Emmys Take On a 'Blue' Shade : 26 Nods for 'NYPD' : Break Previous Nomination Totals for a TV Series

TIMES TELEVISION WRITER

ABC's gritty police drama "NYPD Blue," the target of criticism for its rough language and bits of nudity even before it debuted, on Thursday earned a record-setting 26 Emmy Award nominations from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

But academy voters again snubbed "Roseanne" as a contender for best comedy series. It has never been nominated in that category in its six seasons on ABC, although the show has won increasing praise and its title star earned her first Emmy as best actress in a comedy series last year.

This year, at her request, she was nominated simply under the name Roseanne because of her split with her husband, Tom Arnold.

The 26 nominations for "NYPD Blue" in its first season was the highest total ever for a weekly series in one year. The miniseries "Roots," however, got 37 nominations in the 1976-77 competition. The amount for "NYPD Blue" surpassed the previous series record of 21, earned by another drama from producer and co-creator Steven Bochco, "Hill Street Blues," also in its first year, 1980-81. A third Bochco drama, "L.A. Law," was next with 20 nominations in its freshman season, 1986-87.

Bochco's co-creators on the three landmark television series were Michael Kozoll on "Hill Street Blues," Terry Louise Fisher on "L.A. Law" and David Milch on "NYPD Blue."

"NYPD Blue" swept all five nominations for best writing in a drama series, and four of the five for best directing.

When "NYPD Blue" was launched, the TV industry was intensely under fire for prime-time violence. The series, which still is not cleared by all ABC affiliates--but could profit in that area from the Emmy nominations--became a target for its rough-and-tumble action, in addition to its language and nudity, relatively strong for network TV but mild compared to other show business forms.

Bochco argued that network TV, with its declining audience, had to assume some of the same liberties as cable--which was drawing off audiences--if it hoped to remain competitive in the new age of alternative viewing. The audience responded favorably. "NYPD Blue" ranked a strong 22nd among 128 prime-time network series this past season, attracting on average 23% of the available viewers each week.

"Roseanne," which tied with "Seinfeld" as the season's second-ranked entertainment series--"Home Improvement" was No. 1--earned five Emmy nominations. The other "Roseanne" nominees included lead actor John Goodman and supporting players Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert.

The producers of "Roseanne" issued a statement almost identical to the one they released after last year's nominations: "Though we are obviously happy about the nominations we did receive, we are also very disappointed that the show was not nominated."

Academy sentiment toward the "Roseanne" program was clear as "Seinfeld" was nominated for best comedy series, along with "Frasier," "Home Improvement," "Mad About You" and "The Larry Sanders Show." Asked about "Roseanne," John Leverence, awards director of the television academy, said simply: "It didn't get the votes."

In another oddity of the nominations, television's top star, Tim Allen of "Home Improvement," was not nominated because, academy spokesman Mark Rosch said, "He was not entered prior to the entry deadline. There was a request after the deadline to enter him, but the deadline had passed. It was a slip on his representatives' part. It was certainly an unfortunate omission."

The Emmy Awards will be televised by ABC Sept. 11 from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

Network TV, which rebounded slightly in audience tune-in last season, made a comeback Thursday in the prestigious Emmy category of made-for-television movies. Last year, the traditional Big Three networks were shut out and highly embarrassed as HBO grabbed four of the nominations and PBS the fifth.

But the latest nominations of made-for-TV movies included not only HBO's drama about AIDS, "And the Band Played On," but three productions from CBS--"Gypsy," "To Dance With the White Dog" and "Breathing Lessons"--and ABC's "A Place for Annie."

Top-rated CBS led in overall Emmy nominations with 91, while ABC had 73--nearly one-third from "NYPD Blue"--and NBC earned 66. Fox, despite expanding to seven nights a week, could manage only nine nominations. Pay-cable nominations totaled 63, more than half going to HBO, which had 34.

Distant runners-up to "NYPD Blue" for most nominations were "And the Band Played On," which had 13; "Gypsy," with Bette Midler, and "Seinfeld," which tied with 12 each; "Frasier," with 11, and, with 10, "Picket Fences," the low-rated but critically praised CBS show that was a surprise winner as best drama series at last year's Emmy Awards. It ranked 66th in the ratings this season.

