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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 18, 2005

'Housewives' craving comedy gold

Associated Press

The ABC hit series "Desperate Housewives" was among the top nominees for the 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, set for Sept. 18. Among the cast, from left: Brenda Strong, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, Teri Hatcher and Nicollette Sheridan.

Associated Press/Jennifer Graylock

Naveen Andrews, who plays Sayid on ABC's hit show "Lost," was nominated for an Emmy for best supporting actor.



Prime-time TV soap operas rarely bring home Emmys.

"Dallas," "Knots Landing" and "Dynasty" never won best-series awards. "Dynasty" set a record as the biggest also-ran in Emmy history with 24 losses and no wins.

But "Desperate Housewives," a dark satire about life in suburbia, may have found a way to finesse the system. ABC's freshman hit — which cleaned up Thursday with 15 Emmy nominations — asked to be considered in the comedy series category, usually home to half-hour sitcoms.

The ploy worked for another so-called dramedy, the legal farce "Ally McBeal," which was named best comedy series in 1999 on its second try.

"The proof of how sneaky those 'Desperate Housewives' really are is they pulled an 'Ally McBeal,' " said Tom O'Neil, author of "The Emmys" and host of goldderby.com, a Web site that handicaps the Emmys and other awards.

"I'm going, 'Geez, we should have gone over there, too,' " joked David Shore, the creator of Fox's drama "House." The series received five nominations, including a best dramatic actor bid for star Hugh Laurie and a writing nomination for an episode by Shore.

ABC's show is competing in a field that includes last year's winner, the quirky "Arrested Development," and "Will & Grace," which matched "Desperate Housewives" with its 15 nominations Thursday. Also in the category were "Scrubs" and "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Wisteria Lane, home of the housewives, should be abuzz with the fact that only three of its stars, Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman, were nominated for best comedy series actress. Eva Longoria, who was also snubbed by the Golden Globe Awards, was conspicuously missing from the Emmy list as well.

Also overlooked was Nicollette Sheridan, who had gotten a Golden Globe supportingactress nod for the show.

Maybe the sexually frisky characters played by Longoria and Sheridan were just too hot for Emmy voters to handle, suggested O'Neil.

It's also interesting that, in an industry regularly accused of bias against older actresses, the nominated "Housewives" are all 40 or older; Longoria is 30.

"I'm sad about it," Cross said. "I really thought Nicollette was a shoo-in. In terms of Eva, my prediction is she's leaving us all in the dust."

The lucky nominees might restrain their glee. The only nighttime soap star to win in a lead-acting category was Barbara Bel Geddes, who played the matriarch of "Dallas," as even Larry Hagman's deliciously villainous turn as J.R. Ewing in the 1978-91 soap failed to snag Emmy gold.

The drama category pits another freshman ABC hit, "Lost," against the sophomore Western drama "Deadwood," "Six Feet Under," "24" and "The West Wing."

Last year's winner, "The Sopranos," isn't in the fight because it sat out last season. That appears to leave an opening for the spooky "Lost," about air crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island, but the show's thriller elements might give Emmy voters pause.

A prestige drama such as "The West Wing," which rebounded in quality last season and has claimed four consecutive best drama trophies, or a gritty groundbreaker like "Deadwood" might stand a better chance.

Proving that it can be tough for a big-cast show to lay claim to a lead actor nomination, "Lost" was blanked in the category. Naveen Andrews, who plays tough and sexy Sayid, and Terry O'Quinn, the inscrutable Locke, received best supporting actor bids.

The Emmy recognition of "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" was a bonus for ABC, which was pulled out of a ratings slump by the two new series. "Desperate Housewives" finished the season as the fourth-most-watched program, averaging nearly 24 million weekly viewers, while "Lost" was No. 14 with an average 16 million viewers.

Television's most popular show, Fox's singing contest "American Idol," has a chance to finally win an Emmy. It was nominated again in the reality competition program category, facing "The Amazing Race," "Survivor," "Project Runway" and "The Apprentice."

The 57th Emmy Awards are scheduled to air Sept. 18 on CBS. A host has yet to be announced for the Shrine Auditorium ceremony in which 27 awards will be presented.

Learn more: www.emmys.tv, www.goldderby.com