Bruce Fretts weighs in on the relative merits of ''The West Wing," "Friends," and that smug guy David Spade

By Bruce Fretts
Updated December 30, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

The Golden Globes’ TV nominations are kinda wacky

Everybody’s talking about the Golden Globe nominations — for movies. What do they mean for the Oscar chances of “American Beauty,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and “The Insider”? Beats me. I’m more focused on the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s bizarre TV nominations.

In some ways, the Globes are hipper than the Emmys. Unlike the TV Academy, which keeps recognizing the same old shows year after year (“Frasier,” “3rd Rock from the Sun,” etc.), the HFPA eagerly embraces new series. Surprise Globe victories helped “The X-Files” and “Party of Five” survive shaky ratings starts, and last year, Keri Russell won best dramatic actress for the freshman “Felicity.”

The trouble is, sometimes the Globes are too eager to embrace new series. Take two of the nominees for best drama: “The West Wing” and “Once and Again” (the others are “ER,” “The Practice,” and “The Sopranos”). In their zeal to reward these first-year shows, the HFPA gave a pair of lead-acting nods to each: Rob Lowe and Martin Sheen for “Wing,” and Billy Campbell and Sela Ward for “Once.”

While Lowe and Sheen are certainly the best-known cast members, they’re hardly the stars of “Wing” (it’s a true ensemble show), nor are they more deserving than Bradley Whitford, John Spencer, or Richard Schiff. As for “Once,” maybe the HFPA confused it with the superior CBS sleeper “Now & Again,” which should’ve earned plaudits for costars Eric Close, Margaret Colin, and Dennis Haysbert.

For best comedy, the Globes wisely overlooked “Frasier” but inexplicably snubbed “Friends” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” in favor of the lesser “Dharma & Greg,” “Sex and the City,” “Ally McBeal,” and “Spin City.” Again, too many cast members from these shows also got nods: Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson for “Dharma”; Michael J. Fox and Heather Locklear for “Spin”; and Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Chris Noth for “Sex.”

The fifth nominee for best comedy is, blessedly, NBC’s “Will & Grace,” but while Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, and Sean P. Hayes all received nominations, Megan Mullally was unjustly denied one for her uproarious portrayal of socialite secretary Karen. Maybe that’s because the supporting categories are overcrowded with performers from dramas (Nancy Marchand of “The Sopranos”), movies (Kathy Bates for “Annie,” Melanie Griffith for “RKO 281”), and miniseries (Jacqueline Bissett in “Joan of Arc”) as well as sitcoms.

Still, that doesn’t explain how David Spade got a supporting-actor bid for the second year in a row for “Just Shoot Me.” The “SNL” alum is the funniest thing about that fast-fading show, but does he really belong in a category with heavyweights Peter O’Toole (“Joan of Arc”), Klaus Maria Brandaeur (“Introducing Dorothy Dandridge”), and Peter Fonda (“The Passion of Ayn Rand”)?

And hey, why is Spade’s wooden costar, George Segal, up for best actor again? Oh well, at least they nominated Ray Romano, too.



  • TV Show
  • 10
  • 236
  • NBC
stream service