HBO breathes down NBC's neck

Awards: With 82, peacock network has most Emmy nominations -- no biggies for `Homicide.' But HBO is gaining

July 23, 1999|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

NBC received the most Emmy nominations yesterday with 82, but the big story was the continuing climb of cable channel HBO, which finished second with 74.

HBO has dominated movies and mini-series for several years, but yesterday one of its dramas, "The Sopranos," a critically acclaimed look at Mafia life in New Jersey, topped all shows with 16 nominations and joined the ranks of NBC's "ER" and "Law & Order" and ABC's "NYPD Blue" and "The Practice" as nominee for outstanding drama series.

James Gandolfini, star of "The Sopranos," was also nominated for outstanding lead actor in a drama series, along with Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits of "NYPD Blue," Dylan McDermott of "The Practice" and Sam Waterston of "Law & Order" in that category.

Last year, Andre Braugher of "Homicide: Life on the Street" won the Emmy as best dramatic actor. "Homicide," in a final snub by an Emmy Award process that has never been very good to it, received no nominations for its final season on NBC except for direction on a crossover episode with "Law & Order."

The one Baltimore story in yesterday's announcements is Charles S. Dutton receiving a nomination as outstanding guest actor in a drama series for "Oz," the HBO prison drama produced by Tom Fontana.

Fox's "Ally McBeal" led all comedies with 13 nominations, while another David E. Kelley show, "The Practice," also received 13 nominations. CBS' "Joan of Arc" led all movies or miniseries with 13 nominations.

As usual, there were more than enough nominations to make you scratch your head if not scream at the lunacy of them.

For example, NBC's "The '60s" was nominated as outstanding miniseries, joining the ranks of "The Temptations" (NBC), "Joan of Arc" (CBS), "Great Expectations" (PBS) and "Horatio Hornblower" (A&E).

Then there's HBO's "Sex And The City" nominated as outstanding comedy series along with "Ally McBeal," "Frasier," "Friends" and "Everybody Loves Raymond." Granted, it's a weak field, maybe proof in and of itself that the sitcom is on its deathbed, but if "Sex And The City" is one of the smartest or funniest comedies on television today, we are in big trouble as a culture.

Or how about its star, Sarah Jessica Parker, as outstanding lead actress in a comedy series? She's up against Jenna Elfman of ABC's "Dharma & Greg," Calista Flockhart of "Ally McBeal," Helen Hunt of NBC's "Mad About You" and Patricia Heaton of "Everybody Loves Raymond." You don't think Patricia Richardson might have deserved a nomination for her work on the final year of "Home Improvement"?

And I promised myself I was not going to get upset again about the Emmys.

The awards ceremony will be broadcast on Fox on Sept. 12.

Top Emmy Nominations

Comedy series

* "Ally McBeal," Fox;

* "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS;

* "Frasier," NBC;

* "Friends," NBC;

* "Sex and the City," HBO

Drama series

* "ER," NBC;

* "Law & Order," NBC;

* "NYPD Blue," ABC;

* "The Practice," ABC;

* "The Sopranos," HBO

Actress, drama series

* Gillian Anderson, "The X-Files," Fox;

* Lorraine Bracco, "The Sopranos," HBO;

* Edie Falco, "The Sopranos," HBO;

* Christine Lahti, "Chicago Hope," CBS;

* Julianna Margulies, "ER," NBC

Actor, drama series

* Dennis Franz, "NYPD Blue," ABC;

* James Gandolfini, "The Sopranos," HBO;

* Dylan McDermott, "The Practice," ABC;

* Jimmy Smits, "NYPD Blue," ABC;

* Sam Waterston, "Law & Order," NBC

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