In the variety show category, "The Colbert Report" broke a 10-year winning streak held by "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." It also won for best writing for a variety show.
The ceremony's first hour was relatively somber, with memorial tributes and a doleful song by Elton John in honor of the late musical star Liberace, the subject of the nominated biopic "Behind the Candelabra."
"Liberace left us 25 years ago and what a difference those years have made to people like me," said John, who is openly gay in contrast to the closeted Liberace portrayed in the TV movie.
Jane Lynch paid tribute to Cory Monteith, her "Glee" co-star who died at age 31 in July of a drug and alcohol overdose. "His death is a tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that is brought on by addiction," she said.
Edie Falco recalled her late "The Sopranos" co-star James Gandolfini, saluting him for his "fierce loyalty" to his friends and family and his work with military veterans, while Rob Reiner remembered Jean Stapleton of "All in the Family" and Michael J. Fox honored "Family Ties" producer Gary David Goldberg.
Diahann Carroll, the first African-American Emmy nominee in 1963 for "Naked City," created one of the night's most heartfelt moments when she took the stage with Washington and noted the importance of diversity in the industry and Emmys.
"Tonight, she better get this award," Carroll said of Washington, who covered her eyes in embarrassment.
HBO received a leading seven Emmys, followed by Showtime with four, ABC and NBC with three each and AMC and Comedy Central with two each.
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