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Emmy bids reflect resistance to change

Rick Porter

Freshman hits “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” made big Emmy splashes Thursday, while “Scrubs” finally was nominated for best comedy after four years of coming up short.

Still, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences can’t quite seem to shake off its old habits.

“Desperate Housewives” and “Lost,” both on ABC, received 27 nominations between them – nearly as many as the network’s entire 2004 total of 33. “Housewives” received 15 nominations, tying for the lead among series with NBC’s “Will & Grace,” while “Lost” earned 12.

It was icing on the cake for ABC, which was pulled out of a ratings slump by the two shows. “Desperate Housewives” was the season’s fourth-most-watched program, averaging nearly 24 million viewers, while “Lost” was No. 14 with 16 million.

“Housewives,” “Will & Grace” and “Scrubs” will vie for outstanding comedy series with last year’s winner, “Arrested Development,” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which received 13 nominations for its ninth and final season.

Although it’s an hourlong comedy-drama, the dark suburban satire “Desperate Housewives” chose to compete in the comedy category, usually home to half-hour sitcoms. There is precedent: The legal satire “Ally McBeal” won in 1999.

In addition to “Lost,” the contenders for best drama series are HBO’s “Deadwood” – also a newcomer to the category – and repeat nominees “24,” “Six Feet Under” and “The West Wing.”

It’s here that Emmy voters’ resistance to change shows up most glaringly.

While the “24” nomination comes as no surprise – many viewers felt the Fox show had its best season since its first – both “Six Feet Under” and “The West Wing” are no longer the shows they once were.

And given the wealth of good dramas this past season – “Rescue Me,” “Veronica Mars,” “The Shield” and “Everwood,” to name just a few – more new blood would have freshened the category.

The acting categories also had a mix of old and new.

Three “Housewives” stars – Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman – are up for outstanding lead actress in a comedy, along with repeat nominees Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”).

“Scrubs” star Zach Braff and Jason Bateman of “Arrested Development” each picked up nods for lead actor in a comedy, along with veterans Ray Romano (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) and Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”).

Among the bigger upsets in the drama acting categories, only two members of the “West Wing” cast – supporting players Alan Alda and Stockard Channing – earned nominations. In past years the show has had multiple nominees in both the lead and supporting categories.

James Spader, who won outstanding lead actor in a drama last year for “The Practice,” was nominated again for the spinoff series “Boston Legal.” He’s joined by Hank Azaria, “Huff”; Hugh Laurie, “House”; Ian McShane, “Deadwood”; and Kiefer Sutherland, “24.”

Drama actress nominees included Patricia Arquette, “Medium”; Glenn Close, “The Shield”; Frances Conroy, “Six Feet Under”; Jennifer Garner, “Alias”; and Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU.”

Television’s most-watched program, “American Idol,” was nominated for outstanding reality/competition series along with “The Amazing Race,” “The Apprentice,” “Project Runway” and “Survivor.”

Nominees for best miniseries were “Elvis,” “Empire Falls,” “The 4400” and the “Masterpiece Theatre” production “The Lost Prince.

The HBO movies “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” and “Warm Springs” led all programs with 16 nominations each.

HBO had the most nominations of any network, with 93. But with “The Sopranos” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” ineligible this year, the pay-cable channel’s haul was down significantly from last year’s total of 124.

CBS led the broadcast networks with 59 nominations, followed by NBC (54), ABC (51) and Fox (49).

The Emmy Awards show is scheduled to air Sept. 18 on CBS.

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