UPDATED: It was on the air for only seven months and NBC didn’t campaign for it, but The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien swept the Emmy categories for best variety music or comedy series, landing 4 nominations, including for best VMC series. Its predecessor/successor, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno didn’t get a single nod. In fact, Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien was the only late-night broadcast talk show to make the cut in the top VMC series category, joined by Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and Colbert Report, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and NBC’s sketch comedy Saturday Night Live. And that was not all: The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien also got nominated for writing, directing and art direction. A lot of sentimental voting here. And who knows, those ads O’Brien’s new employer TBS ran in his support may have helped too… UPDATE: Conan tweeted his reaction: “Congrats to my staff on four Emmy nominations. This bodes well for the future of The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien”
– Betty White brought Saturday Night Live big ratings, now she is also bringing the NBC sketch comedy show a truckload of Emmy nominations. The Mother’s Day SNL episode she hosted earned 7 nominations, including one for her in the guest star comedy category (This is White’s 17’s Emmy nom!) The rest include writing, directing, art direction, hair styling, makeup, lighting direction.
– Eight seasons – eight Emmy nominations! Monk star Tony Shalhoub kept his perfect record intact with his eight consecutive (and final) lead comedy actor nomination for the USA dramedy, which wrapped its eight-second run in December. He has won 3 times.
– For a second straight year, Tina Fey and Jon Hamm are double acting nominees for the same shows. In addition to their lead actor noms for their series 30 Rock and Mad Men, respectively, for the second consecutive year both landed guest actor noms for hosting Saturday Night Live (Fey) and appearing on 30 Rock (Hamm). Fey actually won the guest comedy actress category last year for her Sarah Palin impersonation-boosted hosting stint on SNL. More double nominees this year: Neil Patrick Harris (supporting for How I Met Your Mother and guest for Glee), Christine Baranski (supporting for The Good Wife, guest for The Big Bang Theory) and Jane Lynch (supporting for Glee, guest for Two an a Half Men)
– Speaking of double nominees, Bill Maher was double-double nominee this year, scoring best program and best writing nominations in both the best variety, music or comedy series and the best VMC special fields for his HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher and HBO special ... But I’m Not Wrong.
– Give them an Emmy already! Hugh Laurie, Steve Carell and Kyra Sedgwick are all on their fifth Emmy nominations for playing some of the most recognizable characters on television, yet none has won. Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen’s streak of 4 consecutive nominations for Two and a Half Men was snapped this year. (He too has never won.)
– Love it or hate it, but the Lost finale scored big in the Emmy nominations. The episode, aptly titled The End earned noms for writing (Damon Lindelof & Carlron Cuse), directing (Jack Bender), music, sound editing, sound mixing and guest-starring actress on a drama series (Elizabeth Mitchell). Additionally, the episode was among those submitted for best drama series consideration and earned the series a nom. It also was probably the one that sealed star Matthew Fox’s first Emmy nomination. As for fellow departees 24 and Heroes, the real-time Fox drama’s finale scored noms for music and sound mixing, while the de-facto Heroes finale (unless there is a TV movie) earned an art direction nom, the show’s only mention.
– Wanda Sykes got some good news following the cancellations of her primetime series, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and her late-night talk show on Fox. Her HBO standup special I’ma Be Me (yes, that’s the spelling) earned nominations for best variety, music or comedy special and for writing for a VMC special.
– The biggest head-scratcher this year has to be the submission of John Lithgow as a guest star for his stint on Showtime’s Dexter. He was in every episode of the show’s fourth season and was featured alongside series star Michael C. Hall in Dexter‘s Emmy promo materials. He also ran and won as a supporting actor at the Golden Globes in January.
– As for the most unexpected nomination, that’s got to be David Letterman’s nom in the best children’s nonfiction program category for producing PBS’ Sesame Workshop children’s special When Families Grieve. What makes the nomination even more unusual is that it is Letterman’s only one this year, as his Late Show was snubbed in both the best variety, music or comedy series and writing for such series categories.
– The best costumes for a series category once again offers an amusing mix of styles and periods: 16th Century England Royal attire (The Tudors), 1960s office wardrobe (Mad Men), 1980s glam (Glee‘s Madonna episode), contemporary business attire (The Good Wife) and contemporary casual/wedding dressy clothes (The I Do Do episode of 30 Rock)
– TV Academy chairman John Shaffner became a double nominee. With his longtime partner Joe Stewart, the veteran production designer received nominations in two art direction categories for The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and The Big Bang Theory. Fellow nominees in those categories must be pretty nervous, running against the boss.