Oscar winners Michael Douglas and Ernest Borgnine, and Tony winners Hal Linden and Charles Durning have something in common: All had recurring roles on TV series and none won an Emmy.
Indeed, the Emmy may be the toughest win in showbiz. Just ask Angela Lansbury, who has taken home four Tonys, but is riding the longest losing streak among Emmy nominees: 14 in the acting categories without a win (0-16 overall). Others with a poor ratio include John Goodman (0-9), Jason Alexander (0-8) and James Garner (1-13).
So, recent Emmy nominees looking to get off the dime — or improve their shooting percentages — after this year’s nominations are announced July 18 should appreciate the impressive company they’re running with, and take heart in any signs that might point to a change of fortune.
For instance, the best news for President Josiah Bartlet is that the mob won’t be in on the action this year. In both of the past two seasons, Martin Sheen was nominated for actor in a drama series for his role on NBC’s “The West Wing” — and lost each time to James Gandolfini of HBO’s “The Sopranos.” But the latter show didn’t air any original episodes during the June 1-May 31 eligibility period for this year’s awards. (Sheen has one win in five noms, that for a guest-starring role on “Murphy Brown.”).
Since Edie Falco’s Carmela Soprano has copped the top prize for actress in a drama in two of the last three years, and “Sopranos” co-star Lorraine Bracco has been nominated the last three seasons, the show’s bad timing could help open up that category for “Judging Amy” star Amy Brenneman. She’s Emmy less in four noms, including two for her current role as Judge Amy Madison Gray.
Other recent nominees in the drama actress category include Marg Helgenberger for “C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Once and Again’s” Sela Ward, who won the top prize in 2000. The good news for Helgenberger, who won an Emmy for her role as K.C. on “China Beach,” is that “CSI” has become the top-rated drama this year. The bad news is the winner in the category hasn’t come from the top-rated show since 1980, when Barbara Bel Geddes turned the trick as Ellie Ewing Farlow on “Dallas.”
Ward, on the other hand, is handicapped by “Once and Again” having just finished its final season on ABC, and such curtain-closers generally don’t mount strong Emmy campaigns.
That same hurdle looms for Calista Flockhart, three times a bridesmaid in the comedy actress category for her title tilt on Fox’s “Ally McBeal,” which has not been renewed.
While actors on shows in their final seasons generally don’t get much of a push, thesps bowing out of programs still in production tend to have better luck. “Homicide: Life on the Street’s” Andre Braugher, “NYPD Blue’s” Gordon Clapp and “Spin City’s” Michael J. Fox — the latter a sentimental favorite — all got winning sendoffs. That’s a good portent for “ER’s” Anthony Edwards (four noms, no wins), who made a showy exit from the series this season when his Dr. Mark Greene heroically faced a fatal brain tumor. (Co-star Noah Wyle, who will return to the show next season, has five noms without a victory in the category.)
Stockard Channing (0-7) is another hard-luck Emmy nominee. The last two years, Channing has been bested for supporting actress in a drama series by “West Wing” co-star Allison Janney.
The promising news for Channing is that, under the same circumstances in 1974, Cloris Leachman broke through in the supporting actress in a comedy category on her third nom against “Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-star Valerie Harper. Of course, others, including Christina Pickles (vs. “St. Elsewhere” co-star Bonnie Bartlett) and Linda Kelsey (against “Lou Grant” co-star Nancy Marchand) never got their measure of competitive solace.