Emmy calls Raymond, Ally and some really good friends
some really good friends
By MIKE VANEGAS
As the new television season is born into the lives of Americans across the nation, little by little, the specter of the 1998-99 season diminishes into their collective memory.
But, wait. The final adieu to the unspectacular but respectable sources of visual splendor of the past year is at last in the present. This Sunday, the 1999 Emmy Awards will reward the best of the crop, from the zaniest of the zany, to the sharpest of the sharp, to the profoundest of the profound. Above all, the Emmy telecast should invite a new era of television-watchers to the tube. For this is the last Emmy telecast of the millennium, and the strength of the top shows, coupled with the demise of several long-running series, surely makes this past year a dividing marker between '90s television and television of the new millennium.
Throughout the '90s, there has been a steady increase in the number of nominations the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has doled out to cable stations and shows. Throughout the last several years, HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show" with Gary Shandling has been the most high-profile representative in the major categories.
With the series' last season being rewarded in the 1998 Emmy Awards, HBO seemed destined for exile in the Made for Television Movie category.
That was until two new HBO series debuted last season. "Sex and the City," the adult comedy starring Sarah Jessica Parker, has garnered two nominations this year. Though not a huge number, they come in two of the major categories: Outstanding Actress in a comedy for Parker and Outstanding Comedy Series.
HBO's other show, the mafia drama "The Sopranos," has hit the Emmys bigger than any other drama in recent Emmy history. With an astounding 16 nominations, "The Sopranos" leads both network and cable shows in number of nominations. The show also has won nominations in every major category for dramas, except Outstanding Supporting Actor.
Including its special programming and movies, HBO itself won 74 nominations, only 8 shy of NBC's 82.
Other than "The Sopranos," the two shows that look to make the biggest impact come Sunday belong to television's most prolific writer David Kelly. With 13 nods apiece, "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal" look to continue Kelly's dominance at the Emmys. Remember, Kelly's "Picket Fences" won several major awards throughout its early 1990s run, including two Outstanding Dramatic Series statuettes, and "The Practice" surprised critics everywhere when it won that same award last year.
Here's a look at the races in Emmy's biggest categories:
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
This category is perhaps the tightest of the major awards, as it includes Kristen Johnson of "Third Rock from the Sun," Lisa Kudrow of "Friends," Lucy Liu of "Ally McBeal," Wendie Malick of "Just Shoot Me" and Doris Roberts of "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Johnson certainly contributes her share of over-the-top acting that makes "Third Rock" worth watching. She previously has won in this category, which puts her in a precarious situation this year.
Kudrow, the defending champion, is the only acting nominee from "Friends," which consists only of supporting actors. Her Phoebe Buffet role leaped into a depth unseen in "Friends," as she had her triplets, gave them up and dealt with it. If anyone can repeat as champion, Kudrow will be the one.
Lucy Liu, who plays the coldhearted Ling on "Ally McBeal," was a high point in a sometimes repetitive season. As one of the few minority actresses nominated, a win for Liu would certainly be some good PR for the Academy.
Wendie Malick, another first-time nominee, unfortunately does not have a strong show to support, as the other nominees do. Therefore her well done efforts on "Just Shoot Me" can't level up to the just-as-good efforts on better shows.
The final nominee, Doris Roberts, proves that age doesn't matter when it comes to comedy. Playing Marie Barone, mother of the man who everybody loves, Roberts' neurotic character excels at creating a pathetic desire to remain in her son's life forever.
Who should win: It's a toss-up
Who will win: Kudrow
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a comedy
The Academy probably had a tough time choosing five nominees for this category, as the choice candidate is a little more clear-cut. Nominees include Peter Boyle of "Everybody Loves Raymond," John Mahoney of "Frasier," Peter MacNichol of "Ally McBeal," David Hyde Pierce of "Frasier" and David Spade of "Just Shoot Me."
Peter Boyle serves the similar purpose in "Raymond" that Doris Roberts does. As an older actor, he adds a pathetic sense of senility to the cast.
MacNichol was probably nominated merely for the eccentric quality of his character, but he should not be recognized as support for the rest of the cast of "Ally."
Mahoney and Pierce, though very strong comedic actors, must suffer for the less-than-stellar "Frasier" season. David Spade, though the most recognizable member of the "Just Shoot Me" cast, perhaps is the funniest of the five nominees.
Who should win: Boyle
Who will win: Boyle
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a drama
The nominees include Lara Flynn Boyle of "The Practice," Kim Delaney of "NYPD Blue," Camryn Manheim of "The Practice," Nancy Marchand of "The Sopranos" and Holland Taylor of "The Practice."
With three nominees from "The Practice," this category certainly is screaming for a winner from another show. Marchand doesn't really have a chance, mainly because she does not star in a David Kelly show, and "The Sopranos" is an HBO show. Delaney has already won the award. This leaves the winner as one of the ladies from "The Practice."
