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The Mysterious Case Of The Missing Emmy

That’s all she wrote for Angela Lansbury.

Twelve seasons and 12 dramatic actress Emmy nominations for Lansbury and no trophies.

“This is my last chance, my last hurrah,” Lansbury said when the nominations were announced earlier this summer.

She even participated in a “Got Emmy?” parody of milk industry ads, appearing with a smile and a white moustache. It was her last chance because “Murder, She Wrote” finished its final season.

But it wasn’t to be: Kathy Baker of “Picket Fences” won the dramatic actress award. Lansbury wasn’t in the audience Sunday night.

“Murder, She Wrote,” scored big ratings - CBS said more than 10 billion tuned in over its history - but it attracted older demographics and the network phased it out to develop a younger image.

Those were the days

It was like old times again as Edith - uh, Jean Stapleton - dragged Archie - Carroll O’Connor - onto the stage to present the award for best supporting actor in a comedy series.

The crowd cheered as the orchestra played the theme from “All in the Family” while the white-suited actress and her rumpled-looking, black-tie wearing companion walked to the podium.

“Thank-you - thank-you from all our hearts,” Stapleton said in her familiar, fluttery voice.

“Don’t overdo it! Don’t overdo it!” O’Connor muttered.

Sunday night’s show reunited old television pairings and saluted past network hits as part of the Emmy’s 50th anniversary.

Nothing’s plenty for me

The TV comedy “Seinfeld” is usually described as a show about nothing.

For Julia Louis-Dreyfus, winner of the supporting comedy actress Emmy, it’s a lot more.

“A lot of people say our show is about nothing. But of course it’s been about plenty of something for me. It’s been the greatest job of my life,” she said Sunday in accepting the trophy.

She then turned to the audience.

“I am so grateful to Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David and Jason Alexander and Michael Richards and Andy Ackerman and all of our writers … and my wonderful husband Brad Hall and beautiful son Henry and my parents, who are here tonight, thank you for raising me. I appreciate it.”

Underdressed and overwhelmed

Tom Hulce apparently didn’t expect to win the Emmy for supporting actor in a miniseries or special.

“Thank you,” he said, clutching the golden statuette for his work in the TNT cable special, “The Heidi Chronicles.” “I would’ve worn a tie. Wow.”

Instead, the actor sported a scruffy chin and a tuxedo shirt open at the neck, no black bow in sight. Wide-eyed, he rolled through the thank-yous.

“And I would like to thank David Hyde Pierce (of the NBC show “Frasier”) for being such an inspiration in this part on Broadway,” Hulce said, “and - for being unavailable.”

Disagreeing on censorship

“If you don’t dig it, turn it off.”

Thus spake double Emmy winner Dennis Miller on Sunday when asked whether TV was too dirty for America’s own good.

“You know, in Rwanda they’re getting up in the morning and eating dung beetles,” Miller went on, by way of suggesting there are more pressing matters in life than keeping Tipper Gore and Bob Dole happy.

Both in their formal speeches and off-the-cuff remarks, Emmy’s honorees agreed to disagree on the increasingly volatile issue of whether TV should be made more family-friendly.

Steve Allen, a man of not a few words, minced none when asked what he thought of politicians who complain of overly explicit programming.

“The politicians are right,” Allen retorted.

Then, flipping the question back on a roomful of journalists, he asked, “Do you feel TV should be a little filthier?”

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Associated Press, From wire reports