NBC's "Frasier" stars former "Cheers" regular Kelsey Grammer in his previous role as a pompous psychiatrist who, following a divorce, moves to Seattle, where he becomes host of a radio advice program. He was among the nominees for best actor in a comedy series.

In the high-profile late-night competition, the series of both David Letterman and Jay Leno were nominated in the category of best variety, music or comedy shows. But "Late Night With David Letterman," in its first season on CBS, picked up seven nominations overall, while NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" got only three.

CBS' "Northern Exposure," which led last year's nominations with 16 but was trounced at the Emmy Awards ceremony, clearly fell out of favor with academy voters this season. It earned only four nominations: for best drama series, supporting actor (Barry Corbin), sound editing and sound mixing.

The unprecedented total of 26 nominations for "NYPD Blue" included--in addition to the five writing and four directing honors--nine for acting, including nods to both of the show's stars, David Caruso and Dennis Franz. Regular supporting actors also nominated were Gail O'Grady, Sharon Lawrence, Amy Brenneman, Nick Turturro and Gordon Clapp. Guest performers nominated for "NYPD Blue" were Penny Fuller and Dan Heday.

"And the Band Played On" also picked up a fistful of acting nominations--six--as Matthew Modine was honored for his lead performance, along with supporting players Richard Gere, Ian McKellen, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin and Swoosie Kurtz.

In a sidelight, Faye Dunaway, recently dropped from the stage production of "Sunset Boulevard" amid heated exchanges, was nominated for a guest performance in ABC's "Columbo."

Bochco said that he was "thrilled" by the recognition given "NYPD Blue"--"for everything we went through and the battles we fought against the reactionary forces who had negative responses without even seeing the show. And I'm pleased for ABC. They stuck by us."

Comparing his reaction to past honors, he said "Hill Street Blues" was satisfying because, at the time of the nominations, it "was almost dead in the water (in the ratings)." The "L.A. Law" nominations were "personally satisfying after being fired by MTM off 'Hill Street.' "

As for "NYPD Blue," the "most significant thing is that we got all the writing nominations, and to me that is the heart and soul of the show."

Some highly competitive races shaped up in the Emmy nominations. Besides the shootout for top weekly comedy, the candidates for best drama series are "NYPD Blue," "Picket Fences," "Northern Exposure," "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the quietly powerful "Law & Order."

Competing against Roseanne for the award as best lead actress in a comedy series are Helen Hunt of "Mad About You," former winner Candice Bergen of "Murphy Brown," Patricia Richardson of "Home Improvement" and Annie Potts, the onetime "Designing Women" star who replaced Susan Dey in "Love & War" last season.

In yet another strong competition, the contenders for best lead actress in a miniseries or special include Midler for "Gypsy," Kirstie Alley for "David's Mother," Joanne Woodward for "Breathing Lessons," Helen Mirren for "Prime Suspect 3" and Jessica Tandy for "To Dance With the White Dog," in which she co-starred with her husband, Hume Cronyn, another nominee.

And Angela Lansbury, who has never won an acting Emmy for "Murder, She Wrote" since the series debuted in 1984, will give it yet another try as a drama series nominee.

Top Nominees

Shows gaining the most nominations for the 46th annual nighttime Emmy Awards are listed below. A complete list of nominations is on F26.

* "NYPD Blue": 26

* "And the Band Played On": 13

* "Gypsy": 12

* "Seinfeld": 12

* "Frasier": 11

* "Picket Fences": 10

* "The 66th Annual Academy Awards": 9

* "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All": 9

* "Star Trek: The Next Generation": 9

* "Late Show With David Letterman": 7

* "Mad About You": 7

* "To Dance With the White Dog": 7

* "Tracey Ullman: Takes on New York": 7

* "Home Improvement": 6

* "Saturday Night Live": 6

* "Stephen King's The Stand": 6

* "World War II: When Lions Roared": 6

* "Geronimo": 5

* "Murphy Brown": 5

* "Roseanne": 5

* "The Tony Awards": 5

* "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles": 5

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