March 14, 2013 at 6:53 am #271051
With “Mad Men” getting much attention with their 25 unsuccessful acting nominations at the Primetime Emmys, I think it’s reasonable to look back at “ER”. Over 15 years on the air this groundbreaking medical drama has earned exactly 50 acting nominations but won… only 3 of them. Julianna Margulies was the only regular to win an Emmy which happened in supporting category for 1st season. After additional supporting nod for season 2, she moved into leading category along with then-departing Sherry Stringfield (on her 3rd consecutive and last nod) for season 3 and never won again, despite 4 nominations. Other wins were for guests: Sally Field and Ray Liotta and occured when show was already behind its peak.
Anthony Edwards was winning basically everything for playing Dr. Mark Greene with Emmy being the only award he didn’t manage to earn, despite 4 consecutive nods. George Clooney didn’t invent “Heigl/McCarthy” and didn’t win when his film career took off. It was exactly the opposite – he was dropped after 2 nods for the first 2 seasons.
Upgrading Margulies let other actresses to fill in supporting field, and boy they did. Gloria Reuben, Laura Innes, CCH Pounder, Maura Tierney… yet all of them lost.
In supporting actor category Noah Wyle, who appeared in more “ER” episodes than any other actor, had 5 consecutive nods and 3 times he was nominated alongside his on-screen mentor, Eriq La Salle, who also lost. It looks like both of them were male counterparts and predecessors of Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson – Emmywise, presence-wise and even a little bit in terms of their characters’ relationships.
Many famous guests, yet so few wins… Why?
Why almost all of them failed to win, despite so many nominations. It seems like medical drama should give actors a lot of juicy opportunities to shine and grab the gold. Yet, Hugh Laurie never won for “House” and “Grey’s” has only this infamous Katherine Heigl win (and now Loretta Devine in guest). What is the reason of so many lost acting bids in case of “ER”?March 14, 2013 at 7:37 am #271053
That’s a great quesion and I’m not completely sure. It’s not exactly similar to a Mad Men situation, where in its first four years of eligibility it won the biggest prize of all — Best Drama Series (along with some writing wins). There was probably some rationalization on voters’ parts there (“I’m not going to give the award to Jon Hamm, but I’m voting for Mad Men for series, so it evens out,” etc.). And for Mad Men, the competition on the acting side was pretty stiff; if you’re going to lose, you want to lose to completely powerhouse performances like Bryan Cranston’s, or Claire Danes’, or whatever.
It’s also just my kneejerk reaction that shows with large ensembles, like ER and Mad Men, may have trouble pulling off acting wins because of the submission episode format. I wasn’t an ER viewer, but on Mad Men, the focus on characters can vacillate widly from season to season. For example, Christina Hendricks has a big arc in season 5 but is largely ignored in season 4. Only Jon Hamm gets consistently good material from season to season, but he couldn’t win with “The Suitcase,” his best and likely last shot at the prize. It’s just harder to get the screentime that makes a good tape on a large ensemble. Look at Elisabeth Moss’ submission last year in lead for “The Other Woman”–she didn’t have much screentime at all, but she thought it was her best tape (or AMC did).
There’s probably a fatigue factor there, too. We saw it with Mad Men last year when it lost every single race it was in. And it’s been on 10 years less than ER (and with half the episode order of a network series).March 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm #271054
I’ve often wondered the exact same thing and have asked this question here numerous times… The best answer I’ve ever gotten is that basically it’s a matter of professional jealousy; ER was at the time by far and away the #1 most popular, highest rated series on TV and earned it’s actors so much acclaim, presitge and $$$ that perhaps some in the industry felt that they had been awarded enough. Not to mention that for several years in a row ER continued setting records for most nominations.
Perhaps others felt a win would simply be overkill.
On the other end, you could assume that during this period when the Drama categories were extremely competitive that perhaps actors on E.R. were very close to winning, but simply lost out due to a very close call?
I guess for me, the losses that are the most shocking are Laura Innes and Gloria Ruben. Ruben because of how groundbreaking her character was and I frankly am stunned hollywood’s liberal set would pass up the chance to honor that performance. Innes, because she created such a complex and compelling character.March 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm #271055
Margulies was great, and Edwards, Reuben, Wyle and Tierney should have Emmys too.March 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm #271056
This is a great question. This got me thinking why too!!! ER – especially in the early seasons – was one of my favourite shows. It seems criminal that Anthony Edwards and Noah Wyle never won Emmys. ER was a ground breaking series that should have got a lot more love for the actors who had to handle long steady camera scenes (People can correct me if I’m wrong here, but as far as I am aware this was the first show to do this, and that became a feature in other Emmy winning shows like The West Wing).
