'West Wing' and 'Sopranos' lead at delayed Emmys

Monday, November 5, 2001

LOS ANGELES -- "The West Wing," which celebrates the inner workings of a fictional White House, dominated Sunday in an Emmy Awards ceremony twice postponed by the real-world terrorism drama.

The telecast tried to walk a line between celebrating television and respecting the difficulties facing the nation. It opened with an image of the American flag, a rendition of "America the Beautiful" and a soothing address from Walter Cronkite.

NBC's "The West Wing" won the first three awards announced, including supporting actress for Allison Janney and supporting actor for Bradley Whitford. Thomas Schlamme won for directing.

"It occurs to me at this time how proud I am to be on a show that celebrates the process of freedom that makes this country great," said Janney of the White House drama.

The show's chief Emmy competitor, the mob drama "The Sopranos" picked up an award for drama series writing.

After Cronkite set a serious tone, host Ellen DeGeneres -- dressed in black with a red, white and blue ribbon -- lightened the mood when she took the stage.

"What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?" she said, drawing huge laughs.

The night, however, ranged from slapstick humor -- DeGeneres and Martin Short as faux celebrity interviewer Jiminy Glick rolling onstage -- to moments of reflection.

Following a video segment of people around the world expressing sorrow over America's tragedy, DeGeneres spoke for the Hollywood community: "To all of you around the globe watching tonight, from the bottom of our hearts, not just as Americans but as citizens of the world, thank you."

The twice-cursed Emmy Awards was stuck competing with the seventh game of the World Series. As Phil Driscoll played his trumpet to open the show, New York Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill was called out trying to stretch a double into a triple on Fox.

DeGeneres promised to keep Emmy viewers updated on the game. Although she didn't in the first hour, Fox flashed Emmy winners on its baseball telecast.

Peter MacNicol was named best supporting actor in a comedy series for his role on "Ally McBeal."

A triumphant Doris Roberts accepted the comedy series supporting actress trophy for "Everybody Loves Raymond"

"Today's my birthday. What a gift. ... I'm 71 tonight and I'm kickin,' honey," Roberts said.

"Malcolm in the Middle" garnered honors for director Todd Holland and for writing. In presenting the latter award, actress Jean Smart took a moment to pay tribute to producer David Angell who was among the airliner victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Smart called the "Cheers" and "Frasier" producer "an incredibly talented, incredibly kind person." His picture was displayed on a video monitor.

Celebrities arrived in an atmosphere more subdued than in past shows, as guards searched cars and police lined the red carpet.

While almost all of men had on suits -- in keeping with the suggestion of wearing dressy business attire in place of tuxedos and gowns -- many of the women wore gowns, with glitter and necklines that wouldn't appear in almost any workplace.

Joan Rivers commented several times during her pre-show interviews, which typically focus on fashion, that the women didn't follow the low-key dress code. When Sela Ward walked up to her in a low-cut black top, Rivers -- herself dressed in a sparkly outfit -- said: "Again! Not for the office."

Officials promised unprecedented security at the Shubert Theatre, a smaller venue than the Shrine Auditorium where the show was originally scheduled.

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