LOS ANGELES - “The Sopranos,” the mob series that went to its grave with a shockingly inconclusive finale, found a happy ending today with 15 Emmy nominations including best drama.
The made-for-TV movie “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” led all nominees with 17 bids.
“Grey's Anatomy,” which came through a difficult year in which star Isaiah Washington was fired after twice using an anti-homosexual slur, wasn’t hurt when it came to Emmy bids. Besides best drama series, there were nominations for four supporting cast members and two guest actors.
The miniseries “The Starter Wife” also was a top nominee with 10 bids.
The freshman hit “Ugly Betty,” based on a Colombian telenovela, made it into the ranks of best comedy series nominees. It’s joined by “Entourage,”“30 Rock,”“Two and a Half Men” and last year’s winner in the category, “The Office.”
“Ugly Betty‘s” America Ferrera was recognized with a nod for her starring role.
Joining Mr. Gandolfini among lead drama series actor nominees were Hugh Laurie of “House,”Denis Leary of “Rescue Me,”James Spader of “Boston Legal” and last year’s winner, Kiefer Sutherland of “24.” Last year’s top drama series was “24,” but it was snubbed this time.
Miss Falco will compete with Patricia Arquette of “Medium,” Minnie Driver of “The Riches,”Sally Field of “Brothers & Sisters,”Kyra Sedgwick of “The Closer” and last year’s winner, Mariska Hargitay of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
Miss Sedgwick got the news immediately. She helped announce bids for the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in a brief ceremony at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences‘ Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre.
“Last year I was totally overwhelmed. I was in my underwear on the sofa at home,” he said.
“Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” adapted from Dee Brown’s nonfiction best-seller, received nominations for best made-for-TV movie, writing and supporting acting. The film chronicles the Sioux victory over George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn and the events leading up to the killing of Sitting Bull and the Sioux massacre at Wounded Knee Creek in 1890.
Executive producer Dick Wolf said its clutch of nominations was a validation of a very difficult project.
“Anybody who says it’s not nice or it doesn’t mean anything to get this many nominations, it’s the ultimate sour grapes because it sure feels great,” he said.
“Friday Night Lights,” the critically acclaimed but low-rated high school football drama that needed an Emmy boost, failed to gain major nominations.
“The Sopranos,” which premiered in January 1999 and had an on-and-off cable run, capped its final episode this year with an ambiguous ending that left fans in the dark about the fate of lead character Tony Soprano, last seen sitting in a diner with his wife and children. A suddenly black screen suggested sudden violence — or not.
The series’ other nominees included Michael Imperioli, who received a bid for best supporting dramatic actor for his role as the ill-fated Christopher. Aida Turturro, who played Tony’s tough sister Janice, and Lorraine Bracco, who co-starred as his uneasy psychiatrist Dr. Melfi, were nominated for supporting actress.
Along with Miss Ferrera in the lead comedy actress category were Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives,” Tina Fey of “30 Rock,” Mary-Louise Parker of “Weeds” and last year’s winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus of “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
Their actor counterparts included last year’s winner, Tony Shalhoub of “Monk,” Ricky Gervais of “Extras,” Steve Carell of “The Office,” Charlie Sheen of “Two and a Half Men” and Alec Baldwin of “30 Rock.”
Some categories had six nominees this year rather than the usual five.
Supporting comedy actress nominees included Holland Taylor and Conchata Ferrell of “Two and a Half Men,” Jaime Pressly of “My Name is Earl,” Jenna Fischer of “The Office,” Vanessa Williams of “Ugly Betty” and Elizabeth Perkins of “Weeds.”
Another six-nominee category was best supporting actress in a drama series, with Miss Turturro and Miss Bracco joined by Katherine Heigl, Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh of “Grey's Anatomy” and Rachel Griffiths of “Brothers & Sisters.”
Despite receiving the most overall nominations, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” did not receive any bids for lead acting. The HBO movie starred Adam Beach as a Sioux physician struggling with assimilation.
Altogether, 463 nominations were announced. HBO was the most recognized with 86 bids, followed by ABC with 70, NBC with 69, CBS with 44, Fox with 28, and PBS with 24.
Nominees as top actors in a miniseries or movie included Jim Broadbent for “Longford,” Robert Duvall for “Broken Trail,” William H. Macy for “Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (Umney’s Last Case),” Matthew Perry for “The Ron Clark Story” and Tom Selleck for “Jesse Stone: Sea Change.”
Lead actresses nominated in that category were Queen Latifah for “Life Support,” Debra Messing for “The Starter Wife,” Helen Mirren for “Prime Suspect: The Final Act,” Gina Rowlands for “What If God Were the Sun?” and “Weeds” star Miss Parker for “The Robber Bride.”
The three-hour Emmy Awards ceremony will be broadcast Sept. 16 by Fox from the Shrine Auditorium.
A complete list of all nominees is available at www.emmys.org
Associated Press writer Solvej Schou contributed to this report.
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