ABC's gritty police drama "NYPD Blue," the target of criticism for its rough language and bits of nudity even before it debuted, on Thursday earned a record-setting 26 Emmy Award nominations from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
But academy voters again snubbed "Roseanne" as a contender for best comedy series. It has never been nominated in that category in its six seasons on ABC, although the show has won increasing praise and its title star earned her first Emmy as best actress in a comedy series last year.
This year, at her request, she was nominated simply under the name Roseanne because of her split with her husband, Tom Arnold.
The 26 nominations for "NYPD Blue" in its first season was the highest total ever for a weekly series in one year. The miniseries "Roots," however, got 37 nominations in the 1976-77 competition. The amount for "NYPD Blue" surpassed the previous series record of 21, earned by another drama from producer and co-creator Steven Bochco, "Hill Street Blues," also in its first year, 1980-81. A third Bochco drama, "L.A. Law," was next with 20 nominations in its freshman season, 1986-87.
Bochco's co-creators on the three landmark television series were Michael Kozoll on "Hill Street Blues," Terry Louise Fisher on "L.A. Law" and David Milch on "NYPD Blue."
"NYPD Blue" swept all five nominations for best writing in a drama series, and four of the five for best directing.
When "NYPD Blue" was launched, the TV industry was intensely under fire for prime-time violence. The series, which still is not cleared by all ABC affiliates--but could profit in that area from the Emmy nominations--became a target for its rough-and-tumble action, in addition to its language and nudity, relatively strong for network TV but mild compared to other show business forms.
Bochco argued that network TV, with its declining audience, had to assume some of the same liberties as cable--which was drawing off audiences--if it hoped to remain competitive in the new age of alternative viewing. The audience responded favorably. "NYPD Blue" ranked a strong 22nd among 128 prime-time network series this past season, attracting on average 23% of the available viewers each week.
"Roseanne," which tied with "Seinfeld" as the season's second-ranked entertainment series--"Home Improvement" was No. 1--earned five Emmy nominations. The other "Roseanne" nominees included lead actor John Goodman and supporting players Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert.
The producers of "Roseanne" issued a statement almost identical to the one they released after last year's nominations: "Though we are obviously happy about the nominations we did receive, we are also very disappointed that the show was not nominated."
Academy sentiment toward the "Roseanne" program was clear as "Seinfeld" was nominated for best comedy series, along with "Frasier," "Home Improvement," "Mad About You" and "The Larry Sanders Show." Asked about "Roseanne," John Leverence, awards director of the television academy, said simply: "It didn't get the votes."
In another oddity of the nominations, television's top star, Tim Allen of "Home Improvement," was not nominated because, academy spokesman Mark Rosch said, "He was not entered prior to the entry deadline. There was a request after the deadline to enter him, but the deadline had passed. It was a slip on his representatives' part. It was certainly an unfortunate omission."
The Emmy Awards will be televised by ABC Sept. 11 from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
Network TV, which rebounded slightly in audience tune-in last season, made a comeback Thursday in the prestigious Emmy category of made-for-television movies. Last year, the traditional Big Three networks were shut out and highly embarrassed as HBO grabbed four of the nominations and PBS the fifth.
But the latest nominations of made-for-TV movies included not only HBO's drama about AIDS, "And the Band Played On," but three productions from CBS--"Gypsy," "To Dance With the White Dog" and "Breathing Lessons"--and ABC's "A Place for Annie."
Top-rated CBS led in overall Emmy nominations with 91, while ABC had 73--nearly one-third from "NYPD Blue"--and NBC earned 66. Fox, despite expanding to seven nights a week, could manage only nine nominations. Pay-cable nominations totaled 63, more than half going to HBO, which had 34.
Distant runners-up to "NYPD Blue" for most nominations were "And the Band Played On," which had 13; "Gypsy," with Bette Midler, and "Seinfeld," which tied with 12 each; "Frasier," with 11, and, with 10, "Picket Fences," the low-rated but critically praised CBS show that was a surprise winner as best drama series at last year's Emmy Awards. It ranked 66th in the ratings this season.
NBC's "Frasier" stars former "Cheers" regular Kelsey Grammer in his previous role as a pompous psychiatrist who, following a divorce, moves to Seattle, where he becomes host of a radio advice program. He was among the nominees for best actor in a comedy series.