UPDATED: The Emmys finally brought out some new blood… and a lot of blood in general, with vampire drama True Blood and serial killer drama Dexter. But the big showing of freshmen Glee and Modern Family as well as the breakthrough for other first-time major nominees, freshman The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie in its first eligible year, the much-improved sophomore Parks and Recreation and the long-overlooked True Blood and Friday Night Lights, was the big story this morning. Glee is in fact the most nominated series this year with 19 nominations. (Modern Family was No.4 on the list behind Mad Men, which had 17, and 30 Rock with 15). HBO’s mega-mini The Pacific led the overall pact with 24 nominations.
And while best comedy series noms for both Glee and Modern Family were widely expected, both shows well exceed expectations in the acting fields. Glee landed noms in every comedy series acting category, including lead comedy actress (Lea Michele), lead comedy actor (Matthew Morrison), supporting actress (shoo-in Jane Lynch), supporting actor (Chris Colfer), guest actor (Mike O’Malley, Neil Patrick Harris) and guest actress (Kristin Chenoweth).
Modern Family, whose six-member ensemble cast submitted themselves as supporting, earned first-time Emmy noms for 5 of them: Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burell, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara. Surprisingly, the best-known Modern Family cast member, comedy veteran Ed O’Neill, was the only one who didn’t get a nom. (But the show landed another acting nom for guest star Fred Willard.)
Glee and Modern Family, which have dominated the award circuit this year with big wins at the Golden Globes (Glee), SAG Awards (Glee), WGA Awards (Modern Family) and DGA Awards (Modern Family), also did great in the key writing and directing Emmy categories. Both landed writing and directing noms for their pilots, with Glee also earning a second directing nom.
Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and CBS’ The Good Wife also are making a nice splash in their first Emmy races, with a best comedy/drama series nomination as well as noms for stars Edie Falco and Julianna Margulies. It is nice to see Falco and Margulies back in contention with new characters following their iconic roles on The Sopranos and ER, respectively. Much like Falco’s rival in the best actress in a comedy series category, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who landed her last nomination for the recently canceled CBS sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine. (She won for the show in 2006, beating the so-called Seinfeld curse). Also nice to see Amy Poehler nominated for Parks and Rec after being snubbed last year, though the show didn’t get a best series nom. Rounding out the field are former winners Tina Fey for 30 Rock and Toni Collette for United States of Tara.
As for Good Wife, the freshman drama exceeded expectations in the acting categories. After winning the Golden Globe and the SAG Award, Margulies’ nomination was a lock, with co-star Christine Baranski also generating buzz. But the show landed a total of 5 acting nominations: Margulies, Baranski and Archie Panjabi in the supporting actress in a drama series categories and Dylan Baker and Alan Cumming for guest stars. (Cumming has been promoted to regular next season.)
And both Nurse Jackie and Good Wife had their best series/acting noms backed up by writing (Good Wife)/directing (Nurse Jackie) noms for their pilots.
One of the biggest surprises in the top comedy category: Chuck Lorre’s hits The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men were snubbed for a second consecutive year, along with Parks & Recreation (though Big Bang and Parks & Rec scored for stars Jim Parsons and Amy Poehler). It’s especially surprising for Big Bang, the top-rated comedy series last season. Emmy voters stayed away from the multi-camera format altogether, with no multicam sitcom, including last year’s best series nominee How I Met Your Mother, able to make the cut as Glee, Modern Family and Nurse Jackie were joined by veterans HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, for its Seinfeld-themed 7th season, and NBC’s The Office and 30 Rock.
Probably the biggest surprise in the best drama series category was the nomination for campy vamp series True Blood. The other nominees were largely expected: AMC’s Mad Men and Breaking Bad, The Good Wife and a final mention for ABC’s Lost.
Lost made a big exit with 12 nominations for its last season, including acting noms for star Matthew Fox and co-stars Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson. Two other departing drama series which, like Lost, have won best series Emmy before, 24 and Law & Order, didn’t fare as well. 24 landed 5 noms, four in the technical categories and a guest-starring nom for Gregory Itzin, while Law & Order was shut out completely.
And while Friday Night Lights still couldn’t break into the best drama series field, lead actor nominations for Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are a big victory for the parental TV Academy stepchild, which had never landed a major nomination except for the directing nom for its pilot 3 years ago. (This year, FNL also earned its first writing nomination) That can’t be said for NBC’s new dramedy Parenthood, proving once again that midseason series can’t make an impact at the Emmys in their first try. Despite a solid Emmy campaign, Parenthood didn’t land a single nom. Also left empty-handed, NBC’s underrated freshman comedy Community.)
No major surprises in the lead comedy actor field, with previous nominees Jim Parsons (Big Bang), Steve Carell (The Office), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and two-time winner Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) making a return, while Morrison stepped in for Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men) who is out of the category for the first time in five years (But his co-stars Jon Cryer and Holland Taylor landed supporting noms).
The lead actor in a drama series field was a bit more dynamic with Lost star Matthew Fox landing a surprise first Emmy nom for the departing sci-fi drama, along with Chandler. The rest of the field is a repeat from last year: two-time winner Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Hugh Laurie (House).
Ditto on the distaff side: Mad Men’s January Jones is in for co-star Elisabeth Moss who was in the category last year, with Margulies and Britton also providing fresh blood alongside perennial favorites Glenn Close (Damages), Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) and Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU). The biggest upset was the omission of 3-time nominee and 2007 winner Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters)
The big surprise in the best supporting actor in a drama series category was the fact that Dexter‘s John Lithgow was not in it. It’s not that Lithgow was snubbed, he was submitted (and nominated) in the guest actor field, which is a head-scratcher. At the Golden Globes, he was nominated and won for supporting actor.
The nomination for The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien brought the only change to two categories that seem frozen in time: best variety, music or comedy series and best reality competition series, which have been won in the past seven years by the same shows, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and CBS’ The Amazing Race, respectively. The last two years, both fields featured exactly the same five nominees: Daily Show, Comedy’s The Colbert Report, CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman, NBC’s Saturday Night Live and HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher for best VMC series; and Race, Fox’s American Idol, ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, Bravo’s Project Runway and Top Chef for best reality-competition series.
Conan is in for Dave this year, while the reality competition list is a carbon copy of the one previous two years, with one footnote: Lifetime is in for Bravo as the network for Project Runway.
The host for reality-competition series category also features only last-year nominees: winner Jeff Probst (Survivor), Tom Bergeron (Dancing with the Stars), Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race), Heidi Klum (Project Runway) and Ryan Seacrest (American Idol). The field shrunk by a slot this year, leaving out last-year nominee Padma Lakshmi (Top Chef).
CBS, whose Amazing Race has dominated the reality-competition field, may be going for a sweep of the unscripted categories this year with its freshman hit Undercover Boss landing an unexpected nomination in the reality program category, along with another newcomer, ABC’s Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. In an even bigger upset, last year’s winner in the category, A&E’s Intervention is out. Fellow last-year nominees Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, Antique Roadshow and Mythbusters are back, joined by Dirty Jobs.