Reasons to watch the Emmys: Drea de Matteo, the ''Sex'' gang, and Garry Shandling will provide the best moments at TV's biggest party

By Brian Hiatt
Updated September 13, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Drea de Matteo, The Sopranos
Credit: Adriana: Abbot Genser

The Emmys may not be as glamorous as the Oscars or as irreverent as the Golden Globes ? but the ceremony sure is fun to watch. Here are some reasons you should tune in to this year’s broadcast of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ annual shindig, which airs Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC:

Garry Shandling The wry, self-deprecating Shandling has been mostly out of sight since winning raves for his energetic hosting job at the 2000 Emmys. But he’s back — and producers are ditching last year’s awkward multiple-host format. ”This is perfect for me, since I just recuperated from the last time,” Shandling said when the gig was announced. Expect him to spend plenty of time on one target that has only grown bigger in his absence. ”I don’t like this reality television,” Shandling said in 2000. ”I think real people should not be on television. It’s for special people like us, people who have trained and studied to appear to be real.”

Muppets! Kermit and Miss Piggy will be on hand (literally) for ABC’s hour-long preshow, Countdown to the Emmys, during which they’ll interview fellow celebrities on the red carpet. When it comes to dealing with the paparazzi, maybe they should’ve recruited Animal.

Those wacky clothes Speaking of preshow fun, red-carpet fashion commentator Joan Rivers will be replaced by the less censorious Star Jones (of Payless Shoes fame). So without the fear of Joan’s taunting tongue, celebs may well take a few fashion risks. In particular, we’re curious to see how famously sartorially challenged nominees like Allison Janney, Al Pacino, and Jane Kaczmarek will deal with their freedom.

Drea de Matteo Post-Adriana, Matteo is doin’ quite well as Matt LeBlanc’s costar on his Friends spinoff, Joey. But if, as EW has predicted, her deft portrayal of the late bubble-brained Sopranos character wins Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama, it’ll still feel like an underdog triumph. And we’ve got to hear her acceptance speech — will she thank Steve Van Zandt for murdering her so brutally?

The Sopranos vs. The West Wing On a related note, it’s about time someone whacks The West Wing. Despite a near-universal consensus that the political show has undergone a Howard Dean-worthy implosion, it won Outstanding Drama for the fifth time in a row last year. If the Academy doesn’t let the never honored Sopranos win this time, someone should wind up sleeping with the fishes.

Cast reunions With the Sex and the City movie nixed, it seems Samantha, Carrie, Charlotte, and Miranda are gone forever. But with all four actresses — Kim Cattrall, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon — up for prizes, at least we’ll get to see them together one last time. And although only Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc are nominated for Friends, we’re hoping their old buddies will show up for moral support.

There’s nothing else on! Politely, the other major networks have scheduled ”please don’t watch this” showings of Titanic, Speed, and crime-show re-runs during the Emmys. In fact, the only thing worth seeing on any non-ABC channel Sunday night is the season premiere of The Wire — which HBO will air again during the week anyway.