I fearlessly predict that when the 47th annual Emmy awards are handed out on Sept. 10 (Fox, 8-11 p.m.), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will prove to be both Friends-friendly and ER-ascible. Friends, the season's breakout sitcom, has been doing even better in summer reruns than it was during its original run, and its theme song has become a pervasive (read: irritating) top 10 hit. Just the sort of commercial success Emmy voters prize above all else. So I'll wager that the series, having snagged acting nods for David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow among its nine nominations, will walk off with a bunch of trophies, including one for best comedy. (Though if Frasier's David Hyde Pierce doesn't win this year for best supporting actor in a sitcom, I'm moving to ... oh, I think this year I'll move to France.)
As for the 23-times-nominated ER well, I'll bet the fogies in the Academy are sure relieved to have an excuse not to give all those drama awards to the show that actually deserves them more: NYPD Blue. Or The X-Files. Or My So-Called Life. Hey, wait a minute My So-Called Life wasn't nominated in the best-drama category! Talk about crimes against the culture. Anyway, watch for a dogfight between George Clooney and Anthony Edwards, duking it out for best actor in a drama. (Actually, here's my dream: The votes for Clooney and Edwards will cancel each other out, as will the votes for NYPD's competing costars, Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits, leaving the Emmy to dark horse Chicago Hope's Mandy Patinkin, who'll give one of his over-the-top, tearfully emotional, ragefully outrageous, Mandyriffic speeches, and a great moment in live television will occur. Just a fantasy.)
If Emmy voters possess an ounce of decency, they'll hand the best-dramatic-actress Emmy to MSCL's Claire Danes, who would defeat Angela Lansbury, Kathy Baker, Sherry Stringfield, and Sweet Justice's Cicely Tyson. And as much as I admire what Kelsey Grammer has done on Frasier this season, the best-comedic-actor award really ought to go to Garry Shandling for his remarkable warts-and-all performances on The Larry Sanders Show.
Other notable quirks and oddities in the Emmys this year:
Need proof that the miniseries is a dead genre? Look at what's been nominated: Buffalo Girls, Children of the Dust, Joseph, Martin Chuzzlewit, A Woman of Independent Means each and every one a ghastly bore, except for novelist David Lodge's Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Dickens, which was just a plain bore.
Don't know about you, but my favorite undeserved nomination is in the Outstanding Achievement in Costuming for a Miniseries or Special category, where Fox's ridiculous Madonna: Innocence Lost farrago is a strong contender.
Names you never expected to see on a 1995 Emmy bal lot: Cyndi Lauper, up for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her Mad About You turn, and Milton Berle, sweating it out in the Guest Actor in a Drama Series category for his work in of course! Beverly Hills 90210.