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'West Wing' sets Emmy record
'Will & Grace' laughs last
(CNN) -- "The West Wing" set a record Sunday night for the most Emmys earned for a show in its first season. The NBC political drama won nine Emmys -- including outstanding drama -- eclipsing the record held by "ER" (NBC) and "Hill Street Blues."
"Will & Grace" (NBC) turned 11 of its nominations into awards, including outstanding comedy.
"The West Wing" and "The Sopranos" went into the ceremony with 18 nominations each, making for a contentious race. But the HBO mob show only made good on one of the nods -- outstanding lead actor, which went to James Gandolfini.
"West Wingers" Richard Schiff and Allison Janney earned the drama two Emmys for outstanding supporting actor and actress in a drama.
In her acceptance speech, Janney paid tribute to fellow nominee Nancy Marchand, who played Livia Soprano on the HBO series. The 71-year-old actress died in July of emphysema and lung cancer.
"Will & Grace" started and ended the night on a strong note. The first two awards went to Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes for their talents as supporting actors. The sitcom capped off the night with the outstanding comedy Emmy.
Upon receiving the statuette, producer Matt Mutchnick said: "As a gay man, I cannot believe I'm saying this, but I think I finally met a girl I want to sleep with."
No upset in the category of outstanding lead actor in a comedy. Michael J. Fox took home the trophy for his role as Deputy Mayor Michael Flaherty on the ABC series. He wrapped up his last season this year, so he could focus on his battle with Parkinson's disease.
This is Fox's fourth Emmy. He earned three for his work on "Family Ties" in the '80s. He indicated the viewing public might not have seen the last of him.
"Thanks, it's been a great ride ... and stay tuned," he told the audience.
Fox beat last year's winner John Lithgow ("3rd Rock from the Sun," NBC); Kelsey Grammer, ("Frasier," NBC); Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace"); and Ray Romano, "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS).
Patricia Heaton, of "Everybody Loves Raymond," garnered her first Emmy, outstanding lead actress in a comedy. And Sela Ward won outstanding lead actress for the series "Once and Again" (ABC).
Oprah Winfrey's miniseries based on the bestseller "Tuesdays with Morrie" snagged four Emmys, including outstanding made-for-television movie, outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie (Jack Lemmon), and outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or movie (Hank Azaria).
Lemmon, 75, received a standing ovation, as he rose to accept his sixth Emmy for his portrayal of former Brandeis University professor Morrie Schwartz. Azaria played the part of author Mitch Albom in the ABC movie.
Halle Berry won her first Emmy for "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" -- outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie. Outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries or movie went to Vanessa Redgrave for "If Theses Walls Could Talk 2" (HBO). She's working in London and was not there to accept the award.
"The Corner" (HBO), a six-part miniseries about a Baltimore family dealing with drug abuse, won outstanding miniseries or movie.
Letterman trumps Leno
David Letterman proved to be the late-night standup standout, earning an Emmy for outstanding variety, music or comedy series. Letterman missed five weeks behind the desk on the CBS show, recovering from quintuple bypass surgery earlier this year.
Letterman beat Jay Leno who hosts NBC's "The Tonight Show"; Bill Maher, the acerbic host of ABC's "Politically Incorrect"; as well as HBO's Dennis Miller and Chris Rock.
Lorne Michaels was on hand to accept the Emmy for outstanding variety, music or comedy special, for "Saturday Night Live: The 25th Anniversary Special" (NBC).
Transvestite Eddie Izzard also earned two Emmys for his HBO special "Eddie Izzard: Dressed to Kill," one for writing and another for individual performance in a variety, music or comedy special.
Altogether, NBC came out the big winner, with 23 Emmys. HBO trailed with 20; ABC, 15; Fox, 11; and CBS, 7.
Tie a yellow ribbon ...
Garry Shandling hosted the 52nd annual Emmy Awards at Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles. The comedian-actor drew laughs with his brand of self-deprecating humor.
The ceremony started with a spoof of the "Survivor" reality series, with late-night faces Arsenio Hall, Andy Richter, Craig Kilborn and Cheri Oteri taking barbs at Shandling at a mock tribal council. Three "Survivor" contestants were in the audience: Richard, Rudy and Gervase.
"I don't like this reality television, I have to be honest," Shandling said. "I think real people should not be on television. It's for special people like us, people who have trained and studied to appear to be real."
Many people watch the Emmys to see what the stars are wearing. And the big fashion statement at the ceremony is also a political one.
Many of the actors are sporting gold ribbons to show solidarity with commercial actors who are on strike against the advertising industry. Members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio artists began the walkout in May.
Emmy watchers were told they could expect some surprises, as organizers changed the voting system this year.
In the past, 1,000 of the 10,000 academy members gathered in a Los Angeles hotel over a weekend in August to make the final Emmy choices. Designated members sat together in a room and viewed videotapes of the five nominees in each category.
To encourage greater participation, the academy mailed screening tapes this year to all members, who could view them at home over a 10-day period and submit their ballots by mail. But some tapes never made it to their destinations, arrived late or were stolen.
The Soprano-ization of TV: Risque becomes routine
Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
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