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Critics give "Lights" its due

  BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. … The great divide between television critics and Emmy voters was apparent Saturday night.

  Two nights after "Friday Night Lights" was shut out of major Emmy nominations, The Television Critics Association named the NBC drama the outstanding new program of the year.

   The new NBC drama "Heroes" was named program of the year. Even members of the TCA, which is composed of more than 200 critics from the United States and Canada, were shaking their heads over the contradiction of "Friday Night Lights" being named outstanding new program when "Heroes" was named program of the year. But hey, stranger things have happened with the Emmys.

   "The Office," which won the Emmy as best comedy last year, was honored for the second straight year for outstanding achievement in comedy. Alec Baldwin, who was nominated for an Emmy for his performance on the freshman series, "30 Rock," was given an individual comedy award. In accepting the award, Baldwin also told a long, hysterically funny story about an embarrassing, surprise meeting with "Sopranos" creator David Chase in the restroom of a famous New York restaurant.

   The critics and Emmy voters agreed on "The Sopranos." The HBO drama, which received 15 Emmy nominations, was honored for outstanding achievement in drama and also was given the Heritage Award, which recognizes a longstanding program that has had a cultural or social impact. Chase flew in from France to graciously accept the awards. Naturally, he had a few, funny obscure comments about the blank scene in series finale that shed no light on it.  Michael C. Hall, who didn't receive an Emmy nomination for his role as a forensics expert and serial killer on Showtime's "Dexter," was honored for individual achievement in drama. The Discovery Channel's "Planet Earth" won for outstanding achievement in news and information and outstanding achievement in movies, miniseries and specials. "Kyle XY," an ABC Family series, was honored for outstanding achievement in children's programming. Mary Tyler Moore was honored for career achievement.

   Who do you think got it right, Emmy voters or the critics?

   Ready for another female president on TV? Fox announced Sunday that Tony Award winner Cherry Jones will serve as President Allison Taylor on the next season of "24." Of course, Geena Davis has a brief run as the president a few seasons ago in ABC's "Commander in Chief."

… Alan Pergament

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