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Emmys change too little and miss a lot 
7th-Jul-2006 07:12 am
LP: Ned blue

The annual Emmy nominations are designed to break the hearts of serious television fans, and this year the awardsfest has done its duty again. The disappointments have a little more sting this year, since many observers thought things were going to be different this time around.

For the 2006 voting process, the Emmy bigwigs instituted new rules designed to allow critically acclaimed underdogs and a less predictable roster of actors and programs into the nomination process. Well, so much for that.

There are few real surprises in the final list of nominees announced Thursday by the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences: "Grey’s Anatomy" and "24" picked up the most nominations — 11 and 12, respectively — and there’s no argument there, as both series are coming off solidly entertaining seasons. Rounding out the list of best drama nominees are "House," "The Sopranos" and (what a surprise) "The West Wing."

A final Emmy nomination for Martin Sheen, the star of "West Wing," was to be expected — but no acting nod for Hugh Laurie, the magnetic star of "House"?

And how is it that Kevin James picked up a comedy acting nomination for "The King of Queens," while Jason Lee, the terrific star of the fresh new comedy "My Name Is Earl," got nada?

Steve Carell’s nomination for his star turn in "The Office" is well-deserved, as is the show’s nod as one of five outstanding comedies. But no nominations for "The Office’s" stellar supporting cast? The worst part is, in the best comedy category, the other nominees are "Arrested Development," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Scrubs" – all of which are more than deserving. But the final best comedy nominee is, er, "Two and a Half Men."

That last slot would be much better occupied by "How I Met Your Mother," "My Name Is Earl," "Weeds" or "Entourage."

"Two and Half Men" got a total of seven nominations. This is the new, better Emmy system?

The main cast of "Lost" also didn’t get a single nod, though Henry Ian Cusick did get a nomination for his excellent work in the guest role as Desmond on the ABC drama. "The Sopranos," which is coming off a weak season, did get a nomination as an outstanding drama -- but James Gandolfini and Edie Falco didn’t receive acting nominations, nor did most of the show’s excellent cast (though Michael Imperioli, who plays Christopher, did get a supporting actor nod).

The Emmy nomination list is like that. For every worthy nomination, there are two or three heartbreaks.

There’s no reason to mourn the shutout of the cast of "Desperate Housewives," none of whom were nominated in the main acting categories, with the exception of supporting actor Alfre Woodard, who had the thankless guest role of Betty Applewhite on the uneven-to-unwatchable ABC series.

One can only praise the acting nominations for "Grey’s" Chandra Wilson (left) and Sandra Oh, and it’s only fitting that hometown girl Shonda Rhimes, who hails from University Park, got writing nominations for her sensational post-Super Bowl episodes of the show. And nobody says "Now!" and "You have to trust me!" quite like Kiefer Sutherland, who was nominated as best drama actor once again this year. The sensational Gregory Itzin, "24’s" wily President Logan, also got a nod, and if he doesn’t get a supporting-actor statue at the Aug. 27 awards ceremony, every "24" fan in America will demand a recount.

Still, the Emmy nomination list is most notable for its omissions. There were no acting or writing nominations for Sci Fi’s "Battlestar Galactica" or FX’s "The Shield" – my two personal nominees for the best programs on television ("Galactica’s" technical staff did snag three well-deserved nods). Though the new Emmy nominating process had been dubbed "The Lauren Graham Rule" by at least one critic, there was no acting nomination — again — for the deft, talented star of WB’s "Gilmore Girls." Sigh.

It’s no surprise that awards juggernaut HBO snagged a few final awards for "Six Feet Under" — Peter Krause and Frances Conroy got acting nods, among other nominations for the defunct show — but it’s a shame that Emmy voters didn’t nominate any of "Rome’s" fine cast for the major acting awards. Polly Walker, "Rome’s" deliciously vindictive Atia, was robbed. ("Deadwood," by the way, was not eligible this Emmy nominating period. You can be sure it'll pick up a truckload of nods next year.)

But the real story is that nominations for WB and UPN shows and for the cable networks that were supposed to benefit from the new system were thin on the ground. Some notable basic-cable shows were recognized: the magnificent Andre Braugher got a deserved nod as best actor in a miniseries for his role on "Thief"; Denis Leary was nominated for his work on FX’s "Rescue Me"; and Kyra Sedgwick got an acting nomination for "The Closer."

Still, even Fox didn’t get the nominations it should have: Not a darn thing for "Prison Break" except a music nomination? Nothing for Robert Knepper, Wentworth Miller or Dominic Purcell?

And where are Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell’s acting nominations for "Battlestar Galactica"? Where are the writing and other acting nominations for "Veronica Mars," "Battlestar Galactica," "The Shield," "Everybody Hates Chris," "Gilmore Girls" and "Everwood"?

Guess we’ll have to wait for the next Emmy rule change for those worthy shows to be recognized.
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