LOS ANGELES -- "Six Feet Under," "The Shield" and "24" rode a wave of Emmy enthusiasm for innovative and daring television dramas in nominations announced Thursday.
Veteran contenders including "ER," "NYPD Blue" and "The Practice" were shut out of major categories as Emmy voters overcame their usual reluctance to recognize new programs and stars, with Michael Chiklis, Kiefer Sutherland and Jennifer Garner among first-time nominees.
"Six Feet Under," HBO's family drama with a funereal twist, received a leading 23 prime-time Emmy nominations, including nine acting bids for its ensemble cast and guest performers along with a best drama series nomination.
Series creator Alan Ball welcomed the recognition for TV newcomers.
"I think that's exciting because things are always evolving," he said. "There's so many great shows on television it's hard when some old favorites don't come back. But I think it's a good thing."
Chiklis said his best actor nomination for FX's gritty police drama "The Shield" represents a triumph over bias.
"I hoped that academy voters weren't swayed by the dogma that was being thrown around. Fortunately, they weren't," said the actor, whose series has been criticized for its explicit depiction of crime and corruption.
Fox's "24," which played out one day of political intrigue and action over an entire season, was rewarded for its boldness with a best drama bid and best actor nomination for star Sutherland.
Like Sutherland, "Alias" lead actress Garner was a Golden Globe winner this year for her spy drama. Her Emmy nomination and 10 others for the series represented one of the few triumphs for an ABC series.
HBO received a leading 93 nominations, while NBC was close behind with 89. That included 21 for "The West Wing," the White House drama that's won two consecutive best drama series Emmys. The show got one other bid, for a special a documentary episode. (The drama's former chief competitor, HBO's mob series "The Sopranos" was ineligible this year because it aired no new episodes.)
Aaron Sorkin, creator of "The West Wing," said he was glad to see breakthrough nominations for new programs.
"I think good television is good for television, so when a show like 'The Shield' gets recognized it's good for all of us," he said.
Veteran producer Dick Wolf, whose "Law & Order" received a record-tying 11th best series nomination, called "Six Feet Under" a "great show. It's an infusion of new blood into the category."
The most-nominated comedy was NBC's "Will & Grace," with 13, including a best comedy series bid and one for star Debra Messing. Eric McCormack, who won the lead comedy actor Emmy last year, missed out on a nomination.
NBC's "Friends," which was the top-rated comedy series last season, was also a hit with Emmy voters, who gave it a best comedy series nomination. This was the first time the sitcom's cast put themselves in contention for the lead actor categories and it paid off: Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry will compete for comedy actor and Jennifer Aniston is up for comedy actress.
Other best comedy nominees were HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Sex and the City," which was last year's winner, and CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Rounding out the drama series competition with "Six Feet Under," "24" and "The West Wing" were CBS' "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and NBC's "Law & Order," which tied "Cheers" and "M-A-S-H" for the most consecutive best series nominations, comedy or drama.
"Now we're tied with two of the greatest shows of all time," Wolf said from his porch in Maine. "One word -- ecstatic. This is the icing on the cake."
In the reality programming category, MTV's top-rated show "The Osbournes," about the harried home life of rocker Ozzy Osbourne, competes with PBS' "American High," The Learning Channel's "Trauma: Life in the ER" and HBO's "Project Greenlight" and "Taxicab Confessions."
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