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TV has casual viewers

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Los Angeles (Reuters): Monk star Tony Shalhoub claimed his third prize as best actor in a television comedy for playing an obsessive-compulsive detective while other veteran performers edged out newcomers in the early going at the Emmy Awards today. Shalhoub's latest victory for his title role on the second-tier cable channel USA Network was a major upset over presumed front-runner Steve Carell, who was widely expected to win for his role as the clueless boss on NBC's popular workplace satire The Office. All four awards in the supporting acting categories went to performers with established careers, three of them past winners and co-stars of shows that have already gone off the air.

Veteran Alan Alda, who sprang to fame as Hawkeye Pierce on the long-running TV classic M*A*S*H, was named best supporting actor in a drama for his role as a Republican senator running for president on the final season of The West Wing. The celebrated NBC political drama ended its seven-year NBC run in May. Alda's victory, the sixth Emmy award of his career, pushed West Wing into a tie with the landmark cop show Hill Street Blues for the most prime-time Emmys overall, 26, ever amassed by a single drama during its run.

Blythe Danner was named best supporting actress in a drama for her work as the mother on the now-canceled Showtime cable series Huff. And Megan Mullally clinched the supporting comedic actress prize for playing the boozy, tart-tongued Karen Walker on Will&Grace, which bowed off NBC in May after eight years on the air. It was the second Emmy win for both actresses. Jeremy Piven, who got his big break playing Ellen DeGeneres' brother on Ellen, was named best supporting actor for his role as a shark-like Hollywood agent on the HBO satire Entourage.

In an emotional highlight of today's awards, carried live on NBC from the Shrine Auditorium, the once seemingly ageless host of ''American Bandstand,'' Dick Clark, 76, was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation for a special musical tribute performed by Barry Manilow. Clark was forced by a stroke in December 2004 to sit out his annual New Year's Eve broadcast from Times Square for the first time since 1972 but returned to preside over the holiday special this past year. ''Before I had my stroke, I was thinking about all of the things I've become involved with over my life -- music, comedy, game and talk shows, even reality TV,'' Clark said a slightly halting voice. ''I never realized I had accomplished my dream, to be involved in show business. Everybody should have their dreams come true.'' The Emmy audience later broke into cheers when the original cast of ''Charlie's Angels'' -- Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith, took the stage in a tribute to the late TV producer Aaron Spelling.

The industry is closely watching this year's Emmys a test of new voting rules designed to give newcomers, smaller networks and low-rated but worthy shows a better chance. In the biggest race of the night, medical melodrama ''Grey's Anatomy,'' heading into its third season as ABC's newest breakout hit, was favored to prevail over some perennial Emmy favorites to clinch the coveted prize for best drama series. ''Grey's'' faces stiff competition from the Fox espionage thriller ''24,'' a five-time nominee in the category, and from the acclaimed NBC political saga ''The West Wing,'' making its bid for a record fifth term as best drama. If ''West Wing'' manages an upset, it would be the first time in Emmy history that a show has been named best drama after ending its network run.

Another past winner, HBO gangster tale ''The Sopranos,'' was trying to muscle its way back but is considered a long shot this year, along with the Fox hospital drama ''House.'' In the contest for best comedy series, the heavy favorite is ''The Office'' in competition against recently canceled Fox comedy ''Arrested Development,'' a past winner, as well as HBO's ''Curb Your Enthusiasm,'' NBC hospital sitcom ''Scrubs'' and bawdy CBS hit ''Two and a Half Men.''

The following is a list of winners at the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, US television's top honors, held yesterday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Category: DRAMAS
Best Series : ''24''
Best Actor: Kiefer Sutherland of ''24''
Best Actress: Mariska Hargitay of ''Law&Order: Special Victims Unit''
Best Supporting Actor: Alan Alda of ''The :West Wing''
Best Supporting Actress: Blythe Danner of ''Huff''
Best Director: Jon Cassa of ''24''
Best Writing: Terence Winter of ''The Sopranos''

Category: COMEDIES
Best Series: ''The Office''
Best Actor: Tony Shalhoub of ''Monk''
Best Actress: Julia Louis-Dreyfus of ''The New Adventures of Old Christine''
Best Supporting Actor: Jeremy Piven of ''Entourage''
Best Supporting Actress: Megan Mullally of ''Will&Grace''
Best Director Marc Buckland of ''My Name Is Earl''
Best Writing: Greg Garcia of ''My Name Is Earl''

Category:MINISERIES OR TV MOVIES
Best Miniseries: ''Elizabeth I''
Best TV Movie: ''The Girl in the Cafe''
Best Actor: Andre Braugher of ''Thief''
Best Actress Helen Mirren of ''Elizabeth I''
Best Supporting Actor: Jeremy Irons of ''Elizabeth I''
Best Supporting Actress Kelly Macdonald of ''The Girl in the Cafe''
Best Directing: Tom Hooper of ''Elizabeth I''
Best Writing Richard Curtis of ''The Girl in the Cafe''

Category:VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY PROGRAMS
Best Series ''The Daily Show with Jon Stewart''
Best Performance Barry Manilow in ''Barry Manilow: Music and Passion''
Best Directing Louis J. Horvit for ''78th Annual Academy Awards''
Best Writing ''The Daily Show with Jon Stewart''
Best Reality/Competition Program ''The Amazing Race''.

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