Hail to the chief, indeed. NBC’s Oval Office drama "The West Wing" nabbed a field-best six nominations for the 16th annual Television Critics Association Awards, including best drama, best new program of the year and program of the year.
Bowed last season, the Martin Sheen-led rookie drama has poised itself as one of the major contenders to look for in the upcoming Emmy balloting race.
Other notable nominees include Fox’s family comedy "Malcolm in the Middle" (with four nods, including one for best comedy), HBO’s mob hit "The Sopranos" (with three mentions, including best drama) and NBC’s recently axed "Freaks and Geeks" (with two noms).
Overall, NBC led the networks in total nominations with 12 nods.
Winners will be announced July 15 during a ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena, Calif.
Here’s a look at the nominations in major categories:
PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (WB); "Sex and the City" (HBO); "The Sopranos" (HBO); "The West Wing" (NBC); "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (ABC)
COMEDY: "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS); "Frasier" (NBC); "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox); "Sex and the City" (HBO); "Will & Grace" (NBC)
DRAMA: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (WB); "Freaks & Geeks" (NBC); "Once and Again" (ABC); "The Sopranos" (HBO); "The West Wing" (NBC); "The Practice" (ABC)
NEW PROGRAM: "Freaks & Geeks" (NBC); "Judging Amy" (CBS); "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox); "Once and Again" (ABC); "The West Wing" (NBC)
MOVIE, MINISERIES or SPECIAL: "Annie" (ABC); "Arabian Nights" (ABC); "The Corner" (HBO); "Fail Safe" (CBS); "Jesus" (CBS)
Roll out the red carpet, unleash the stupid pets and put Paul Shaffer back in his place -- for Dave's imminent return is here.
That's right, all you Letterman fanatics, the indefinite postponement of the convalescing late-night talker's return is finally over as CBS and the "Late Show" higher power announced today that Dave is (absolutely and definitely) coming back to the talk show.
Letterman will tape his first show in five weeks on Friday, the network said. It'll air next Monday.
But don't expect to see Letterman's facetious grin every single night of the week -- not yet, anyway. According to the official word, Letterman will only be holding the "Late Show" court at a part-time basis for now -- he's tentatively slated to go on for two to three days next week with guest hosts -- Bill Cosby and the ever-eager Regis Philbin -- filling in Feb. 22 and Feb. 24.
Unlike the specially modified "Late Show Backstage" reruns (featuring all-new celebrity cameos), next week's guest-host episodes will abide by the familiar late-night talk-show format -- just not Dave Letterman's format. Translation: Cosby and Philbin will do some funny opening bits but will not introduce Letterman-branded routines such as the nightly Top 10 thing, the pet-trick thing and certainly not the calling-Dave's-mom thing.
According to the network PR folks, one thing will certainly make the big Dave homecoming show Monday night: a Top 10 list that will take as its focus Dave and his health.
PLAYING COY: So, if you're Charlie Sheen and you're offered a chance to join a semi-hit series, you jump at the gig, right?
Trade-paper reports today say the comeback-minded Sheen is hesitating from signing onto ABC's "Spin City" as a sub for departing star Michael J. Fox next season.
One possible hang-up: If the aging show, soon-to-be five seasons old, fades in the ratings with Sheen as the star, his already tarnished rep could become, um, more tarnished.
GOING MAFIA: For those obsessed with wise guys and the life of la familia, HBO's no longer the only place to be.
CBS has decided to bombard the primetime airwaves with eight consecutive nights' worth of its midseason mob drama "Falcone."
The series, based on the double life of a real-life FBI undercover agent who inspired the 1997 film "Donnie Brasco," will debut as a two-hour TV movie April 4. And then, from April 5-12, it'll air in the 10-11 p.m. time slot -- until its ammo clip is expended.
"The Sopranos' " stranglehold on awards shows no sign of weakening.
HBO's runaway mob series -- a hit at last month's Golden Globes -- has staked out four nominations for best direction in a TV series from the Directors Guild of America, making it the first drama series ever to walk away with four mentions in a single category for the same year. The DGA's TV categories were announced Monday.
