Emmys nominees: First-time nom – Laura Innes

Back at work as Dr. Weaver on “ER,” Laura Innes says she took some ribbing for her first ever directing nomination. Innes directed some memorable “ER” episodes, but it was “The West Wing” that brought her the mention.

“I got some teasing. People are like ‘Oh, so you submitted your ‘West Wing,’ huh, not your ‘ER.’ There’s a little bit of sibling rivalry there.”

The two-time actress nominee (both for “ER”) was on vacation at her husband’s family’s cabin in Minnesota when the nomina-tions were announced.

“I was sleeping,” Innes tells Daily Variety, “and my publicist called me. I was totally thrilled and totally surprised. It’s very exciting.”

Compared to an acting nom, she says she finds the directing nomination liberating. “It felt like a bigger, freer thing, because it’s not so focused on you exactly.”

Innes became interested in the nuts and bolts of TV production to improve her acting. Her co-workers on “ER” encouraged her to try directing; she’s done three difficult episodes on the show.

“I’ve always gotten good, interesting scripts, which had an extra energy around them, and that’s really helped a lot,” she says.

She’s especially grateful for the generosity and support of other directors, including Steven Spielberg, who sent her an admir-ing note after one of her “ER’s.”

“Shibboleth,” the “West Wing” Thanksgiving episode for which she was nominated, was her second episode for the political drama. It featured the show’s typically complex mix of cerebral political debate and emotional drama – as well as two rambunc-tious turkeys.

“The funny thing was the turkey wranglers were these totally gorgeous women, so the crew was really distracted. The last people in the world you’d expect to be really sexy, the turkey wranglers,” she says.

With two prior Emmy shows behind her, this year Innes is looking forward to being there with her directing mentors, including Jonathan Kaplan. But there’s still one problem: “I’m not even sure who I’m sitting with this year, ‘ER’ or ‘West Wing.'”

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