Who Needs Dragons? How HBO Can Still Dominate Emmys Without ‘Game of Thrones’

EmmyWrap magazine: With its biggest Emmy show ineligible this year, the network must look to movies and limited series to pick up the slack

This story first appeared in the Miniseries/Movies issue of TheWrap Emmy magazine.

We know that HBO will be the network with the most Emmy nominations this year – -after all, the premium-cable outlet has held that position for the last 16 years in a row, usually scoring around 100 nominations to stay comfortably ahead of rising upstarts like FX.

But HBO’s biggest Emmy heavyweight, “Game of Thrones,” isn’t in the running in 2017; despite back-to-back wins at the last two Emmys, the show delayed its seventh season until July, pushing it into next year’s eligibility period. That deprives the network of an awards juggernaut that landed 23 nominations last year and has led all shows in noms for the last three years.

Can HBO pick up those 23 somewhere else? Yes, but only when you factor in its movies and limited series. Let’s look at the ledger.

Outstanding Drama Series: The HBO newcomers that weren’t around last year and have a chance to land a program nomination to replace the one that “Game of Thrones” would have gotten are “Westworld” in drama and “Divorce,” “Vice Principals,” “High Maintenance” and “Insecure” in comedy.

“Westworld” has the best shot at getting in, though the competition is stiff. The comedy series “Girls” and the drama series “The Leftovers” might get a boost from the fact that their final seasons will be eligible.

Acting: “Game of Thrones” landed six acting noms last year, which is a lot for the network’s new series to make up. In descending order of probability, “Westworld” performers Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood could slip in. It’s also possible that the well-received final season of “Girls” will get comedy-acting nominations and that “Silicon Valley” will finally get more than one acting nod. And Issa Rae should be a nominee for the new comedy series “Insecure.”

Writing and directing: “Game of Thrones” got two directing and one writing nomination in 2017. Given its scale, “Westworld” seems to be a good bet to get a directing nod, though a pair is unlikely. Once again, the final season of “Girls” could well pick up some of the slack on the comedy side. And in a politicized year, “Veep” could do even better than usual.

Below the line categories: “Game of Thrones” was nominated for cinematography, picture editing, sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects and stunt coordination. “Westworld” isn’t the same kind of slam dunk in those categories, but it’s a muscular work that should be a contender in most of them. “Game of Thrones” also killed in the design, costumes, hairstyling and makeup categories, where HBO’s current slate will have a tough time making up the slack.

So far, that probably leaves HBO a little short of last year’s total.

But… The movies and limited series categories are crucial. Last year, the HBO movie “All the Way” landed eight nominations, while “Confirmation” got two and “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” and limited series “True Detective” got one each.

But this year, the network has the miniseries “Big Little Lies,” “The Night Of” and “The Young Pope” and the TV movies “The Wizard of Lies” and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Riz Ahmed, John Turturro, Jude Law, Oprah Winfrey and Robert De Niro are all heavyweights, and this movies/minis slate should easily equal last year’s total and might even double it.

Go here to read more of Miniseries/Movies issue of TheWrap Emmy Magazine.

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