HBO tops Emmy nominees

— "Angels in America," "The Sopranos," "Deadwood," "Sex and the City" and even a program or two not appearing on HBO led the nominees for the 56th Primetime Emmy Awards, announced Thursday morning.

With a staggering 124 nominations, 59 more than second-place NBC, Home Box Office simply dominated the list. Whatever the category -- comedy, drama, movies, variety -- HBO usually had one, two and sometimes even three nominees.

The miniseries "Angels in America," based on Tony Kushner's celebrated Broadway play cycle, led all programs with 21 nominations. "The Sopranos" was right behind with 20, a good omen as it tries for the fourth time to capture the top drama award.

That prize has gone to "The West Wing," but with its luster fading and NBC executives talking openly about a change of administrations, this may be the election where "The Sopranos" finally wins the vote.

"Joan of Arcadia," "Arrested Development," "Carnivale" and "Chappelle's Show" were among the new shows that broke through.

The awards will be handed out in two stages. Comedian Garry Shandling will emcee the main ceremony Sept. 19 on ABC.

Among the surprises was the arrival of CBS' "Joan of Arcadia." The series is up for best drama and Amber Tamblyn for best actress.

CBS would have had seven more nominations had it not chickened out of airing "The Reagans." Instead, Showtime aired the controversial film and had one of its best Emmy seasons ever.

Two first-year HBO shows, "Carnivale" and "Deadwood," picked up seven and 11 nominations, nearly making up for the absence of last year's nominee leader, "Six Feet Under." Much like "The Sopranos" two years ago, the show aired out of the eligibility window.

The best comedy and drama categories saw only one change apiece, with Fox's critical darling "Arrested Development" taking the place of "Friends" and "Joan of Arcadia" taking the place of "Six Feet Under."

HBO's nomination count actually rose from last year's 109, thanks to such shows as "Iron Jawed Angels," "Something the Lord Made," "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself" and "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty."

"The West Wing," "Friends" and "Frasier" led the way once again for NBC. "Everybody Loves Raymond" led CBS with nine nominations.

ABC's 33 nominations included one for Bonnie Hunt, whose show was canceled in May, and one for John Ritter (for "8 Simple Rules"), who died shortly into the season.


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