Looking at some of the early loses;
– Edwards submitted “Love’s Labor Lost” – easily his best episode from season 1 and should have won but lost to Mandy Patinkin for Chicago Hope
– Clooney submitted ” Long Day’s Journey” – Maybe 2 ER’s split the vote and then Patinkin won
– Wyle submitted ” Hit & Run” and ” Sleepless in Chicago” and Eric La Salle submitted “9 ½ Hours” & “Everything Old Is New Again” – I would have thought that La Salle’s choices should have helped Wyle win as Carter was a big part of all 4 episodes but I’m not sure La Salle’s choice’s were the best for Benton.
– Stringfield submitted ” Motherhood” – I don’t think she had much of a shot at winning
– Edwards submitted “A Shift in the Night” & Clooney submitted ” Hell and High Water” – Clooney most memorable episode in ER and should have won – lost to Dennis Franz for NYPD Blue (?) – Vote spilt again??
– Stringfield submitted ” Take these Broken Wings” – lost to Kathy Baker for Picket Fences – 2 in a row. I’d say she chose wisely but competition was too strong
– Don’t know what Wyle submitted but he had a good season and didn’t have La Salle against him but still lost.
– Margulies submitted “Home” & “The Healers” – lost to Tyne Daly
– Edwards submitted “Tribes” – good episode but maybe should have gone for either “Make a Wish” or “One for the road” – aftermath of Green’s attack – lost to Dennis Franz for NYPD Blue again – criminal!!
– Stringfield submitted “Fear of Fyling ” & Margulies submitted “The Long way around” – Margulies had the better episode but I can’t complain here as Gillian Anderson won with a deserving episode in The X Files
– Wyle and La Salle against each other again but I don’t know what episodes were submitted. Carter had a great season, ending with his decision to move from surgery to the ER – lost to Hector Elizondo for Chicago Hope – split vote agin maybe (?)
– Reuben, Innes & Pounder in supporting – too many maybe spliting the vote but Reuben should have won as this is the season Boulet found out she had HIV
– Edwards submitted ” Family Practice” good episode but lost to Andre Braugher
– Clooney snubbed but should have won with ” A Hole in the Heart”
– Margulies submitted “Carters Choice”- lost to Christine Lathi for Chicago Hope
– Wyle and La Salle against each other again but I don’t know what episodes were submitted. Benton had a great season as he seemed more human with finding out he son was deaf and romance with Corday. I’m hoping Wyle submitted “Exodus” which was a great Carter episode and should have won. Both men lost to Gordon Clapp for NYPD Blue (?)
– Reuben & Innes in supporting – don’t remember anything special this season
– Only Margulies and Wyle nominated. This was the year The Soprano’s Edie Falco won and Wyle lost to Michael Badalucco for The Practice – which were having a great year taking the Series Emmy and supporting actress for Holland Taylor
– Only Margulies nominated for “Great Expectations” – great episode but lost to Sela Ward for Once and Again – not right!!
– Such a shame that Wyle wasn’t nominated as he should have easily won with “May Day”. Surely one of The Practice men or The Sopranos Dominic Chianese should have been snubbed – sorry I’m not a fan.
ER then drops off the Emmy radar. Pity because Edwards should have won an Emmy for his last season. However, Emmys fell in love with The Sopranos and The West Wing (can’t complain about TWW as that was a great series).
ER didn’t deserve to lose to shows like NYPD Blue, Picket Fences and The Practice. Emmys – shame on you 🙁
Great topic Jake, thanksMarch 14, 2013 at 3:37 pm #271057
Thank you, CMcQ! You missed Maura Tierney as the final regular cast member to get nomination.
I was thinking about this thread as I am currently watching “ER” right now on our TV from the start. Right now I’m in the middle of season 2. Therefore, I already saw “Love Labor Lost”. I adored Anthony Edwards’s performance there and Bradley Whitford’s unnominated guest turn. Edwards should have won for that, especially that it won writing and directing, even despite the fact that situation like that would never take place in any functional hospital. That spoiled the pleasure of watching this episode.
And now George Clooney in “Hell and High Water” ruled the house as he saved that trapped boy. Great episode with cinematic feel to it and, IMO, the introduction of Clooney as movie star material. And his pairing with Julianna Margulies was really one of a kind. Their meeting on Golden Globes this year was really cute.
I checked the episodes earlier on to know if I’m actually watching someone’s submission or not (I regret that there were barely any confirmations on supporting players’ tapes). And then it occured to me that they really did shower them with nominations and didn’t like to give them actual awards. I don’t buy vote splitting theory as it’s proven wrong again and again (only this year by “Modern Family”, “Downton Abbey” and “Breaking Bad”, for example). If anything, actors are having bigger chance to win with additional performances presented to voters. So it goes both ways. Vote splitting might happen from time to time and could have happened in some cases above but I don’t buy that as the only reason. And in their submissions the actors had really impressive amounts of screentime as the show was an ensemble but was really interested in few characters and the others were just staff, needed to be there in the background. However, those were still valid points and might be true. The jealousy of a cash and success theory resonates with me but then snubbing them or at least much more of them would be easier.
