With 'ER,' 'Frasier,' the NBC peacock rules Emmy roost A cut above at Emmys

September 11, 1995|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

Pasadena, Calif. -- "ER" didn't win Emmy awards in the major categories last night, but the NBC medical drama won enough Emmys to tie records set in 1981 by "Hill Street Blues" for most wins by a series in one year and by a new series.

"ER" picked up three trophies at the 47th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony broadcast on Fox TV -- for directing, writing and supporting actress -- giving the series a total of eight; it picked up five during non-televised awards Saturday.

This year's Emmy Awards ceremony proved bountiful for NBC, which won 28 of the awards overall. NBC's "Frasier" dominated the comedy series category, winning as best comedy, with Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce taking best actor and supporting actor honors. "Frasier" also won for best comedy directing and writing.

NBC also dominated the prestigious made-for-television movie/mini-series category, with three Emmys for "Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story" -- best actress for Glenn Close, best supporting actress for Judy Davis and best writing for Alison Cross.

"Our differences and our diversity have always been one of the God-given strengths of this country," Close said in accepting her award. One of NBC's sweetest awards, though, had to be a surprise Emmy for "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" in the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series category. Leno beat out "The Late Show With David Letterman."

"As my dad would say, 'fight the good fight,' " Leno said in his acceptance speech.

NBC headed into the awards with an edge as the leader in nominations and preliminary trophies given in weekend ceremonies.

NBC had a total of 96 Emmy nominations, including 23 for "ER," followed by CBS with 91 and cable's Home Box Office with 50. ABC had 42 bids, while Fox Broadcasting Co. had 19.

CBS' star was Candice Bergen, who broke an Emmy record last night when she repeated as best lead actress in a comedy series for her depiction of a hard-driving journalist-mom in "Murphy Brown." She won the same award in 1994, 1992, 1990 and 1989, becoming the winningest performer in a lead series role.

Other CBS winners were Kathy Baker, from "Picket Fences" as best actress in a drama series, and Mandy Patinkin as best actor in a drama series, for his role in "Chicago Hope."

Barbra Streisand made HBO a winner, grabbing two Emmys for "Barbra Streisand: The Concert."

In her acceptance speech, Streisand noted that it had been 30 years since her last Emmy. But this one, she said, was more significant because of "so many doubts that I had over so many years of not performing. You know, would I, I mean could I do it? Would my voice be there? Would the people still pay to see me?"

ABC's biggest moment came in the finale when "NYPD Blue" won as best dramatic series.

The telecast itself was fast and flat. It clipped along nicely, but there were no memorable moments. Cybill Shepherd and Jason Alexander served as co-hosts, and they were mismatched in terms of more than height.

From the first moment they came on stage as dance partners and Shepherd pulled Alexander's head into her breasts, you knew it was going to be Shepherd at her obnoxious worst. Her very worst moment was during a segment outside the hall when her microphone failed and she seemed even sillier than usual in her exaggerated mugging.

Alexander lacked sparkle, but was at least competent. Twice he found himself in the audience trying to kill time. On his second try, he had co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus stand and show off her revealing black Gianni Versace dress -- "dispelling the I'm-just-one-of-the-guys image," in Alexander's words. It wasn't a great moment in the history of improvisation, but at least Alexander was reacting onstage to what many viewers were surely talking about in their homes.

This was Don Mischer's second year as executive producer, and he managed to ruin one of the most powerful musical moments in the history of Broadway when he failed to provide proper audio for the foot stomping on "Berta, Berta" from "The Piano Lesson," which was performed last night by cast members including Baltimore's Charles Dutton.

PRIME CHOICES

Here is a selective list of winners of the 47th Annual Primetime Emmy awards:

Drama series: "NYPD Blue," ABC.

Comedy series: "Frasier," NBC.

Lead actor, drama series: Mandy Patinkin, "Chicago Hope," CBS.

Lead actress, drama series: Kathy Baker, "Picket Fences," CBS.

Guest actor, drama series: Paul Winfield, "Picket Fences: Enemy Lines," CBS.

Supporting actor, drama series: Ray Walston, "Picket Fences," CBS.

Guest actress, drama series: Shirley Knight, "NYPD Blue: Large Mouth Bass," ABC.

Supporting actress, drama series: Julianna Margulies, "ER," NBC.

Lead actor, comedy series: Kelsey Grammer, "Frasier," NBC.

Lead actress, comedy series: Candice Bergen, "Murphy Brown," CBS.

Guest actor, comedy series: Carl Reiner, as Alan Brady, "Mad About You: The Alan Brady Show," NBC.

Supporting actor, comedy series: David Hyde Pierce, "Frasier," NBC.

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