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Can Emmy magnet Ted Danson help 'CSI'?

July 29, 2011 |  4:00 pm

Ted Danson cheersA decade ago, crime procedurals were all the buzz at the Emmys. "CSI," "Law & Order" and "NYPD Blue" were recognized year after year, with the latter two series even claiming the top drama series prize. As this popular genre continues to do gangbusters in the TV ratings, it's been seven years since a crime show was last nominated as best drama series: "CSI" in 2004. Now that two-time Emmy winner Ted Danson has joined that long-running serial, will the Emmys be drawn back to this once-dominant genre?

With 15 career nominations, Danson is one of Emmy's most recognized performers. His three most recent nods were for "Damages" (2008-2010), where he played the villainous Arthur Frobisher, first in a supporting role and then as a recurring guest star. Before that, Danson was nominated 11 consecutive times as bar owner Sam Malone on "Cheers" -- tying the record number of comedy lead actor nominations with Kelsey Grammer ("Cheers," "Frasier"). He won the race in 1990 and 1993. Danson's sole other Emmy bid was for lead actor in a miniseries/movie for "Something About Amelia" (1984).

It was only last month that Danson was announced as the new male lead for the upcoming 12th season of "CSI." He replaces Laurence Fishburne, who unexpectedly left the series after three seasons to return to movies and theater. William Petersen, the original "CSI" star who departed in 2009, continues to serve as an executive producer. Fishburne and Petersen were both ignored at the Emmys for their work on the series. In fact, the only main cast member to receive recognition was Marg Helgenberger, but she lost both of her lead actress bids to Edie Falco of "The Sopranos" (2001 and 2003).

If Danson can be recognized after the upcoming season of "CSI," he will be the first lead actor of a crime show to receive a bid since Simon Baker of "The Mentalist" (2009). Female actors have had much better luck with this genre. Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit") was just nominated for her eighth consecutive Emmy award and Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") won the lead actress race last year, though she failed to make the cut this time around.

Unlike so many other crime shows on television, "CSI" never completely left the Emmy radar. Last year it won two tech awards -- for cinematography and visual effects -- increasing its 11-year tally to six. That's good news for Danson because usually when a show has been on the air for so long, the television academy moves on to fresher fare.

Catch Danson's first episode of "CSI" on Sept. 12 on CBS. And for fans of Danson's HBO comedy "Bored to Death," the pay cable channel just announced the third season will premiere Oct. 10.


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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo : Ted Danson in "Cheers." Credit: NBC