If you had your fill of nostalgia on the past two Emmy telecasts, you're not alone.
Don Mischer, executive producer of the awards show, is pleased that Sunday (7:30 p.m. pre-show, 8 p.m. show, Channel 29) is the 51st year of the awards, and the nostalgia of the 50th show and the one the year before is history.
Oh, he felt all the goodbye episodes highlighted in last year's show "were very emotional and very poignant."
"But if I have to see Alan Alda lift off (in the 'M*A*S*H' finale) in that chopper one more time with the 'Goodbye' written down on the ground or Mary Tyler Moore close the newsroom again -- as powerful as those scenes are -- we've pretty much done that," Mischer said in an interview in Los Angeles.
My feelings exactly.
Mischer's plan for the final Emmy broadcast of the millennium is to look at the future, not the past.
"What will programming be in the future?" wondered Mischer. "What will the viewing experience for your average television viewer at home be like in the future? How might the Web and television come closer together or interface in the future?"
Gee, it sounds as if he's making a PBS show; probably only a public television fan can define interface.
"The trick is to try and make it entertaining and humorous," said Mischer. "We're trying to figure out ways to present this in an entertaining and exciting way.
"We're thinking about visiting stars' Web sites, because there are some funny ones. David Letterman's got a really funny one."
Mischer has announced that there is an Internet component in the show, with fans being asked to pick the top five TV moments of last season. They will be spaced throughout the show.
Presumably, last year's host-less Emmy show won't get a vote even if Mischer said he was pleased with the one-year experiment.
"I thought it worked really, really well," he said. "As a producer, you want to create the unpredictability in the Emmy cast. And I think that not having a host really helps with surprises and unpredictability."
Speaking of unpredictable, three weeks after he made that statement, Mischer decided to go with David Hyde Pierce of "Frasier" and Jenna Elfman of "Dharma and Greg" as hosts for Sunday's show.
They will be very busy, too, because they've both been nominated for Emmys this year. The hosts will be joined by dozens of high-profile actors, most of whom have been nominated as well.
Among the presenters: Michael J. Fox and his new "Spin City" teammate, Heather Locklear; Sarah Jessica Parker and the entire "Sex and the City" cast; Kim Delaney, Rick Schroder, Benjamin Bratt, Garry Shandling, Calista Flockhart, Halle Berry, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jon Stewart, Dennis Franz, Keri Russell and Dylan McDermott.
The Fox telecast will be shorter than the four-hour NBC marathon last season that celebrated the 50th anniversary. In some cases, the audience might not know the performers unless they have pay cable.
After all, HBO's drama "The Sopranos" received 16 nominations, including one for Best Drama, and its "Sex and the City" is up for Best Comedy. And though Tony Soprano and his family have become the most-watched show on HBO, the series isn't even in the Top 100 among all network shows because the pay cable channel only enters about one-quarter of the country.
Mischer doesn't believe the pay cable nominations and the dominance of a few shows like "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal" (13 nominations each) makes the show harder to do.
"Our task is to honor the best of television," he said. "There will be more clips of nominees from these shows. If our viewers are not familiar with them, they will become familiar with them. . . . I think it's going to make the show terrific."
He makes no predictions about potential protests after a summer in which the network's lack of diversity in its shows has gotten considerable attention. He just makes sure the presenters are racially diverse.
"The politics in a show will come, based on the mood in the room or the mood in the community at the time," said Mischer. "A show can really change directions on you if a political theme starts to surface. There's just no way to tell."
While Mischer plans on looking at the future of television within the program, the best way to determine Emmy winners is usually to look at the past. Repeat winners happen more in the Emmys than they do in the National Football League.
Still, the Emmys remain the hardest awards show to predict. Especially this year because of HBO's considerable clout and promotional machine.
