- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a wistful night for network television, the Emmys last night heaped seven honors on HBO’s “Angels in America,” honored HBO’s “The Sopranos” as best drama and gave its major comedy acting awards to series that have stopped production.

“Angels in America,” the adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play about AIDS in the 1980s, was named best miniseries and earned acting trophies for Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeffrey Wright. Mr. Kushner received a writing award and Mike Nichols won best director.

With its four Emmys announced earlier, “Angels in America” tied 1976’s “Eleanor and Franklin” as most-honored miniseries with 11 awards total.

Four actors in just-departed comedies won awards: Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce of “Frasier” and Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon of “Sex and the City.”

Besides the best drama award, “The Sopranos” actors Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo won supporting actor awards.

But there were bright spots for the broadcast networks: Fox’s critically praised “Arrested Development” won best comedy. Allison Janney of NBC’s “The West Wing” and James Spader of ABC’s “The Practice” won top acting awards in a drama.

Shut out was “Friends,” the NBC comedy that drew more than 51 million people to its finale in May.

“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” which has spent election year skewering the candidates for tiny Comedy Central, won an award for best variety series for the second year in a row. His writing staff also won an Emmy.

The awards provided fresh evidence that the major broadcast networks, even as they open their new season this week, have ceded creative ground to cable networks.

Elaine Stritch became an instant joke subject for her over-the-top acceptance of the Emmy for best individual performance in a variety or music program. The 79-year-old veteran stage actress even tested ABC’s five-second delay and had part of her speech bleeped out.

“Look at the company I’m in here. And I’m so glad none of them won,” Miss Stritch said before the orchestra played her off the stage.

Donald Trump and “Survivor” creator Mark Burnett found themselves looking on from the audience as a less-popular show, CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” won best reality series for the second year in a row.

Host Garry Shandling repeatedly poked fun at the genre, joking about “Extreme Makeover,” Paris Hilton and Mr. Trump in his monologue.

“It’s to the point now when a commercial comes on I go, ‘Thank God, professional actors in a story,’” he said.

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