PASADENA, Calif. The general election is still 3 1/2 months away, but the television critics have already voted for "The West Wing" as TV's top show.
The White House drama won three of 10 awards presented by the Television Critics Association at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel, picking up prizes as the best new show of the 1999-2000 season, the best drama and the best program overall.
For executive producers Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme, it was the second year in a row they took home a TCA Award. They won the prize for outstanding comedy a year ago for their ABC show "Sports Night."
With a couple of notable exceptions, it was a night for new programs eight of the 10 awards went to programs in their first year.
In addition to the three awards that went to "West Wing," Fox's freshman "Malcolm in the Middle" was named the year's top comedy, and star Jane Kaczmarek won the TCA Award for individual achievement in comedy.
(And there's a bit of a family tie between the two shows. In real life, Kaczmarek is married to Brad Dourif, who stars in "West Wing.")
The award for outstanding achievement in children's programming went to "Between the Lions," a new entry on the PBS schedule this past season.
"ABC 2000," the network's 24-hour, around-the-world coverage of the dawn of the new year, won in the news and information category.
The award for individual achievement in drama went to James Gandolfini for his starring role in HBO's "The Sopranos." (Which, unlike the other winners, recently completed its second season.) Gandolfini was the night's only repeat winner he shared the award a year ago with writer/producer David E. Kelley ("The Practice" and "Ally McBeal").
HBO's gritty miniseries "The Corner," which portrayed the lives of drug addicts, won the movies, miniseries and specials category.
The career achievement award went to a longtime television icon. Dick Van Dyke was honored for his 45 years on the small screen, starting in the mid-1950s, continuing through the classic "Dick Van Dyke Show" in the '60s and up to the present day with "Diagnosis Murder."
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
Here are the winners
of the 2000 Television Critics Awards, along with the other nominees in each category:
Program of the year: "The West Wing" (NBC); "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (WB); "Sex and the City" (HBO); "The Sopranos" (HBO); "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" (ABC)
Drama: "The West Wing"; "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"; "Freaks and Geeks" (NBC); "Once and Again" (ABC); "The Practice" (ABC); "The Sopranos"
Comedy: "Malcolm In the Middle" (Fox); "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS); "Frasier" (NBC); "Sex and the City" (HBO); "Will & Grace" (NBC)
New program: "The West Wing" ; "Freaks and Geeks"; "Judging Amy" (CBS); "Malcolm in the Middle"; "Once and Again"
Movies, miniseries or specials: "The Corner" (HBO); "Annie" (ABC); "Arabian Nights" (ABC); "Fail-Safe" (CBS); "Jesus" (CBS)
Individual achievement in drama: James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos"); Allison Janney ("West Wing"); Martin Sheen ("West Wing"); Aaron Sorkin ("West Wing"); Sela Ward ("Once and Again")
Individual achievement in comedy: Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm In the Middle"); Sean P. Hayes ("Will & Grace"); Megan Mullally ("Will & Grace"); Frankie Muniz ("Malcolm In the Middle"); Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond")
News and Information: "ABC 2000"; "The American President" (PBS); "Frontline" (PBS); "60 Minutes" (CBS); "Walking with Dinosaurs" (Discovery)
Children's programming: "Between the Lions" (PBS); "Arthur" (PBS); "Bear in the Big Blue House" (Disney); "Blues Clues" (Nickelodeon); "Sesame Street" (PBS)
Career achievement: Dick Van Dyke; Mary Tyler Moore, Aaron Spelling, Mike Wallace, Dick Wolf