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Long shots look to derail Emmy favorites

Here's something crazy: It's going to be difficult for Sunday's 59th Primetime Emmy Awards to top last weekend's Creative Arts Emmy extravaganza that found Kathy Griffin managing to use Christ's name in vain during an acceptance speech and Elaine Stritch declaring, "I'm a recovering alcoholic, a riddled diabetic and I've got laryngitis -- but I just won an Emmy!"

Indeed, Tony Soprano has nothing on Griffin, whose outstanding reality series triumph for her Bravo series My Life on the D-List inspired her to utter remarks that are being censored from Saturday night's taped telecast on E! even though a Saturday Night Live parody tune titled "Dick in a Box" earned its own Emmy the same night.

By contrast, decorum is expected to carry the night Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium -- along with 15-time nominee The Sopranos. It would, to be sure, prove a monumental upset were the iconic HBO mob hour somehow to be denied the statuette for outstanding drama series in its much-hyped swan song campaign.

However, if these confounding awards have taught us anything, it's that the Emmys are rarely anyone's rubber stamp. Were a long shot to derail the Sopranos coronation, it would prove on a par with Michael Chiklis' shocking victory in 2002 as lead drama series actor for FX's The Shield. This, despite the fact a victory would make Sopranos the first drama in 30 years -- since PBS' Upstairs, Downstairs in 1977 -- to win in the category in its final season.

Of the four other nominees for outstanding drama, ABC's Grey's Anatomy is given the best shot at pulling the upset, more so than ABC's Boston Legal, Fox's House or NBC's freshman hit Heroes.

The race looks to be significantly more wide open for top comedy series, where there is no true heavy favorite and a case can be made for each of the five nominees.

'Sopranos' goes out with a bang

Win or lose, The Sopranos is ending on an Emmy high note.

Its 15 nominations not only leads the pack among all series this year but also represents the highest total a series has ever nabbed in its final season.

"I know that people really responded to this season and talked about it incessantly," said Carolyn Strauss, president of entertainment at HBO. "That may be what you're seeing in the voting."

The Emmys have a mixed track record when it comes to letting acclaimed programs go out on top. As recently as 2005, the comedy series Everybody Loves Raymond capped its closing season with a healthy 13 nominations and went on to win in the series category.

But it's a different story on the drama side, where a Sopranos win would mark the first final-season winner in 30 years. That distinction belongs to Upstairs, Downstairs, the British series that ran on PBS' Masterpiece Theatre and collected the last of its three wins in that category in 1977.

Some of TV's most legendary dramas have had trouble maintaining their momentum by Emmy standards. After a storied Emmy career, four-time best-series winner The West Wing faded to six nominations in 2006. Among other four-time winners, Hill Street Blues had just three nominations in 1987, and L.A. Law eked out just one in 1994.

Sopranos spread its nomination haul across a variety of categories, including two apiece in editing and writing.

Gareth Hunt Dies

  • WENN
British actor Gareth Hunt has died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Redhill, southern England. He was 65. Hunt is best known for playing Mike Gambit in 1970s TV show The New Avengers alongside Patrick Macnee and Joanna Lumley. He also starred in UK television shows Doctor Who, Upstairs Downstairs and Eastenders. In a statement, Hunt's agent says, "He fought the disease with great courage and through his strength of character and his wonderful sense of humor he continued to work right up until the end of 2006." Hunt is survived by his wife Amanda and three sons.

Remar sails to Fox's 'Shore'

Remar sails to Fox's 'Shore'
James Remar has joined the cast of Fox's new drama North Shore. The project, from 20th Century Fox TV, is an Upstairs, Downstairs look at the guests and staffers of a luxury Hawaiian hotel. Remar will play a managing partner at the hotel. He replaces Rob Estes, who was initially cast in the role. Remar, who recurred on HBO's Sex and the City as Samantha's (Kim Cattrall) love interest Richard Wright, will next be seen in Blade: Trinity. He is repped by the Gersh Agency and manager Steven Siebert. In other Fox casting news, Nadia Dajani (Sidewalks of New York) has joined the network's comedy pilot Sorry Charlie, from Sony Pictures TV and Jersey TV.

