Top Emmys go to “Raymond,” “Lost”
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Beloved but newly departed
“Everybody Loves Raymond” was named best comedy on Sunday in an
upset Emmy Awards triumph over red hot newcomer “Desperate
Housewives,” but another breakout ABC hit, castaway thriller
“Lost,” won best drama.
The surprise victory for “Raymond,” which also claimed the
top comedy prize in 2003 and recently ended its nine-year run
on CBS, was in keeping with Emmy voters’ traditional preference
for older shows and past winners over fresh faces and
Freshman programs, even popular ones, have often been
snubbed when U.S. television’s highest honors are handed out
each fall, but it is even more rare for shows to be honored for
their last season on the airwaves.
“Raymond,” was one of only a few TV shows in the past 30
years — comedy or drama — to claim an outstanding-series
prize in either category after leaving prime time. Two others
were “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Barney Miller.”
ABC, which airs “Housewives” and “Lost,” walked away with
one of its best Emmy nights in recent years, winning six major
awards overall, more than any other broadcaster. Still, HBO’s
seven Emmys gave it the highest tally overall.
ABC’s biggest triumph was best drama for “Lost,” a show
that with “Desperate Housewives” sparked a ratings rebound at
the Walt Disney Co.-owned network and ushered in a new wave of
offbeat, form-breaking shows coming to TV this fall.
The network’s courtroom drama “Boston Legal” also yielded
two acting awards — for series star James Spader and co-star
William Shatner, a TV veteran enjoying new success four decades
after he sprang to fame as Captain Kirk on the 1960s sci-fi
series “Star Trek.”
EVERYBODY DOES LOVE RAYMOND
Cable television drew noticeably less Emmy recognition than
in recent years, though Tony Shalhoub nabbed his second award
as best actor in a comedy for playing an obsessive-compulsive
detective in USA Network’s “Monk” and Blythe Danner won for
best supporting actress in a drama for Showtime’s “Huff.”
HBO, a perennial Emmy heavyweight, was shut out of the
series categories, but picked up its trophies for best TV movie
and best actress in a TV movie, Jane Alexander, for “Warm
Springs,” about Franklin Roosevelt’s struggle with polio.
The “Raymond” victory marked a clear sentimental nod to an
acclaimed show that many TV critics have bemoaned was one of
the last true sitcoms left in the Nielsen ratings’ top 10.
The show’s star, comedian Ray Romano, said backstage, “it
was a shock to win” and called the victory “bittersweet.”
Romano plays a harried sportswriter and family man who lives
near his meddling parents and brother. Executive producer Phil
Rosenthal added, “We were stunned. We thought we were finished.
… We’re grateful and shocked.”
“Raymond” also garnered repeat best-supporting acting
awards for co-stars Brad Garrett and Doris Roberts.
While the loss to “Raymond” was a disappointment for
“Desperate Housewives,” which ranked as the highest-rated new
show last season, the series earned a best-actress prize for
one of the ladies of Wisteria Lane, Felicity Huffman.
“Housewives,” a wry, steamy saga of suburban intrigue set
on fictional Wisteria Lane, may have suffered from complaints
by many that it was more of a drama than a traditional comedy.
On the drama side, Patricia Arquette was a surprise
first-time winner in the race for best actress for her role as
a psychic detective in NBC’s new drama “Medium.”
The 57th edition of the Emmys opened with Louisiana-born
host Ellen DeGeneres paying tribute to the victims of Hurricane
Katrina in her opening monologue.
“New Orleans is my hometown, and our thoughts and prayers
go out to everyone affected,” said DeGeneres, recalling that
she also hosted the Emmys four years ago in the aftermath of
the September 11 attacks.
Many of the stars wore pins shaped like white magnolias,
which are the state flowers of Louisiana and Mississippi.
But the show had plenty of lighter moments including the
star of HBO’s “Lackawanna Blues,” S. Epatha Merkerson, taking
the stage to accept her award for best lead actress in a TV
movie only to lose her thank-you speech down her gown.
“I wrote something, and I put it in my thing (bra) and it
went down and I can’t get it,” the flummoxed actress said when
accepting her award. “It’s probably stuck to me.”
Another emotional highlight was an Emmy salute to Tom
Brokaw, Dan Rather and the late Peter Jennings, the longtime
evening news anchors of the rival Big Three Broadcast networks
– NBC, CBS and ABC.
“We were competitive, but we were always bound by a shared
devotion to being reporters first,” said Brokaw after taking
the stage with Rather to a rousing standing ovation.