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ABC back in awards game

'Lost,' Shatner, Spader all tapped for web's noms

If you build the auds, the kudos will come.

Coming off two years when the network didn’t record a single Golden Globes win, ABC’s chances of picking up a statuette increased considerably last month when it scored nine noms for this year’s derby.

As expected, watercooler skein “Desperate Housewives” led the charge with five nods — including best comedy — while fellow rookie “Lost” was tapped for best drama.

On the talent side, James Spader and William Shatner — each of whom won Emmys for “The Practice” last year — were acknowledged by the HFPA for their work on rookie spinoff series “Boston Legal.”

Meanwhile, “Alias” star Jennifer Garner also got a nod — not a surprise, since she’s become something of a Golden Globe fave, with four noms, all told, and a win in 2002.

Even with all the fanfare, ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson isn’t gloating.

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“I don’t think we can get ahead of ourselves right now,” says McPherson, who was moved over and up from ABC’s production arm, Touchtone TV, during the Alphabet’s management shake-up last spring. “Everyone on the shows, including the actors and producers, have worked so hard that they’re bringing a certain pedigree to what we do. We’re moving forward, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

The work’s certainly getting done on Wisteria Lane. Not only was “Housewives” nominated for best comedy series — Touchstone decided to enter the skein as a comedy to avoid the overflow drama competish — but three of the leading ladies found themselves facing off in the actress category.

Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman go up against Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”) and Sarah Jessica Parker (“Sex and the City”).

With the latter two having been in this race before, and the Globes’ penchant for setting precedent before the Emmys do, TV Guide senior critic Matt Roush says it’s not surprising to see the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. shower attention to “Housewives.” “The Globes are about flash and glamour and whatever’s hot,” Roush says. “The fact that sperate ‘Desperate Housewives’ attracts heat would only make sense for them.”

All but out of the ratings race for the past few seasons, ABC has made huge inroads so far this year.

In the all-important 18-49 ratings demo,

the Alphabet has four shows in the top 10: “Desperate Housewives,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Lost” and longtime winner “Monday Night Football.”

“I guess for people who say TV is cyclical, this was bound to happen,” Roush says. “You have to take huge risks, though, and they executed these risks beautifully. In the case of ‘Lost’, you have to figure out a way to contort an action series out of a reality concept.”

The success of “Boston Legal,” in particular, represents a kind of full circle in regards to the Alphabet’s Golden Globes fate.

In 1999, ABC won five Globes — one more than it would win over the next five years total. Three of those trophies belonged to David E. Kelley’s legal drama “The Practice.”

Unfortunately for ABC, a series of well-chronicled scheduling misadventures degraded the show’s ratings. For the 2003-04 season, ABC decided to keep “The Practice” on its sked, but let lead thesp Dylan McDermott and several other key cast members walk to cut costs.

Spader was brought in for the show’s final season. Not only did the series see a resurgence, but Spader won the Emmy for lead actor in a drama.

Then came Shatner, who was brought in for a multi-episode arc and won a guest actor Emmy. Now the series has the new “Boston Legal” title and, thanks to its “Housewives” lead in, a ratings uptick as well.

“I’m a person who’s all about the work,” says McPherson. “When that work is recognized in a public forum, it’s great.”