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.