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The 50th Annual Emmy Awards


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Countdown to the Emmys

'Earth to the Moon' the heavyweight among miniseries contenders

Web posted on: Thursday, September 10, 1998 5:11:57 PM

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- One of the more controversial competitions at this year's Emmys is the miniseries category. The buzz revolves around the entry of Tom Hanks' mega-series "From the Earth to the Moon." Networks had complained that it shouldn't be allowed in the miniseries category because HBO was able to give it an astronomical budget, and the tag "mini" doesn't seem to apply to the 12-part series.

Here's a rundown of the contenders.

'From the Earth to the Moon'

"From the Earth to the Moon"

Fair or not, this docu-drama about NASA's Apollo moonshot missions of the late 1960s and early 1970s caught the nation's attention with a mix of special effects and good old-fashioned storytelling. It didn't hurt that the space program is currently enjoying renewed interest from the general public. The Hanks-driven story of how we got to this point in our space travels offered a unique perspective to young and old alike.

Hanks used his image from his "Apollo 13" project to promote the series to the other end of the galaxy, and many critics believed it lived up to the hype.

"Merlin"

'Merlin'

NBC might not have matched the dazzling display of Earth-shots from the moon, but "Merlin" still impressed with its special effects. Jason Connery starred as the magical wizard of King Arthur's times, telling the story of Camelot from the king's discovery of Excalibur to Guinevere's betrayal to the downfall of the kingdom.

The two-part series garnered a total of 15 Emmy nods. An all-star cast included Helena Bonham Carter, John Gielgud, James Earl Jones and Isabella Rossellini.

"Moby Dick"

'Moby Dick'

Herman Melville's classic tale of a white whale was retold on USA Network. In it, Patrick Stewart starred as Captain Ahab, the vengeful sea-faring man bent on killing Moby Dick. Henry Thomas played Ishmael, a young man who joins the crew in the hunt for the whale. And Father Mapple was played by Gregory Peck, who played Captain Ahab in the 1957 film version of "Moby Dick."

Not only the miniseries but some of the actors in it were honored with an Emmys nod: Both Peck and Stewart were nominated, for best supporting actor and best actor respectively.

"More Tales of the City"

'More Tales of the City'

Armistead Maupin's book "More Tales of the City," part of a series of books set in San Francisco, came to life on Showtime. Starring Olympia Dukakis, "Tales" tells the story of the dysfunctional tenants of 28 Barbary Lane, who have fled their cozy nest for adventures afield.

When the original "Tales of the City" aired on PBS, it set records for viewership in drama, and earned an Emmy nomination. Yet the sequel faced an uphill battle in making it to air; citing budgetary problems, PBS pulled out of the project to bring Maupin's "More Tales" to a new audience. Showtime eventually picked up the ball, and was rewarded with renewed critical acclaim.

Maupin has been praised for his comedic look at city life, and the Emmys rewarded Showtime's spin on the book with a nod for best miniseries. Dukakis also earned a best actress Emmy nomination for her role.

"George Wallace"

'George Wallace'

TNT joins the miniseries race with "George Wallace," which posted a strong showing at last year's CableAce awards, raking in the miniseries title along with a best actor nod to Gary Sinise, who played the one-time Alabama segregationist.

Set in the early 1960s, "George Wallace" delves into the life and politics of one of the most controversial figures of the civil rights movement. Sinise is also up for an Emmy for his role.

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