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HOLLYWOOD — David E. Kelley made Emmy history Sunday as the first producer to win both the comedy and drama series honors in the same year, but all he could talk about backstage was his surprise at not losing to “The Sopranos” in the drama category.

“I really felt it was ‘The Sopranos’ year,” Kelley said. “It seemed that there was so much heat around that show, so well deserved. It’s so different from conventional storytelling we’ve seen before. I kind of felt in my gut that it was their turn.”

Asked to chose his personal favorite between “Ally McBeal” and “The Practice,” Kelley demurred like a proud father who is asked to name his most beautiful child. But he did confess to having a “soft spot” for “The Practice.”

No sure bet

“It faced such an enormous challenge” in its first season, Kelley noted. “It looked like it would be canceled and it would’ve been easy for everybody to do less than 100%. Anytime you have such an uphill climb with a show and then you sort of get over the hump, it’s especially gratifying.”

“Practice” trouper Camryn Manheim, who made a splash with her drama supporting actress win last year, added her voice to the chorus of praise backstage winners heaped on “The Sopranos.” But given the competitive situation between the lofty legal drama and the New Jersey mobster drama, Manheim couldn’t resist a last quip: “We’re just happy (‘The Sopranos’ cast) is going home on the red eye. We hear they pack pistols.”