'Josephine Baker' gets unexpected Emmy nominations

July 19, 1991|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

LOS ANGELES — Perennial Emmy winners "L.A. Law," "Cheers" and "Murphy Brown" got the most Emmy nominations yesterday with 14 each.

But the biggest buzz over the announcement of nominations for the 43rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards was about the 12 nominations for HBO's film, "The Josephine Baker Story," and about the nomination that "The Simpsons" once again did not get.

HBO's story of the black dancer and singer who lived most of her life in Europe was the second most nominated show. Its 12 nominations -- including Lynn Whitfield for best actress in a miniseries or special -- were the most ever for a cable production.

In the case of "The Simpsons," the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences again decided that because the show was animated it could not be considered in the category of Best Comedy where it would compete with shows featuring live actors.

That decision, which struck some as arbitrary when it was first applied to "The Simpsoms" last year, was openly questioned here shortly after the nominations were announced.

The challenge arose at a Fox Television press conference intended to promote the network's telecast of the Emmy awards, scheduled to air Aug. 25. When reporters saw Leo Chaloukian, president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, in the room, he was asked to defend the academy's ruling on "The Simpsons."

Chaloukian blamed the producers of "The Simpsons," saying academy officials wanted to meet with them after the controversy last year, but the producers ignored their request to come to a meeting and plead their case. As a result, he said, academy officials had no choice but to hold to their position that it is simply "not proper" for an animated show to be in the category of live comedy.

The Emmy nominations and awards, which can mean life or death for shows, were as strange as ever in other respects, too, this year.

Bill Cosby was again not nominated, because he declined to be considered for an Emmy. Roseanne Barr was again not nominated, presumably because her colleagues don't think she deserves to be. But her "Roseanne" co-star John Goodman is again a nominee in the category of best actor in a drama series.

Another indication of the kind of year this was lies in numbers like these: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" finished third with 10 nominations and the telecast of "The 63rd Annual Academy Awards" show finished fourth with nine nominations, while Ken Burns' landmark "The Civil War" got only two nominations.

Nominees in top Emmy categories

Drama series: "China Beach," ABC; "L.A. Law," NBC; "Northern Exposure," CBS; "Quantum Leap," NBC; "thirtysomething," ABC.

Comedy series: "Cheers," NBC; "Designing Women," CBS; "The Golden Girls," NBC; "Murphy Brown," CBS; "The Wonder Years," ABC.

Drama-comedy special and miniseries: "Decoration Day -- Hallmark Hall of Fame," NBC; "The Josephine Baker Story," HBO; "Paris Trout," Showtime; "Sarah, Plain and Tall -- Hallmark Hall of Fame," CBS; "Separate But Equal," ABC; "Switched at Birth," NBC.

Variety, music or comedy series: "The 63rd Annual Academy Awards," ABC; "In Living Color," Fox; "The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of Performing Arts," CBS; "Late Night with David Letterman," NBC; "The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson," CBS; "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," NBC.

Lead actor, drama series: Peter Falk, "Columbo," ABC; James Earl Jones, "Gabriel's Fire," ABC; Michael Moriarty, "Law & Order," NBC; Scott Bakula, "Quantum Leap," NBC; Kyle MacLachlan, "Twin Peaks," ABC.

Lead actress, drama series: Dana Delany, "China Beach," CBS; Angela Lansbury, "Murder, She Wrote," CBS; Patricia Wettig, "thirtysomething," ABC; Sharon Gless, "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill," CBS.

Lead actor, comedy series: Ted Danson, "Cheers," NBC; Craig T. Nelson, "Coach," ABC; Richard Mulligan, "Empty Nest," NBC; Burt Reynolds, "Evening Shade," CBS; John Goodman, "Roseanne," ABC.

Lead actress, comedy series: Kirstie Alley, "Cheers," NBC; Blair Brown, "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd," Lifetime; Delta Burke, "Designing Women," CBS; Betty White, "The Golden Girls," NBC; Candice Bergen, "Murphy Brown," CBS.

Lead actor, miniseries or special: James Garner, "Decoration Day -- Hallmark Hall of Fame," NBC; Dennis Hopper, "Paris Trout," Showtime; Christopher Walken, "Sarah, Plain and Tall -- Hallmark Hall of Fame," CBS; Sidney Poitier, "Separate But Equal," ABC; John Gielgud, "Summer's Lease -- Masterpiece Theatre," PBS.

Lead actress, miniseries or special: Lynn Whitfield, "The Josephine Baker Story," HBO; Suzanne Pleshette, "Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean," CBS; Lee Purcell, "Long Road Home," NBC; Barbara Hershey, "Paris Trout," Showtime; Glenn Close, "Sarah, Plain and tall -- Hallmark Hall of Fame," CBS.

Supporting actor, drama series: Jimmy Smits, "L.A. Law," NBC; Richard Dysart, "L.A. Law," NBC; Dean Stockwell, "Quantum Leap," NBC; David Clennon, "thirtysomething," ABC; Timothy Busfield, "thirtysomething," ABC.

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