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Second-guessing Emmys in hindsight

How did yours truly fare in his picks for The 52nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards this year?

Let's put it this way _ baseball isn't the only place where a .500 average ain't bad.

There's one reason I didn't do better forecasting events at Sunday's award show: Emmy's passion for righting past wrongs.

Who knew the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences would feel so badly about snubbing Everybody Loves Raymond and Will & Grace in years when they actually deserved Emmys, that they'd hand out some gold this time around?

I picked Raymond as best comedy, but it was edged Sunday by Will & Grace, a hipper show that should have kept Ally McBeal from winning this award in 1999. At least I nailed The West Wing's best drama win, part of a record nine victories that every TV critic with an I.Q. in double digits saw coming up Fifth Avenue.

Likewise, Spin City star Michael J. Fox's win as best comedic actor was a no-brainer, along with the standing ovation he received from the assembled stars. And though I predicted The West Wing's Martin Sheen would win as best actor in a drama, I thought The Sopranos' James Gandolfini should win _ so I'll mark his victory Sunday in the win column as well.

I blame Emmy remorse for Raymond co-star Patricia Heaton's win as best actress, comedy. That's another one that should have happened years ago.

And I blame my own weakness for flubbing the best actress, drama pick. Though I initially favored Once and Again's Sela Ward here, I let a pal's ribbing about my crush on her _ now it can be told! _ convince me to change my vote to The Sopranos' Edie Falco.

Next time, I stick with my instincts.

Some other random thoughts about Sunday's show:

+ Emmy proved kind to gays and cross-dressers, with three big wins for Will & Grace, two wins for transvestite comic Eddie Izzard and one for Vanessa Redgrave in HBO's lesbian-centered movie, If These Walls Could Talk 2. Yet another reason for Ellen DeGeneres to pat herself on the back a little for breaking serious TV ground.

+ Host Garry Shandling should have trusted his instincts and cut down on the skits. Did we really need five minutes for the joke where his idea for a Sex and the City episode disgusts star Sarah Jessica Parker? (Okay, it was still kinda funny.)

+ Favorite Shandling line, re: The West Wing _ "I read for the part of vice president. They said, "Too Jewish.' Can you imagine that?"

+ Fashion emergency No. 1: What was up with Geena Davis' see-through gown, which revealed a little more than you might want to see during one camera shot from the rear?

+ With a broadcast spanning more than four hours _ including an hourlong pre-show _ Emmy still can't pace itself. So the program's director got to show his wife, mother-in-law and parents while accepting an early award, but stars Sela Ward, Jack Lemmon and Michael J. Fox were hurried along in the show's final hour.

Time to banish directing awards from the telecast. Fast.

+ Fashion emergency No. 2: According to E! Entertainment Television, Saturday Night Live star Molly Shannon got a little more exposure than she bargained for while waving to fans outside in a strapless gown. Look for that on the uncut, mail-order video.

+ Favorite line No. 2, from Jamie Foxx _ "Happy to be here, but the next person who calls me Chris Rock, I'm gonna go off."

+ Favorite acceptance speech, from Gandolfini nodding to a four-time Emmy winner and fellow nominee, NYPD Blue's Dennis Franz: "I think the academy has an affinity for slightly overweight, bald men. No offense, Mr. Franz."

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