The biggest surprise at Wednesday’s unveiling of the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees?
No question: “American Horror Story’s” Jessica Lange nomination in the derby for best performance by a female actor in a drama series.
It’s no surprise Lange got nominated for her turn as “AHS’s” sadistic Sister Judge; scenery chewing on that scale is highly prized in Hollywood.
What’s surprising is that she’s nominated in a drama-series category. That’s because the show’s creators, and FX network, have been drilling it into our heads that “American Horror Story” is not a drama series — it’s a miniseries.
At least, it is since the producers and network decided so, around Emmy nominations time last summer; before that, the show competed as a drama series at the most recent SAG Awards, and at last January’s Golden Globe Awards. (New Golden Globe nominees will be announced Thursday morning — keep an eye out in re whether Lange gets a nom as a drama series actress or a miniseries actress).
Switching categories in the middle of trophy-show season resulted in Lange winning an Emmy for best supporting actress in a miniseries — “AHS’s” only glam-category Emmy win last September.
Ever since, the producers and FX have continued to refer to “AHS” as a miniseries.
Apparently they did not impress SAG.
“They tried to make a switch [to miniseries competitions] and we said ‘we consider it a drama series’,” SAG Awards producer Kathy Connell told the TV Column when asked about Lange’s category.
“They submitted in drama series [competition] last year,” Connell continued. “We weren’t going to turn around and move them to miniseries.” She noted Lange won the SAG Award last year for best performance by a female actor (CQ) in a drama series. SAG said it’s delighted Lange’s nominated there again.
That excitement aside, Showtime’s “Homeland,” ignored by SAG last year, got nods for leads Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, plus a nom for best drama series ensemble. Those three noms put “Homeland” in company with PBS’s “Downton Abbey,” HBO’s “Game Change” and “Boardwalk Empire,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” and NBC’s “30 Rock.”
But ABC’s comedy “Modern Family” led the TV field with four nominations, including actors Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara, as well as an ensemble comedy nomination.
HBO scored the most nominations of any network with 10, including acting nods to Julianne Moore, Ed Harris and Woody Harrelson for 2008 presidential election movie/John McCain-Sarah Palin chronicle “Game Change,” which only seems like it aired three year ago but actually aired in 2012 which is the period of eligibility for the coming SAG Awards.
Also in HBO’s tally: Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen were each nominated for the network’s “Hemingway & Gellhorn” movie, which received less-than-favorable reviews from many critics. Steve Buscemi scored another nom for his role as a mobster on “Boardwalk Empire,” and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” snuck in just one nod, for star Jeff Daniels.
“Downton Abbey’s” Maggie Smith received the most SAG nominations Wednesday – 4. SAG singled her out for her performances in both “Downton” and the feature film “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”; she’s also listed in “Downton” and “Marigold’s” ensemble-cast nominations.
Right behind Smith was Bryan Cranston with three nods, including actor and ensemble noms for “Breaking Bad,” and one as a member of the cast of feature film “Argo.”
The SAG Awards air on TBS and TNT on Sunday, Jan. 27. Here’s a complete list of TV nominees (and see the the movie nominations here.)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin “30 Rock” (NBC)
Ty Burrell “Modern Family” (ABC)
Louis C.K. “Louie” (FX)
Jim Parsons “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
Eric Stonestreet “Modern Family” (ABC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Edie Falco “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)
Tina Fey “30 Rock” (NBC)
Amy Poehler “Parks and Recreation” (NBC)
Sofia Vergara “Modern Family” (ABC)
Betty White “Hot in Cleveland” (TV Land)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
“30 Rock” (NBC)
“The Big Bang Theory” (CBS)
“Modern Family” (ABC)
“Nurse Jackie” (Showtime)
“The Office” (NBC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Claire Danes “Homeland” (Showtime)
Michelle Dockery “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Jessica Lange “American Horror Story: Asylum” (FX)
Julianna Margulies “The Good Wife” (CBS)
Maggie Smith “Downton Abbey” (PBS)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
Bryan Cranston “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
Jeff Daniels “The Newsroom” (HBO)
Jon Hamm “Mad Men” (AMC)
Damian Lewis “Homeland” (Showtime)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)
“Downton Abbey” (PBS)
“Mad Men” (AMC)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Kevin Costner “Hatfields & McCoys” (History)
Woody Harrelson “Game Change” (HBO)
Ed Harris “Game Change” (HBO)
Clive Owen “Hemingway & Gellhorn” (HBO)
Bill Paxton “Hatfields & McCoys” (History)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Nicole Kidman “Hemingway & Gellhorn” (HBO)
Julianne Moore “Game Change” (HBO)
Charlotte Rampling “Restless” (Sundance Channel)
Sigourney Weaver “Political Animals” (USA)
Alfre Woodard “Steel Magnolias” (Lifetime)