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For Your Consideration

By Belinda Acosta

JULY 31, 2000:  Turn off that reality show and that Regis What's-His-Name, won't you? The 52nd Annual Emmy Award nominations are out! Yippee! All right, fine.

So the Emmy nominations appeared with few surprises and several eye-rolling repeat nominations. Although the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (which hosts the Emmys) revamped the selection process, the nomination process remained the same, begetting the same old, same old. This is why I created the Clare Awards last year. Named for St. Clare, the Patron Saint of Television, the Clare Awards intend to recognize, however symbolically, programming and performances deserving of attention, but ignored by the Academy. So here, for your consideration, are the Emmy nominations along with additional nominees and Clare's Choice.

  • Outstanding Drama Series: ER (NBC), Law & Order (NBC), The Practice (ABC), The Sopranos (HBO), The West Wing (NBC). (Last year's winner, The Practice)

  • Clare's additional nominees: Freaks and Geeks (NBC), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB), Angel (WB).

  • Clare's Choice: The Sopranos has a better chance of winning this year, though, as a fan of the show, I can't say that this past season was as strong as its first. The most likely Emmy winner will be The West Wing, a traditional but extraordinary drama. Clare nominates Buffy and Angel, because they're kick-ass. Enough of the snubs, already! Even so, Clare votes for the delightful and heart-wrenching Freaks and Geeks. This gem about the horrors of adolescence could make you weep and guffaw, often in the same episode. That NBC dropped this show is a shame.

  • Outstanding Actor in a Drama: Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), Jerry Orbach (Law & Order), Martin Sheen (The West Wing), Sam Waterston (Law & Order). (Last year's winner, Dennis Franz)

  • Clare's additional nominees: Rick Schroder (NYPD Blue) and Takeshi Kaga (Iron Chef).

  • Clare's Choice: I'm not a regular NYPD Blue watcher, but Schroder impresses with his ability to hold his own with the exceptional (and often-awarded) Dennis Franz while stepping into the well-regarded shoes of Jimmy Smits. As the nominations stand, I'm torn between Gandolfini and Sheen. That's why I put the unlikely Kaga into the pool. His panache, his unwavering commitment to the pageantry of Iron Chef, the way he bites into that bell pepper -- he's Clare's tiebreaker choice. However, I predict the Emmy will go to Sheen.

  • Best Actress in a Drama: Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos), Amy Brenneman (Judging Amy), Edie Falco (The Sopranos), Julianna Margulies (ER), Sela Ward (Once and Again). (Last year's winner, Edie Falco)

  • Clare adds: Linda Cardellini (Freaks and Geeks).

  • Clare's Choice: Falco's Carmela had more screen time this year, allowing her some amazing moments. My favorite was when she strong-armed her neighbor's sister into writing a crucial letter of recommendation for her daughter, without breaking a nail or mussing her hair. Then there's Linda Cardellini. Such a wealth of talent in such a young woman. She deserves recognition for her thoughtful performance as Lindsey Weir, the smart girl whose freak side is at odds with her geek side. Bracco belongs in the supporting actress pool. Brenneman and Margulies are likable candidates, but their work did not meet the standard of Falco or Cardellini. Ward is widely considered the Emmy favorite this year, but Clare's choice is Edie Falco.

  • Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: Michael Badalucco (The Practice), Dominic Chianese (The Sopranos), Steve Harris (The Practice), Richard Schiff (The West Wing), John Spencer (The West Wing). (Last year's winner, Michael Badalucco)

  • Clare adds: Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), David Proval (The Sopranos), James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

  • Clare's Choice: I can't bear to dissect The West Wing cast, so I won't. Instead, I'll go for my sentimental favorite, James Marsters. He had a great year as Spike, the vampire rendered "impotent" thanks to a behavioral modification chip inserted in his brain, causing excruciating pain if he even sneered at a mortal. Reduced to snarling and bad-mouthing the "Scooby-gang," Marsters was droll, pathetic, and conniving, as in the episode when he tried to play both sides of the fence in hopes of regaining his vampire ways. The Emmy will probably go to Spencer.

  • Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Stockard Channing (The West Wing), Tyne Daly (Judging Amy), Allison Janney (The West Wing), Nancy Marchand (The Sopranos), Holland Taylor (The Practice). (Last year's winner, Holland Taylor)

  • Clare adds: Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos).

  • Clare's Choice: The chemistry between Channing and Martin Sheen on The West Wing is electric, but does Channing really appear on the show enough to be considered a supporting actress? I'm not convinced she does, so I would give the award to Janney. Her turns as the lone woman in the higher levels of the president's staff are great studies of a successful woman confronting sexism and paternalism. Emmy could go with Taylor again, but as five-time Emmy-winner Daly is in the pool, the award could swing her way. Clare's choice: Allison Janney.

Next week: the comedies and other Emmy nominations.

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