So much for TV's same old, same old.
The nominations for the 54th Annual Primetime Emmys signaled a significant shift in the landscape of television's most honored series and performers, with perennial favorites like ER, The Practice, The X-Files and NYPD Blue (the latter ineligible due to a lack of new episodes) losing steam among Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters in favor of up-and-coming shows like Six Feet Under, Alias, 24 and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Nobody better signified the Emmy voters' changing tastes than Will & Grace star and this morning's nomination announcer Eric McCormack. After ER actress Laura Innes read off a list of names in the lead actor in a comedy category that did not include his own, he executed a perfectly timed, Jack Benny-esque slow look over his shoulder to assure he had heard correctly.
"It's just as well," the Emmy winner--and impending father-to-be--sighed. "You know how hard it is to get a sitter." The nonplussed star nevertheless beamed when his show and co-stars Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally each received nominations.
McCormack played his shut-out for laughs, but a dramatic shift in preferences marked this year's nominations. Still, despite having no new episodes of The Sopranos to submit, HBO again emerged as the network with the most nominations, an astounding 93 nods. Six Feet Under delivered the most of any series this year with 23, and the pay cable net also scored nods for its enduring Sex and the City (ten), newcomer Curb Your Enthusiasm, miniseries Band of Brothers and several of its pay cable movies.
The new crop of freshman faves include Alias (nine noms, including acting accolades for Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber), 24 (ten, including nods for best drama and lead actor Kiefer Sutherland) and comedian Bernie Mac, who got his first nomination in the lead actor in a comedy series for the initial season of his eponymous Fox sitcom. Michael Chiklis, star of the scathing new F/X crime drama The Shield, also earned his first kudo as lead actor in drama.
But in spite of near shut-outs in major categories for former Emmy shoo-ins like ER, The Practice, Ally McBeal and Law & Order, at least one principal network had plenty of reasons to be as proud as a peacock. NBC nabbed 89 nominations, bolstered by the still-powerhouse The West Wing (21 nods), Will & Grace (13) and a resurgently popular Friends (11). Indeed, this year marked the strongest showing yet by the latter show's cast members, who for the first time decided to submit themselves in the comedy lead categories rather than the supporting slots.
The gambit paid off: buoyed by this season's Rachel-Joey-Ross triangle, Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc scored nods, though David Schwimmer was edged out by Matthew Perry. Aniston's real-life hubby Brad Pitt even earned a nomination for his guest appearance on the series.
The network's graying show Frasier still snared a very respectable nine nominations, including acting nods for lead Kelsey Grammer and supporting actor David Hyde Pierce, along with guest actors Brian Cox, Adam Arkin and Anthony LaPaglia. The series is only two Emmy wins away from tying the all-time win mark set by The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
It seems that actors looking to make a bid for the winged trophies need only get their agents to wrangle them a role on The West Wing. Not only did previous Emmy winners Martin Sheen and Allison Janney (bumped up this year to the lead actress category) score approval, the Oval Office drama earned supporting nominations for regular cast members Dule Hill, John Spencer, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford, Janel Moloney, Stockard Channing and Mary-Louise Parker, as well as for guest actors Ron Silver, Tim Matheson and Mark Harmon.
Whitford and Jane Kaczmarek continue to be the favorite real-life husband-and-wife choice among Emmy voters, with Kaczmarek getting a lead comedy actress nod for her role on Fox's , while her TV hubby Bryan Cranston got his first-ever lead comedy actor nod for the series.
CBS must love Everybody Loves Raymond for turning out one of its strongest performances yet with 11 nominations, and each of the sitcom's lead actors earned a berth in their respective categories, as did guest actress Katherine Helmond. The eye net's sophomore series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, one of the most-watched shows on TV, garnered six nods, including one for outstanding drama series, yet none of the show's actors were singled out.
"Singled out" sounds like a term the Sex and the City gals would never want to hear, but while Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and even veteran character actress Frances Sternhagen (who plays Charlotte's blue-blood mother-in-law Bunny) woke up to Emmy nominations, Kristin Davis somehow slipped through the cracks again despite an emotionally weighty season.
Finally, it apparently helps you get an Emmy nomination if you already have an Academy Award, or at least a nomination, on your mantel. Among the performers previously tapped for film's Golden Guy who earned Emmy nods in various categories this year: Albert Finney, Angela Bassett, Sissy Spacek, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Jon Voight, Vanessa Redgrave, Laura Linney, Kenneth Branagh, Joan Allen, Michael Douglas, Anjelica Huston, Glenn Close and Cloris Leachman. Even Tom Hanks and directors Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott got acknowledged in the producer categories.
