'West Wing' wins 8 Emmys

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter  |  Nov. 5, 2001 at 2:18 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- NBC's White House drama, "The West Wing," was re-elected as outstanding TV drama series by voting members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Sunday, but fell short of the landslide it achieved last year when it won a record nine Emmy Awards.

Writer-producer Aaron Sorkin's creation won eight Emmys, including a second straight award for best drama, and for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series for Allison Janney for her performance as press secretary C.J. Cregg. Bradley Whitford won for supporting actor in a drama for his performance as Josh Lyman on the series, and Thomas Schlamme won a directing Emmy for a two-part "West Wing" episode, "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen."

The HBO hit, "Sex and the City," won for outstanding comedy series -- its only award this year, despite acting nominations for series stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Catrall.

James Gandolfini and Edie Falco won for outstanding lead actor and actress in a drama series for the HBO hit, "The Sopranos" -- Gandolfini for a second straight year.

Patricia Heaton won her second straight Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for the CBS hit, "Everybody Loves Raymond." Eric McCormack won for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for NBC's "Will & Grace."

The Emmy for outstanding miniseries went to the ABC production, "Anne Frank." The HBO movie, "Wit," was named outstanding TV movie, and its director, Mike Nichols, won for outstanding direction of a TV movie.

CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" won for variety, music or comedy series and Bravo's "Cirque Du Soleil's Dralion" won for outstanding variety, music or comedy special.

Kenneth Branagh and Judy Davis won for lead actor and actress in a miniseries or movie for the HBO movie, "Conspiracy" and the ABC miniseries, "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows."

Barbra Streisand won for individual performance in a variety or music program for the Fox special, "Barbra Streisand: Timeless."

The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were presented at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles Sunday, on the third attempt by the Academy and CBS to stage and televise the event. The show was postponed twice because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent air strikes against targets in Afghanistan.

Host Ellen DeGeneres got some mileage out of the double postponement in her opening remarks.

"Welcome to the 53rd, 54th and 55th Emmy Awards," said DeGeneres to appreciative laughter from the audience, which was mostly made up of TV professionals, but also included a larger-than-usual contingent of security professionals.

Referring to the criticism directed as some entertainment for their reluctance to travel post Sept. 11, DeGeneres offered faint praise to "all the wonderful TV stars who we love so much, who are watching from home."

In fact, many performers whose names were called as Emmy winners Sunday night were not there to accept their awards. However, in many cases, performers who had been scheduled to attend the ceremonies in September were unable to adjust their work schedules to attend the twice-postponed event.

Among those who did not receive their Emmys in person were Gandolfini, Letterman, Nichols, Branagh and Davis. Streisand did not come to the podium to pick up her award -- but she did appear live to close the show by singing the Rodgers and Hammerstein composition, "You'll Never Walk Alone," from the musical, "Carousel."

"It's a very sad time, a very frightening time, for our country," Streisand said backstage after her performance, "and I just wanted to give something back, something that expresses how we feel."

Walter Cronkite delivered the telecast's opening remarks.

Appearing via videotape, the legendary TV newsman said the program had been "altered considerably from its usual gala," reflecting "deep feeling for our losses, our concern for our society ... and as our president suggested life must go on."

Cronkite called TV "the great common denominator" that "reminds us that entertainment can help us heal."

The usual hoopla that accompanies award shows was absence from this Emmy show. There were no bleachers where fans ordinarily would have showered affection on their favorite stars, and the industry crowd that attended wore business attire instead of the formal wear usually on display at such occasions.

In a reference to the post-Sept. 11 world that Hollywood finds itself in, DeGeneres said the terrorists "can't take away our creativity ... only network executives can do that."

The evening sounded several serious notes, including a montage of visual images of people in countries around the world memorializing the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, accompanied by messages of sympathy and solidarity from various world leaders.

Accepting the award for lead actress in a drama series, Falco thanked the people of New York, the Yankees and Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

In her acceptance speech, Heaton acknowledged the role entertainment plays in helping Americans cope with the tragedy of Sept. 11.

"I'm so happy to be, at this time in our country, part of a show that helps give laughter," she said.

Heaton thanked the men and women of the U.S. military for helping to keep America "a place where are can sit here and do this" and dedicated her performance for the rest of the TV season to America's armed forces.

CNN talk show host Larry King introduced a montage of film clips recalling the history of performances by entertainers who traveled overseas to regale U.S. troops in wartime -- with particular emphasis on the contributions of legendary comedian Bob Hope.

Academy chairman and CEO Bryce Zabel used his remarks to remind the audience and viewers around the world that the Emmy Awards presentation is an important part of the country's response to the terrorist attacks.

"Let history remember," said Zabel, "that the 53rd Annual Emmy Awards stood up to fear, that we stood up to hate, and we celebrate the American spirit."

As if to underscore the entertainment industry's integral place in American life, the annual "In Memoriam" segment -- a time for the Academy to remember some of those who have died since the last Emmy Awards -- included three people who were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Writer and commentator Barbara Olsen, actress-photographer Berry Berenson, and "Frasier" producer David Angell were passengers on airliners that were hijacked and turned into bombs by terrorists in New York and Washington, D.C.

As they did last year, the Emmys shaped up as a showdown between "The West Wing" and "The Sopranos" for supremacy in the drama series categories. "The Sopranos" had 22 nominations this year, to 18 for "The West Wing" -- but once again, "The West Wing" came out on top, with nine Emmys to four for "The Sopranos."

No single comedy show dominated the proceedings.

"Sex and the City" took the best comedy series trophy, but no other honors. "Everybody Loves Raymond" won two Emmys -- for lead and supporting actress (Heaton and Doris Roberts) -- while lead and supporting actor awards were split up between "Will & Grace" (McCormack) and "Ally McBeal" (Peter MacNicol).

"Malcolm in the Middle" -- a critical favorite that went into the Emmys with eight nominations -- settled for two wins. They came in the prestigious categories of outstanding directing and writing for a comedy series for an episode title, "Bowling," that portrayed an evening in the life of a family as told from two different points of view.

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