HBO, NBC lead winners circle at Emmy Awards

MUMBAI: US TV industry's biggest award show, the 58th Primetime annual sEmmy Awards, saw HBO sweeping aways with nine awards followed by NBC, which managed to bag six.

The crime drama ``24'' won the Emmy for best television drama. This is the first time that 24 has won an Emmy for the best drama show.Kiefer Sutherland won the best actor award for his portrayal of counter terrorist agent Jack bauer for the same show. Whereas, The Office took the trophy for best comedy show.

The best actress award was taken by Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her role as Christine Campbell in The New Adventures of Old Christine. Dreyfus was earlier working in the television drama Seinfeld. Tony Shalhoub won for his role in Monk.

The Sopranos,'' heading in its final episodes, won an Emmy for outstanding drama writing.

Elizabeth I'' won nine awards, including best miniseries. Fox's ``24'' was second with five awards.

Ironically, three of the four best supporting actor and actress awards went to performances from shows that have gone off the air. Alan Alda won the best supporting actor award for his role as Arnold Vinick on NBC's ``The West Wing.'' The political drama ended its seven-year run on NBC in May winning 26 Primetime Emmys over the years.

And Blythe Danner was adjudged the best supporting actress for the show Huff. Megan Mullally won the trophy for the supporting actress in the sitcom Will & Grace which came to a close on NBC in May after an eight year run.

Jeremy Piven was named best supporting actor for his role as a Hollywood agent on HBO's show Entourage. The award for the best film went to HBO's The Girl In The Cafe.

Mariska Hargitay won the Emmy for outstanding actress in a drama series for her role in NBC's ``Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.''

The award ceremony was aired on NBC and hosted by Conan O'Brien. The show has received cricitism though from some quarters for the fact that the same old shows are nominated. New shows that keep viewers hooked like Lost sometimes get ignored. The Academy had changed the rules for voting and that critics say that it may have led to nonsensical omissions like Lost and also Hugh Laurie failing to get nominated for House.

The criticism is that even with the change in the voting rules shows from cable channels like TNT, FX, Sci-Fi and USA that are seen by critics as pushing the boundaries are ignored. Shows such as Rescue Me and The Closer might get a token nomination or two, but the bulk of what the cable networks have to offer is not present.

Of course American cable television is not as heavily reliant on advertsing as the broadcast networks. That allows for more flexibility in the shows that the likes of HBO do though the budgets might be less. The other challenge for the Emmys and other shows that honour the best in American television is that the line between what constitutes a lead actor and a supporting one is getting blurred.

Under the new Emmy rules holders of various television jobs can vote in on all categories, instead of actors only voting for actors. Ironically Dick Askin who heads the Academy has pointed out that the aim of the change was get away from the valid criticism that the Emmys have a sameness. The criticism is that when the same shows and same actors keep getting nominated it leaves no room for newer shows to be recognised.

It is worth pointing out that this problem is also glaring at both the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Those awards recognise both television and film. With film the nominee roster keeps changing and fans can look forward to what is nominated as it might reflect trends like earlier this year when independent films outshone their studio counterparts. With television though there is a sense of deja vu as the same faces and shows keep cropping up.

Coming back to the Emmy's the opening kit that featured O'Brien has received criticism for being insensitive. Basically he travelled on an airplane which crahes on an islland like the show Lost. After being greeted by Lost star Jorge Garcia, O'Brien fled through a mysterious hatch and ended up crashing through other series including The Office, 24 and House. Yesterday 49 people perished in the US' deadliest air crash in five years.

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