Emmy nominations 2012: Surprises include ‘Girls’ and Betty White

July 19, 2012

The 2012 Emmy nominations are in, with “Mad Men” leading the pack — but will its 17 nods lead to a new record? TV critic Lisa DeMoraes thinks so: She wrote that the show is poised to make history:

“Mad Men”has won this particular category four consecutive years; it’s now tied with “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “The West Wing” for most wins in that category. Should “Mad Men” take the trophy again on Emmy night in September, it would set a record for most wins by a drama series.

“Mad Men’s” domination was no surprise to critics and viewers, though — its hot streak was expected to continue, as were many other frequently-acclaimed shows. Among them:

• “Downton Abbey” earned nominations for many of its cast members, as well as for art direction, casting, costumes, directing, editing, hair, musical score, sound mixing and writing. Celebritology’s Jen Chaney imagined how the cast was celebrating its 16 nominations:

“Anna and Mr. Bates of ‘Downton Abbey,’ also known as the actors Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle, finally got some much deserved good news this morning: They were nominated for Emmy Awards. I like to imagine that they commemorated the moment in classic Anna/Mr. Bates fashion: by making adorable, demure faces at each other, then celebrating their love with a chaste but deeply satisfying kiss.

“Downton” also made the transition from miniseries to full-fledged drama this year, which puts it amid steeper competition — it’s up against “Mad Men.” Wrote DeMoraes: “It may be small consolation for ‘Downton’” and PBS, but the elegant soap is considered by many to have the best chance of toppling ‘Mad Men.’

• “American Horror Story’s” decision to place itself in the miniseries category paid off, with the show tying ”Mad Men” at 17 nominations. It earned nods for best miniseries, best actress (Connie Britton), supporting actress (Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy) and the technical categories of editing, make-up, prosthetic make-up, hair, casting, opening titles, art direction (two in this category), costumes, sound editing, sound mixing and stunt coordination.

Wrote Chaney: “Their argument: As an ‘anthology’ series, one that will reboot itself in season two with all new characters, it could be considered a miniseries and a drama. Emmy bought that argument, allowing ‘AHS’ to compete in a (slightly) less competitive field than the best drama race.”

• “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston is back in the game, after missing last year’s Emmy Awards due to the show not having aired during the eligibility period. Wrote DeMoraes: “Cranston has won this derby every year he’s been eligible” — which does not bode well for Jon Hamm’s chances for an acting award for “Mad Men.”

• “Game Change,” the dramatization of the 2008 presidential election and Sen. John McCain’s decision to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate, earned nods for Julianne Moore as Palin, as well as best miniseries.

You can see the full list of Emmy nominations in the TV Column.

Among the surprises:

• Not in regard to the nominations, but rather, the nomination announcement event: Nick Offerman, of “Parks & Recreation,” was supposed to read the nominees with Kerry Washington, but had to bail at the last minute due to weather-related travel delays. No worries: Jimmy Kimmel, who is also hosting the awards ceremony on Sept. 23, stepped in, and delivered the list of nominees in his pajamas. Kimmel was also nominated for the first time for his late-night show. Wrote DeMoraes:

“Should I give a speech now?” cracked Kimmel, wearing pajamas, Thursday morning.

“The Emmys should be spelled ‘M-E’, cause that what this is all about,” the still-pajamed Kimmel said in an interview after the nominees were unveiled.

Kimmel said, as expected, that it was an honor to be nominated for the first time for his ABC late night show, adding, of his fellow competitors in that category, “I think they all stink. I don’t like any of them.”

• Jeff Probst, who has won the Emmy for reality competition host every year since the category began, was edged out by Betty White for NBC’s “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.”

Wrote De Moraes: “Additionally, Probst’s reality show ‘Survivor’ is not in the running this year for best reality competition series, but NBC’s singing competish, ‘The Voice,’ is. (Nor was the country’s most popular reality show, ‘American Idol.’)

• “Girls,” HBO’s new show about underemployed and overeducated Brooklyn Millennials, became a breakout hit, earning its first Emmy nominations. The show was nominated for best comedy, with a best actress nod for writer/star Lena Dunham, and nominations for her writing, as well.

• This year also featured a rare posthumous Emmy nomination — this one for Kathryn Joosten, who played nosy but ultimately likable neighbor Karen McCluskey on “Desperate Housewives.” This brings her into the company of Farrah Fawcett, who was nominated for her documentary “Farrah’s Story” three weeks after her death, and Diana Hyland, who won an Emmy for outstanding performance by a supporting actress in a TV special for “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” after her 1977 death.

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