The Emmy Fortune Tellers

By Linda Haugsted

In late summer, there’s no more active sport in Hollywood than “guess the winners.” I made my predictions on who would pick up the drama Emmys, and then sealed them.

Now, you get to see how I did (and why I don’t pick stocks or horses):

  • Best drama series: Home Box Office must always climb uphill to get the dramatic-series trophy. Each of the broadcast networks has more voters, plus their shows receive most of the votes cast by the studios that produced them.
    Despite that, I picked The Sopranos to finally break the lock on this category held for four years by The West Wing.
    The mob drama had a season that was a well-crafted blend of the family and The Family, and the many plot lines were woven brilliantly.
    And the winner is: The Sopranos.
  • Lead actors in a drama series: The Emmy chat rooms were abuzz with criticisms of the weak episode submitted on behalf of James Gandofini. The Sopranos star selected the one where his character, Tony Soprano, attempts to mollify competing mob bosses, angry about “freelance” hits by Tony’s cousin, Little Tony. And at the same time, Gandofini’s character is coping with the mental decline of Uncle Junior.
    I thought this monotone of exasperation might be overtaken by Without a Trace star Anthony La Paglia’s more dynamic submission. On the other hand, I thought Edie Falco should win for an explosive Sopranos episode, when she confronts Tony about the activities of their son, A.J.
    And the winners are: James Spader, The Practice; Allison Janney, The West Wing.
  • Best miniseries: The closest thing to a sure bet. Angels in America has the benefit of a great director, a creative play, the dynamics of death and dying, and two of the nation’s most honored lead actors.
    And the winner is: Angels in America.
  • Best actors, miniseries or movie: Again, a lock. Voters happily reward movie actors for their “step down” to the small screen.
    Meryl Streep showed her amazing verisimilitude in multiple roles in Angels in America, and though Al Pacino was chewing the walls at times, he’s Al freakin’ Pacino! However, I preferred to see acknowledgement of the fine work shown by rapper Mos Def in Something the Lord Made.
    And the winner is: Meryl Streep, Al Pacino.
  • Best supporting actors, miniseries or movie: I felt Mary-Louise Parker should take the nod for her role in Angels in America. Among the nominees, hers was certainly the showiest role in the most promoted production. Among the men, I chose Jeffrey Wright for the range shown in his multiple roles.
    However, it seemed like a split vote among four equally worthy nominees from the same miniseries could very well open the door for the always vote-worthy William H. Macy for Showtime’s Stealing Sinatra.
    And the winners are: Mary-Louise Parker, Jeffrey Wright.
  • Best Made-for-TV Movie: I love the quiet nobility of Something the Lord Made. The screenplay could have pandered with a focus on the tales of dying babies, but instead honed in on the science, tenacity, patience and (no pun intended) heart of technician Vivien Thomas and Dr. Alfred Blalock. It was truly uplifting without being smarmy.
    And the winner is: Something the Lord Made.

By Eric J. Smith

As the old saying goes, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” This year, the sitcom field is saying goodbye to several long-running and well-respected shows: Sex and the City, Friends and Frasier.

I knew the exit of that trio was sure to play a big role in voters’ choices. I’d already picked the comedies I thought would get recognized on Emmy night. Here’s how my picks stacked up with reality:

  • Best actress in a comedy: Cable had a lone representative in this category, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. The Home Box Office star faced some tough competition in the category, but her only real opponent was Jennifer Aniston, star of NBC’s Friends. Both shows just finished their final seasons, so either actress could be considered a sentimental choice.
    I thought Parker would take home the Emmy. Sex has maintained its razor-sharp wit, and Parker’s character has held up well over the years as the focus of the show. As for Friends, the show just isn’t funny anymore, and for the last few seasons, Aniston’s Rachel Green has been little more than a pretty cardboard cutout lost among the other pretty cardboard cutouts.
    And the winner is: Sarah Jessica Parker.
  • Best actor in a comedy: This was perhaps the Emmy’s most emotional category. NBC’s Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) and Matt LeBlanc (Joey from Friends) represented their shows for the last time, and the late John Ritter from ABC’s 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter also got an Emmy nod. Cable networks were recognized with nominations for Larry David from HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Tony Shalhoub from USA’s Monk.
    While both cable entrants are from far-superior shows — and Larry David deserves a win for his quirky portrayal of himself — I thought Emmy voters were going to go with the emotional pick of Ritter, whose tragic death last year shocked the television world.
    And the winner is: Kelsey Grammer.
  • Best supporting actress in a comedy: There was a pretty good chance that cable would produce a winner in this category as three of the five nominees come from Sex and the City. But which one of the ladies would take home the prize? My bet was Kim Cattrall as the sexy Samantha Jones.
    And the winner is: Cynthia Nixon.
  • Best comedy: Two cable shows got nods in this category: Curb Your Enthusiasm and Sex and the City, but I didn’t think either would beat Arrested Development.
    The well-written Fox sitcom is the best comedy on television, period. Ron Howard has produced a quirky original that stands out in sharp contrast to rest of television’s bland sitcoms. Curb comes close to it, but still falls short.
    And the winner is: Fox’s Arrested Development.