The television industry prepared to take its yearly turn in the award season spotlight, as the nominations for the 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced last week. HBO led the way with 104 nods, while CBS topped the broadcast networks with 50 mentions.
The most nominated show of the 2010-11 television season was the HBO miniseries "Mildred Pierce," which received 21 nominations, including Outstanding Miniseries, Movie or Special. Eleven other television programs received nominations that numbered in double-digits, including the AMC drama "Mad Men," ABC's top-rated sitcom "Modern Family," as well as two of HBO's regularly-scheduled dramatic series, "Boardwalk Empire" and "Game of Thrones."
FOX will be airing the presentation of the awards, which will be broadcast live from Los Angeles Sept. 18. "Glee" star Jane Lynch -- an Emmy winner last year for her supporting role on the FOX series -- will host the event.
Although the Emmy Awards are still two months away from being handed out, predictions are already flying about who will take home the trophies. While I reserve the right to revise these in about a month or so, here's my first look at the nominees in the series and miniseries/movie categories:
Outstanding Drama Series
"Boardwalk Empire" "Dexter" (Showtime) "Friday Night Lights" (DirecTV) "Game of Thrones" "The Good Wife" (CBS) "Mad Men"
With 19 nods, "Mad Men" is the most nominated drama series this year, plus it has won this category the past three years, so it has to be considered the favorite right out of the gate. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see second-most nominated drama "Boardwalk Empire," with its 18 nominations and top-notch pedigree (the executive producer is famed director Martin Scorsese and it airs on Emmy's favorite channel, HBO) win and keep "Mad Men" from picking up its fourth consecutive top TV drama prize.
Outstanding Comedy Series
"The Big Bang Theory" (CBS)
"The Office" (NBC)
"Parks and Recreation" (NBC)
"30 Rock" (NBC)
No pay-cable "comedies" on this list? That's not an unpleasant surprise; perhaps Emmy voters have finally noticed that just because a show is a half-hour long, it's not necessarily a comedy. The other big news in this category is that critical favorite "Parks and Recreation" picked up its first nomination in the category, joining NBC Thursday night stablemates "The Office" and three-time Outstanding Comedy winner "30 Rock." Defending champ "Modern Family," however, has only seemed to gain strength, becoming the most-nominated comedy series this year (17 mentions, up from 14 in 2010). It has to be considered the clear front-runner.
Miniseries, Movie or Special
"Cinema Verite" (HBO)
"Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)" (PBS)
"The Kennedys" (Reelzchannel)
"The Pillars of the Earth" (Starz)
"Too Big to Fail" (HBO)
While "Mildred Pierce" receiving 21 nominations was certainly a big deal, a big-budget HBO miniseries becoming an Emmy darling isn't exactly earthshaking news. The success of the critically-drubbed "The Kennedys" miniseries, however, likely sent shockwaves throughout the industry. The controversial program, initally rejected by the History Channel, ended up being a 10-time nominee; not a bad result, considering that the miniseries had to be rescued from an almost-certain direct-to-video oblivion by the lesser-known Reelzchannel. It's doubtful that it will collect any of the prizes, particularly this one -- "Pierce" likely has the category all but sewn up -- but merely receiving the nomination probably feels like a victory to everyone involved.
Reality Competition Show
"The Amazing Race" (CBS)
"American Idol" (FOX)
"Dancing With the Stars" (ABC)
"Project Runway" (Lifetime)
"So You Think You Can Dance" (FOX)
"Top Chef" (Bravo)
TV's top two reality-competition series (not to mention the fact that they are their respective networks' top-rated shows overall), "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars," are among the nominees again this year, and again, they'll most likely go home without a statue. "The Amazing Race," with its exotic scenery and stories of endurance, won the first Emmy ever given in this category, then repeated the feat six more times in a row. Sure, "Top Chef" broke that streak last year, but "Race" still has to be considered the favorite to take the trophy.
"The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central)
"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (Comedy Central)
"Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (NBC)
"Real Time With Bill Maher" (HBO)
"Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" wasn't nominated, but it usually isn't; David Letterman's "Late Show," however, has been part of the Emmy conversation for a long time. This year, he's been shut out. Then again, as long as "The Daily Show" is on the air, it seems like no matter who's in the race, the competition will invariably end with Jon Stewart thanking the Academy; his show's winning streak is 8 years long. If anyone could break that chain, it could very well be the show that follows Stewart's, "The Colbert Report," but even then, Stewart would be receiving a trophy -- he's an executive producer.
This wraps up my first look at the Emmy nominations. I'll be making more picks in the weeks leading up to the presentation, including looks at some hotly contested acting races, such as Lead Actor in a Drama and Supporting Actor in a Comedy, plus I'll take a look at some of this year's more controversial nominations and snubs.