'Angels,' 'Sopranos' lead Emmy nods
'Frasier,' 'Friends' snubbed in best comedy series category
By Todd Leopold
(CNN) -- Some old favorites received nominations for the 56th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards -- but the new shows and omissions were more interesting.
Most striking, perhaps, was that both "Friends" and "Frasier" -- two NBC sitcom powerhouses that, at times, had anchored the network's famed Thursday night lineup -- failed to receive nominations for best comedy series in this, each show's final season.
On the other hand, CBS' "Joan of Arcadia," in its rookie season, managed to nab nominations for both best drama and best actress in a drama (Amber Tamblyn), leaping past such favorites as "Without a Trace" and the much-buzzed-about FX series "Nip/Tuck."
The late John Ritter received a nomination for best comedy actor for "8 Simple Rules." Ritter died September 11, 2003, just after "Rules" had started filming its 2003-04 season.
This year was also expected to be a difficult year for "The West Wing," which has won four straight Emmys for best drama but saw its creator and guiding force, Aaron Sorkin, leave the show before the most recent season. But the show earned another best drama nomination and acting nominations for Martin Sheen and Allison Janney.
It never hurts to be an Emmy favorite like "The West Wing," however. The awards are known for sticking to the tried and true, and this year stayed true to the script, for the most part.
"The Sopranos" dominated all series, receiving 20 nominations. The show has been a critical and Emmy favorite since its debut, though it's never won for best drama.
"Angels in America," the HBO miniseries adapted from Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning play, led all nominees with 21 nods.
And the nominees are ...
Overall, the nominations were "a little less predictable than usual," said Ray Richmond, TV columnist for The Hollywood Reporter.
"It's heartening. Maybe it's a sign the Academy is heading in the right direction," he said.
Richmond noted that the rules for nominations had changed slightly this year: Academy members were allowed to make 10 choices per category, double the old number, and the top five vote-getters earned nominations.
"Maybe the new rules made some difference," he said, pointing out the nominations for "Arcadia," "Penn & Teller: Bulls**t!" in the reality show category, and the seven nods picked up by the controversial TV movie "The Reagans."
HBO's "Sex and the City," a previous winner for best comedy series which also concluded its run earlier this year, was nominated again and led all comedy series with 11 nominations. The other best comedy series nominees are Fox's "Arrested Development," HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond" and NBC's "Will & Grace."
Along with "The Sopranos," "The West Wing" and "Joan of Arcadia," best drama series nominees are "CSI" and "24."
The nominees for best actor in a drama are James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos"), Anthony LaPaglia ("Without a Trace"), James Spader ("The Practice"), Martin Sheen ("The West Wing") and Kiefer Sutherland ("24").
The nominees for best actress in a drama are Tamblyn and Janney, along with Jennifer Garner ("Alias"), Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: SVU") and Edie Falco ("The Sopranos").
"It's far too nerve-racking at this hour of the morning," Falco told The Associated Press. The nominees were announced about 5:45 a.m. Pacific time.
When asked how she'd celebrate the rest of the day. "I'm going to sleep the day away. I'm going to sit outside in the sunshine."
Hargitay, who plans to wed in August, told the AP: "It's a big couple of months for me."
"It's such a tribute to my show. My show is so good. I feel so blessed to play such a strong character," said the actress.
The nominees for best actor in a comedy are Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier"), Matt LeBlanc ("Friends"), John Ritter ("8 Simple Rules") and Tony Shalhoub ("Monk").
The nominees for best actress in a comedy are Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm in the Middle"), Jennifer Aniston ("Friends"), Bonnie Hunt ("Life with Bonnie"), Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex and the City").
Touched by 'Angels'
Amber Tamblyn was nominated for "Joan of Arcadia."
"Angels in America," roundly hailed by critics, earned nominations for outstanding miniseries and three of its cast members -- Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson.
More controversial were the nominations for "The Reagans," the made-for-TV movie scheduled to air on CBS but then dropped after protests from some commentators. The movie eventually aired on the pay-cable network Showtime. It received nominations for best made-for-TV movie, best actor in a TV movie (James Brolin, who played Ronald Reagan) and best actress in a TV movie (Judy Davis, who played Nancy Reagan).
"It could have gone either way," said Richmond, observing the movie could have been just as easily ignored. But with the attention paid to Reagan's death -- as well as the current political atmosphere -- "I think things broke the right way for it."
Also nominated for best TV movie: "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself," "Something the Lord Made," "The Lion in Winter" and "Ike: Countdown to D-Day."
In the miniseries category, "Angels" will face off against "American Family: Journey of Dreams," "Horatio Hornblower," "Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness" and "Traffic: The Miniseries."
HBO, like CNN a Time Warner company, led all networks in nominations with 124. NBC earned 65 nods, CBS received 44, ABC had 33, Fox had 31 and PBS had 27.
The nominations were announced by two past winners, "Monk's" Tony Shalhoub and "Sopranos" star Edie Falco, from the academy's headquarters in North Hollywood, California.
The Emmy Awards are scheduled for September 19 on ABC. Gary Shandling is the host.