It’s clear this will be the last year for a long, long while for HBO to clean up at the Emmys, given the pay channel’s feeble fare that’s forthcoming. (See my previous: HBO Needs To Wise Up, Or Get Whacked.) 59thprimetimeemmyhdr.jpgIt’s not like John From Cincinnati has a prayer of winning anything but Most Pretentious TV Series in the future. So I hope those pay channel suits enjoy the kudos while they last. This morning, HBO’s made-for-TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee led all Emmy nominees with 17, while The Sopranos (and, yes, I still hate that cop-out ending), grabbed 15, including best drama. James Gandolfini and Edie Falco both received top acting nods. The other best drama series nominees were Boston Legal (ABC), Grey’s Anatomy (ABC), House (Fox) and freshman Heroes (NBC). But Ben Silverman sure did well, with at least two of his Reveille shows getting big attention: Ugly Betty (ABC) and The Office (NBC) nominated in the best comedy series category along with 30 Rock (NBC), Two And A Half Men (CBS), and Entourage (HBO).

Some quick thoughts… I always find it ridiculous how year after year the Emmy voters tend to favor the tried and true (and, therefore, stultifying) shows over new series that haven’t passed their expiration date and still try to push the envelope. It’s like an episode has to jump the shark before the voters will give it a modicum of respect. Yeah, there are exceptions, but few and far between. That said, Heroes deserves the drama series Emmy over The Sopranos if for no other reason than that each episode’s embrace of not just seamless multiculturalism but also effortless cross-culturism was miraculous to behold on parochial American TV (though the Brits have been doing this for eons). But I’m positive Heroes won’t win. But Ugly Betty might triumph over everything else in its comedy category because it’s far and away the best thing on network TV right now in terms of story, acting, the works.

sheen1.jpgEmmy voters must have gotten into Ben’s weed if they think Charlie Sheen’s lame sitcom is better than How I Met Your Mother where Neil Patrick Harris is just effing hilarious channelling a hetero lothario. But both the more deserving show and the more deserving lead actor were blanked. (No way Harris can be called a supporting actor, the category he did get a nod in, finally, because he’s the only reason to watch the sitcom, period. But I’m told that’s the category he entered himself in.) C’mon, nominating Sheen? It should have been for best actor in a Real-Life Malibu Menage A Quatre. And The Closer is a way better series than House which is just the same Rebel With A Cure shtick over and over and over. It’s TV’s version of that movie Groundhog Day: every episode seems torturously the same.

But here’s what I really don’t get: Sally Field being nominated for Brothers And Sisters over Katherine Heigl for Grey’s Anatomy. (Same thing here as with Harris: it’s nuts to nominate Heigl in the supporting role category when she’s the main reason to watch the show.) Given the way that Field sucks the air out of every scene she’s in on that series (and god help us she seems to be in every nanosecond of every episode), I’m not only shocked anyone thinks she deserves an award, I’m horrified that ABC and the producers haven’t shit-canned her from the show already. Please, give the other actors on Brothers And Sisters a chance to breathe and use Sally only sparingly from now on. (We needn’t worry about her making a living: those national TV spots she does for an osteoporosis drug pay a fortune.)

starterwife.jpgFinally, no one has to worry about The Starter Wife winning Best Mini-Series. True, it was a slick guilty pleasure with some interesting casting and one or two memorable moments of acting. But the storyline was garbage. It played like it was written by wannabes in Nebraska who hadn’t a clue what Hollywood was really like. Where was the nasty? I sure didn’t see any. (There wasn’t even a P.I. character to wiretap Debra Messing’s conversations with her divorce lawyer, for crissakes.) Since no one makes mini-series anymore, this is getting to be a harder and harder category for which to find nominees. Luckily, the Emmy will go, as it should, to Prime Suspect: The Final Act. But next time, voters shouldn’t nominate swill just for the sake of rounding out the nominees list. That just encourages the TV biz to bring in the trash instead of leaving it on the street to rot.

Here are all the nominations via the Academy Of Television Arts And Sciences.