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TV Preview: Martin Sheen and 'West Wing' deserve to take home Emmys Sunday

Friday, September 08, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

There's one thing viewers can count on: The Emmy Awards show Sunday will probably not be crackling with energy. It never is.

 
 
'52nd Annual
Primetime
Emmy Awards'

When: 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC.
   
 

Even host Garry Shandling joked about the duration of the Emmy ceremony at a July press conference in Pasadena, Calif.

"I am uncomfortable discussing, as you know, length about anything," Shandling cracked. "But let me just tell you now that no matter what, it's going to feel longer than it is. No one ever thinks of that as a good thing. I'm saying that's a good thing. It's not the length; it's how we use the Emmys."

Shandling's jests aside, handicapping the Emmys is almost pointless. Actors submit a single episode for consideration, and in most cases I don't know which episode they picked. Add to that a new voting system and this year's winners are anyone's guess. Here are mine:

DRAMA SERIES: "ER," "Law & Order," "The Practice," "The Sopranos," "The West Wing."

"ER" doesn't deserve it. Nor does "The Practice" due to this past season's unevenness. The same goes for "The Sopranos." I don't watch "Law & Order" regularly (a TV critic needs to get to bed before 11 p.m. at least one night of the week), but some have said it's not as good as it once was.

Only one series deserves and will win the vote: NBC's brilliant, idealistic, "West Wing." I've heard more than a few people say they'd rather cast a vote in November for Bartlett (Martin Sheen) than Bush or Gore, and it's no wonder. "West Wing" cuts through the political muck and gets to the heart of issues in a way that makes the series palatable to conservatives and liberals alike.

COMEDY SERIES: "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Frasier," "Friends," "Sex and the City," "Will & Grace."

Personally, I'd like to see "Will & Grace" win. It's still a comparatively young series that could use a boost as it takes up residence in the 9 p.m. Thursday time slot.

Unless a ton of young voters cast ballots (in which case "Will" or "Sex and the City" could pull off a win), I suspect it will finally be the year for "Everybody Loves Raymond" to take a much-deserved bow.

LEAD ACTOR (drama series): Dennis Franz on "NYPD Blue," James Gandolfini on "The Sopranos," Jerry Orbach on "Law & Order," Martin Sheen on "The West Wing," Sam Waterston on "Law & Order."

I wish Gandolfini had won last year and I fear Franz, with his angry, tearful performance in "NYPD Blue's" season finale, could win again. But if the vote goes as it should to the most deserving actor, the "acting president" will walk away with the trophy. Martin Sheen richly deserves it for making the most of every scene he walks into on "The West Wing."

LEAD ACTRESS (drama series): Lorraine Bracco on "The Sopranos," Amy Brenneman on "Judging Amy," Edie Falco on "The Sopranos," Julianna Margulies on "ER," Sela Ward on "Once And Again."

I've never thought Bracco showed much range on "The Sopranos," but Falco had another triumphant season. Veteran Emmy handicapper Tom O'Neil, author of "The Emmys," thinks Ward will win again (she won for "Sisters" in '94) for her teary, tender, romantic role as a divorced mom. I'm inclined to agree.

LEAD ACTOR (comedy series): Michael J. Fox on "Spin City," Kelsey Grammer on "Frasier," John Lithgow on "3rd Rock From The Sun," Eric McCormack on "Will & Grace," Ray Romano on "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Give it to anyone, just don't give it to Lithgow again. Smart money is on Fox.

LEAD ACTRESS (comedy series): Jenna Elfman on "Dharma & Greg," Patricia Heaton on "Everybody Loves Raymond," Jane Kaczmarek on "Malcolm In The Middle," Debra Messing on "Will & Grace," Sarah Jessica Parker on "Sex And The City."

The buzz says Kaczmarek or Parker should take home this prize, but Heaton and Messing are also potential winners. Only Elfman seems like a long shot. I'm betting on Kaczmarek for playing Lois, the frazzled suburban mom who takes no guff.

SUPPORTING ACTOR (drama series): Michael Badalucco on "The Practice," Dominic Chianese on "The Sopranos," Steve Harris on "The Practice," Richard Schiff on "The West Wing," John Spencer on "The West Wing."

This is probably the toughest category to call. They're all excellent character actors, but for me it comes down to Schiff's Toby and Spencer's Leo on "The West Wing."

If Schiff submitted the Christmas episode for consideration (Toby buries a fellow veteran), he should be the hands-down winner. The only thing that could hold him back is his dour character's lack of emotional range.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS (drama series): Nancy Marchand on "The Sopranos," Stockard Channing on "The West Wing," Tyne Daly on "Judging Amy," Allison Janney on "The West Wing," Holland Taylor on "The Practice."

This is another tough category. Strike Taylor from the list since she won last year. Marchand is a possibility, only because she died (she really didn't have much to do this past season), but Emmy didn't reward Phil Hartman with an Emmy in 1998 after his death.

I'd think it would come down to a grudge match between Janney and Daly, with Emmy favorite Daly the victor.

SUPPORTING ACTOR (comedy series): Peter Boyle on "Everybody Loves Raymond," Brad Garrett on "Everybody Loves Raymond," Sean Hayes on "Will & Grace," Peter MacNicol on "Ally McBeal," David Hyde Pierce on "Frasier."

MacNicol and Pierce have had their chances, so it's time for one of the "Raymond" guys to win. But if they split the vote, the only other choice is just Hayes for his over-the-top loopiness as "Just Jack," good-natured friend to "Will & Grace."

SUPPORTING ACTRESS (comedy series): Jennifer Aniston on "Friends," Kim Cattrall on "Sex And The City," Lisa Kudrow on "Friends," Megan Mullally on "Will & Grace," Doris Roberts on "Everybody Loves Raymond."

If I were voting, Mullally would win hands down for her squawky-voiced portrayal of a bored socialite who slums as a receptionist. I'm not voting, but Mullally remains my pick.


Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments about TV to www.post-gazette.com/tv under PG Online Talk.



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