The controversial Kennedy project that nearly never aired, after the History Channel dropped it like a hot potato, will get a showing on broadcast TV — clips of it, anyway — after it snagged a stunning 10 Emmy nominations Thursday, including one for best miniseries.
Meanwhile, HBO’s sex-and-swords fantasy drama “Game of Thrones” got a surprise bid for best drama series — the crown jewel of the Primetime Emmy Awards competition. “Thrones” walked off with 13 nominations, a major victory for fans of “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.)
Among the things that TV academy voters tend to resist is giving the Emmys’ top honor to genre dramas. But Emmy voters may have finally become risk-takers, judging by this year’s nominations. Fresh faces were everywhere in the glam categories, which were read for the morning infotainment shows by Joshua Jackson of “Fringe” and Melissa McCarthy of “Mike & Molly,” who was a best-comedy actress nominee.
Among those newbies: Matt LeBlanc picked up his first nomination for playing himself on Showtime’s freshman comedy “Episodes.” He’s joined in the best-comedy-actor category by Louis C.K., who is nominated for the first time for his starring role in FX’s raunch-tastic comedy “Louie.”
Steve Carell’s the sentimental fave in that derby, taking one last stab at a win for his role on NBC’s “The Office,” which he left at the end of May. Carell, who’s 0-for-5 in the Emmys, will have to beat last year’s winner, “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons, as well as Parsons’s “BBT” colleague Johnny Galecki and Alec Baldwin of “30 Rock.”
Last year’s best-comedy winner, “Modern Family,” clocked 17 nominations — 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.
The ABC ensemble comedy is up for best sitcom again this year, as are Fox’s “Glee,” CBS’s “Big Bang Theory” and three NBC shows: “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock.” Noticeably missing from the list are any of those cable dramedies masquerading as comedies, such as Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and “The Big C.”
The stars of those last two shows, however — Edie Falco and Laura Linney, respectively — are 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 particular competition last year and has been nominated again despite having famously pointed out onstage, as she picked up her statuette, that she is not funny. These two dramedy queens will compete against Tina Fey of “30 Rock,” Martha Plimpton of Fox’s “Raising Hope,” Amy Poehler of “Parks and Rec” and McCarthy.
“Thrones” — based on the popular fantasy books about a bunch of kings, queens, knights and noblemen who have way too much time on their hands, as well as enormous power lust — will have to impale AMC’s three-time drama winner, “Mad Men,” to take the trophy for best drama during the Emmy ceremony Sept. 18.
But for “Thrones,” the stiffest competition may be another newbie, “Boardwalk Empire.” HBO’s Prohibition-era drama is eligible for the first time this year. Since its debut, “Boardwalk Empire” 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 fewer than “Mad Men,” the darling of the academy and TV critics, which clocked 19, the most for any series this year.
Among the hopefuls from “Boardwalk”: 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 includes Kyle Chandler of “Friday Night Lights,” Hugh Laurie of “House,” Michael C. Hall of “Dexter” 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 star of the ’60s-set Madison Avenue drama. This could be his year: Perennial winner Bryan Cranston is out of the picture because AMC did not telecast any 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 show “The Killing.” She will go head to head with powerhouse Kathy Bates, who is nominated for NBC’s freshman legal drama, “Harry’s Law.”
Enos need not worry. The TV academy can’t stop giving Bates its Emmy noms, but it also can’t seem to give Bates an Emmy. It’s her ninth nomination, without a win. Here, too, “Mad Men” is hoping for its first thespian Emmy, from Elizabeth Moss, who has snared her third consecutive nomination. Moss’s odds got better Thursday when last year’s winner — Kyra Sedgwick of TNT’s “The Closer” — got snubbed. This year, Moss’s competition will include Connie Britton of “Friday Night Lights” and old hands Mariska Hargitay of NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” and Julianna Margulies of CBS’s “The Good Wife.”
“The Kennedys” was eligible for Emmy consideration this year after ReelzChannel picked it up — after it was dumped by the 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 eight-part miniseries had been “produced and acted with the highest quality.” TV academy voters agreed, giving it 10 nominations — three more than History Channel’s nominations tally this year.
Among those 10 noms are three for actors: Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy, Barry Pepper as Robert F. 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 on Thursday morning about the miniseries’ Emmy nomination chances — which 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-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 category are HBO’s “Cinema Verite,” about the groundbreaking ’70s 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’s cathedral-building intrigue set in 12th-century England, “The Pillars of the Earth.”
This year’s reality-TV ingenue 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 “The Amazing Race” and last year’s winner, “Top Chef.”
And “Dance” host Cat Deeley has replaced Heidi Klum of “Project Runway” in the mostly-boys’-club race for best reality-TV host. Deeley, a first-time nominee, is pitted against Tom Bergeron of “Dancing,” Phil Keoghan of “Amazing Race,” Ryan Seacrest of “Idol” and frequent winner Jeff Probst of “Survivor.”
“I’m honored to be nominated for the Jeff Probst Award. I hope Cat Deeley kicks his [heinie]!!” Bergeron tweeted Thursday.
And reality-TV guru Mark Burnett, who is executive-producing this year’s Emmy show for the first time, submitted his controversial TLC reality series, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” for consideration in four categories, including best reality series.
Palin got shut out. She also 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” and “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 year 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,” NBC’s “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.