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AIDS Miniseries, 'Sopranos,' Outgoing Comedies Earn Emmy Awards - 2004-09-20


American television's Emmy Awards honored a miniseries about the AIDS crisis and two long-running comedy series, in a gala presentation in Los Angeles, Sunday. The miniseries "Angels in America" earned seven awards, in addition to four technical Emmys presented earlier.

The adaptation of Tony Kushner's Pulitzer Prize-winning stage play earned acting honors for Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeffrey Wright and a writing award for Kushner.

The production dealt with the 1980's AIDS crisis in the United States, and Wright, named best supporting actor in a miniseries or movie, spoke of the toll the disease has taken more recently in Africa. Mike Nichols, who earned a directing Emmy for the miniseries, addressed the same theme.

"As you know, the fight against AIDS isn't over yet, and we must do what we can for Africa, and that's what we want to leave you with, as far as "Angels in America" is concerned," he said.

"The Sopranos," a series about an East Coast gangster family, earned three Emmys, including one for best drama series. Like "Angels in America," it appears on the HBO (Home Box Office) cable network, which often dominates at the Emmys.

Top honors in the variety, music or comedy category went to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" from the Comedy Central network, which features topical satire on politics.

Emmys also went to actors and actresses from two long-running comedies, "Frasier" and "Sex and the City," which ended their runs last season. Kelsey Grammer, who plays psychiatrist Frasier Crane, was named best actor. He looked back wistfully on his two decades as the character, nine years on "Cheers" and 11 years on "Frasier."

"I have the most extraordinary life," said Mr. Grammer. "I had the most extraordinary life on television. "Frasier" was a gift in my life and the people that I got to meet and work with were the greatest gift. And, this is just the cherry on top."

Sarah Jessica Parker, of "Sex and the City," was named best actress in a comedy series and costar Cynthia Nixon was named best supporting actress.

"I have been acting for 25 years, since I was 12," said Ms. Nixon. "And, I hope to act for another 50. But I don't think I will ever have another job like this one. I miss it, and I thank you."

The comedian Danny Thomas was honored, posthumously, with the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, named after a classic comedian known for his public service. Danny Thomas was the founder and chief supporter of the Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a leading treatment and research hospital for children's cancers. His daughter, the actress Marlo Thomas, received the award for her late father.

"My father is a hero to all who continue his work. But for him and for us, the biggest heroes are the brave children and their parents who inspire us with their courage. For them, on behalf of my father, my sister Terry, my brother Tony, and Saint Jude's Children's Research Hospital, I proudly accepted this award," said Marlo Thomas.

"Arrested Development" from the Fox network was named best comedy series. Shut out this year was the long-running comedy "Friends," which like "Frasier" and "Sex and the City," ended its run this year.

For some actors, a note of nostalgia ran through the presentation. A few offered critical comments about new reality shows that are supplanting some of the older, scripted programs. David Hyde Pierce accepted his fourth Emmy for best supporting actor for the final season of "Frasier."

"In sit-com school, they tell you how great it is to have a long-running show, but they don't tell you how hard it is to say goodbye," he said. "And, to everyone, all the writers, all the crew, everyone, I miss you, I love you. They say that television and comedy in television is changing. And, I just want to say, when it changes back, call me."

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presents the Emmys. Academy officials say Sunday's ceremony was watched by more than 200 million people, worldwide.