The attorneys from "L.A. Law" won a sterling verdict from the television industry Thursday as the first-year NBC show was nominated for a whopping 20 Emmy Awards, including eight for its actors and one as best drama series of the 1986-87 season.
That was the second largest number of nominations ever for a weekly series, trailing only the 21 that "Hill Street Blues" received both in 1981 and 1982. Both shows share a common genesis in co-creator and executive producer Steven Bochco, who began developing "L.A. Law" after being forced out of the heralded police series in 1985.
"L.A. Law," about the intrigues in a large legal firm, will compete for the drama-series Emmy with CBS' "Cagney & Lacey," which has won the past two years, and ABC's "Moonlighting," NBC's "St. Elsewhere" and CBS' "Murder, She Wrote."
As it has for the past five years, NBC dominated the nominations for outstanding prime-time and late-night programming achievements, collecting 14 for "The Golden Girls," 11 for "St. Elsewhere," 10 for "Cheers," 9 for the miniseries "Nutcracker: Money, Madness and Murder" and 8 for another miniseries, "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles."
NBC, the ratings champion last season for the second year in a row, picked up all five nominations for best comedy series: "The Golden Girls," which won last year, and the Thursday-night lineup of "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," "Cheers" and "Night Court."
The peacock network also garnered four of the nominations for best miniseries: "Nutcracker," "A Year in the Life," "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" and "Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna." The other nominee was ABC's "Out on a Limb."
In all, NBC garnered 140 of the 327 nominations in 68 categories announced by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. ABC and CBS got 75 each, PBS received 25, syndicated programs got 7 and the fledgling Fox Broadcasting Co. collected 5--including four for "The Tracey Ullman Show."
The winners of the 39th annual Emmys will be announced in ceremonies from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium Sept. 20, but for the first time they will not be broadcast on either ABC, CBS or NBC. Instead, Fox won the rights for the next three years by outbidding the major networks.
There also will be a non-televised event Sept. 12 to unveil winners in the craft categories.
Both a critical and ratings success since its debut last September, "L.A. Law" picked up double nominations for writing, directing and editing, and single citations for cinematography, art direction, costuming, sound mixing and sound editing.
Among the eight acting nominations the show received were ones to real-life married couple Jill Eikenberry (who plays Ann Kelsey) and Michael Tucker (Stuart Markowitz), and to real-life son and mother Corbin Bernsen (Arnie Becker) and Jeanne Cooper (who was a guest star in one episode playing Becker's mother).
If Tucker and Eikenberry were to win, they would not be the first husband and wife to win in the same year. William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett, who are married both offscreen and onscreen in "St. Elsewhere," received Emmys last year.
Also garnering Emmy nominations from the "L.A. Law" cast were Susan Dey (Grace Van Owen), Jimmy Smits (Victor Sifuentes), Susan Ruttan (Roxanne) and Alfre Woodard for her guest appearance as a rape victim in the pilot episode.
Woodard also was nominated as best actress in a miniseries or special for her performance in the NBC movie "Unnatural Causes." Her fellow nominees in that category were Ellen Burstyn for "Pack of Lies," Ann-Margret for "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles," Gena Rowlands for "The Betty Ford Story" and Lee Remick for "Nutcracker." Remick was another double nominee, also getting one for her performance as Eleanor Roosevelt in "Eleanor: In Her Own Words" on PBS.
"Unnatural Causes" was nominated as best drama or comedy special, along with CBS' "Escape from Sobibor," NBC's "LBJ: The Early Years," CBS' "Pack of Lies" and CBS' "Promise."
James Garner and James Woods, who played brothers in "Promise," each was nominated as best actor in a miniseries or special. Also nominated were Alan Arkin for "Escape From Sobibor," Louis Gossett Jr. for "A Gathering of Old Men" and Randy Quaid, who played Lyndon Johnson in "LBJ: The Early Years."
The large number of nominations for "L.A. Law" does not necessarily presage a sweep at the Emmys. Winners are chosen by peer-group panels of TV Academy members--actors judging actors, writers judging writers--so that block voting for a particular show is impossible.
In 1985, NBC's "Miami Vice" led all programs with 15 nominations but wound up winning only four awards. Last year, ABC's "Moonlighting" got 16 nominations but went home with only one Emmy.