HBO's still got it -- several of it

August 28, 2006|Lynn Smith | Times Staff Writer

CARRIED on the shoulders of its miniseries "Elizabeth I" and its movie "The Girl in the Cafe," HBO continued to dominate those long-form categories Sunday night, perhaps silencing -- for now -- critics who have questioned whether the network still has what it takes to make quality programming.

HBO won a total of nine awards at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday, more than any other network -- broadcast or cable. NBC won six, the next highest. In all this award season, HBO took home 26 Emmy statuettes, followed by NBC with 14.

In recent years, premium cable channels such as HBO as well as broadcast networks have faced competition from a proliferation of cable networks, many of them developing their own original programs. What's more, the network has lost some of its signature shows, such as "Six Feet Under," and is coming up on the final season of "The Sopranos" -- the show that arguably made the network. To date, HBO is still lacking series to replace them, even as it continues to dominate movie and miniseries categories.

The crowded field that HBO now finds itself in was in evidence Sunday night as basic cable channels took home their share of statuettes. "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" on the ad-supported cable network Comedy Central took top honors for outstanding variety, music or comedy series and outstanding writing for a variety, music or comedy series. FX's canceled "Thief" and USA's "Monk" won Emmys for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie (Andre Braugher) and outstanding lead actor in a comedy series (Tony Shalhoub).

Blythe Danner also won outstanding supporting actress for her role on Showtime's canceled drama "Huff."

One major disappointment for basic cable was the relative lack of recognition for "Into the West," the miniseries executive produced by Steven Spielberg that was showered with 16 Emmy nominations. That show came out of the awards with only two wins in the "creative categories": musical composition for a miniseries and single-camera sound mixing.

In the end, TNT's multigenerational saga about the 19th century American expansion from the perspectives of both white settlers and Native Americans lost out to HBO's "Elizabeth I," the story of the 16th century English ruler that won four awards in key categories Sunday night: outstanding miniseries; outstanding directing for a miniseries, movie or dramatic special; and outstanding actress and supporting actor in the miniseries category for Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons.

But HBO clearly dominated the Emmy Awards evening, as it has in the past. Among its other winners were Jeremy Piven for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series (for "Entourage") and Kelly Macdonald, outstanding supporting actress in a miniseries (for "The Girl in the Cafe").

That movie also took honors for outstanding made-for-television movie and for writing.

In the academy's previously awarded creative arts categories, HBO won 17 Emmys, the most of any network. The top three shows with multiple creative arts awards had the HBO stamp: "Rome," "Elizabeth I" and the documentary "Baghdad ER."

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