The controversial Kennedy project that nearly never aired, after History channel dropped it like a hot potato, is will get a showing on broadcast TV – clips of it, anyway -- after snagging a stunning10 Emmy nominations Thursday, including one for best miniseries.
Meanwhile, HBO’s sex-and-swords fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” snagged a surprise bid for best drama series – the crown jewel of the Primetime Emmy Awards competition. Overall, “Thrones” walked off with 13 nominations Thursday. That’s a major victory already for fans of so-called “genre” dramas. (And yes, online, there was much weeping and wailing among fantasy fans over the snubbing of AMC’s zombie drama “The Walking Dead.” Sigh.)
TV academy voters tend to resist giving the Emmys’ top honor to genre dramas, among other things they tend to resist.
But, Emmy voters may have finally become risk takers, judging by this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards nominations. Fresh faces were everywhere in the glam categories read for the morning infotainment shows by “Mike & Molly” star – and best-comedy actress nominee -- Melissa McCarthy, and “Fringe’s” Joshua Jackson.
Among those ff’s: Matt LeBlanc is nominated for best actor in comedy series -- for playing Matt LeBlanc -- on Showtime’s “Episodes.”
And, he’s joined by Louis C.K., nominated for the first time for his starring role in FX’s raunch-tastic comedy “Louie.”
(But Steve Carell’s the sentimental fave in that derby, taking one last stab at a win for his role in NBC’s “The Office,” which he left at the end of May. Carell, who’s 0 for 5 so far in the Emmys, will have to beat last year’s winner and “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons, Parson’s “BB” colleague Johnny Galecki, and “30 Rock’s” Alec Baldwin.)
Last year’s best-comedy winner, “Modern Family,” clocked 17 nominations Thursday -- the most for any comedy series – including a first-ever nomination for Ed O’Neill, who was snubbed by the TV academy throughout his run on “Married..with Children” and was notably the only adult member of the “Modern Family” cast to get snubbed at nominations time last year.
Their stars, however – Edie Falco and Laura Linney, respectively – are both in the running for best actress in a comedy.
It’s Linney’s first nom for her starring role as a terminal cancer patient, but she’s known for turning her Emmy noms into wins with great regularity. Falco won this particularly competition last year and has been nominated again, despite having famously pointed out on stage, as she picked up her statuette, that she is not funny. These two dramedy queens will compete against “30 Rock’s” Tina Fey, Fox’s “Raising Hope” star Martha Plimpton, “Parks & Rec’s” Amy Poehler, and McCarthy.
“Thrones” — based on the popular fantasy books about a bunch of kings, queens, knights, and nobleman who have way too much time on their hands and enormous power lust — will have to impale AMC’s three-time best-drama winner “Mad Men” to take the trophy for best drama during the Emmy ceremony on Sept. 18.
But its stiffest competition may, in fact, be another newbie, “Boardwalk Empire.” HBO’s prohibition era drama is eligible for the first time this year, and since its debut, it has won every major derby in which it’s competed, including the Golden Globe for best drama series, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble drama.
In its first year of eligibility, “Boardwalk Empire” racked up an impressive 18 Emmy nominations — just one nom fewer than “Mad Men,” the darling of the academy and TV critics, which clocked a total 19 noms, the most for any series this year.
Also in that race: Showtime’s serial killer drama “Dexter,” DirecTV’s football love-letter “Friday Night Lights,” and the lone broadcast TV entry – CBS’s legal drama “The Good Wife.”
Among “Boardwalk’s” hopefuls: star Steve Buscemi, who plays historical criminal kingpin Enoch “Nucky” Johnson in the adaptation of Nelson Johnson’s book, “Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City.” He’s nominated for best drama actor, as is Timothy Olyphant, snaring his first Emmy nom for his starring role on FX’s “Justified.”
