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‘Murphy Brown’ Wins Emmys; Quayle Chided : Television: ‘Northern Exposure’ captures six awards. Candice Bergen takes best comedy actress for third time.

TIMES TELEVISION WRITER

Candice Bergen and her series “Murphy Brown,” which came under attack from Vice President Dan Quayle because its lead character had a baby out of wedlock, were major winners Sunday night at the 44th annual prime-time Emmy Awards.

In a sharp-tongued ceremony that included a number of shots at Quayle, Bergen won her third Emmy as best actress in a comedy series for her role as the star of a TV news magazine.

“Murphy Brown” picked up its second Emmy as best comedy series.

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“Northern Exposure,” which has paired with “Murphy Brown” to create CBS’ powerful Monday night lineup, was chosen best drama series.

Emmy co-host Dennis Miller opened the awards show with some references to Quayle that helped set the tone, although Hollywood’s response to the vice president was expected.

Another co-host, Kirstie Alley, borrowed an expression from “Wayne’s World” in commenting on the changing roles of women in TV shows: “Ex-squeeze me, Mr. Vice President--it’s about time.” And an awards presenter, comedian Richard Lewis, cracked that if Quayle somehow became President, “I’d run away.”

But the fireworks were saved for last when Bergen and “Murphy Brown” were honored.

Accepting her award, Bergen said to loud applause: “I’d like to thank the vice president.” In reference to Quayle’s publicized misspelling of the word potato , she thanked her writers for their words “and spelling them correctly.”

The strongest words, however, came from “Murphy Brown” creator Diane English in accepting the award for her series.

“I would like to thank our sponsors for hanging in there when it was getting really dangerous,” she said to more applause from the audience at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. “I would also like to thank in particular all the single parents out there who, either by choice or by necessity, are raising their kids alone. Don’t let anybody tell you you’re not a family.”

In a stinging parting shot, English said: “As Murphy herself said: ‘I couldn’t possibly do a worse job raising my kid alone than the Reagans did with theirs.’ ”

As the Emmy show neared its end, Miller said: “Boy, Quayle is just getting stomped here.”

Contacted in Washington, David Beckwith, Quayle’s press secretary, said: “It appears we’ve got their attention.”

As it happened, another show targeted by the Bush Administration, “The Simpsons,” surprisingly was defeated in the competition for best animated series Saturday night at a non-televised Emmy ceremony that mainly dealt with technical and craft awards.

“The Simpsons” was defeated by “A Claymation Easter.”

President Bush has said that he wished American families were more like “The Waltons” than “The Simpsons.” And in a recent “Simpsons” episode, the show responded by having son Bart say: “Hey, we’re just like the Waltons: Both families spend a lot of time praying for the end of the Depression.”

And in another show business response, Jay Leno said on “The Tonight Show”: “I don’t know, at least Homer Simpson’s got a job.” Homer is the father of the cartoon family.

In an emotional moment that involved a former member of the Reagan Administration--James Brady--actor Beau Bridges was honored as best actor in a miniseries or special for HBO’s “Without Warning: The James Brady Story.”

Brady, Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, was shot and paralyzed in an assassination attempt on the President.

He was present at Sunday’s Emmy ceremony and was given a standing ovation when he was pointed out by Bridges, who also received applause when he called for the adoption of gun-control legislation.

The targeting of Quayle was present even in a video clip presented on the show. In footage paying tribute to Johnny Carson, the retired host of “The Tonight Show,” Robin Williams said of the vice president: “He’s like one taco short of a combination plate.”

The awards ceremony featured several major surprises among the winners.

The controversy this year of lumping guest performers with series regulars was fueled when Christopher Lloyd won as best drama series actor for a guest performance on the Disney Channel’s series “Avonlea.”

He beat out such regular weekly performers as Rob Morrow of “Northern Exposure,” Scott Bakula of “Quantum Leap,” Sam Waterston of “I’ll Fly Away” and Michael Moriarty of “Law & Order.”

Lloyd, who previously won two Emmys for his portrayal of the Rev. Jim on “Taxi,” won for an “Avonlea” episode titled “Facts and Fiction,” playing a teacher who inspires his students by acting out historical events. It is later discovered that he is an out-of-work actor.

“Avonlea” is a respected series that was built around the story of a privileged young girl who moves in with relatives on a rustic island. This last season, the series focused more and more on the various characters in the community.

In another surprise, Dana Delany won her second Emmy as best actress in a drama series for her role as a nurse in “China Beach,” even though the show was canceled by ABC before last season began.

A spokesman for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences said “China Beach” qualified for Sunday’s competition because the Emmy period covers June 1, 1991, to May 31, 1992, and original broadcasts of the series were presented in the summer of last year.

“This is a great parting gift,” said an obviously surprised Delany. “I’m proud of the attention that was paid in the show to the Vietnam vets.”

Led by “Murphy Brown” and “Northern Exposure,” CBS won the most Emmys with 20, while NBC and ABC earned 17 each--including awards announced Saturday night.

“Northern Exposure,” which deals with the eccentric characters of a fictional Alaskan town called Cicely, had led in Emmy nominations with 16. And “I’ll Fly Away,” about a Southern prosecutor and his black housekeeper at the start of the civil rights movement in the 1950s, was runner-up with 15. But “I’ll Fly Away” came up short Sunday.

Counting Saturday’s awards, “Northern Exposure” won six Emmys. “The Simpsons” also captured six--all awarded for voice-over performances by actors on the animated series.

The Emmy show, scheduled for three hours, ran long--finishing at 3 hours and 32 minutes.

In yet another surprise, Craig T. Nelson of the “Coach” series won a best actor award over such competitors as Ted Danson, Jerry Seinfeld, Burt Reynolds and John Goodman.

“Miss Rose White” won as best TV-movie with a post-World War II story of Polish immigrants in New York who are faced with the arrival of a sister who has survived the Holocaust.

Hume Cronyn won his second Emmy as best supporting actor in a miniseries or special for his role as the Trotskyite grandfather in Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound,” a semi-autobiographical drama by the playwright.

“I did my first television show 53 years ago,” Cronyn said. “You see, all it takes is a little persistence.”

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