ATAS will hand out the Emmy trophies on Sunday, Sept. 22, at a black-tie ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Highlights of the 2001-2002 Primetime Emmy Award Nominations:
Outstanding Drama Series
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS)
Law & Order (NBC)
Six Feet Under (HBO)
The West Wing (NBC)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Michael Chiklis, The Shield
Michael C. Hall, Six Feet Under
Peter Krause, Six Feet Under
Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Martin Sheen, The West Wing
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Jennifer Garner, Alias
Amy Brenneman, Judging Amy
Rachel Griffiths, Six Feet Under
Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under
Allison Janney, The West Wing
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Victor Garber, Alias
Freddy Rodriguez, Six Feet Under
Dulé Hill, The West Wing
John Spencer, The West Wing
Bradley Whitford, The West Wing
Richard Schiff, The West Wing
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Tyne Daly, Judging Amy
Lauren Ambrose, Six Feet Under
Mary-Louise Parker, The West Wing
Stockard Channing, The West Wing
Janel Moloney, The West Wing
Outstanding Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS)
Sex and the City (HBO)
Will & Grace (NBC)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Bernie Mac, The Bernie Mac Show
Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond
Kelsey Grammer, Frasier
Matt LeBlanc, Friends
Matthew Perry, Friends
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Patricia Heaton, Everybody Loves Raymond
Jennifer Aniston, Friends
Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle
Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City
Debra Messing, Will & Grace
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Peter Boyle, Everybody Loves Raymond
Brad Garrett, Everybody Loves Raymond
David Hyde Pierce, Frasier
Bryan Cranston, Malcolm in the Middle
Sean Hayes, Will & Grace
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Doris Roberts, Everybody Loves Raymond
Wendie Malick, Just Shoot Me
Cynthia Nixon, Sex and the City
Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace
MINISERIES AND MOVIES
Band of Brothers (HBO)
The Mists of Avalon (TNT)
Outstanding Made for Television Movie
Dinner With Friends (HBO)
The Gathering Storm (HBO)
James Dean (TNT)
The Laramie Project (HBO)
Path To War (HBO)
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Albert Finney, The Gathering Storm
James Franco, James Dean
Sir Michael Gambon, Path To War
Kenneth Branagh, Shackleton
Beau Bridges, We Were the Mulvaneys
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Vanessa Redgrave, The Gathering Storm
Angela Bassett, The Rosa Parks Story
Blythe Danner, We Were the Mulvaneys
Laura Linney, Wild Iris
Gena Rowlands, Wild Iris
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Jim Broadbent, The Gathering Storm
Michael Moriarty, James Dean
Alec Baldwin, Path To War
Don Cheadle, Things Behind the Sun
Jon Voight, Uprising
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Sissy Spacek, Last Call
Stockard Channing, The Matthew Shepard Story
Joan Allen, The Mists of Avalon
Anjelica Huston, The Mists of Avalon
Dame Diana Rigg, Victoria and Albert
Outstanding Guest Actor in aDrama Series
John Larroquette, The Practice
Charles S. Dutton, The Practice
Ron Silver, The West Wing
Tim Matheson, The West Wing
Mark Harmon, The West Wing
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Mary McDonnell, ER
Martha Plimpton, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Patricia Clarkson, Six Feet Under
Lili Taylor, Six Feet Under
Illeana Douglas, Six Feet Under
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Adam Arkin, Frasier
Anthony LaPaglia, Frasier
Brian Cox, Frasier
Brad Pitt, Friends
Michael Douglas, Will & Grace
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Katherine Helmond, Everybody Loves Raymond
Susan Sarandon, Malcolm in the Middle
Cloris Leachman, Malcolm in the Middle
Frances Sternhagen, Sex and the City
Glenn Close, Will & Grace
Tom Hanks is turning into Jackie Chan. No, he isn't learning Chinese and studying to become a martial arts master--which I wouldn't put past him. Hanks is accepting everything being offered to him lately, like the hyper-busy Chan, with one exception: Hanks is only doing films with DreamWorks studio. At this moment, Hanks is either working or in negotiations on four films for the studio, having already made Saving Private Ryan, Cast Away and the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers for DreamWorks. Do you think Hanks owns stock in the company?
First up is Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, where Hanks will star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as an FBI agent after the notorious Frank Abagnale Jr. (DiCaprio), the youngest man to make the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. Then comes Sam Mendes' The Road to Perdition, as Hanks plays a Chicago hitman nicknamed "The Angel of Death." (It's about time Hanks plays a bad guy). The two newest films to hit the street: Terminal, with Hanks as a Balkan refugee stuck living in an airport terminal and Comrade Rockstar, based on the life of the late rocker Dean Reed. Hanks is in negotiations to star as Reed, a musician/actor who wasn't able to make it big in the States but was a megastar in the Soviet Union and who died tragically either from suicide or homicide; no one is quite sure.