They’re the new kids in a race that also includes “Friday Night Lights’s” Kyle Chandler, “House’s” Hugh Laurie, “Dexter’s” Michael C. Hall, and always-a-bridesmaid Jon Hamm of “Mad Men.”
“Mad Men” thespians are 0 for 12 at Emmy time. Hamm will try again to win the trophy as stars of the 60’s-set Madison Avenue drama. This could be his year: perennial winner in this category, Bryan Cranston is out of the picture, AMC having telecast no original episodes of his “Breaking Bad” during this year’s eligibility period.
Receiving her first-ever Emmy nomination, for best drama actress, is Mireille Enos, star of AMC’s new crime drama “The Killing.” She will go head-to-head with powerhouse Kathy Bates, who’s landed her first nomination for her freshman series on NBC’s lawyer drama “Harry’s Law.”
“The Kennedys” was eligible for Emmy consideration this year after ReelzChannel picked it up when it was dumped by History channel which explained at the time that the “dramatic interpretation” (by “24” creator Joel Surnow) was “not a fit for the History brand.”
That said, History acknowledged, the 8-part miniseries had been “produced and acted with the highest quality.” TV academy voters agreed – and gave it a total of 10 nominations – three more than History channel’s nominations tally this year.
Among those 10 are three acting bids: to Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy and Barry Pepper as Robert Kennedy, and Tom Wilkinson, who played the family patriarch, Joe Kennedy.
“We really had nothing going for us except the show itself,” creator Surnow told the TV Column Thursday morning of “The Kennedy’s” Emmy nominations chances which, he said he thought would have “sort of got derailed after it was let go by History.”
“We weren’t necessarily loved by the media; we weren’t on a premium cable channel; we didn’t have tons of [Emmy nomination consideration marketing campaign] money…The thing I’m happiest about is that a bunch of people got the screeners, watched it and voted for it.”
This year, the races for best movie and best miniseries have been combined; the other hopefuls in this race are HBO’s “Cinema Verite,” about the groundbreaking 70’s PBS reality series about the Loud family; HBO’s “Too Big to Fail” about the 2008 U.S. fiscal crisis; PBS’s class-drama “Downton Abbey”; and Starz’ cathedral building intrigue set in 12th century England, “The Pillars of the Earth.”
This year’s reality-TV ingénue is Fox’s summer reality series “So You Think You Can Dance.” It’s been added to the list of contenders for Best Reality Competition Series, joining perennial nominees “American Idol,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “Project Runway,” seven-time winner “Amazing Race,” and last year’s winner, “Top Chef.”
And its host, Cat Deeley, has replaced “Project Runway’s” Heidi Klum in the mostly-boys-club race for best reality-TV host. Deeley, a first-time nominee, is pitted against “Dancing’s” Tom Bergeron, “Amazing Race’s” Phil Keoghan, “Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest” and frequent winner, “Survivor’s” Jeff Probst.
“I’m honored to be nominated for the Jeff Probst Award. I hope Cat Deeley kicks his ass!!” Bergeron tweeted on Thursday.
And, reality TV guru Mark Burnett, who is executive producing this year’s Emmycast for the first time, submitted his controversial TLC reality series, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” for Emmy consideration in four categories – including Best Reality Series.
Sarah Palin got shut out.
Palin failed where Kathy Griffin succeeded; Griffin’s Bravo show “My Life on the D-List” is among the nominees for Best Reality Series, as is A&E’s “Hoarders,” Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch,” Discovery’s “Mythbusters,” CBS’s “Undercover Boss,” and PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow.”
Late night shows will go through the formality of a competition again this year, before the academy hands another Emmy to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” which has won the Emmy for Best Variety, Music, or Comedy Series every since 2003. Sitting at Stewart’s feet this year: Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” TBS’s “Conan,” NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and “Saturday Night Live,” and HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
This year’s Emmy show will air on Fox, and will be hosted by “Glee” star Jane Lynch – last year’s winner in the race for best supporting actress in a comedy series. Look out, Jane! This year your competition includes – Betty White.