JOHN CLEESE UP FOR U.S. EMMY AWARD FOR APPEARANCE IN NBC'S "3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN"
by Hans ten Cate
Tuesday, 28 July 1998

In case any of you missed it, John Cleese was nominated for an Emmy award this past July 23 for "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series." The nomination was in recognition of his portrayal of Dr. Liam Neesam in NBC's "3rd Rock from the Sun." Cleese made appearances in two episodes of the acclaimed situation comedy this year, "Just Your Average Dick" and "Dick and the Other Guy," both which aired in April. The 50th Annual Emmy Awards will take place 13 September and will be broadcast live on NBC.

"Just Your Average Dick"
Show #320 Aired 4/28/98
After research shows them that they've failed in their mission of blending in as a normal, average American family, the Solomons strive to correct the problem by moving into a bland, beige apartment, dressing less oddly, and eschewing all that has made them stand out. Sally joins the tenants' association and becomes obsessed with making everyone in the complex adhere to the strict guidelines imposed by the group. When Dick meets a visiting professor (John Cleese) whom Mary finds charming because of his eccentricity, Dick realizes he has erred in abandoning his individuality. He, Tommy, and Harry conspire to get Sally to hoist herself on the petard of her own narrow-mindedness, getting them all evicted so they can return to their beloved attic apartment.

"Dick and the Other Guy"
Show #321 Aired 4/29/98
Visiting professor Liam Neesam (John Cleese) is better than Dick at everything -- darts, physics, golf, cooking, and especially romancing Mary. Dick gets more and more frustrated until he realizes that the reason Liam's so good at everything is that he's an alien. Dick is on the verge of telling Liam that he's an alien, too, when Liam tells Dick he's decided not to vaporize the Earth because Dick is such a shining example of the human race, To save the Earth, Dick keeps his mouth shut -- no easy feat. Sally has a series of dating woes that come to a head when she thinks that even Officer Don has lost interest in her. Harry and Tommy try to help her find another man, but Sally, obsessed with finding out what has replaced her in Don's affections, presses on -- only to learn that his new mistress is a gal called "karaoke."

Some of you may already know that John Cleese won an Emmy award for his guest appearance as Dr. Simon Finch-Royce in the March 5, 1987 episode of the American comedy series "Cheers." His portrayal of the impatient marriage counselor led him to accept an award for Outstanding Guest Performer in a Comedy Series six months later at the 39th Annual Emmy Awards. The 3rd Rock appearance is John Cleese's second nomination. This time, however, Cleese is up against some fierce competition, with three Hollywood veterans on the nominations roster. The complete list is:

  • Hank Azaria as Nat, Mad About You (NBC)
  • Lloyd Bridges as Izzy Mandelbaum, Seinfeld (NBC)
  • Mel Brooks as Uncle Phil, Mad About You (NBC)
  • John Cleese as Dr. Neesam, 3rd Rock From The Sun (NBC)
  • Nathan Lane as Professor Twilley, Mad About You (NBC)

John Cleese made such an impact on the television comedy when he appeared as a guest star that, what was intended to be one episode was later expanded to two. A recent article in American entertainment magazine Entertainment Weekly stated that guest star John Cleese may return once more to joust with Dick for Mary's affection in the upcoming season of 3rd Rock from the Sun, which begins September 23.

The Monty Python star took the role when the show's star John Lithgow met him last year and asked him if he would be willing to appear. Cleese agreed as long as he approved the script, which he did.

"It was terrific," said Cleese. "It was the best TV experience I've ever had. They take a very intelligent approach to doing comedy."

POSTSCRIPT

Well, the Emmy's came and went, without so much as a sausage about John Cleese. Apparently the Guest Actor awards were given a day or two before the full event. The award went to Mel Brooks for his role in Mad About You. Mel Brooks made an appearance at the ceremonies where it was mentioned that he had won the award. Well, it was an honor to have been nominated.