The crime spree is over. "The Sopranos" will have to kiss someone else's ring -- namely, the big boss man's, the president of the United States of TV America.
"The West Wing" was named Best Drama Series at the 52nd Annual Emmy Awards, capping a night wherein the political drama dominated, save for one major setback when James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos" bested Martin Sheen in the competition for Best Actor in a Drama Series.
"I think the Academy has an affinity for slightly overweight bald men," Gandolfini quipped onstage.
Gandolfini's win was the lone bright spot for "The Sopranos," which otherwise got whacked -- like when Sela Ward of ABC’s "Once and Again" beat both Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco for the Best Actress in a Drama Series Emmy. "The Sopranos" came into the night with 18 nominations.
Hollywood.com's Sandy Kenyon asked Gandolfini: "It's been a long kind of overnight success for you. What was going through your mind and is this a form of sweet justice for you?"
"I didn't feel any miscarriage of justice last year or anything like that, I'm just pleased to be in the show, doing the work we do,” Gandolfini said. “I didn't feel anything went wrong last year, so this year is just icing on the cake for me personally."
Meanwhile, Sheen was doing a lot of congratulatory on-camera hugging, as his comrades made their way to the stage to accept their trophies. Among the other honors for "The West Wing" were Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Allison Janney) and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Richard Schiff); Best Writing in a Drama Series (Aaron Sorkin and Rick Cleveland); and Best Direction in a Drama Series (Thomas Schlamme).
"I've got a 'West Wing' feeling," host Gary Shandling mused halfway through the telecast.
NBC’s “Will & Grace” came away with some big wins, including Best Comedy Series and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for Megan Mullally and Best Supporting Actor in A Comedy Series for Sean Hayes.
The lead actor and actress in “Will & Grace,” Eric McCormack and Debra Messing, respectively, lost out to Michael J. Fox for ABC’s “Spin City” and Patricia Heaton of CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
HURRY IT UP: The Emmys aren't known for brevity. In recent years, the broadcast has dragged on well past the allotted running time, but this year's festivities wrapped up within its three-hour slot. Just barely.
During the final hour, that tinkly "get off the stage, already" piano music was heard often as awardees dragged on too long with acceptance speeches. Host Shandling was cut off in mid-sentence as he introduced presenter Bruce Willis, who walked onstage before his cue and explained, "We're running really late" under his breath.
The producers tried (mostly in vain) using TelePrompTers to quicken the pace -- a fact that Jack Lemmon inadvertently revealed, when he unconsciously read the "please wrap up" cue out loud.
In his opening monologue, Shandling said, "You know what slows this show down? It's the awards," and jokingly suggested that the names of winners be taped to the bottom of their seats to save time.
Not a bad idea.
Here's a brief blow by blow of the highlights of the 2000 Emmy telecast:
THERE'S NOTHING LIKE A GOOD POTTY JOKE: This being an awards telecast, there were of course lots of pre-taped and live time killers in between the awards and commercials.
The best of these was a "Big Brother" parody, wherein Shandling was caught on camera in the men's room. The valet offering him a hot towel was David Duchovny, who informed Shandling that a vote was taken and his bathroom privileges had been revoked. Guess you had to be there.
The whole show began, of course, with a "Survivor" parody that featured a mock vote of the Tribal Council (with celebrity members including Andy Richter of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" fame). The winner of which would be named host of the Emmy telecast and also get an SUV. Shandling tried to cop out, asking if he could just take the car instead. Guess you had to be there for that one, too.
There were other funny gags. Conan O'Brien did a self-effacing bit about paying lip service to women's issues so he could get a date to next year's Emmys; and Shandling did a tribute to his idea of "risk taking" TV: like the Home Shopping Network, "Jerry Springer," monster trucks, "Teletubbies," "Xena" and The Weather Channel.
PRESSING THE FLESH: Hubba, hubba. Was it just the fact that we're watching the Emmy telecast on crystal-clear satellite TV, or did everyone see Geena Davis' um, er, um, ahem ... nipples? Is Renny Harlin nuts? She's the most beautiful over-40 woman in the universe -- see-through, skin-tight outfit or no.
