Emmys: New Rules, Familiar Result

7/07/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

New Emmy voting rules may have led to some shocks. No Lost in the best drama category? The Desperate Housewives cast coming up empty on an individual level?

But one result remained the same: Home Box Office was the nomination king going into the 78th annual Emmy Awards.

Emmy Darlings
These shows earned the most 2006 Emmy nominations among cable programs.
Program Network Nominations
Into the WestTNT16
Elizabeth IHBO13
Mrs HarrisHBO12
Six Feet UnderHBO9
The Girl in the CaféHBO7
The SopranosHBO7
Baghdad ERHBO6
Flight 93A&E6
High School MusicalDisney6

The premium service posted 95 nods, but didn’t grab bragging rights for the most-nominated program of the year. That went to Turner Network Television for its Steven Spielberg executive-produced Into the West, which received 16 nominations, including best miniseries.

This year, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences responded to criticism that the Big Three broadcast networks and HBO are over-represented among Emmy voters by virtue of their past wins. In an effort to correct this, nominations were voted by the Academy membership, but special panels winnowed the top 10 finishers in top categories. For example, a panel of other actors, along with some directors and casting executives, too, judged an acting category. ATAS executives hoped that would give a better chance for more networks to gain some glory.

Though the same networks dominated the category count, new faces and new players cropped up among the nominees. HBO historically had all but monopolized the TV movie and mini-series categories. This year, four networks will vie in that category: HBO’s Elizabeth I; TNT’s Into the West; PBS’ Bleak House and Showtime’s Sleeper Cell.

The premium network still has the majority of nominees for best movie with Mrs. Harris, The Girl in the Café and Yesterday, but will have to fend off a pair of entries dealing with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Flight 93 from A&E and The Flight That Fought Back from Discovery Channel, in order to win the prize.

Major acting categories boast familiar faces (Martin Sheen from the retired The West Wing) and some newer ones (Dennis Leary of Rescue Me on FX; Kyra Sedgwick of TNT’s The Closer).

The change of rules didn’t lift the fortunes of Sci Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica or HBO’s Entourage. Both again scored well in creative categories, but didn’t make the “best” of drama or comedy ranks.

After the nominations, pundits said the changes might have contributed to the nomination of Lisa Kudrow as best comedy actress. Her little-viewed comedy series The Comeback failed to come back — it was cancelled by HBO.

Networks such as Lifetime Television scored their best nomination take ever — the women-aimed channel garnered six nods — but network execs said that should be attributed to programming quality, not voting changes.

Cable captured just under half of the 451 nominations announced last week. In addition to HBO, double-digit nominations were earned by Showtime with 19, including five nominations for Weeds. However, the pot-selling series starring Mary Louise Parker didn’t score for best comedy or best actress. TNT was third with 17, all but one (Sedgwick) for West.

The best of the rest was A&E with nine; followed by Disney Channel (led by High School Musical) and FX with eight; Discovery Channel, Sci Fi and The History Channel with seven each; Lifetime, six; Bravo, five (three for Project Runway); National Geographic, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, TCM and USA with two each; and BBC America, ESPN2 and Hallmark Channel all with one.

Among the broadcasters, ABC earned 64, followed by 47 for CBS. NBC was next with 46, trailed by Fox with 41 and PBS’s 34. The WB and UPN, which will merge this fall as The CW, grabbed four and two, nominations, respectively

Four more nominations might be announced by mid-July: juried areas in which Academy rules allow for one, more or no winner in each category. The categories under consideration are for costumes in a variety or music special; special achievement in voiceovers; individual achievement in animation; and an award for interactive applications.

An award for engineering development and the Governor’s Award will also be announced later this month.

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