The 61st Primetime Emmy award nominations gave plenty of shout-outs to two shows familiar with the winners circle.
AMC’s "Mad Men" looks set to relive history as drama champ, while "30 Rock" could very well repeat in the comedy category.
"Mad Men," with 16 nominations (most for any drama this year), was joined by "Dexter," "Big Love," "Damages," "Lost," "Breaking Bad" and "House" as drama nominees.
NBC’s "30 Rock," which won the top comedy honor last year, hauled in a comedy-record 22 nominations — leading all shows — and was joined by "Family Guy," "Entourage," "Flight of the Conchords," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Office" and "Weeds" as top laffer nominees.
The top categories — and some of the acting categories — were expanded to include six shows, though ties actually helped to produce seven contenders for both best drama and best comedy.
HBO led all networks with a whopping 99 nominations.
NBC was next with 67, and CBS had 49. As for "bests," Showtime saw the highest nomination total in its history, with 29. AMC also had the most in its lifespan, with 23.
The nominations were notable for some unique contenders that joined the party: Fox’s animated "Family Guy" and HBO’s musical-variety hybrid "Flight of the Conchords" landed best comedy nods. CBS’ "How I Met Your Mother" and Showtime’s "Weeds" were also first-time comedy nominees.
"Family Guy," from creator Seth MacFarlane, is the first animated show since "The Flinstones" in 1961 to get a best comedy nomination. Fox and MacFarlane made a concerted effort during the nomination campaign to get the voters to pay attention to it this year.
As for the dramas, the only thing really noteworthy was that, like last year, cable dominated. Only two of the shows — "Lost" and "House" — were from networks.
HBO’s dominance continues to be longform fare, with the pay-cable network garnering three of the five movie slots: "Grey Gardens" (which got 17 nominations), "Taking Chance" and "Into the Storm."
In the reality competition category, the contenders are six-time champ "The Amazing Race," "American Idol," "Dancing With The Stars," "Project Runway" and "Top Chef."
It was hard to find any new blood acting-wise, as only Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men") and Simon Baker ("The Mentalist") were first-time nominees in the lead drama categories.
Moss joins Mariska Hargitay, Sally Field, Glenn Close, Holly Hunter and Kyra Sedgwick, while Baker sits alongside Gabriel Byrne, Michael C. Hall, Jon Hamm, Hugh Laurie and Bryan Cranston.
Farrah Fawcett was posthumously nominated for in the outstanding nonfiction special category for "Farrah’s Story," the NBC documentary about her battle with cancer.
HBO’s Generation Kill" and PBS’ "Little Dorritt" are the only miniseries contenders out of seven contenders, and it showcases the TV Academy’s "one-third" rule: The number of nominees can’t exceed 33% of the entries.
The nominations were announced by "Grey’s Anatomy" star Chandra Wilson and "The Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences n North Hollywood. Both of the actors were nominated — Wilson twice, for "Grey’s" and the Hallmark Channel movie "Accidental Friendship."
The awards, to be broadcast live from the Downtown L.A.’s Nokia Theater Sept. 20, and hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will be markedly different from the 2008 version, which tied 1990s Emmy telecast as the lowest rated on record with 12.3 million viewers.
Reacting to the cratering popularity of the broadcast, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences officials have made major changes this year intended to expand the inclusion of popular contenders, and along with that, the awards’ television audience.
This year, the field of contenders in major acting categories and best comedy and drama series has been expanded from five to six, with the "popular vote" among Academy membership determining the nominees. (Though due to ties, each top category has seven contenders.)
In recent years, the popular vote rendered 10 possible contenders for each major category before an internal Academy panel of TV experts whittled that selection down to five.
With these “blue-ribbon” panels acting as gatekeepers, the Emmys managed to reclaim lost credibility with critics, but their favoring of niche cable series like AMC’s “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” shows that routinely draw less than 2 million viewers, doesn’t necessarily translate into a broad television audience for the awards telecast the way nominating broad-skewing series like “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy” would.
Last year represented perhaps the most dominant Emmys ever for niche fare, with NBC’s “30 Rock,” critically lauded but far from a ratings hit, taking the major comedy categories (best series, and best actor and actress for Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey).
Likewise, cable series with limited audience profiles won the day dramatically, with AMC’s “Mad Men” taking the series trophy and Brian Cranston of the channel’s “Breaking Bad” going home with best actor. Glenn Close, star of FX’s dark legal drama “Damages,” won for best dramatic series actress.
As usual, HBO owned the longform arena, with miniseries “John Adams” and the 2000 election-themed “Recount” claiming all the major categories.
Outstanding comedy series
"Flight of the Conchords"
"How I Met Your Mother"
Outstanding drama series
Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Charlie Sheen, Two And A Half Men
Outstanding lead actor in a drama series
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures Of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Outstanding lead actress in a drama series
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
William Hurt, Damages
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men
Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Vanessa William, Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series
Rose Byrne, Damages
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Cherry Jones, 24