Who should win: Manheim
Who will win: Manheim
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a drama
The nominees are Michael Badalucco of "The Practice," Benjamin Bratt of "Law and Order," Steve Harris of "The Practice," Steven Hill of "Law and Order" and Noah Wyle of "ER."
Badalucco and Harris find themselves in a no-win situation. With three of their female counterparts likely to fight for the crown, attention will be swayed from them, and they won't get enough votes.
Bratt was only nominated because it was his last season on "Law and Order," and his girlfriend, Julia Roberts, helped the show to some late-season ratings jumps.
Hill is a victim of the "who is he" syndrome, and also won't make too many people sweat over choosing him.
That leaves Wyle, who has come into his own as Dr. John Carter on "ER." He has come a long way since his freshman year as an intern, and his development as a doctor has come just as far as his development as an actor.
Who should win: Wyle
Who will win: Wyle
Outstanding Actress in a comedy
Also another strong category, the best actresses, according to the Academy, include Jenna Elfman of "Dharma and Greg," Calista Flockhart of "Ally McBeal," Patricia Heaton of "Everybody Loves Raymond," Helen Hunt of "Mad About You" and Sarah Jessica Parker of "Sex and the City."
Though it wouldn't be surprising if Parker won the Emmy (she is a respected film and theater actress), the fact that her performance is made better by the smart and fearless writing of "Sex" will detract from the personal emphasis of the award.
Hunt, who has lost the role of favorite — though she has won the award the past two years — could well be the dark horse in the category, especially knowing that her series has ended its run.
Elfman, like Johnson of "Third Rock," plays an over-the-top character, which probably helps her chances at the American Comedy Awards, but not here.
The real race is between Heaton and Flockhart, who both have bona fide hit shows, but differ in their roles. As star, Flockhart has proven it is not necessary to be the central character as long as those supporting characters are of high enough quality to create sufficient interplay.
Heaton, on the other hand, must play second fiddle to star/onscreen husband Ray. The way she is able to steal the scene, however, says much for her ability as lead actress.
Who should win: Heaton
Who will win: Flockhart
Outstanding Actor in a comedy
Another interesting battle, the best actor nominees include four of last year's nominees and one newcomer. They are Michael J. Fox of "Spin City," Kelsey Grammar of "Frasier," John Lithgow of "Third Rock from the Sun," Paul Reiser of "Mad About You" and Ray Romano of "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Despite the credibility of all the actors, the winner will most likely be decided based on the personal life of one Marty McFly. After revealing to the public that he has Parkinson's disease, Fox is surely the favorite to win the Best Actor statuette with an unfortunate sympathy vote.
Who should win: Romano
Who will win: Fox
Outstanding Actress in a drama
Nominees include Gillian Anderson of "The X-Files," Lorraine Bracco of "The Sopranos," Edie Falco of "The Sopranos," Christine Lahti of "Chicago Hope" and Julianna Margulies of "ER."
Following the trend of the evening, the HBO show will not have any wins in the major categories. The two stars of television's two medical dramas, both respected actresses, unfortunately will have to bow to the famous Dr. Scully.
Anderson will gain her trophy once again, at the same time gaining respect for her show and costar David Duchovny, both whom were snubbed in their respective categories.
Who should win: Anderson
Who will win: Anderson
Outstanding Actor in a drama
This contest will be decided, perhaps, by who has the best butt (at least from female voters ... and maybe some male voters). The nominees include Dennis Franz of "NYPD Blue," "James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos," Dylan McDermott of "The Practice," Jimmy Smits of "NYPD Blue" and Sam Waterston of "Law and Order."
Based on the entertainment media's popularity contest, the likely winner will be McDermott.
Smits and Franz are perennial contenders, but those other two guys don't have a shot at the gold.
Who should win: Duchovny
Who will win: McDermott
The five nominees are "Ally McBeal," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Frasier," "Friends" and "Sex and the City."
Newcomers "Sex and the City" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" need some Emmy experience before they start taking home the big cheese, while "Frasier," which has won the past five awards in this category, will finally be let down this year.
This leaves a duel between the popular "Ally McBeal" and the even more popular "Friends." Considering the quality of the shows' seasons, "Friends" has the upper hand in this contest.
Who should win: "Friends"
Who will win: "Friends"
The nominees are "ER," "Law and Order," "NYPD Blue," "The Practice" and "The Sopranos."
While the comedy category has been dominated by Frasier the past several years, the drama category has shared the wealth a little more.
But that most likely will change come Sunday, when David Kelley's "The Practice" will run into the show as the favorite and take the final award of the night.
Who should win: "The Sopranos"
Who will win: "The Practice"
All Scene Stories for Friday, September 10, 1999