Emmys Flashback 25 Years Ago to 1997: Frasier and Law & Order
This is the last year to date that the Big Four Networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) have won all 14 major Emmy Awards – Outstanding Comedy and Drama Series, Lead and Supporting Actor and Actress in Comedy and Drama , and Writing and Directing for Comedy and Drama. However, Love was spread across several different series, and HBO was well represented among the movie and miniseries categories. Bryant Gumbel hosted the 49th Primetime Emmy Awards on CBS on September 14, 1997. Read on for our Emmys flashback from 25 years ago to 1997.
‘Frasier’ Became the First Series to Retain Top Comedy Series for Four Straight Years; ‘Hill Street Blues’ had reached that record on the drama side in 1984. Also nominated in this category was ‘The Larry Sanders Show’, which earned the unfortunate distinction of being the comedy series with the most nominations and no wins at 16. year. While ‘Frasier’ also won the Best Comedy Directing statue, the other three contenders — ‘3rd Rock from the Sun,’ ‘Mad About You,’ and ‘Seinfeld’ — topped the acting categories.
John Lithgow (“3rd Rock from the Sun”) retained his Best Comedy Actor title for the second year in a row, beating out two-time winner “Frasier” himself. Kelsey Grammar; one of these two men won this award every year between 1994 and 1999. This year, the other nominees were Michael J. Fox for “Spin City”, Garry Shandling for “The Larry Sanders Show” and Paul Reiser for “Crazy about you”.
Reiser never won an Emmy despite six nominations; however, his on-screen wife fared better. Helen Hunt received her second of four consecutive Best Comedy Actress trophies at this ceremony. None of his fellow nominees have ever won an acting Emmy, despite numerous offers for their hit series: Ellen Degeneres (“Ellen”), Fran Drescher (“The nanny”), Patricia Richardson (“Home Improvement”) and Cybill Berger (“Cybil”). DeGeneres was a three-time nominee this year, also losing for comedy guest actress (“The Larry Sanders Show”), but winning for her writing on “Ellen.”
For Supporting Performances in a Comedy, Lithgow’s “3rd Rock” Co-Star Kristen Johnson won his first of two Emmys for this series, beating out Christine Baransky (“Cybill”), Jeanne Garofalo (“The Larry Sanders Show”), Lisa Kudrow (“Friends and Julia Louis Dreyfus (“Seinfield”). Meanwhile, Michael Richards won his third and final supporting actor Emmy for “Seinfeld,” beating his co-star Jason Alexanderwho never claimed a victory despite eight nominations between 1992 and 1998. David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier”) and “The Larry Sanders Show” co-stars Jeffrey Drum and Torn tear (who had won the previous year).
Although the comedy side saw a few repeat winners, the drama side had several debutants. Long-time audience favorite “Law & Order” won its only Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series for its seventh season. It’s the only non-serialized drama winner since “Hill Street Blues” won Best Drama Series in 1981 and popularized the continuing story formula. Between 1995 and 1997, the same five shows were nominated in this category. “ER” won Best Drama the previous year, but lost its 14 major nominations this year, including 11 nominations in all drama acting categories (lead, supporting and guest actor and actress). “NYPD Blue,” which won in 1995, and “Chicago Hope” and “The X-Files,” neither of which have ever won in that category, made up for the drama series’ loss in other categories, with “NYPD Blue” claiming directing and writing honors and “The X-Files” providing a milestone for its network, Fox.
Gillian Anderson took home the first major acting award for Fox with her Best Dramatic Actress win for her performance in “The X-files.” His competitors were the “ER” favorites Sherry Springfieldwho did not win any of his three nominations, and Julianna Margulies, who had gained support in 1995 but failed to earn any of his four main nominations for “ER”; however, she would go on to win twice for “The Good Wife” over a decade later. Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”) and Christine Lahti (“Chicago Hope”) also lost in that category, but Lahti would claim victory the following year.
Denis Franz was the only repeat winner on the drama side, winning his third of four Outstanding Dramatic Actor Emmys for his role in “NYPD Blue.” Despite numerous offers, none of his fellow nominees would ever win for their series: David Duchovny (“The X-Files”), who also lost for Comedy Guest Actor for “The Larry Sanders Show”; Anthony Edwards (“ER”) and Sam Waterston (“Law & Order”), who each won an Emmy for producing other projects; and jimmy smith (“NYPD Blue”), who racked up 12 acting nominations over the course of his career, winning once supporting “LA Law” in 1990.
SEE Flashback to the Emmys 20 years ago, to 2002, when ‘Friends’ finally won and ‘The West Wing’ dominated
“NYPD Blue” picked up a second interim victory, with Kim Delaney win a statue for the dramatic supporting actress. Three of her rivals came from “ER” – Laura Innes, CCH book and Gloria Ruben – while Della Reese (“Touched by an Angel”) completes the category. These five actresses were nominated for the first time in a major acting category (Pounder had already bid for a guest role); this was Delaney’s only victory and none of the others have ever won.
Similarly, on the side of dramatic supporting roles, Hector Elizondo earned his only Emmy, winning for “Chicago Hope” in his third nomination for this series. Two suitors came from “ER”, with Noah Wyle claiming his third of five nominations and Eric LaSalle his second of three; neither has ever won. Adam Arkin (“Chicago Hope”) and Nicholas Turturro (“NYPD Blue”) filled the last two slots.
Despite numerous losses from its “The Larry Sanders Show” series, HBO has been piling up in other categories. This network has won wins in the Variety, Music or Comedy series (“Tracey Takes On…”) and Special (“Chris Rock: Bring the Pain”), as well as Made for TV Movie for “Miss Evers’ Boys”, which earned four of her 11 nominations, including Best Miniseries/Movie Actress for Alfred Woodard. Best Miniseries/Movie Actor went to Armand Assante (“Gotti”) and supporting actor for Beautiful Bridges (“The Second Civil War”), both for HBO. PBS won the other two major awards, for Best Miniseries (“Prime Suspect V: Errors of Judgment”) and Supporting Actress (Diana Rigg“Rebecca”).
Two comedy legends have won Emmys for guest actor and actress in a comedy series, with Mel Brooks and carol burnet rewarded for their performances on “Mad About You”. However, another legend, James Burrows, failed to secure a nomination; in fact, it was the only year between 1980 and 2005 that he was not in contention.
The director and producer’s 17-year nomination streak ended in 1997, but he had another eight-year streak between 1998 and 2005, and has received nominations every year since 2019. Out of 45 Outstanding Directing Nominations and production, Burrows has won 10, for series such as ‘Taxi’, ‘Cheers’, ‘Will & Grace’ and most recently (2020) for producing ‘Live in Front of a Studio Audience: ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Good Times'”.
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