August 27, 2006

Alan Alda wins Emmy for “The west Wing”

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veteran screen star Alan Alda, who
played a Republican presidential nominee on the final season of
"The West Wing," was named best supporting actor in a drama as
the 58th annual Primetime Emmy Awards got under way on Sunday.

Alda, who sprang to fame as Hawkeye Pierce on the
long-running TV classic "M*A*S*H," was one of three performers
at the top of Sunday's Emmys show to pick up U.S. television's
highest honor for a series that has already gone off the air.
It was the sixth Emmy award of Alda's career.

Blythe Danner was named best supporting actress in a drama
for her work as the mother on the now-canceled Showtime cable
series "Huff."

And Megan Mullally clinched the supporting comedic actress
prize for playing the boozy, tart-tongued Karen Walker on "Will
& Grace," which ended its eight-year run on NBC in May.

Jeremy Piven was named best supporting actor for his role
as a shark-like Hollywood agent on the HBO satire "Entourage."

Some experts predicted that the 58th annual Emmys may prove
a ratings dud for broadcaster NBC because the show is being
held a month earlier than usual, in August, when audience
levels are traditionally at an ebb.

But the TV industry is closely watching the outcomes as a
test of new voting rules designed to give newcomers, smaller
networks and low-rated but worthy shows a better chance.

In the biggest race of the night, medical melodrama "Grey's
Anatomy," heading into its third season as ABC's newest
breakout hit, was favored to prevail over some perennial Emmy
favorites to clinch the coveted prize for best drama series.


"Grey's" faces stiff competition from the Fox espionage
thriller "24," a five-time nominee in the category, and from
the acclaimed NBC political saga "The West Wing," making its
bid for a record fifth term as best drama.

If "West Wing" manages an upset, it would be the first time
in Emmy history that a show has been named best drama after
ending its network run.

Another past winner, HBO gangster tale "The Sopranos," was
trying to muscle its way back but is considered a longshot this
year, along with the Fox hospital drama "House."

On the nonscripted series front, "American Idol," now the
most watched show in prime time, is up for a fourth year in a
row in the Emmy battle for best reality competition program.

And this year, pundits say it is the show to beat, facing
challenges from two CBS reality hits -- three-time champion
"The Amazing Race" and "Survivor" -- as well as ABC's "Dancing
with the Stars" and the Bravo channel's "Project Runway."

In the contest for best comedy series, the heavy favorite
is NBC's new workplace satire "The Office," adapted from a
British series of the same name. And its star, Steve Carell,
was widely expected to scoop the prize as best comedic actor
for his role as clueless boss Michael Scott.

The stars of two lesser-known cable series, Denis Leary of
the FX firefighting drama "Rescue Me" and Kyra Sedgwick from
TNT's cop show "The Closer," were seen as front-runners for the
lead dramatic acting honors. But they face strong rivalry from
the likes of "West Wing" stars Martin Sheen and Allison Janney.

Former Emmy-winning "Friends" veteran Lisa Kudrow is
favored to clinch the prize as best comedy actress for playing
a washed-up sitcom star in HBO's short-lived mockumentary "The

The Emmys face another ratings hurdle this year. The show
is up against a bit of diabolically clever counter-programming
at rival ABC, whose executives were angry that two of their top
shows -- "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" -- were shut out of
the major Emmy competition this year. They blamed new Emmy
voting rules.

ABC denies seeking revenge but is airing the hit movie
"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"
opposite the awards show, in defiance of an unwritten
understanding by which rival networks have traditionally kept a
lower profile on Emmy night.