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From Msnbc.msn.com

Amy Acker should have got an Emmy nomination

By Brian Bellmont

Friday 16 July 2004, by Webmaster

Emmys miss chance for shakeup Nominations offer only tiny glimpse of hipper future

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Edie Falco and Tony Shalhoub announced this year’s not-so-surprising Emmy nominations.

Yes, yes, HBO is wonderful. So is Kelsey Grammer. And “The West Wing.” And “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Honk-shoo, honk-shoo. That’s the collective sound of America reading about this year’s Emmy Award nominations Thursday morning, then rolling over and falling back to sleep.

To no one’s surprise, HBO swept through the nominations (with nearly twice the number of nods as its nearest competitor, NBC) like the quality television juggernaut it has become, primarily on the strength of miniseries “Angels in America,” the final season of “Sex and the City,” and the second-to-last year of “The Sopranos.”

Many had high hopes for a few more surprises this year, particularly after the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences decided to “freshen” the awards by changing the way its members vote; they could now nominate up to 10 shows in a category, rather than the standard five. Academy president Dick Askin said that the new voting regulations were an effort to “shake things up a little,” and give lesser known shows and performers more of a chance to make it onto the ballot.

Uh, sorry, Dick. There wasn’t a whole lot of shaking going on.

Familiar names popped up again and again: James Gandolfini, Sarah Jessica Parker, Martin Sheen. It’s hard to root for vets like Doris Roberts, Allison Janney and Grammer, who have so many Emmy nominations and statues to their names, they probably hand them out to trick-or-treaters. Even Victor Garber and Jennifer Garner from cult hit “Alias,” who on the surface seem like “alternative” choices, were each nominated in both 2002 and 2003.

Room for more surprising nominations Sure, relative long shots like “Arrested Development” and “Joan of Arcadia” made it onto the ballot. But, come on, that’s it? It’s like letting the two oldest, best-behaved children sit at the big-people table during a family holiday. Though undeniably deserving of a seat, these two shows are hardly a large enough representation of the hip, alternative programming that would have helped drag the staid Emmys into the 21st Century.

If it really wanted to shake things up, the Academy would have invited more rookies to the party.

If it really wanted to shake things up, the Academy would have invited more rookies to the party - the ones who might throw a figurative handful of mashed potatoes across the table or spill their wine on their host’s lap. Would some unexpected nominations undermine the tradition-packed Emmy hoopla? Maybe. But more likely the new blood would reinvigorate the proceedings, lighting a fire among viewers who’d prefer to root for the eager underdog instead of the seemingly unimpressed veteran.

Where’s Amy Acker, whose devastating performance as the doomed Fred on “Angel” took an even more heart-wrenching turn as the fallen god who took over her body? Where’s Jason Bateman, whose performance as the only sane member of the Bluth family is the hilarious spine (and heart) of “Arrested Development”? Where is “Scrubs”? At the very least, John C. McGinley should have been singled out for his uber-sarcastic, yet multi-layered, performance as Dr. Perry Cox. Where is “Gilmore Girls?” All four Gilmores (Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann) arguably deserved nods this year. I’d even go so far as to say that Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!” deserved a nomination as Best Comedy Series, thanks to its fresh take on the already spoiled reality show genre.

A few bright spots Still, viewers who revel in well-deserved nods can take some solace in a few of the nominations:

Jeffrey Tambor: As jailed patriarch George Bluth, Sr., in “Arrested Development,” Tambor exudes both shifty overconfidence and an attempt at fatherly concern for his dysfunctional family. Despite a rich body of work that includes such groundbreaking gems as “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Hill Street Blues,” a win here could finally help audiences completely forget about “The Ropers” once and for all.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm”: The fourth season of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” was an exercise in lead actor, writer and executive producer Larry David’s restraint, often letting guest stars (like David Schwimmer and Ben Stiller) get off the best lines. Still, David the actor stepped up as well (as evidenced by his own nomination). The ongoing storyline about his experience as a novice Broadway star in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” showed a tender, vulnerable side to his character the audience hasn’t often seen.

John Ritter: Though hardly Ritter’s finest work, the posthumous nomination for his role as dad Paul Hennessy on “8 Simple Rules” is a sweet touch, and could end up as a well-earned coda to a phenomenal television career.

Next year, perhaps Academy voters will leave some of the tried-and-true choices behind and nominate more quirky performances, captivating though little-seen dramas, and consistently gut-busting comedies. Then maybe when someone from the academy boasts of shaking things up, viewers will believe him.