Emmy Gets With the Program
by Michael Ausiello & Daniel R.
Coleridge of TV Guide
Turns out, Emmy voters do in fact have a pulse.
Nominations for the 2002 Emmy Awards were announced Thursday morning
in Los Angeles, and the consensus in Hollywood was that TV's highest
honor finally got it right. After years of being asleep at the wheel,
"It's as if Academy members watched TV this season," raved
TV Guide critic Matt Roush. "New blood has been transfused into
the Emmy process."
He's not kidding. Among the freshman shows packing a huge Emmy punch:
HBO's Six Feet Under (23 nominations), ABC's Alias (11 nods), Fox's
24 (10 nods) and FX's The Shield (three nods). In fact, in the best
drama series category, NBC's Law & Order and The West Wing were
the only vets making the cut. (The three remaining slots went to CBS's
CSI, 24 and Six Feet Under.)
"It was the most radical overhaul of the nominations that we've
seen in years," marveled Emmy expert Tom O'Neil, host of awards
website GoldDerby.com. "Usually the Emmy nominations are like TV
reruns the same-old, same-old. This year, we saw them throw out
the old guard like ER and Frasier and bring in the nicest
surprises that weren't Nielsen favorites. Nobody knew they were watching
"Voters seemed to have taken notice that last year was an extraordinary
year for new shows," says Roush. "It's just really refreshing."
The most visible symbol of Emmy's miraculous turnaround: The three
nominations for FX's freshman cop show The Shield, including one for
for lead actor Michael Chiklis. "The FX network has never had any
Emmy nominations, and now it gets one for lead actor in a drama,"
O'Neil points out. "This is very dramatic because it was probably
the most profound evidence we have today of the message that Emmy voters
wanted to send: This is not about Nielsens. We are a TV award truly
tuned in to what... is the best on TV."
And as it turns out, many of TV's most respected programs continue
to call HBO home. Powered by Six Feet Under's juggernaut, the cable
net notched a field-best 93 nominations. Also doing the network proud:
acclaimed miniseries Band of Brothers (19 nods) and The Gathering Storm
(nine nods), as well as last year's comedy victor, Sex and the City
(10 nods). "The Academy again showed its incredible allegiance
to HBO," says Roush. How else to explain the surprise comedy nod
for Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm? "Clearly, the happiest
person today has got be Larry David," says O'Neil. "Curb Your
Enthusiasm was not on any expert's list."
One HBO performer probably not uncorking the champagne: Sex's underappreciated
Kristin Davis, the only member of the show's cast not recognized with
a nomination. Laughs O'Neil: "She's got little voodoo dolls of
her co-stars at home right now."
HBO wasn't the only network with reason to celebrate. Thanks to strong
showings by The West Wing, Will & Grace and Friends, NBC was tops
among the six broadcast networks with 89 total nominations. The decision
by the cast of Friends to promote themselves to the lead acting slots
paid off with nods for Jennifer Aniston (the comedy actress frontrunner),
Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc. "It was a bold move that knocked
[W&G's] Eric McCormack [last year's winner] and Frankie Muniz from
Malcolm in the Middle off the lead actor list," says O'Neil. For
his part, Roush is pulling for LeBlanc. "He's been in the background
for so many years, sort of taken for granted," he says. "For
him to get nominated is wonderful."
But what would Emmy season be without a few glaring omissions. Among
them: Friends star David Schwimmer, the entire cast of NBC's Scrubs,
Gilmore Girl Lauren Graham, 24's supporting players, NYPD Blue's Dennis
Franz and Charlotte Ross, and, of course, perennial also-ran Buffy the
Vampire Slayer, which moved to UPN last season and still can't get arrested.
"Buffy's only noms were for hairstyle, makeup and music direction,"
sighs O'Neil. "Last year it didn't get any, so I guess this is
better than none."
Tell that to the show's creator, Joss Whedon, whose acclaimed musical
episode "Once More With Feeling" was virtually snubbed. (The
fact that it was left off the original ballot in the writing category
couldn't have helped.) "The musical episode was not nominated for
directing, writing or music and lyrics," says O'Neil. "That's
shocking." Roush adds that Buffy should consider switching networks
yet again. "If Buffy aired on HBO, it would be a frontrunner."
Speaking of frontrunners, MTV's The Osbournes would seem to have a
lock on best reality show honors. "I think it was inevitable that
they had to acknowledge it," admits O'Neil of the show's nomination.
"It's such a significant thing on the tube this year."
But other aspiring reality stars shouldn't get the idea that landing
your own show automatically translates into Emmy glory. Warns O'Neil:
"Anna Nicole Smith should not start preparing her acceptance speech."