The Sopranos leads Emmys with 20 nominations

“LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – HBO’s mob drama “The Sopranos” and its landmark miniseries “Angels in America” lead the field of Emmy contenders, while late comic star John Ritter has been recognised with a posthumous nomination.

“The Sopranos,” leading all series with 20 nominations total, will compete again for best drama against NBC political saga “The West Wing,” which rubbed out the HBO gangster hit in their last three matchups and is the defending four-time winner of U.S. television’s highest honour.

Breaking into an otherwise familiar pack of returning Emmy hopefuls were the low-rated but critically hailed Fox sitcom “Arrested Development” and CBS’s “Joan of Arcadia,” about a teenager who talks to God, clinching nominations for best comedy and best drama, respectively.

Rounding out the roster of best-drama contenders are Fox espionage thriller “24” and TV’s highest-rated drama, CBS’ “CSI Crime Scene Investigation.”

But Emmy watchers focused on the perennial battle between “West Wing” and “Sopranos,” which has racked up numerous wins for its cast but has yet to land the big prize.

The nomination of “West Wing” puts it in the running for reelection to a record fifth term as best dramatic series. The only other prime-time show to claim five best series victories was comedy “Frasier,” which left NBC last season.

Another newly departed show, HBO’s “Sex and the City,” grabbed some afterlife glory as this year’s most nominated comedy, gaining recognition in 11 categories, including best sitcom. But smash hit “Friends,” which ended its 10-year NBC run in May was shut out of the race for best comedy.

The other comedy nominees were NBC’s “Will & Grace,” HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and last year’s champ, CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond,” now headed into a ninth and final season.

While “Sopranos” clinched the most nominations of any series, the most nominated program overall with 21 nods was the HBO miniseries “Angels in America,” an adaptation of Tony Kushner’s prize-winning play about the AIDS epidemic.

In one of the day’s big surprises, seven nominations, including a nod for best TV movie, were bestowed on “The Reagans,” which sparked an uproar from political conservatives who complained that it was unfair to the former president. CBS cancelled the film before it aired and handed it off to sister cable network Showtime.


The acting nominations contained a few surprises, including a nomination for an actor who died. The late John Ritter gained posthumous recognition for his role as a harried family man in ABC’s comedy “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.”

Kelsey Grammer, a three-time Emmy winner for his role as the elitist but loveable radio psychiatrist on “Frasier,” was nominated again for his last season on the show. He played Dr. Frasier Crane for a record-tying 20 years on TV, originating the role on the NBC comedy “Cheers.”

“Friends” star Matt LeBlanc garnered his third straight nomination as Joey, a role he will reprise this fall in his own spin-off, while 2002 winner Jennifer Aniston landed her third lead actress bid as Rachel on “Friends.”

Other comic actor nominations went to Larry David for playing himself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and last year’s winner, Tony Shalhoub, for “Monk.”

Comedy actress nods also went to Bonnie Hunt for ABC’s now-cancelled “Life with Bonnie,” Sarah Jessica Parker for “Sex and the City,” two-time winner Patricia Heaton for “Raymond” and Jane Kaczmarek for Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle.”

Nominees for best dramatic actor were “Sopranos” star James Gandolfini, who won last year, the “West Wing” president Martin Sheen, James Spader for ABC’s “The Practice,” Kiefer Sutherland for “24,” and Anthony LaPaglia for “Without a Trace.”

Dramatic best actress contenders include past winners Edie Falco in “The Sopranos” and Allison Janney in “West Wing.” They join Jennifer Garner as the sexy spy on ABC’s “Alias,” and two first-time nominees — Mariska Hargitay on NBC’s “Law & Order Special Victims Unit” and Amber Tamblyn for “Joan of Arcadia.”

The 56th annual Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by comedian Garry Shandling, will be broadcast live on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on September 19.

HBO, a unit of Time Warner Inc., led the networks in nominations overall, snaring 124, followed by NBC, owned by General Electric Co. with 65, and CBS, a division of Viacom Inc., with 44. Walt Disney Co.-owned ABC was fourth with 33 Emmy bids, and Fox, a unit of News Corp. Ltd. was fifth with 31.”