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'West Wing' squeaks by 'Sopranos'

Monday, November 05, 2001

By Lynn Elber, The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The West Wing," which celebrates the inner workings of a fictional White House, dominated in an Emmy Awards ceremony twice postponed by the real-world terrorism drama.

NBC's drama won four awards Sunday night, including best drama.

It wasn't a landslide, however, as James Gandolfini and Edie Falco of its chief drama competition, "The Sopranos," won the top acting awards. And the show won a writing award.

The Emmy telecast tried to walk a line between celebrating television and respecting the difficulties facing the nation. It opened with an image of the American flag, a rendition of "America the Beautiful" and a soothing address from Walter Cronkite.

And the show ended with Barbra Streisand singing "You'll Never Walk Alone," backed by a chorus against a candlelit backdrop.

Allison Janney of "The West Wing" won for best supporting actress. Her co-star, Bradley Whitford, won best supporting actor. Thomas Schlamme won for directing.

"It occurs to me at this time how proud I am to be on a show that celebrates the process of freedom that makes this country great," said Janney of the White House drama.

After Cronkite set a serious tone, host Ellen DeGeneres -- dressed in black with a red, white and blue ribbon -- lightened the mood when she took the stage.

The night ranged from slapstick humor -- DeGeneres and Martin Short as faux celebrity interviewer Jiminy Glick rolling onstage -- to moments of reflection.

Following a video segment of people around the world expressing sorrow over America's tragedy, DeGeneres spoke for the Hollywood community: "To all of you around the globe watching tonight, from the bottom of our hearts, not just as Americans but as citizens of the world, thank you."

The twice-cursed Emmy Awards was stuck competing with the seventh game of the World Series. DeGeneres updated Emmy viewers on the game, while Fox flashed Emmy winners on its baseball telecast.

Peter MacNicol was named best supporting actor in a comedy series for his role on "Ally McBeal."

A triumphant Doris Roberts accepted the comedy series supporting actress trophy for CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond."

"Today's my birthday. What a gift. ... I'm 71 tonight and I'm kickin', honey," Roberts said.

"Malcolm in the Middle" garnered honors for director Todd Holland and for writing.

"Anne Frank" was named best miniseries, and the award for best TV movie went to "Wit."

The lead acting awards for a miniseries or movie went to Kenneth Branagh for "Conspiracy" and to Judy Davis for "Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows." Supporting acting trophies in the category went to Brian Cox of "Nuremburg" and Tammy Blanchard for "Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows."

"Conspiracy" also won the miniseries or movie writing award, and "Wit" also returned a directing award for Mike Nichols, a winner at every major Hollywood awards show.

"Barbra Streisand: Timeless" won an Emmy for the actress and singer in the category of best individual performance in a variety or music program.

"Late Show With David Letterman" won outstanding variety, music or comedy series. "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" won the writing award in that category.

There were a number of no-shows among the winners, including Nichols and members of the Letterman and Stewart shows. There had been questions about whether there would be a full turnout given the circumstances, and some seats remained empty at the 1,800-seat Shubert Theatre.

Celebrities arrived in an atmosphere more subdued than in past shows, as guards searched cars and police lined the red carpet.

While almost all of men had on suits -- in keeping with the suggestion of wearing dressy business attire in place of tuxedos and gowns -- many of the women wore gowns, with glitter and necklines that wouldn't appear in almost any workplace.

Joan Rivers commented several times during her pre-show interviews, which typically focus on fashion, that the women didn't follow the low-key dress code. When Sela Ward walked up to her in a low-cut black top, Rivers -- herself dressed in a sparkly outfit -- said: "Again! Not for the office."

Officials promised unprecedented security at the Shubert, a smaller venue than the Shrine Auditorium where the show was originally scheduled.

Outside events would not derail the Emmys again, organizers promised. The awards were postponed from the original date of Sept. 16 after the Sept. 11 attacks, and then called off just hours before the broadcast Oct. 7, when air strikes started against Afghanistan.

"The Sopranos" grabbed the most nominations in July, a total of 22, to 18 bids for "The West Wing."

But after September's creative arts ceremony, the NBC series had four Emmys in hand to one for "The Sopranos."

"Survivor," the CBS program whose success helped spur the reality series craze in America, was honored as best among programs in which the show's participants competed for a prize.

"American High," a documentary series about high school students that was dropped by Fox and picked up by PBS, received an Emmy for best reality program that didn't involve a competition.

Four acting awards for guest roles were given out. The winners were Derek Jacobi and Jean Smart for episodes of "Frasier," Michael Emerson for "The Practice" and Sally Field for "ER."

For best commercial, the award went to PBS's "Photo Booth" spot.

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