The four "Sopranos" helmers tapped for the best director award are: Daniel Attias, for the episode titled "46 Long"; Henry J. Bronchtein, for "Nobody Know Anything"; David Chase, for the pilot episode; and Allen Coulter, for "College." The "Sopranos" foursome is up against Thomas Schlamme for his work on the pilot episode of NBC's "The West Wing."
The nominees for best director in a TV comedy series are: James Burrows, for an episode titled "Yours, Mine, Ours" of NBC's "Will & Grace"; Thomas Schlamme, for the episode "Small Town" from ABC's "Sports Night"; Pamela Fryman, for the "Frasier" episode "The Flight Before Christmas"; Katy Garretson, for the "Frasier" episode "Dr. Nora"; and Victoria Hochberg, for "The Man, The Myth, The Viagra" from HBO's racy "Sex and the City."
In the category of best director of a musical variety show, the DGA nominated Gerard Foley for CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman"; Dennie A. Gordon, for HBO's "Tracey Takes On ... End of the World"; Louis J. Horvitz, for the "71st Annual Academy Awards" on ABC; Rob Marshall for ABC's "Annie"; and Beth McCarthy Miller, for NBC's "Saturday Night Live 25th Anniversary."
The Directors Guild of America Awards will be announced March 11.
'MALCOLM' ON THE RISE: The fledgling Fox smash sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" is set to continue its comic form, as the network has ordered up 16 new episodes.
The light comedy has been a surprise hit since its debut last month and has been holding its turf as the top-ranked show during its 8:30-9 p.m. Sunday time slot. Its renewal comes as an expected move given the overall unspectacular lineup plaguing Fox of late.
Three of the 16 new "Malcolm" episodes will run as extra installments during the May sweeps; the remaining 13 are slated for the show's 2000-2001 fall season.
MALLRATS OF THE WORLD UNITE: Looks like MTV has stumbled upon a cost-efficient, foolproof formula for grabbing the undivided attention of 18- to 24-year-olds: Put real-life folks in probable confrontational situations, tape them, and then broadcast the video for the consumption of viewers worldwide.
Such is the concept of MTV's latest exploit -- "Mall Confession," another quasi-"drama" series being developed for the teen-music empire. In the cinema-verité tradition of "The Real World" and "Road Rules," the new "Mall Confession" is said to involve a traveling confessional booth that will solicit personal testimonies and intimate secrets from teens in malls across America.
No word yet if MTV's upright Carson Daly will be on hand to offer absolution.
THE HUMANITY OF IT ALL: And now a moment of silence for "Shasta."
The low-rated hip-hop sitcom, formerly titled "Shasta McNasty," will depart UPN's prime-time lineup next month. Starting March 21, the network will place the new cop drama, "The Beat," in the 9-10 p.m. Tuesday time slot. The move also will bump UPN's "Dilbert" toon from the schedule. Both departing shows will see their last air dates on March 14.
Produced by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana ("Homicide"), "The Beat" follows Derek Cecil and Mark Ruffal as two young policemen fighting crime and personal evils in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
WHERE'S ROSIE: Rosie O'Donnell, seemingly the hardest-working woman on TV, will have a guest spot on NBC's "Third Watch" on Feb. 21.
Gone 'til March.
That's what it's looking like at CBS, where its franchise late-night show (name of, um, "Late Night") might be out of commission for up to 10 weeks while host David Letterman rehabs from emergency quintuple bypass surgery.
Starting tonight, the network will deploy repeats in place of all-new Dave.
All-new Dave last taped on Thursday. On that edition, Letterman revealed to guest Regis Philbin (as well as his TV audience) that he was about to undergo a heart test. The angiogram, performed Friday, turned into a bypass (also Friday) -- the result of severely blocked arteries.
Doctors say Letterman, 52, is "doing great" and could be home by the end of the week. As for Dave himself? He (and/or his writers) are already yukking it up.
"I feel fantastic," the comic said in a statement released Saturday. "In addition to rerouting the arteries, they also installed an E-ZPass."
To "Late Night" producer Rob Burnett, Letterman supposedly joked that he felt "better than Jimmy Johnson" -- the Miami Dolphins coach who quit last weekend after a humiliating playoff blowout loss.
