Aaron Sorkin is the frontrunner to win Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars next week for “The Social Network.” That will mark his second major award win for writing, joining the Emmy he picked up in 2000 for a second season episode of “The West Wing.” As the creator and producer of that NBC political drama, Sorkin also shared in four consecutive Best Drama Emmy wins (2000 – 2003) as well as a 2002 Special Class award for a post 9/11 special documentary edition of the show.
Sorkin’s followup to “The West Wing” was “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” a 2006 drama about a late-night sketch comedy show. While that series lasted only one season, another, which treated the same subject for laughs, also debuted the same year on NBC. That show was “30 Rock” and now comes the news that Sorkin is to guest on an upcoming episode of this laffer.
Emmy voters have taken note of the many famous faces to grace this series, which has racked up a staggering 16 guest acting bids in its first four seasons with wins for Elaine Stritch (2007) and Tim Conway (2008). While none of those bids were for people playing themselves, as Sorkin is set to do, others have contended for Emmys for just such appearances.
Back in 1986, Stevie Wonder earned an Emmy nomination for playing himself on “The Cosby Show.” Guest spots on that hit NBC comedy swept the category that year, with Roscoe Lee Browne winning. A decade later, Mandy Patinkin contended for playing himself on “The Larry Sanders Show” and the following year David Duchovny did likewise.
In 2006, Patrick Stewart, who never nabbed an Emmy nom for playing Capt. Picard on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” got a guest nod for portraying a heightened version of himself on “Extras” as did Ben Stiller. The following year, Sir Ian McKellen was also rewarded with an Emmy nomination for making a mockery of himself.
Among the funny ladies, Gilda Radner contended for her final TV appearance, a guest spot on “Its Garry Shandling’s Show” in 1988 while Carol Burnett landed a 1993 bid for her over-the-top turn on “The Larry Sanders Show.” Betty White won in 1996 for her appearance on “The John Laroquette Show” beating out, among others, Rosie O’Donnell for her guest spot as herself on the “Sanders” show.
The following year Ellen DeGeneres also vied for the “Sanders” show and in 1998 an appearance as an American version of herself on “Ellen” won Emma Thompson an Emmy. In 2006, Kate Winslet sent herself up on “Extras” and earned an Emmy nod.