Back when the TV Academy voted to merge the best TV movie and miniseries categories in 2011, hardest hit were smaller networks in the arena like Lifetime and Hallmark Channel as HBO and British imports were expected to gobble up the nomination spots. Those networks are now benefiting the most from the recent decision to restore the two categories. For instance, Lifetime’s Georgia O’Keeffe received a best TV movie nomination the year before the category consolidation. In the three years of merged best movie and miniseries category, Lifetime did not crack the field. Today, it landed both a best TV movie nom for The Trip To Bountiful and its first ever best miniseries nom for Bonnie & Clyde, a collaboration with sister network History. (Bonnie & Clyde was one of four programs produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to receive Emmy noms today, along with the Oscar ceremony, NBC’s The Sound of Music and another Lifetime movie, Anne Nicole). Also boosted by this year’s expansion of the longform acting categories from five to six nominees, Lifetime landed two lead actress in a TV movie or miniseries nominations for the first time in almost a decade for Return To Zero‘s Minnie Driver and Bountiful‘s Cicely Tyson, with longform fueling the network’s record 17 total Emmy noms.
Also getting a boost by the longform field expansion are National Geographic, landing a first best TV movie nom for Killing Kennedy, and IFC, earning a lead actress in a movie or miniseries mention for Spoils Of Babylon‘s Kristen Wiig. While those networks are making inroads, the heavy favorites this year remain FX’s Fargo and American Horror Story: Coven miniseries with 18 and 17 nominations, respectively, HBO’s The Normal Heart with 16 and Masterpiece’s Sherlock: His Last Vow with 12.
As expected, the big beneficiary from the split of the reality program category into two were the unstructured reality series as the combined category had been dominated by structured series for the past couple of years, with Undercover Boss winning in 2012 and 2013. Indeed, all six shows nominated in the structured reality program today are previous nominees — CBS’ Undercover Boss, ABC hit Shark Tank, PBS veteran Antiques Roadshow, which tops the list of reality program nominations with nine, Discovery’s MythBusters, landing its sixth nom, as well as Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, both scoring second noms.
Things are dramatically different for unstructured reality series, with perennial nominee and 2011 winner The Deadliest Catch as the only previously nominated series. It is joined by a slew of first-timers, A&E/Mark Wahlberg’s breakout Wahlburgers (though the series that launched it, Duck Dynasty, was once again snubbed), Bravo’s real estate series Flipping Out and Million Dollar Listing New York, Discovery Channel’s Alaska: The Last Frontier and BBC America’s Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan. Said Million Dollar Listing New York‘s Ryan Serhant, “I would have never thought this would happen in 1000 years!”
Yet another split this year, of the voice-over category into narrator and and character voice-over performance, resulted in a big-name narrator field that includes Jeremy Irons, Daniel Craig, Whoopi Goldberg and Jane Lynch, joined by Henry Strozier.