The Sopranos, a drama about a New Jersey crime family, led all prime-time programs with 22 nominations, while The West Wing, a program about backstage life at the White House, followed with 18. Led by James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, six actors from The Sopranos were nominated in lead and supporting categories. Seven performers from The West Wing - including Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Stockard Channing and Allison Janney - are up for awards.
Overall, HBO led all networks or cable channels with 94 nominations, while NBC finished second with 76. ABC picked up 63 nominations to finish ahead of CBS (46) and Fox (40). PBS had 16, but the most striking network number was zero, for the total nominations received by WB.
Even UPN - its mini-network counterpart and home to such low-rent fare as WWF Smackdown! - managed 10 nominations. The shutout was another blow to WB, which lost its most critically acclaimed series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to UPN starting in the fall.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which dispenses the Emmys, made a nod toward the changing face of prime-time television with two categories for reality series this year. CBS' Survivor led with five nominations. But, as is usually the case from the conservative organization, familiar faces, literate dramas and several of the more sophisticated comedies ruled.
Besides Sopranos and West Wing, the series nominated as outstanding drama are ABC's The Practice and NBC's ER and Law & Order. Outstanding comedy nominations went to NBC's Will & Grace and Frasier; HBO's Sex and the City; CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond and Fox's Malcolm in the Middle.
Despite the Buffy snub, quality was rewarded in several cases. Frankie Munoz, of Malcolm, received his first Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series. Robert Downey Jr. was nominated as best supporting actor in a comedy for his work in Ally McBeal.
And, even though his series was canceled by ABC, Andre Braugher picked up a nomination for best actor in a drama for his performance in Gideon's Crossing.
Four of the five nominations for outstanding writing in a drama series went to The Sopranos - as they should.
Meanwhile, two of network television's finest movies and miniseries in several years, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows and Anne Frank, finished among the top five programs overall in Emmy nominations. The Garland film received 13 nominations, which put it just behind The Sopranos and The West Wing, while Anne Frank got 11. Both aired on ABC.
HBO's 61* - Billy Crystal's film about the year Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth's home run record - earned 12 nominations. That tied it with Will & Grace for fourth place overall.
Leading in nominations does not, however, guarantee success on Emmy night. Last year, The Sopranos, which had 18 nominations, won only one award - for Gandolfini as best actor. The West Wing, though, managed to turn its 18 nominations into nine Emmys last fall.
The telecast from Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium will air Sept. 16 on CBS with Ellen DeGeneres as host.
Key Emmy nominations
Nominees in major Emmy categories, announced yesterday by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:
Drama series: ER, NBC; Law & Order, NBC; The Practice, ABC; The Sopranos, HBO; The West Wing, NBC.
Comedy series: Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; Frasier, NBC; Malcolm in the Middle, Fox; Sex and the City, HBO; Will & Grace, NBC.
Miniseries: Anne Frank, ABC; Armistead Maupin's Further Tales of the City, Showtime; Horatio Hornblower, A&E; Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, ABC; Nuremberg, TNT.
Made-for-TV movie: Conspiracy, HBO; For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, HBO; Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Showtime; 61*, HBO; Wit, HBO.
Actor, drama series: Andre Braugher, Gideon's Crossing, ABC; Dennis Franz, NYPD Blue, ABC; James Gandolfini, The Sopranos, HBO; Rob Lowe, The West Wing, NBC; Martin Sheen, The West Wing, NBC.
Actress, drama series: Lorraine Bracco, The Sopranos, HBO; Amy Brenneman, Judging Amy, CBS; Edie Falco, The Sopranos, HBO; Marg Helgenberger, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; Sela Ward, Once & Again, ABC.
Actor, comedy series: Kelsey Grammer, Frasier, NBC; John Lithgow, 3rd Rock From the Sun, NBC; Eric McCormack, Will & Grace, NBC; Frankie Muniz, Malcolm in the Middle, Fox; Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS.
Actress, comedy series: Calista Flockhart, Ally McBeal, Fox; Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle, Fox; Debra Messing, Will & Grace, NBC; Sarah Jessica Parker, Sex and the City, HBO; Patricia Heaton, Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS.
Actor, miniseries or movie: Kenneth Branagh, Conspiracy; Andy Garcia, For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story, HBO; Gregory Hines, Bojangles, Showtime; Ben Kingsley, Anne Frank, ABC; Barry Pepper, 61*, HBO.
Actress, miniseries or movie: Judy Davis, Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, ABC; Judi Dench, Last of the Blonde Bombshells, HBO; Hannah Taylor Gordon, Anne Frank, ABC; Holly Hunter, When Billie Beat Bobby, ABC; Emma Thompson, Wit, HBO.