And the winner was … basic cable. The industry continued to make strides against its broadcast competitors as cable programs and actors landed significant statues at the 55th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony on Sept. 21 in Los Angeles.
While cable's overall take fell to 39 primetime Emmys from 41 the previous year, basic-cable services picked up the pace on the telecast on Fox that evening.
Comedy Central, USA Network, Sci Fi Channel and Turner Network Television all took home prominent statues.
The winning networks were quick to hail their triumphs, and talk up the value of Emmys among their various constituencies.
Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
copped a pair of statues — for best variety, musical or comedy series and for writing on the show.
Tony Shalhoub took home best actor in a comedy series for his obsessive-compulsive turn as a quirky detective in USA Network's hit series Monk.
TNT triumphed in the made for television movie category with Door to Door, which shared the all-cable category with Lifetime Television's Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story, and Home Box Office's Live From Baghdad, Normal
and My House in Umbria.
William H. Macy received the Emmy for best actor for his portrayal of Bill Porter, a salesman with cerebral palsy on whose true story Door to Door
Steven Schachter was named top director and writer for miniseries, movie or dramatic special for his work on Door. The film also won for outstanding makeup and hairstyling, making it the most-ever for a TNT program.
Best miniseries went to Sci Fi's Steven Spielberg Presents Taken, a 10-part alien abduction saga. It was up against CBS's Hitler: The Rise of Evil
and A&E Network's Napoleon.
In the moment
Comedy began saluting Stewart, who is under contract with the show through the end of 2004, and his show on-air last Tuesday, with congratulatory promos. Spokesman Steve Albani said they've also done the "traditional stuff, taking ads in the some of the trades."
USA began running promo tune-in spots for Shalhoub's award-winning turn in Monk
on Friday nights within an hour of the Emmy telecast.
Last Monday, Sci Fi "rebannered" its outdoor tune-in ad for Taken
with the word Emmy on the huge Sofitel billboard wall at the corner of Beverly and La Cienega in Los Angeles.
Sci Fi had already scheduled an encore of the 20-hour project, which ran on nightly basis when it premiered last December to record ratings for the network, from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday nights, beginning on Sept. 28.
"We figured it was a good way to get attention, win or lose," said Sci Fi president Bonnie Hammer. Sci Fi's Children of Dune
won a special-effects award.
"This is a network that hasn't been known for Emmy-winning programming," was USA Network president Doug Herzog's take. "This puts us in rarified air and we're thrilled to be there."
He said he hoped the recognition "manifests with our viewers, advertisers, affiliates and the creative community."
Steve Koonin, executive vice president and COO of TBS Superstation and TNT, pointed out the six-Emmy-winning Door to Door
was the first original telepic to bear the "Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation" imprimatur.
"I'm not sure how often an advertiser gets thanked on stage, but we're thrilled it was our first film with Johnson & Johnson," said Koonin.
was a "small film, one without special effects," Koonin said TNT showed Hollywood it was willing to "take a risk. A lot of people here didn't think it should have been made. It is a film that's a little bit left of center, but it obviously resonated with a lot of people."
The Emmy also "dimensionalizes" TNT's "We Know Drama" tagline, Koonin said.
Mixed lot for HBO
Home Box Office, which led all networks with 109 nominations — awards in the creative arena were doled out two weeks ago — had a mixed evening. Its mob dramedy The Sopranos
and family funereal series Six Feet Under
came up short in best drama series, to NBC's The West Wing. Six Feet Under, the overall nominations leader, received one statue for a technical award.
But The Sopranos
stars James Gandolfini and Edie Falco won for best actor and best actress in a drama series. Joe Pantoliano, who played recurring character Ralph Cifaretto, won for best supporting actor.
David Chase, Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess won a best-writing award for fourth season's closing episode.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
was rewarded with a best-director statue and Maggie Smith won for best actress in a miniseries or movie for My House in Umbria. Laurels for supporting actor and supporting actress went to Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands for their work in HBO's original film Hysterical Blindness.
All told, HBO finished first in the statue-fest, with 18 Emmys. CBS had 16.