- Associated Press - Sunday, August 29, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Eric Stonestreet of “Modern Family” won the Emmy Award for best supporting actor in a comedy Sunday for his portrayal of a gay dad and partner who’s a boisterous spirit.

“All I wanted to be was a clown in the circus when I was a kid growing up,” Stonestreet said, thanking his parents for their support and promising to send the trophy home with them.

Host Jimmy Fallon opened the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards on a musical note, performing a song-and-dance number with the cast of “Glee” and a wildly mismatched group of celebrities including Betty White, Jon Hamm and Kate Gosselin.

Much of the group ended up on stage at the Nokia Theatre to kick off the awards with a high-energy version of “Born to Run,” with Fallon on guitar.

“Tonight we’re going to celebrate your work,” Fallon told the audience. “So let’s have some fun tonight.”

The show aired live nationwide after three decades of tape-delay broadcasts for the West Coast.

“Glee,” the hit musical-comedy show about a high school glee club, was a leading nominee, including bids for best comedy series and cast members Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele, Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer.

“Modern Family” was another freshman comedy front-runner, while “30 Rock” was trying for its fourth consecutive best comedy series Emmy and “Mad Men” competed for its third drama series trophy.

Others defending their title included Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” and Glenn Close of “Damages,” who claimed drama series acting honors last year, and, on the comedy side, Toni Collette of “The United States of Tara” and Alec Baldwin of “30 Rock.”

The public had a hand in writing some of Fallon’s material. He planned to bring many celebrity presenters onstage with introductions submitted through Twitter.

Other Emmy contenders included Conan O’Brien’s short-lived “Tonight,” which was nominated as best variety, music or comedy series while the show with Jay Leno back in charge was snubbed. David Letterman’s “Late Show” also missed out on a nod, but 2009 winner “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” was nominated.

The final season of “Lost” competed for best drama series and for acting honors for star Matthew Fox and supporting cast members Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson, chosen as best supporting drama actor last year.

HBO came into the ceremony as the kingpin after claiming 17 awards at the Aug. 21 creative arts Emmys, followed by ABC with 15 and Fox with nine. CBS, NBC and PBS each claimed seven.

“The Pacific,” the World War II miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, was the top nominee and captured a leading seven creative arts awards, which recognize technical and other achievements.

Ratings for the awards have increased importance: The TV academy’s contract is up for renewal with the four major networks that had been airing the show in rotation for eight years, and the academy hopes last year’s 8 percent audience increase is a trend after an all-time low in 2008.

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