Mad about Helen

Thesp first to win Oscar and Emmy in the same year

One would’ve understood if Helen Hunt had proclaimed herself the queen of the world after Sunday’s Emmycast.

In winning her third straight comedy actress honor for her leading role in NBC’s “Mad About You,” Hunt became the first performer ever to get the nod from Oscar and Emmy in the same year. Hunt, who snared her Oscar in March for “As Good as It Gets,” was gracious about her history-making win.

“It’s been a dream year for me,” said Hunt, resplendent in a floral print Vera Wang gown, to reporters backstage. “I’m so proud of the work I did in (“As Good as It Gets”) and the work I did on this show. I also did a play (“Twelfth Night”) in New York. My hope is that it’s all good acting. The joy of this remarkable year for me is that I don’t have to choose.”

Hunt, who has been in showbiz since she was a child, noted that perceptions about TV actors and movie actors have changed since she was first starting out.

“When I was a teenager acting in TV and plays, I thought I’d never get to be in a movie,” she said. “It seems like that’s changing now and that has to be a good thing.”

In addition to being one of TV’s most honored stars, Hunt also is one of the highest paid. Hunt’s contract renewal negotiations with NBC and “Mad About You” studio Columbia TriStar TV played out with high drama earlier this year as her $1 million-per-episode renewal deal was sealed just a few hours before she won the Oscar.

Hunt demurred when asked if the upcoming seventh season would be the last for “Mad About You.”

“It’s so early,” she said. “We’re just trying to concentrate on doing really funny shows that we’re proud of. This year coming up is as good or better than it’s ever been,” she said. “We’ve been getting to spread our wings in a way we never have. It’s great.”

The season preem seg, Hunt added, was inspired by a comic mishap that happened to Hunt’s “Twelfth Night” co-star Kyra Sedgwick.

During the run of the play, “Kyra Sedgwick was actually locked out of her health club in a towel. When she told me the story, I said, ‘I’m going to steal that story and put it in my show.’ So I ran around Manhattan wrapped around in a towel for our season premiere. It’s pretty funny.”

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