- Mostly overlooked for eight seasons, a resurgent “Friends” walked away with its first comedy series Emmy Award, while voters heaped more Emmy gold on “The West Wing.”
Jennifer Aniston of NBC’s “Friends” earned lead comedy actress honors for playing the pregnant Rachel after having previously competed in the supporting category.
“This has been the greatest nine years of my entire life,” an emotional Aniston said.
“It was our time maybe,” co-star Matt LeBlanc said backstage.
The venerable comedy, in its ninth and likely final season, had won only once before for Lisa Kudrow’s supporting role in 1998. “Friends” had lost the comedy series trophy five previous times.
NBC’s “The West Wing” won four awards Sunday night, including its third consecutive as best drama series. Allison Janney, Stockard Channing and John Spencer collected acting awards.
The White House drama had a second-best 21 nominations, despite what critics said was not its best season creatively.
“Wow. We’re just as surprised as you are,” executive producer Aaron Sorkin said. “This is a terrific compliment for all of us.”
The major networks dominated the 54th annual show, with quirky cable fare such as “Six Feet Under,” the HBO series about a family mortuary business, and the risque HBO comedy “Sex and the City” getting shut out in the major categories.
“Six Feet Under,” which entered the Emmy competition with a leading 23 nominations, won only a directing nod for series creator Alan Ball on Sunday to add to four won in the creative arts presentations a week earlier. “Sex and the City” added just a directing Emmy on Sunday to its two honors in the earlier ceremony.
The night’s lone upset came in the dramatic actor category. Michael Chiklis won as a corrupt cop in “The Shield,” which airs on the FX cable network and has lost sponsors because of its gritty content.
“It vindicates us tremendously,” Chiklis said backstage. “I always said from the beginning if this were something vacuous and shocking for shock’s sake, I wouldn’t have done it.”
The Emmys finally showed some love to “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Ray Romano, a best comedy actor winner after three previous losses. Brad Garrett, who plays Romano’s long-suffering brother, and Doris Roberts, Romano’s meddling mother, won supporting awards.
Romano was the last of the CBS show’s five stars to earn an Emmy. Previously, Peter Boyle and Patricia Heaton had won.
Patricia Heaton has a new book out ghost written (don’t tell anyone) by her brother, excellent Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Michael Heaton.