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Best Performance in a Dramatic Television Series

Jan 15, 2007  •  Post A Comment

By Lee Alan Hill

Special to TelevisionWeek

Last year’s Golden Globe winner for best performance by an actor in a drama series, Hugh Laurie of “House,” is back in the running this year, as is Edie Falco, who has been nominated six times as best actress and won twice for her role as Carmela in “The Sopranos.” But some of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association members say a newcomer to the best actor category may actually bring himself more industry attention.

“I can’t say Michael C. Hall will win, but I can say his choices really showed some guts,” said Jenny Cooney Carrillo, the co-chair of the HFPA’s TV Committee and contributor to Australian and New Zealand entertainment publications.

Mr. Hall, who received his first Golden Globe nomination this year as the lead in Showtime’s “Dexter,” took that role less than a year after the end of his big-break role in HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” In the former he plays a serial killer who preys upon serial killers. In the latter he was the gay mortician son and brother.

“The only thing that connects these is that they’re both about death, I guess,” noted Ms. Cooney Carrillo. “I’m sure he had career advice telling him to wait after one series ended, don’t jump into another. But he did, as if to tell us, `Hey, I’m not that guy from `Six Feet Under.’ I’m an actor with range.”

Mr. Hall and Mr. Laurie join a best actor in a drama series category that also includes Patrick Dempsey-with his second nomination for ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”-as well as former category winner Kiefer Sutherland for Fox’s “24” and Bill Paxton, for HBO’s “Big Love.”

Patricia Arquette, who won the Emmy in 2005 and was nominated for a Globe last year for NBC’s “Medium,” Evangeline Lilly for ABC’s “Lost,” Ellen Pompeo for “Grey’s Anatomy” and Kyra Sedgwick, as last year, for TNT’s “The Closer” join Ms. Falco in the best actress category.

CBS was shut out of both drama acting categories.

“In many respects these nominees show a level playing field between broadcast and cable because of the mix of nominees between the two,” said Carolyn Finger, VP of research for TVTracker.com.

“If there seems as if there are more repeats this year, it represents what our members watch,” said Elisabeth Sereda, who sits on the HFPA TV Committee and is a journalist for both periodicals and broadcast in her native Austria.

“Plus, most of these shows have built up a following in our own countries as well,” she added. “`Grey’s Anatomy,’ `Lost,’ `24,’ `House’-our readers are big fans of these series.”

“I was glad to see Kyra Sedgwick again among the nominees,” Ms. Finger added. “Not only does she give a great and even quirky performance, but it’s nice to see a female character who is not just strong but the unequivocal focal point of the drama.”

Ms. Falco was the only nominee from “The Sopranos,” which is nearing its final episodes in a few months. Its sixth season in 2006 was not as well received by fans as earlier seasons, and dipped in total audience for HBO.

Mr. Dempsey received his second Globe nomination for his work in “Grey’s Anatomy.” Last year Sandra Oh won in the best supporting actress category for her role on the show. This year, Ms. Pompeo will represent the women of the cast with her first Globe nomination.

“You can always count on the Globes to offer some new faces for drama acting and comedy acting,” said Bill Carroll, VP and director of programming for Katz Media Television. “The Emmys can be a lot stuffier. If you’re lucky enough to get nominated one year, as long as you keep up your level of performance you’re nominated again and again.

“Which is not to say the Globe voters don’t vote popularity. Sure they do. But they seem almost predisposed to go in a slightly different direction each year.”

“What you have to remember is that Globe nominations do not represent a cross-section of America,” noted Ms. Finger. “Nor should they. These are the choices of foreign journalists who watch what is available on American TV, but it is not the People’s Choice Awards. If it were about people’s choice, a few would still be nominated in these categories, but not all.”

Surveying the nominees, Ms. Finger said that although there are not a high number of nominees from HBO series this year-Edie Falco and Bill Paxton being the HBO stars-nevertheless, she thinks the tastes of the HFPA members demonstrate an HBO sensibility.

“Whether or not by intention, the nominees seem to be a celebration of programming that appeals to an affluent, educated audience,” Ms. Finger said. “That’s the audience HBO professes to be going after. NBC has been working toward that audience. ABC is moving toward that audience as well. CBS is not, and did not get nominations.

“Again, I doubt this entered into the decisions, but I look at the nominations and part of me sees it through a class point of view. With no slap towards the Globe voters, that really stood out to me this year.”