Burns lands on Fox's 'Shore'

Burns lands on Fox's 'Shore'
Baywatch alumna Brooke Burns is returning to the beach with a starring role in Fox's new drama series The North Shore. Meanwhile, Golden Globe winner Valerie Bertinelli has been tapped to star opposite Stephen Root in Fox's comedy pilot Sorry Charlie, and stand-up comedian Aron Kader has landed a lead role in NBC's comedy pilot Beverly Hills S.U.V. The North Shore, from 20th Century Fox TV, is an Upstairs, Downstairs look at the guests and staffers at a Hawaiian hotel. Burns will play the manager of the hotel. The role has been recast. In addition to co-starring on Baywatch, Burns hosted NBC's reality series Dog Eat Dog. She is repped by Paradigm. Sorry Charlie, from Sony Pictures TV and Jersey TV, centers on parents (Root, Bertinelli) who struggle with the fact that their kids are growing up. Bertinelli's recent credits include CBS' drama Touched by an Angel and the telefilms Crazy Love and Finding John Christmas. Beverly Hills S.U.V., from NBC Studios, is a workplace ensemble comedy set an upscale Beverly Hills car boutique. Kader will play the inept but manipulative nephew of the boutique's globe-trotting Middle Eastern owner, left in charge of the place by his uncle. Kader, who recently performed at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, is repped by Don Buchwald and Associates and Leviton Management.

Fox rides into 'North Shore'

Fox rides into 'North Shore'
Fox Broadcasting Co. has given a 13-episode series order to drama The North Shore, from 20th Century Fox TV. On the pilot casting front, Joe Pantoliano is said to be in final negotiations to join the cast of the CBS/Warner Bros. TV drama pilot Dr. Vegas. In other pilot casting news, Suzanne Cryer and Maitland Ward have joined NBC's comedy The Men's Room, Max Martini and Megan Dodds have come on board ABC's drama Gramercy Park, Rachel Harris has been tapped to co-star in NBC's comedy Weekends, Chester Gregory II and Davenia McFadden have joined NBC's comedy D.O.T.S., and David Newsom has nabbed a role on the WB Network's drama Prodigy. Meanwhile, Shaun Cassidy has come on board the WB Network's drama pilot The Mountain as executive producer/showrunner. North Shore, which is a working title, is described as an Upstairs, Downstairs-esque look at the guests staying at a luxury hotel in Hawaii and the hotel staffers who serve them. Chris Brancato and Bert Salke have signed to executive produce the series alongside Kevin Falls and Peter Elkoff.

ABC 'Park' is place for Hedren, Grey

ABC 'Park' is place for Hedren, Grey
Tippi Hedren and Joel Grey have joined the cast of the ABC drama pilot 111 Grammercy Park. Meanwhile, newcomer D.J. Cotrona has nabbed a lead role in the Fox drama pilot Skin, from Jerry Bruckheimer and Warner Bros. TV. Grammercy Park, from Warner Bros. TV and the Tannenbaum Co., is described as an Upstairs, Downstairs-style look at life in a tony New York apartment building. Hedren will play one of the building's wealthy residents, while Grey will play a writer who also resides there. Hedren, best known for her work in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and Marnie, recently appeared in guest shots on the NBC drama Providence. Grey, an Oscar winner for his supporting role in 1972's Cabaret, has been active on the small screen lately with roles in HBO's Oz, NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent and the Showtime miniseries Further Tales of the City. Skin is described a contemporary take on Romeo and Juliet revolving around the adult film business. Cotrona will play the son of a district attorney (Gerald McRaney) who falls in love with the daughter of his father's nemesis -- a porn industry mogul (Ron Silver). Cotrona, who is wrapping an episode of NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is repped by Defining Artists and 3 Arts Entertainment.

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