By Sunil Noronha
Friday, July 07, 2006
Los Angeles (Reuters): Two veteran TV shows, Fox drama ''24'' and newly departed NBC comedy ''Will&Grace,'' led the field of Emmy Award series nominees, despite rule changes designed to welcome new faces to the race for US television's highest honors. Espionage thriller ''24,'' a perennial favorite with 11 previous wins, topped the list of series contenders with 12 nominations, including a bid for best drama. ''Will&Grace,'' a winner of 14 Emmys that ended its run this past season, was the most nominated sitcom, gaining recognition in 10 categories, though it failed to earn a nod for best comedy series. But cable channel TNT's six-part miniseries ''Into the West,'' produced by Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg, scored the biggest tally among all programs vying for Emmys this year with 16 nominations.
The nominee roster also was notable for a number of shows that got snubbed. Last year's best-drama winner, the ABC castaway mystery ''Lost,'' was shut out of the major categories this year, as was network companion ''Desperate Housewives,'' which clinched nominations in 2005 for three of its stars. In the battle for best drama, ''24'' will square off against two longtime Emmy darlings, HBO gangster saga ''The Sopranos'' and newly departed NBC political drama ''The West Wing,'' as well as two hospital-themed newer hits-ABC's ''Grey's Anatomy'' and Fox's ''House.'' In the race for best comedy, two NBC shows, ''Scrubs'' and ''The Office,'' will compete against television's top-rated sitcom, ''Two and a Half Men'' on CBS. Rounding out the category were HBO's ''Curb Your Enthusiasm'' and the recently canceled but critically acclaimed Fox show ''Arrested Development,'' a past winner.
While premium cable channel HBO and the major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox -continued to dominate the proceedings, the absence of some past heavyweights made room for several noteworthy newcomers and their stars. One such beneficiary was former ''Seinfeld'' co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who landed a nomination for best actress in a comedy series for her new CBS sitcom ''The New Adventures of Old Christine.'' The actress, who previously won an Emmy for her work on ''Seinfeld,'' said her new nomination left her feeling ''bubbly'' and ''thrilled,'' adding it would help her new series build its audience. ''It's definitely important for the show,'' she said yesterday.
''It's certainly better to be nominated than not.'' Dick Askin, chief executive of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, said the competition was opened up by a new nominating system that put a blue-ribbon panel in charge of winnowing the top vote-getters down to the five nominees in each category. ''One of the major themes here is change,'' Askin said. ''As you can see, we have a lot of new faces.'' The 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by comedian Conan O'Brien, will be broadcast live on NBC from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on August 27.