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The No. 1 show among viewers was tops in the television industry Sunday night as "Cheers" won four Emmys, including best comedy series and best actress for Kirstie Alley.

"L.A. Law," darling of the critics and television viewers alike, won its fourth Emmy - its third in a row - for best drama series in the 43rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on a night that was ironically devoted to the Oscars.Alley, who plays the delightfully neurotic Rebecca Howe on the Boston bar series, said, "I only thank God I didn't have to wait as long as Ted (Danson)," her co-star who endured eight nominations before his first win last year. This year he lost to Burt Reynolds.

In taking the drama series award, "L.A. Law" surpassed "China Beach" and "thirtysomething" - two ABC series canceled because of sluggish ratings - as well as relative newcomers "Northern Exposure" on CBS and "Quantum Leap" on NBC."To our competition in this category . . . we know when we win this we never get it by default. We will miss seeing you on the air," "L.A. Law" writer David E. Kelley said. Earlier in the evening, Kelley won for best writing in a drama series.

The other two awards for "Cheers" were for best director of a comedy series - James Burrows - and a second consecutive best supporting actress award for Bebe Neuwirth.

Neuwirth, who won for playing Dr. Lilith Sternin-Crane, said, "I'm so fortunate to be invited here tonight and so proud to be a member of such an amazing ensemble cast."

The three Emmy triumphs for "The 63rd Annual Academy Awards" were for best variety show, its host Billy Crystal and its team of writers.

"To paraphrase Orson Welles, producing the Academy Awards show is the best electric train a kid can have," producer Gilbert Cates said.

"Speaking for myself, I have no objection to winning this award," said Hal Kanter, one of the honored writers. "But let's keep this in perspective. It's not as important as love, health or money."

Crystal's award for the best individual performance in a variety or music program was his third Emmy.

First-time nominee Reynolds won as best actor in a comedy series for playing Wood Newton in "Evening Shade."

"All those pictures - `Navajo Joe' - they paid off, you know," Reynolds said.

Emmys in 27 categories were presented at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in a ceremony telecast on Fox Broadcasting, which host Dennis Miller dubbed "the network whose parents are out of town."

The awards ceremony, airing in 26 foreign countries and hosted by Miller, Jerry Seinfeld and Jamie Lee Curtis, included a tribute by Melissa Gilbert-Brinkman and Merlin Olsen to actor Michael Landon, who died July 1 of cancer.

Many of the presenters and other participants sported red ribbons, which Curtis explained were to show support for sufferers of AIDS.

James Earl Jones won awards in two categories - best actor in a dramatic series for playing ex-con-turned-investigator Gabriel Bird in "Gabriel's Fire" and best supporting actor in a miniseries or special for "Heat Wave."

"I accept this in honor of all those who died in the heat wave of the Watts riots," he said.

Jones, in a lighter moment, opened the show with an effusive speech about the talented, dedicated people who brought 40 years of comedy to television - and got a pie in the face.

Two actors from the ill-fated "thirtysomething" also won.

Patricia Wettig won her second Emmy in a row as best actress in a drama series, playing cancer-stricken Nancy Weston.

"It's a little sad," Wettig said, fighting back tears. "This is my last time to say goodbye to this character Nancy Weston. I don't know why but she came really close to my heart."

Timothy Busfield, who played her husband, Elliot Weston, was voted best supporting actor in a drama series.

"Cool," Busfield said. "We had a great time every bit of the way and we really appreciate your watching the show."

"Separate but Equal," an ABC movie about the rising career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, was awarded the Emmy for best miniseries or special.

The PBS series "Masterpiece Theatre" received three awards, including the prestigious Governor's Award.

Other Masterpiece Theatre awards went to John Gielgud for best actor in a miniseries or special as Haverford Downs in "Summer's Lease," and best writing in a miniseries or special to Andrew Davies for "House of Cards."

Jonathan Winters won an Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy series for playing Gunny Davis in "Davis Rules."

Madge Sinclair, who plays Josephine Austin in "Gabriel's Fire," won the statuette for best supporting actress in a drama series.

A husband-and-wife team, director Brian Gibson and actress Lynn Whitfield, won Emmys - Gibson for best director and Whitfield for best actress in a miniseries or special for the title role in "The Josephine Baker Story."

Thomas Carter of "Equal Justice" won for best drama series directing.

The award for directing in a variety or music program went to Hal Gurnee of "Late Night With David Letterman," who thanked his entire studio crew.

"They do the whole show for me. Sometimes I don't show up for weeks at a time," Gurnee said.


(Additional information)

Here are the Emmy winners at the 43rd annual awards:

LEAD ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES: James Earl Jones, "Gabriel's Fire," ABC.

LEAD ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES: Patricia Wettig, "thirtysome-thing," ABC.


LEAD ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES: Kirstie Alley, "Cheers," NBC.

LEAD ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES: Burt Reynolds, "Evening Shade," CBS.


LEAD ACTRESS, MINISERIES OR SPECIAL: Lynn Whitfield, "The Josephine Baker Story," HBO.

LEAD ACTOR, MINISERIES OR SPECIAL: John Gielgud, "Masterpiece Theatre: Summer's Lease," PBS.

INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE, VARIETY OR MUSIC PROGRAM: Billy Crystal, "The 63rd Annual Academy Awards," ABC.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES: Madge Sinclair, "Gabriel's Fire," ABC.

SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES: Timothy Busfield, "thirtysomething," ABC.


SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES: Jonathan Winters, "Davis Rules," ABC.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS, MINISERIES OR SPECIAL: Ruby Dee, "Hallmark Hall of Fame: Decoration Day," NBC.



VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY PROGRAM: "The 63rd Annual Academy Awards," ABC.

WRITING, COMEDY SERIES: "Murphy Brown: Jingle Hell, Jingle Hell, Hingle All the Way," CBS.

WRITING, DRAMA SERIES: "L.A. Law: On the Toad Again," NBC.

WRITING, MINISERIES OR SPECIAL: "Masterpiece Theatre: House of Cards," PBS.

WRITING, VARIETY OR MUSIC PROGRAM: "The 63rd Annual Academy Awards," ABC.

DIRECTING, COMEDY SERIES: "Cheers: Woody Interruptus," NBC.

DIRECTING, DRAMA SERIES: "Equal Justice: In Confidence," ABC.


DIRECTING, VARIETY OR MUSIC PROGRAM: "Late Night With David Letterman: Show 1425," NBC.

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT - CLASSICAL MUSIC-DANCE PROGRAMMING (TWO WINNERS): "The Metropolitan Opera Presents The Ring of Nibelung," PBS, "Tchaikovsky 150th Birthday Gala from Leningrad," PBS.

CLASSICAL PROGRAMMING, PERFORMING ARTS: "Tchaikovsky 150th Birthday Gala from Leningrad," PBS.

GOVERNOR'S AWARD: "Masterpiece Theater," PBS.