All right, so the quips aren't Coward. But take 'em for what they could be -- the only fresh Dave material until spring.
LOVE LOST: She may have three names, but come next month, Jennifer Love Hewitt won't have one stinkin' TV series on the air.
The Hewitt-headlined "Time of Your Life" is being benched by Fox for the duration of the ratings-mad February sweeps. In its place, the network will enlist the semi-hit sitcom "That 70s Show" to fill the 8-9 p.m. EST/PST time slot. (New "70s" episodes will air at 8 p.m., with repeats to follow at 8:30 p.m.)
And the future for "Time of Your Life" doesn't necessarily get any brighter after February. According to today's Daily Variety, Fox "may" bring back the twentysomething drama in March -- but not on Mondays where it was paired with "Ally McBeal," but to Tuesdays where it would be paired with "Party of Five."
"Life," of course, is a spinoff of "Party of Five," featuring Hewitt's Sarah Reeves Merrin character. The pilot, broadcast in October, saw Sarah leaving the "PO5" Salinger clan in San Francisco to seek out her biological father in New York City.
Despite Hewitt's status as a supposed "It" girl and teen icon, "Life" has floundered in the ratings. For the season to date, it ranks in 103rd place -- below already yanked stuff such as NBC's "Suddenly Susan" (No. 95). The show has proved to be no lead-in help at all for Fox's prized "Ally McBeal" (No. 24).
In other bad news, Fox also will pull "Get Real," its new hour-long "Dawson's Creek"-esque family drama, for the upcoming sweeps. That show's 8-9 p.m. EST/PST Tuesday time slot will be filled by Fox's usual sex, scandal and camcorder specials.
MOB HIT: "The Sopranos," HBO's critically acclaimed family mob drama, has been designated a future TV classic by cable's TVLand. The series, which launched its second season Sunday, "exhibits the qualities of a classic in the making, sure to resonate with TV viewers for generations to come," the network said in presenting its Future Classic Award. Past winners include ABC's "Sports Night."
TUBE TONIGHT: Norm MacDonald hosts the 27th Annual American Music Awards (8-11 p.m. EST/PST) on ABC. Scheduled performers include Britney Spears, 'N Sync and Creed. Sorry, earplugs not included.
Episode 1. A Guy Walks Into a Bar
(AIR DATE 12/04/2013)
Hecky Nash bribes police detective Joe Teague to protect him during a dangerous blackmail scheme involving the Los Angeles mob.
Episode 2. Reason to Kill a Man
(AIR DATE 12/04/2013)
The Los Angeles police force looks to Teague for key information in hopes of crippling the heart of L.A.'s organized crime.
Episode 3. Red Light
(AIR DATE 12/11/2013)
Bugsy reveals a plan to transform the city and he resorts to violence to prove his power. Meanwhile, the force is determined to apprehend Siegel, and suspicions emerge as Jasmine struggles to stay safe.
Episode 4. His Banana Majesty
(AIR DATE 12/11/2013)
The LAPD finally gets Bugsy Siegel behind bars, but what initially appears as a shining moment for the department soon takes a turn for the worse. Having heard that Siegel has been arrested, mobster Jack Dragna takes the opportunity to make his move. Meanwhile, Jasmine is shaken after receiving a frightening threat at her apartment. And Joe receives an unexpected visit from Sid.
Episode 5. Oxpecker
With Siegel's trial quickly approaching, a violent massacre wrecks Captain Parker's plans and leaves the LAPD at a loss. All the while, Jasmine is terrified when she realizes she overlooked a detail that could put her in grave danger.
(from book: "L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's most Seductive City")
1940s, post-war Los Angeles is home to glamorous movie stars, powerful studio heads and returning war heroes, but it's also a city caught between a powerful and corrupt police force and an even more dangerous criminal network determined to make the city its West Coast base. Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker has made it his mission to free the city of criminals like Ben "Bugsy" Siegel and Mickey Cohen, the ruthless king of the Los Angeles underworld. Parker also won't hesitate to go after anyone from his own police force who sells out honor and duty for the sake of a big payout.