Rita Wilson sure isn't going to be seeing much of her husband over the next year and a half.
Cindy's second chance
Supermodel Cindy Crawford feels like she didn't give it her all in her 1995 debut Fair Game. Remember that truly spectacular piece of filmmaking? Crawford plays a lawyer (stay with me) who becomes an unwitting target to ex-KGB operatives and Billy Baldwin plays the cop trying to protect her. Coming back to you? Yeah, it stunk up the joint, but that doesn't mean it was Crawford's fault...right?
Six years later, Cindy's older, wiser, and hopefully has taken a few more acting classes. Yup, Cindy will tackle a new role, this time in a romantic drama called The Simian Line. The story revolves around three close-knit couples who are told by a psychic that one of them will break up by New Year's Eve. Oh, goody. At least she'll be joining a stellar cast, including William Hurt, Lynn Redgrave, Eric Stoltz and Harry Connick Jr., and should feel a little more comfortable given the good company.
Lane plays "The Great One"
Broadway/film star Nathan Lane is going to take on the awesome responsibility of portraying the legendary Jackie Gleason in the biopic To the Moon. Many fans will scrutinize Lane's performance, to see if he can pull it off. The good thing is the talent behind the film is as strong as its star. It's being written by Rob Festinger (In the Bedroom) and will be produced by Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella.
Lane told Variety, "Jackie Gleason has been a huge influence on me since I was a child. The thing that gets to me about him is that despite the bravado of his public persona and the broad hilarity of some of his comedy, there remains a tremendous amount of sadness and vulnerability in his eyes. Hopefully we will explore that in the film." I hope so, too.
Cage gets behind the camera
Actor Nicolas Cage has picked a rather edgy topic for his directorial debut. Would you expect anything less? According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film Sonny, which Cage will direct and produce, centers around "a male hustler who joins the Army in an attempt to get out of his family's gigolo lifestyle and get a real job. When he's discharged, Sonny stops by to visit his family in New Orleans and look for work, only to find that his mother is determined to bring him back to the family business." Well, that's sounds uplifting.
James Franco, the young stud who admirably portrayed James Dean in the TNT biopic of the same name, will take on the title role. Cage joins a very long list of actor-turned-directors; as we all know all actors really want to do is direct, and it's only a matter of time before they get the clout to do it.
Murphy is a "Shrinking Man"
Eddie Murphy has decided to take a look at the world from a small person's point of view. A very, very small person. He's going to star in the Keenen Ivory Wayans remake of the 1957 film The Incredible Shrinking Man. Murphy will play Grant Williams, who begins to shrink after being exposed to a strange mist, and must battle for survival the smaller he becomes. The original wasn't a comedy. The poor guy had to battle cats, bugs and all kinds of awful things as he shrank to virtually nothing. Fun.
Lily Tomlin had enough sense to make a comedy about an incredible shrinking woman in 1981. Disney made the comedy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; a kid fell into bowl of Cheerios. That's just hysterical. I would think with Wayans and Murphy attached, this remake would be the mother of all comedies.
One thing remains clear after tonight's 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards: There was a definite lack of a dominant film on the block. Though certain sure bets did come out victorious, no single film was able to sweep the Globes, leaving the upcoming Oscar race as wide open as it was before.
Heavy contenders "Traffic," "Almost Famous," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Gladiator" all took home two Globes apiece at the annual star-studded event.
As expected, Julia Roberts won the award for best actress in a movie (drama) for her work in "Erin Brockovich". However, she was visibly surprised when "Brockovich" director Steven Soderbergh went home empty-handed.
"I was shocked, actually," Roberts said backstage. "I suppose when I presented the best director and Steven [Soderbergh] didn't win for either film ["Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich"], I thought to myself that the film ["Erin Brockovich"] was not a family kind of thing."
Tom Hanks' win over Russell Crowe ("Gladiator") for best actor in "Cast Away" also added to the evening's biggest upsets.
"The whole season is a wild, wild ride," Hanks told reporters after picking up his award.
When asked what he would miss the most if he were stranded on a deserted island like his character in "Cast Away," he jokingly answered, "Oh gosh, my TV."
There's always a little bit of the unexpected at award shows, and this year's Golden Globe Awards was apparently no different.
Renee Zellweger pulled a Christine Lahti by temporarily being unavailable when her name was called as the winner for the best actress (comedy) award. The "Nurse Betty" star was in the restroom at the time.
"I was in the bathroom. Bad timing. I had something in my teeth and I just went to make sure," Zellweger told reporters backstage.
