LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Fresh comedy faces and a wise guy were among the contenders for the 51st Annual Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

The nominees were to be announced today by David Hyde Pierce and Camryn Manheim at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in Hollywood. Pierce (``Frasier'') and Ms. Manheim (``The Practice'') were among last year's Emmy winners.

``The Sopranos,'' HBO's acclaimed series about a mobster and his family, was vying to become cable TV's first dramatic series nominee. James Gandolfini, who stars as Tony Soprano, was favored for a bid.

HBO's ``The Larry Sanders Show'' is the only cable comedy series to be nominated so far.

The cable industry acknowledged its increasing Emmy clout last year by scrapping the Cable Ace Awards. Last year, HBO was second only to NBC in nominations and trophies.

``Will & Grace'' and ``Everybody Loves Raymond'' were among the comedies with a better chance of being recognized this year now that veteran nominees ``Seinfeld'' and ``The Larry Sanders Show'' have left the air.

Last year, ``Frasier'' won a record-setting fifth best comedy trophy. ``The Practice'' was last year's best drama series.

Emmy voters have a habit of revisiting old favorites in bestowing nominations. Among dramas, for instance, a quartet of series _ ``ER,'' ``Law & Order,'' ``NYPD Blue'' and ``The X-Files'' _ have dominated the category for four years.

Award winners will be determined by peer panels meeting in August.

The Sept. 12 Emmy ceremony will be broadcast live from the Shrine Auditorium by Fox.