That’s my main problem with the Emmys – they like repeated winners way too much. Sometimes those people really are the very best (Bryan Cranston with at least first 2 for “BB” comes to mind) but then there are so many annoying repeat winners that it’s really sad. For example, did Peter Boyle had to go 0-7 for “Everybody Loves Raymond” with Doris Roberts and Brad Garrett sharing a total of 7 awards between each other? He was just as good as they were, if not better. It’s just an example. Alison Janney and James Spader’s wins were pretty much devastating. I respect their work but not over this kind of competition both of them did beat. And Edwards losing twice to Franz is really disgraceful too.March 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm #271058
If ER was the Mad Men, then NYPD Blue was its Breaking Bad, with Dennis Franz winning a total of four times in lead actor (over more deserving performances, IMO). ER also had to compete against critically acclaimed David E. Kelley series like The Practice, Picket Fences and Chicago Hope. The latter two were much less popular with viewers than ER but fared better with Emmy panelists. I just realized that of the six Supporting Actor winners from 1993–1999, five of them were for actors from Kelley’s shows. And Kelley’s shows have always been pretty successful in the Guest categories–even Harry’s Law managed to win one.March 14, 2013 at 8:54 pm #271059
Keep in mind how huge the ratings were for “ER”, it was basically a tank running over every other show, it was so popular. I wonder if perhaps voters decided that the ratings success, huge profits and popularity plus endless nominations weren’t just “enough” and opted to throw their weight elsewhere.March 15, 2013 at 1:06 am #271060
When you look at the Golden Globes – an award which in definition recognizes popularity as much as the quality – “ER” won only once – for Anthony Edwards. They never won Best Drama Series Golden Globe which is shocking!
Best Drama Series: 0/7
Lead Actress: Julianna Margulies 0/3, Sherry Stringfield 0/2
Lead Actor: George Clooney 0/3, Anthony Edwards 1/4
Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie: Julianna Margulies 0/1, Gloria Reuben 0/1
Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or TV Movie: Eriq La Salle 0/1, Noah Wyle 0/3
So not that far away from “Will and Grace” 0:27 Globe track record. No acting nods in 1995 when half of the first season was already out. It weren’t just the Emmys. SAGs were much more generous towards them, despite leading and supporting performers competing with each other.
Ensemble in a Drama Series: 4/7
Female Actor in a Drama Series: Sally Field 0/1, Julianna Margulies 2/3
Male Actor in a Drama Series: George Clooney 0/2, Anthony Edwards 2/5
Total: 8/18.March 15, 2013 at 3:50 am #271061
I was thinking about the same. I always felt that Julianna Margulies easily should have won for Season 3 (and 6 and 2). Her tape was just excellent. Also, Anthony Edwards deserved it for Season 1 and Gloria Reuben could have won in any year, that character was groundbreaking in many ways.March 15, 2013 at 11:45 am #271062
It’s crazy that Maura Tierney never won an Emmy for her role, and even more shocking she was only nominated once!March 15, 2013 at 11:58 am #271063
For me, the most shocking non-winners are Anthony Edwards and Gloria Reuben.March 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm #271064
I’ve always been kind of a fan of John Carter, and I love the arc he underwent all throughout the series, so Wyle’s continued losses really sting. Was he ever the frontrunner in any of his years of contention? Looking back at Badalucco’s win in 1999 really stands out to me (not so much that Wyle lost, but that he took out co-star Steve Harris).March 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm #271065
Anthony Edwards losing with a nomination like “Love’s Labor Lost” is something that would never happen if the show was set in the present. I feel like the Emmys have changed their style of awarding; nowadays the “best new show” is the one to get all the love (Homeland is the best example that comes to mind), while in the 90’s they were more likely to go to the loved old ones. Edwards work in the episode is just amazing, i’ve watched it more times than i could remember in the past 6 years, and everytime i feel the agony in his eyes. I don’t know any of the other contenders but he just had to win for that episode. Still the greatest line I’ve ever heard on a tv show. “You’re asking me? I’m asking God.”
Btw, Sherry Stringfield’s first submission was just wrong. While she does have a lot of screentime in Motherhood, she should have gone with Full Moon, Saturday Night, it would give her a better chance.
Laura Innes’ work was another explendid feature of the show. Her acting on “All in the Family” was amazing and if nominated, it would make a good submission.
Maura Tierney’s only nomination is another one of those “robbed” things. “Blackout”, on season 14, would be a strong tape, if only she had been aknowledged.
I hate how older shows get overlooked, specially one that even if it had some of the best moments. Not saying that the quality of the first 6 seasons stayed, but there were some great acting in later seasons. Anthony’s work on season 8, the most annoying snub of the show in my opinion.