Cable’s tables turned

Despite Chiklis win, b'cast nets dominate

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After so much talk of cable dominance at the Emmys, this was the year the networks struck back — with a vengeance.

True, in one category, basic cabler FX shocked the big guys — including cable colleague HBO — with Michael Chiklis’ win for lead actor in a drama series.

The star of a basic cable skein has never been so honored, and the win could rep a sea change for the industry.

But for the most part, it was familiar folks from big-time network shows — many of whom had previously been shunned by Emmy voters — who walked away with statuettes.

Though HBO’s “Six Feet Under” had all the buzz going into Sunday’s ceremonies, it was NBC (and Warner Bros. TV) that won honors for both comedy and drama series with “Friends” and “The West Wing,” respectively. Peacock also tied HBO to win the most awards overall.

Except for Chiklis’ stunning upset, thesps from broadcast shows swept all of the series acting categories.

The TV Academy even gave the Big Four the Governors Award for underwriting last’s year’s Sept. 11 telethon, “America: A Tribute to Heroes.”

Sorkin, Zucker tout nets

“West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin said the night spoke to the power of network TV.

“Broadcast television isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “In cable, they have creative opportunities we don’t. We’re limited. You can throw up your hands and say how terrible it is. But what it really does is, it forces you to be a little more creative.”

NBC Entertainment prexy Jeff Zucker noted that despite the hype on cable, broadcasters still dominate. “It’s an affirmation of how great network television is,” he said, noting the quality of shows like “Friends” and “West Wing” over “22 episodes a year.” Later reference was a subtle dig at cable, which generally producers as few as 13 episodes of a hit show every season.

Despite the strong performance of the major nets, this year’s kudocast hardly felt like a repeat. Indeed, Emmy finally shook off its cobwebs; it just didn’t do it the way most observers had expected.

The rush of new nominees last July had greatly increased the odds that fresh faces would be making their way onto the Shrine stage Sunday night.

But many industry observers thought that would mean more big gains for cablers or lots of awards for newcomers like “Alias” or “24.”

Instead, the fresh factor came from familiar faces winning statuettes after being long ignored.

“Everybody Loves Raymond’s” Ray Romano and Brad Garrett are hardly newcomers, but their victories Sunday night were their first after many at-bats. Ditto Jennifer Aniston, who after eight seasons finally won an Emmy for “Friends” (after wisely switching to the best actress category).

Scribes Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow also fit right into voters’ pattern of rewarding patience. The two men are industry vets, having worked on a slew of skeins (including USA’s “La Femme Nikita”). But until “24,” the two had never even been nominated for an Emmy.

In the drama thesp supporting categories, John Spencer and Stockard Channing were both first-time winners, even though the skein they won for — “The West Wing” — is by now an Emmy institution.

TV Academy chairman Bryce Zabel said the results of Sunday’s kudocast indicates that membership and rules reforms –like widening the voter pool by allowing at-home voting — are starting to pay off.

“Tonight’s telecast demonstrates there’s a brand new Academy out there,” he told Daily Variety.

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