Tube Talk: TV’s Emmy nominations in comedy

The absence of Everybody Loves Raymond opened up Emmy comedy categories to new series and faces, but another absence made space, too. After dominating the comedy nominations last year, Desperate Housewives failed to grab any major nominations, which took many critics by surprise.

In fact, the only acting nominations the show received went to Alfre Woodard for Supporting Actress in a Comedy and Shirley Knight as Guest Actress in a Comedy. (Woodard is a double nominee this year, also getting a nod for Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for her role in CBS’s The Water is Wide.)

Housewives aside, the Lead Actress category is full of familiar faces. Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) has her seventh consecutive nomination, and past-winner Debra Messing (Will & Grace) racks up her fifth nod. Lisa Kudrow and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are nominated for new series—Kudrow for her short-lived The Comeback, and Louis-Dreyfus for The New Adventures of Old Christine. Stockard Channing was nominated for Out of Practice—with 13 nominations, she’s no stranger to the Emmys, but this is her first in a comedy category.

Past winner Tony Shalhoub is again up for Lead Actor, and Larry David earned his third acting nomination for Curb Your Enthusiasm (he has 18 total nominations—mostly writing and producing nominations—and two wins, for Seinfeld). Three first-timers have joined the competition: The Office’s Steve Carell, Two And a Half Men’s Charlie Sheen, and after eight seasons, The King of Queens’ Kevin James received his first nomination. Personally, I wish Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman or My Name is Earl’s Jason Lee had been nominated. Both Jasons deserved it.

All’s not lost for those shows. Will Arnett got a Supporting Actor nod for Arrested Development, and Jaime Pressly got a Supporting Actress nod for My Name is Earl.

Four of the five Comedy Series nominees are single-camera shows. That’s a big deal to me, since I have an inexplicable resistance to typical three-camera sitcoms, yet no aversion to less-traditional comedies like nominees Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office and Scrubs. The only three-camera sitcom nominated this year is Two And a Half Men.

Call me crazy, but I’m thrilled South Park was nominated for Animated Program (less than one hour) for it’s scathingly hysterical take on Tom Cruise and Scientology—you know, the episode Cruise supposedly demanded never be repeated.

Charlie wasn’t the only Sheen nominated this year. His father, Martin, was a double nominee, getting his sixth Lead Actor nod for The West Wing, and one for Guest Actor in a Comedy for an episode of Two And a Half Men, bringing his overall nominations to 10. The Sheens aren’t this year’s only father-son nominees. Kiefer Sutherland is up for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for 24, while his father, Donald, is nominated for Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his role in Lifetime’s Human Trafficking.

Believe it or not, they’ve added a category—Outstanding Reality Competition Program—where The Amazing Race, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Project Runway and Survivor will face off for the chance to win an Emmy. Competing Competitions—only at the Emmys.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, SatelliteORBIT and TVGuide.

From the Aug. 9-15, 2006, issue

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