Gutsy 'NYPD Blue' cops 26 Emmy nominations, a record for drama series

July 22, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

Los Angeles -- "NYPD Blue" set a new record for Emmy nominations by a drama series yesterday with 26. It was the television industry's way of celebrating a show for taking risks in what many here refer to as The Year of Living Cautiously in network TV.

A year ago, "NYPD Blue" was under one of the most ferocious pre-debut assaults in the history of TV as a result of sex, violence and harsh language in the pilot. Producer Steven Bochco met with critics and admitted that the fight was wearing him down. ABC admitted it was forced to sell ads for the show at giveaway rates because of the controversy.

Yesterday, virtually everyone connected with the show was rewarded with a nomination.

The major ones included: Best Drama Series; Dennis Franz and David Caruso for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series; Gordon Clapp and Nick Turturro for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series; and Gail O'Grady, Sharon Lawrence and Amy Brenneman for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

In the category of Best Writing for a Drama Series, "NYPD" took all five nominations.

The 26 nominations was Bochco topping himself.

The previous record for a drama series was held by his "Hill Street Blues," with 21 during the 1981-1982 season. (The all-time record in nominations is held by the mini-series "Roots," which received 37 in the 1976-1977 season.)

"NYPD Blue" accounted for more than one-third of all nominations for ABC, which finished second among all networks. The leaders were: CBS, 91; ABC, 73; NBC, 66; HBO, 34; and PBS, 25.

One of the victims of the triumph by "NYPD Blue" appears to be NBC's "Homicide -- Life on the Streets," the Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana drama about homicide detectives in Baltimore.

"Homicide" received only one nomination. Last year, "Homicide" got four nominations and wound up winning two Emmys. This year's nomination is for Robin Williams as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. In the episode titled "Bop Gun," Williams played a tourist from Iowa whose wife is murdered in downtown Baltimore.

Part of the problem for "Homicide" is the fact many here think of it as the "other quality cop show." Because of the industry's desire to get behind "NYPD Blue" and send a message to its critics, every toss-up vote between "Homicide" and "NYPD Blue" went to Bochco & Co. The result was bad news for "Homicide," which is the kind of show NBC expects to win Emmys.

The big Emmy nomination recipients for NBC yesterday were "Seinfeld" with 12 and "Frasier" with 11. The performance by "Frasier" was impressive since it's a first-year show.

NBC is campaigning hard for "Frasier" and hoping for a big Emmy night for the series, which is being moved to Tuesdays to do battle with "Roseanne."

NBC had a big day overall in comedy -- it had four of the five nominees for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in Kelsey Grammer, Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser and John Larroquette. The fifth nominee is John Goodman from ABC's "Roseanne."

It also has three of the five nominees for Best Comedy in "Frasier," "Mad About You" and "Seinfeld." The other two nominees are ABC's "Home Improvement" and HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show."

The leader among regular series for CBS was again "Picket Fences," with 10 nominations. Last year, the series all but swept the drama category. "Gypsy," a made-for-TV movie with Bette Midler, was the most-nominated CBS show yesterday with 12. "Late Show With David Letterman" has seven nominations.

HBO's film "And The Band Played On" was the top cable nominee with 13. "Star Trek: the Next Generation" was the leader among syndicated shows with nine nominations.

The competition in several categories should make for considerable interest in this year's awards telecast.

Joanne Woodward, Bette Midler, Helen Mirren, Jessica Tandy and Kirstie Alley are competing for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Special. James Garner, Michael Caine, Hume Cronyn, Matthew Modine and Sam Waterston are competing for Outstanding Lead Actor in the same category.

The Outstanding Miniseries category is packed: "Armistead Maupin's Tales of The City" (PBS), "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All" (CBS), "Prime Suspect 3" (PBS), "Stephen King's The Stand" (ABC) and "World War II: When Lions Roared" (NBC).

And, going up against "NYPD Blue" as best drama series are: NBC's "Law & Order," CBS' "Picket Fences" and "Northern Exposure," and Paramount's syndicated series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

EMMY NOMINATIONS

Selected nominees for the Primetime Emmy Awards announced yesterday:

Comedy Series: "Frasier," NBC; "Home Improvement," ABC; "The Larry Sanders Show," HBO; "Mad About You," NBC; "Seinfeld," NBC.

Drama Series: "Law & Order," NBC; "Northern Exposure," CBS; "NYPD Blue," ABC; "Picket Fences," CBS; "Star Trek: The Next Generation," syndicated.

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