August 27, 2006

Top Emmys clinched by “24” and “The Office”

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Emmy Awards paid a long-overdue
tribute on Sunday to the heart-pounding espionage thriller "24"
by crowning it U.S. television's best drama series, while
welcoming new workplace satire "The Office" as best comedy

The Fox network spy drama finished the night with the most
Emmys for a series, five in all, including best lead actor in a
drama for its Canadian-bred star Kiefer Sutherland, who battles
international terrorism on the show as fearless government
agent Jack Bauer.

Both "24" and its star were nominated five years in a row
before winning -- a losing streak that dismayed some critics.

Emmy voters also decisively broke the so-called "Seinfeld"
curse as Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who co-starred on the
long-running "show about nothing" for nine years, was named
best comedy actress for her new CBS sitcom, "The New Adventures
of Old Christine."

"I'm not somebody who really believes in curses, but curse
this baby!" an exultant Louis-Dreyfus said on stage as she held
up her Emmy trophy, referring to the streak of past sitcom
flops she and fellow "Seinfeld" co-stars had suffered in their
initial prime-time comeback bids.

Louis-Dreyfus plays a divorced mom looking for love on her
latest show, now headed into its second season. Her first TV
solo turn as a nightclub singer on "Watching Ellie" failed to
get off the ground, as did shows starring "Seinfeld" cohorts
Michael Richards and Jason Alexander.

As expected, NBC's "The Office," adapted from a popular
British series of the same name, was named best TV comedy in
its first nomination.

But "Office" star Steve Carell, widely expected to win as
best comedy actor for playing clueless boss Michael Scott, was
upset by Tony Shalhoub, who clinched his third prize in that
category for his role as an obsessive-compulsive detective on
the USA cable network's "Monk."

The winner for best actress in a drama was also a surprise
-- Mariska Hargitay, star of NBC's "Law & Order: Special
Victims Unit," who triumphed on her third nomination over
presumed front-runners Allison Janney for NBC political drama
"The West Wing" and Kyra Sedgwick for TNT cop show "The

"When I named my son August, I had no idea the month would
end like this," said Hargitay, who gave birth recently to her
first child.


All four awards in the supporting acting categories went to
performers with established careers, three of them past winners
and co-stars of shows that have already gone off the air.

Veteran Alan Alda, who sprang to fame as Hawkeye Pierce on
the long-running TV classic "M*A*S*H," was named best
supporting actor in a drama for his role as a Republican
senator running for president on the final season of "The West
Wing." The celebrated NBC political drama ended its seven-year
NBC run in May.

Alda's victory, the sixth Emmy award of his career, pushed
"West Wing" into a tie with the landmark police show "Hill
Street Blues" for the most prime-time Emmys overall, 26,
amassed by a single drama during its run.

Blythe Danner was named best supporting actress in a drama
for her work as the mother on the now-canceled Showtime cable
series "Huff." Megan Mullally clinched the supporting comedic
actress prize for playing the boozy, tart-tongued Karen Walker
on "Will & Grace," which bowed off NBC in May after eight years
on the air. It was the second Emmy win for both actresses.

Jeremy Piven, who got his big break playing Ellen
DeGeneres' brother on "Ellen," was named best supporting actor
for his role as a shark-like Hollywood agent on the HBO satire

As for long-form programming, HBO's historical production
"Elizabeth I" won for best miniseries or TV movie, while
British performer Helen Mirren claimed the prize as best
actress in that category, the third Emmy of her career.

"Elizabeth I" was the biggest winner of any program
overall, grabbing a total of nine Emmys when combining last
week's non-televised Creative Arts. HBO led the network tally
with 26 prizes, followed by NBC with 14.