Twice-delayed Emmy Awards a tribute to patriotism; 'West Wing' wins four top honors

Monday, November 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ ``The West Wing,'' which celebrates the inner workings of a fictional White House, took four top honors as a twice-delayed Emmy Awards _ revamped to add patriotic flavor in the wake of the terrorist attacks _ finally hit the airwaves.

The 53rd annual awards show, staged on Sunday against the backdrop of biological terror at home and war abroad, wavered between celebrating Hollywood's best and paying tribute to American ideals of freedom and democracy.

After winning her second Emmy for dramatic supporting actress, ``West Wing'' star Allison Janney concluded her thank-you list by lauding the nation's liberties.

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

NBC's ``The West Wing,'' about the inner-workings of the White House, won eight Emmys on Sunday, including best dramatic series. Bradley Whitford won the supporting actor award and Thomas Schlamme won for directing.

ABC's television-movie ``Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows'' won five awards, while HBO's mob-drama ``The Sopranos'' took four.

``The Sopranos'' claimed the top dramatic acting awards. James Gandolfini won his second consecutive Emmy for his portrayal of tough, neurotic mob boss Tony Soprano, and Edie Falco, who plays his wife, won her second.

Patricia Heaton of ``Everybody Loves Raymond'' claimed her second consecutive Emmy as best comedy actress and dedicated her performances to men and women serving in the armed forces. Eric McCormack of ``Will & Grace'' was named best lead actor in a comedy series.

``Sex and the City,'' a frisky comedy about single women in New York, scored an Emmy breakthrough by winning as the best comedy series, becoming the first cable TV program to win a best series trophy.

The show began with a choir and trumpet player Phil Driscoll singing ``America the Beautiful.''

``Frasier'' star Kelsey Grammer and ``The Sopranos'' actress Aida Turturro were shown in the audience wiping tears from their eyes.

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

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

Many stars, including host Ellen DeGeneres, sported flag pins and red, white and blue ribbons.

``On a personal level, I felt that it was important for me to be here tonight ... Think about it: What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?'' DeGeneres joked.

Although most speeches were traditional thank yous to agents, spouses and executives, some award recipients and presenters used their moment in the spotlight to show their patriotism.

``So bless you all, and onward and upward _ and God bless America,'' said ``Everybody Loves Raymond'' star Doris Roberts, who won for comedic supporting actress. Peter MacNicol was named best supporting actor in a comedy series for his role on ``Ally McBeal.''

The original Emmy telecast, set for Sept. 16, was canceled immediately after the terror attacks five days earlier. It was rescheduled for Oct. 7 but canceled again when the United States began its military campaign against Afghanistan.

Bryce Zabel, chairman and chief executive officer of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, had vowed that the latest attempt, which competed with the seventh game of the World Series, would not be rescheduled. Before the audience Sunday, he defended the decision to press forward with the show.

``Terrorism doesn't stop with shattered glass and shattered lives. It aims to crush the spirit of the survivors. To have given up would have been more than a postponement or a cancellation _ it would have been a defeat,'' he said. ''... Like baseball and Broadway, we are an American tradition.''

Producers scrapped some tributes to firefighters and emergency crews that had been prepared for the second incarnation of the show, saying much of it already had been seen elsewhere

Sunday's show featured a new tribute to entertainers who visit troops during wartime and a surprise finale by Barbra Streisand, singing ``You'll Never Walk Alone'' before a wall decorated with the names of Sept. 11 victims.

The entertainer had earlier won an Emmy for her special ``Barbra Streisand: Timeless.'' The special won three other technical awards.

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.''

While presenting the comedy writing award, actress Jean Smart eulogized ``Frasier'' producer David Angell, who was with his wife aboard one of the four crashed planes on Sept. 11.

``He was an incredibly talented, incredibly kind person who stood out even in a group of exceptionally nice people,'' she said.

In another tribute to entertainers who died in the past year, Angell was mentioned with actress Berry Berenson and conservative commentator Barbara Olson, who also died in the crashes.

Falco, in her acceptance speech, also praised the resilience of New York, where ``The Sopranos'' is filmed.

``Thank you to the people in the city of New York where I live. ... If you haven't been there you can't imagine what it's been like,'' Falco said.