With full knowledge that I can be shut out, here are my predictions for the Top 10 awards:
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy: Pierce is the favorite to repeat in a field that includes his TV father, John Mahoney; Peter Boyle of "Everybody Loves Raymond," Peter MacNichol of "Ally McBeal" and David Spade of "Just Shoot Me." I wouldn't be upset if Mahoney got it, but Pierce would seem to be the safest bet unless voters are tired of honoring him and the series.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy: Lisa Kudrow tries to repeat as the only "Friend" to get nominated, a slight considering how good the show's season was. She competes with Kristen Johnston of "3rd Rock From the Sun," Lucy Liu of "Ally McBeal," Buffalo's Wendie Malick of "Just Shoot Me" and Doris Roberts of "Raymond." Kudrow is the likely winner, but my heart says Malick wins in an upset.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: Steve Harris and Michael Badalucco of "The Practice" compete with Steven Hill and Benjamin Bratt of "Law & Order" and Noah Wyle of "ER" in one category that is assured a new winner. (Gordon Clapp of "NYPD Blue" won last year.) Bratt already won his award -- Julia Roberts -- Hill has little to do and Wyle won't win because "ER" had a mediocre season. It's down to one of the members of "The Practice." I'm going with Harris, who has made the passionate, angry Eugene Young into one of TV's finest characters.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama: Camryn Manheim of "The Practice" tries to repeat her victory for the "fat girls" in a category that includes skinny Lara Flynn Boyle and Holland Taylor of her own show, Kim Delaney of "NYPD Blue" and Buffalo's Nancy Marchand of "The Sopranos." Delaney's character lost a husband, Bobby Simone, and she has won before. But this seems to be the most likely category to honor HBO's hit drama and reward an older actress as well. Marchand, whose portrayal of Tony's difficult mother, Livia, is a hoot, wins for the "old girls" in a crowd-pleasing moment.
Best Comedic Actor: Forget about Paul Riser of "Mad About You" and Ray Romano of "Raymond." Michael J. Fox of "Spin City," 1998 winner Kelsey Grammer of "Frasier" and John Lithgow of "3rd Rock From the Sun" could all win without anyone complaining. On a hunch, I'm going with Fox, as likable a star as you can find in Hollywood who also might get some votes for the classy way he has handled personal adversity.
Best Comedic Actress: Helen Hunt of "Mad About You" tries to repeat against Calista Flockhart of "Ally McBeal," Elfman, Patricia Heaton of "Raymond," and Sarah Jessica Parker of "Sex and the City." Hunt is the safe choice, even though her series had a lousy year until the series finale. On a hunch, I'm going with Elfman, whose show deserves some recognition. But I wouldn't be surprised if Heaton won, either.
Best Dramatic Actor: Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits of "NYPD Blue" compete with James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos," Dylan McDermott of "The Practice" and Sam Waterston of "Law & Order" in a field assured a new winner because last year's winner, Andre Braugher, left "Homicide." I'd love to see Gandolfini win just to see if this private man would summon up the courage to go on stage and say a few words. It might be an offer he would refuse. But Franz, whose character, Andy Sipowicz, had another rotten year losing a wife and a partner, seems more likely to win.
Best Dramatic Actress: Julianna Margulies is leaving "ER" after this season, 1998 winner Christine Lahti left "Chicago Hope" after last season, Gillian Anderson probably wishes she had left "The X-Files" after winning a few years back, and Lorraine Bracco and Edie Falco of "The Sopranos" probably are just happy they are in this category considering how little screen time they get. Margulies' character, Carol Hathaway, did fine work last season when her beloved Dr. Ross (George Clooney) left last season and she later discovered that she was pregnant. Give it to her, with Falco a possible surprise.
Best Comedy: "Ally McBeal" is the oddity in this category, which includes annual winner "Frasier," "Friends," "Sex and the City" and "Raymond." It's about time that "Frasier" lost and "Friends" won. But Ally may have a better chance of finding a man than of a "Friends" victory. Stick with "Frasier," even if it was off its game early last season.
Best Drama: Forget "ER," which had a lousy year by its own high standards. Any of the others -- last year's winner, "The Practice" -- "NYPD Blue," "Law & Order" and "The Sopranos" -- could win without anyone complaining. Maybe it's all this talk of the future that has convinced me that the unthinkable could happen and the hottest show on television will win even if it's on HBO and made on the East Coast -- "The Sopranos."