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Emmy Awards Bring Lots of Competition
We have two words for Emmy voters and they're not "Desperate Housewives." Think "Gilmore Girls."
If the WB series doesn't -- finally -- make a substantial dent in the television nominations announced Thursday, we're going to write a guidebook for voters, "Emmys for Dummies."
The goal is to recognize good work, whether done by a a freshman phenom like ABC's "Desperate Housewives" or a series on a smaller network, even a youth-oriented one like the WB that seems to be missing from Emmy voters' remote controls.
"Gilmore Girls" is far from the only show or star slighted by the members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. No best-actor bid last year for Ian McShane as an Old West powerbroker in HBO's "Deadwood"? It's enough to make a grown man cuss a blue streak.
But "Gilmore Girls" has been ostracized since its 2000 debut, save a single nomination for makeup. It's the poster child for Emmy abuse.
A sophisticated confection about a single mom and daughter, the series is smart, funny and touching and features a cast consistently up to the challenging material.
So, for starters, how about giving star Lauren Graham, who's been nominated for Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, a comedy series actress bid? Kelly Bishop's version of a grandmother of steel is overdue for a supporting actress nomination.
And, hey, how about some recognition for series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband and fellow executive producer, Daniel Palladino?
Let's put this in perspective. It's as if the movie industry had the chance to honor a classic romantic comedy like "It Happened One Night" (1934, five Oscars) or "Annie Hall" (1977, four Oscars) and took a pass.
"Why she's not showered with awards, I don't know," "Gilmore Girls" leading man Scott Patterson said of Sherman-Palladino.
She returns the compliment to him and the rest of the cast, but with more evident frustration.
"Lauren, good God -- the fact that she hasn't gotten a nomination for the work she does is astonishing to me," Sherman-Palladino said.
Recognition for her own efforts would be "lovely" but wouldn't enhance the creative pleasure of working on the show, she said -- although there is, Sherman-Palladino concedes, the harsh reality of money and power to consider.
"In business terms, there's a little more shine when you go to make your next deal and you've got a fancy statue sitting next to you and your lawyer," she said.
Emmy omissions are inevitable given the academy's tendency to repeatedly reward the same entrenched shows and actors (Candice Bergen finally took herself out of the running after her fifth award for "Murphy Brown").
But there is wiggle room this year with a number of perennial Emmy favorites missing, noted Tom O'Neil, author of "The Emmys" and host of Web site that handicaps awards shows.
"Frasier," "Friends" and "Sex and the City" wrapped their runs and "The Sopranos" took a break before it returns for its sixth season. Whether Emmy is bold enough to put edgy shows like FX's "Nip/Tuck" or "Rescue Me" in their place remains to be seen.
"This year we'll finally find out if voters snub cool networks like the WB, FX and UPN because they're geezers who won't give young-skewing programs a chance or because there just wasn't room in the past to recognize hip cable shows after obligatory nominations were doled out to the big network series," O'Neil said.
Who else should be on the Emmy ballot and maybe even nab an award in September? Here are a few worthy dark-horse contenders we're rooting for:
* Terry O'Quinn, the steely eyed Locke of ABC's "Lost." His character is a puzzle within an enigma and O'Quinn is peeling off the layers with finesse.
* Denis Leary, who deftly handles both the action and the psychodrama in FX's "Rescue Me" as a firefighter in a constant personal state of 911.
* "Queer as Folk," the Showtime series which brought relationship drama back to TV before "Desperate Housewives." Its gutsy depiction of homosexuality may make some Emmy voters uneasy, so how about a safe but deserved nomination for Sharon Gless' brassy turn as a mom who loves her gay son unconditionally.
* George Lopez, who as the sometimes goofy, always loving family man in his self-named ABC comedy conveys an easy warmth often lacking in modern sitcom dads.
* "Reno 911!," the Comedy Central series about a ragtag group of sheriff's deputies that raises improv comedy to new heights but can't get arrested by Emmy. A real crime.
* Kristen Bell of UPN's "Veronica Mars," a lovely newcomer who has earned rave reviews for her performance as a teenager who combines high school with sleuthing.
* Kathryn Joosten, for general excellence in any supporting role. We loved her a few seasons back in "The West Wing" as the president's no-nonsense secretary, Mrs. Landingham, and now we've gotten to savor her as an incarnation of God in "Joan of Arcadia" and obnoxious neighbor Karen McClusky in "Desperate Housewives."