cryptically on the red carpet before the show.