Actor George Clooney also emerged as the winner in the best actor (comedy) column for his work in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Clooney beat out John Cusack, Robert De Niro and Mel Gibson for the prize.
Benicio Del Toro
Early on, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was caught up in "Traffic" -- and liking it. Benicio Del Toro picked up his first award in the best supporting actor category for his role in "Traffic" to kick off the show.
The actor edged out the likes of Willem Dafoe, Jeff Bridges, Albert Finney and Joaquin Phoenix, all of whom were nominated in the category.
"I got lucky," Del Toro said during his acceptance speech. "If they [the other nominees] want a recount, they can talk to my lawyer. It's just great to be recognized for what you love to do," the actor later told reporters backstage.
"Traffic" also earn its scribe, Stephen Gaghan, the Golden Globe for best screenplay.
But the border-crossing drug film -- which was nominated in five categories -- soon lost momentum, most notably with director Soderbergh's loss in the best director category to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" helmer Ang Lee. The martial arts film was also named the best foreign film at tonight's event.
"Everything is great," the Taiwanese director told reporters backstage. "The best thing was meeting Julia Roberts."
Ridley Scott's Roman bloodbath "Gladiator" remained quiet most of the evening and seemed to have fallen by the wayside of the HFPA's top list, with a mere mention for best original score despite having tied "Traffic" with two awards apiece.
"Gladiator" finally proved otherwise by picking up the best picture (drama) nod -- decidedly one of the night's most important awards.
The best picture (comedy) award went to Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous," which also earned ingenue Kate Hudson the best supporting actress win. The Goldie Hawn scion edged out veterans Judi Dench and Frances McDormand for the prize.
"This is so intense," Hudson said in her speech. Hudson also thanked Crowe and her husband, Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson.
"I felt so in love with Cameron and his vision," Hudson said backstage. "The script is so amazing."
But an amazing night it wasn't for the films "Chocolat," and "Billy Elliot". The two acclaimed pictures both went into the night's race with four noms each but came out empty-handed.
And multiple-nominee "Wonder Boys" only walked off with one award, a best original song for Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed."
The race for the Globe on the TV front was just as even with "The West Wing" and "Sex and the City" leading the pack of winners with two statuettes each.
The HBO comedy was named best TV comedy for a second consecutive year, and series star Sarah Jessica Parker earned her second best actress in a TV comedy for the second year in a row.
"We had various scenarios laid out for best comedy," Parker said. "None of which included us."
NBC's political series "The West Wing" got both the best TV drama series and a best actor in a TV series (drama) for actor Martin Sheen -- beating out last year's winner James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos"), among others, in both categories.
"I'm quite certain there has been a big mistake," Sheen -- a loyal Democrat -- joked, keeping very much to the political theme of his series. "But I'm going to wait for the recount to finish."
Sarah Michelle Gellar & Freddie Prinze Jr.
Kelsey Grammer nabbed the best actor in a TV comedy award for "Frasier." And "Once and Again" actress Sela Ward took the best actress in a TV series (drama) award for her role in the ABC series, beating first-time nominees Jessica Alba of Fox's "Dark Angel" and Sarah Michelle Gellar of the WB's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
Of note was oft-troubled actor Robert Downey Jr.'s win in the best supporting actor in a TV comedy category for his stint on Fox's "Ally McBeal."
Downey -- who is currently facing drug possession charges -- got right to the point during his acceptance speech, simply thanking people he had worked with on the show.
"It just means a lot to me when people just come up to me on the streets and tell me that they are rooting for me," Downey told producer Dick Clark afterward.
And unlike other winners, Downey opted to read a prepared statement rather than doing Q&A with reporters backstage.
"I just want to share this with my fellow parolees, I mean, nominees," quipped Downey. "This really means a lot, and it's been great working on the show."
Vanessa Redgrave, the actor's female counterpart in the same category, won for her work in HBO's "If These Walls Could Talk 2."
Best TV miniseries or motion picture went to Showtime's original movie "Dirty Pictures," which chronicled the censorship controversy over photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's works.
Continuing on the tube front, though Dench lost out to Hudson in the best supporting actress (drama) category, Dench -- who was unable to attend the bash -- walked away with a best actress in a miniseries or TV movie for her role in HBO's "Last of the Blonde Bombshells." Best actor in the same category went to Brian Dennehy for Showtime's "Arthur Miller's Death of A Salesman."
The night's most interesting moment, perhaps, came at the very end of the show, when best picture (drama) presenter Elizabeth Taylor opened the winner's envelope before running down the list of nominees, causing Clark to come on stage to instruct the legendary actress on what to do.
The annual Cecil B. DeMille Award was presented to big-screen veteran Al Pacino by "American Beauty" Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.