(Initially written April 15, 2006)
It may be an honor just to be nominated but it is virtually criminal that the television academy has failed to nominate the other Liza with a Z. Anyone who has watched GILMORE GIRLS through the years knows that, next to Doris Roberts' Marie Barone of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, none of the Emmy nominated comedic supporting actresses comes close to Liza Weil's portrayal of the irrepressible Paris Geller. Not only is Paris Geller one of the great television characters of the decade, but Miss Weil plays her to a fare-thee-well.
In addition to finally giving the lovingly, leggy Lauren Graham a smart and capable role other than her perennial sitcom performances as the ditzy friend, the ditzy co-worker or the ditzy neighbor, Amy Sherman-Palladino has fashioned an intriguingly comic plethora of quirky characters in small town America reminiscent of David E. Kelley's PICKET FENCES. From the recurring role of Liz Torres as the zaftig, man-eating Miss Patty to the adorable Sally Struthers' Babette running through the streets of fictional Stars Hollow, Connecticut while holding onto her ample flopping bosom, GILMORE GIRLS is the 21st Century version of early cable television when the television academy ignored cable's contributions and their talent.
From her portrayal as a youthful, Harvard obsessed, privileged high school student to her college life and relationship angst, every appearance of Liza, as Paris, is a raucous, scene stealing tour-de-force. And though the character Paris Geller is an over-the-top, overachieving dynamo, Weil never plays her as such. Each syllabic utterance, gesture, and put down is exactly what you would expect of the character.
Unfortunately, the television academy turned the Emmy Awards from the artistry of recognition based performances into a People Magazine, Entertainment Tonight type popularity contest wherein the so-called "hot" shows and "hot" actors get most of the nominations; often with multiple nominees from the same show nominated for the same award. They repeatedly ignore Emmy caliber work by the likes of Kurtwood Smith and Mila Kunis as the irascible Red Forman and the vain Jackie Burkhart, respectively, of THAT 70'S SHOW; Ron Rifkin as evil genius Arvin Sloane of ALIAS; former Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Jill Marie Jones as the diva-licious Toni Childs on GIRLFRIENDS; young Jeremy Suarez who plays Jordan on the always hilarious BERNIE MAC SHOW; and the incredible Kelly Bishop on the aforementioned GILMORE GIRLS, just to name a few.
And though Maura Tierney's dramatic stint on ER has been duly recognized with Emmy nominations, the Academy repeatedly failed to acknowledge the understated comedic brilliance she exhibited on NEWSRADIO, reminiscent of Helen Hunt's award winning portrayal of Jamie Buchman on MAD ABOUT YOU.
It is also time for the television academy to start bestowing a BEST RECURRING CHARACTER award for those individuals that make four or five appearances a season but are not part of the regular cast. Scott Cohen's turn on NYPD BLUE immediately comes to mind along with the wonderful Sylvia Harris as Mrs. Buchman on MAD ABOUT YOU. Think about it. If they can bestow an award for a one time, guest starring performance, surely repeat performances by a non-cast actor over a quarter of a season should be seriously considered.
However, this is my ode to Paris. There has been no character so completely, lovably and fascinatingly unique since Lucy Liu's Ling Wu walked into the law offices of Cage and Fish on ALLY McBEAL. And it is past time for the television academy to wake up and show Liza (Weil)the Emmy.
BELATED FOOTNOTE: To get the full effect of how great Ms. Weil's portrayal is, rent or buy GILMORE GIRLS from Season One through the present and watch the natural progression.