Will & Grace, Door to Door, and The Amazing Race among big winners at Emmys
NBC White House drama The West Wing again proved the prime-time power of the presidency, winning a fourth straight term as best drama series at the Emmys while CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond took the top comedy prize and two major acting awards. For the third year, West Wing rubbed out HBO mob show The Sopranos, which had been considered a frontrunner for best drama going into the 55th annual Prime-time Emmy Awards--U.S. television's top honors -- Sunday night. Sopranos managed top dramatic acting awards for stars James Gandolfini and Edie Falco. Each has earned a total of three Emmys for playing crime boss Tony Soprano and his wife, Carmela. The Sopranos also garnered a supporting actor trophy for Joe Pantoliano, whose character was murdered by Tony Soprano this past season. Despite the success in acting categories, cast members were clearly disappointed at losing out once again to The West Wing for the marquee prize as best dramatic series.
Backstage, Gandolfini reasoned that the gritty subject matter of Sopranos "turns people off." Falco added with resignation, "I don't know how this thing works. I put on a dress, I come here, and I smile." West Wing executive producer John Wells said he was "shocked" at the drama's repeat victory. But last night's big Emmy winner, West Wing, was shut out of most of the other major categories. Its only other win was for best directing in a drama, which went to Christopher Misiano. The four Emmys clinched by The Sopranos, which also took home a prize for best writing, led premium cable channel HBO to the night's biggest tally among the networks, eight awards overall. CBS was a close second with seven Emmys, followed by NBC with four, and ABC with one. Fox, the network that aired the three-hour-plus telecast, was shut out of the competition.
CBS scored big with its top-rated sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, taking its first-ever award as TV's best comedy as the show heads into its eighth and possibly final season. Raymond also yielded best supporting actor and actress laurels for costars Brad Garrett (his second Emmy) and Doris Roberts (her third for the show). "There are two schools of thought--that this [Emmy] is very encouraging or that we should take this and go," said the show's executive producer, Philip Rosenthal, when asked whether the show would return next fall for a ninth season. "It is hard to keep coming up with stories. We have done 175 shows."
In two big surprises, CBS's contest program The Amazing Race beat high-profile reality TV rivals Fox's American Idol and CBS's Survivor, while Will & Grace costar Debra Messing was named best actress in a comedy. Messing had been nominated four times but had never won an Emmy, while all three of her primary costars had. "I can't imagine it being more sweet, I really can't," Messing told reporters backstage. "This is otherworldly. I've never allowed myself to dream this far."
Tony Shalhoub, who portrays an obsessive-compulsive detective in the cable TV program Monk, won the Emmy for best actor in a comedy series in a first for a cable TV show. Veteran actress Tyne Daly won the Emmy for best supporting actress in a TV drama for her role in CBS's Judging Amy. Among other big winners was TV movie Door to Door on cable network TNT, which claimed four Emmys--best directing (for openly gay director Steven Schachter), writing (for Schachter and William H. Macy), and acting (for Macy) as well as the top award in its category for best TV movie. Steven Spielberg Presents Taken was named best TV miniseries.