The Cable Groundbreakers
Jeff Wachtel (45 noms, 8 wins), Tony Shalhoub (8 noms, 3 wins), John Landgraf (46 noms, 5 wins) and Michael Chiklis (2 noms, 1 win)
You got four hours?" That's how long Michael Chiklis says he'd need to describe the impact of his Emmy win for FX's The Shield in 2002 against such formidable broadcast competition as The West Wing's Martin Sheen and 24's Kiefer Sutherland. "I remember [former FX president] Peter Liguori calling me the night before and saying: 'I'm pulling for you, but you probably can't win this. We only have nine voting members of the academy at FX. You need a mass,' " says Chiklis, 48. "That was the greatest thing: We were giant-killers." Liguori's successor, John Landgraf, 49, says FX's brisk growth from having one original series to a slate of 10 "is built on The Shield and Michael's performance. Both he and Tony Shalhoub changed TV with their Emmys. They showed that basic cable was also worthy of being at the highest level of quality." One year after Chiklis broke the basic cable drama barrier, Shalhoub, 57, shattered the funny mold by playing an OCD-afflicted detective on USA's one-hour comedy Monk -- a role that netted the Wings alum eight nominations and three wins. "The theory was get the best talent we possibly could, but on a budget," says Jeff Wachtel, 56, USA's head of original programming. "I knew we had an opportunity with Tony. I begged for him! Networks look for a tentpole success; Monk was ours." Shalhoub says "the machine" of broadcast TV is what drove his interest to USA, and his Emmy wins are proof that the "risks paid off, and people saw it as equal to network-quality programming." How did it feel triumphing over such names as Ray Romano, Larry David and Matt LeBlanc? "I felt like a party crasher. It was surreal."
Photographed by Smallz + Raskind on Sept. 6 at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.