I SEE DEAD PEOPLE: The annual montage of dearly departed TV celebs featured Loretta Young, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Madeline Kahn, John Gielgud, George C. Scott, Larry Linville, Meredith MacRae, Gene Rayburn, Durward Kirby, Shirley Hemphill, Hoyt Axton, Nancy Marchand, Leonard Goldenson, Clayton Moore, Doug Henning, Craig Stevens, Mary Jane Croft, Mabel King, Charles M. Schulz, Alec Guinness and Walter Matthau.
WHO'S THAT, ER, GIRL? Cher's got blonde hair now. She looks just like Christina Aguilera, sort of. Just thought you'd like to know.
WE LIKE MIKE: The evening's biggest no-brainer was probably Michael J. Fox's win for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. The actor received the second standing O of the night (the first went to Jack Lemmon) as he took his first "Spin City" Emmy in four tries and fourth trophy overall (he got three for "Family Ties").
NBC won bragging rights for the night, taking 23 Emmys. HBO won 20, ABC 15, Fox 11 and CBS 7.
It's shaping up as a showdown between organized crime and the White House.
HBO's "The Sopranos" and NBC's "The West Wing" received the most Emmy nominations, tying with 18 each, and will compete for the best drama series award and several of the major acting categories. The nominations were announced in a dawn ceremony today in Los Angeles.
Other top nominees include the made-for-TV movies "RKO 281" with 13 nods, and "Annie" with 12. The HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," starring Halle Berry, and the NBC sitcom "Will & Grace" received 11 nominations each.
Halle Berry The nominations were announced by two actors who won Emmys last year: Edie Falco of "The Sopranos," who was nominated again in the best dramatic actress category, and Michael Badalucco of "The Practice," who likewise was nominated again in the best supporting dramatic actor category.
With the mob of nominations for "The Sopranos," the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences seemed to be trying to make up for last year, when the show won Emmys in several major acting categories but lost out to David E. Kelley's "The Practice" (which was nominated again) in the best drama series category. Other shows receiving best drama nods were "ER" and "Law & Order."
Falco, musing on the acclaim for her role as Carmela on "The Sopranos," told Los Angeles station KCBS-TV, "I enjoy playing her, she's very different for me, and I get a kick out of being all the things she is."
And the kudos that the show has received are well deserved, she added. "The actors are good, the writing is amazing, and people, I think, recognize themselves in these characters, as different as they may seem. I am beside myself with excitement for all my friends."
Lorraine Bracco, also of "The Sopranos," likewise was nominated in the lead dramatic actress category. The other nominees are Amy Brenneman of "Judging Amy," Sela Ward of "Once and Again" and Julianna Margulies for her now-departed role on "ER."
"Friends" In the comedy series category, "Will & Grace" will compete with "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Frasier," "Friends" and the HBO series "Sex and the City." But last year's winner, "Ally McBeal," was not even nominated in the comedy category, and it received a scant three nominations overall.
Martin Sheen, who plays "President Bartlet" on "The West Wing," was nominated as best dramatic actor , as expected. Overall, five cast members from the show received Emmy nods: Richard Schiff and John Spencer for best supporting actor in a drama series, and Stockard Channing and Allison Danney in the best supporting actress category.
Dennis Franz Other best dramatic actor nominees include James Gandolfini of (natch) "The Sopranos," Dennis Franz of "NYPD Blue" and Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach of "Law & Order."
There were also two nominations sure to tug at the heartstrings. Michael J. Fox was, predictably, nominated for lead actor in a comedy after leaving his "Spin City" gig to battle Parkinson's disease, and he'll compete with Kelsey Grammer of "Frasier," John Lithgow of "3rd Rock From the Sun," Eric McCormack of "Will & Grace" and Ray Romano of "Everybody Loves Raymond."
The other nomination sure to stir emotions went to Nancy Marchand of "The Sopranos," who died in June, was nominated for best supporting actress in a drama.
For best actress in a comedy, there were nominations to Jenna Elfman of "Dharma & Greg," Patricia Heaton of "Everybody Loves Raymond," Jane Kaczmarek of "Malcolm in the Middle," Debra Messing of "Will & Grace" and Sarah Jessica Parker of "Sex and the City."
In the battle of networks, NBC was the leader with 97 nominations, followed by HBO with 86, ABC with 64, CBS with 41 and Fox with 26.