"Mad Men" and "Horror Story" lead Emmy nods

Hamm, of "Mad Men"
Hamm, of "Mad Men"
Posted: July 20, 2012

AMC's "Mad Men" and FX's "American Horror Story" tied Thursday for the most Emmy nominations, with 17 apiece.

But the two basic cable shows won't be facing each other in the competition for outstanding drama.

Because while you might have thought both were regular series, the FX show, taking advantage, perhaps, of its anthology format, is competing in the movies and miniseries category, up against HBO's "Game Change," the History Channel's "Hatfields & McCoys," HBO's "Hemingway & Gellhorn," BBC America's "Luther" and PBS' "Masterpiece" presentation "Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia."

Meanwhile, another "Masterpiece" entry, "Downton Abbey," which last season competed — and won — as a miniseries, is in the running for outstanding drama for its second season, along with HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" and "Game of Thrones," AMC's "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" and Showtime's "Homeland." Last year's award to "Downton," whose second season had already been announced when it won the Emmy, had provoked some grumbling at HBO, which generally has a lot of its nominations riding on the movies and miniseries categories.

Also taking advantage of the apparently blurring line between series and miniseries: ABC's "Missing," whose star, Ashley Judd, was nominated in the mini-category, something that makes sense only because ABC canceled the show at the end of its first short season (though if someone had just thought to cut the final scene, which set up a cliff-hanger for a second season that never came, it would at least have played like a miniseries).

Maybe AMC, whose 34 nominations made it the most-nominated basic cable network for the fifth season in a row, should look into joining the category creep. As it is, three-time winner Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") is again up against Jon Hamm of "Mad Men." They're joined in the category outstanding lead actor in a drama by Hugh Bonneville ("Downton Abbey"), Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire"), Michael C. Hall ("Dexter") and Damian Lewis ("Homeland"). Out in the cold: Hugh Laurie, of Fox's now-finished "House," who's now never going to win an Emmy for that show.

Which is a shame, because Laurie, who's won a couple of Television Critics Awards, gives a great speech. And the Emmys could use some of those. Lewis deserves to be a strong contender for his work as a returned POW who may be a threat to national security, but he also may have taken the slot apparently reserved for British actors playing Americans.

Lewis' "Homeland" co-star, Claire Danes, was nominated for outstanding lead actress in a drama, along with Glenn Close (DirecTV's "Damages"), Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey"), Julianna Margulies (CBS' "The Good Wife"), Kathy Bates (NBC's "Harry's Law") and Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men").

Emmy voters, often derided by critics as old and out of touch, went this year with something (or someone) old and something new, giving a nod to 90-year-old Betty White, host of NBC's "Betty White's Off Their Rockers," in the reality-host category — in which she'll be in competition with the likes of Ryan Seacrest of "American Idol" — and nominating Lena Dunham, the 26-year-old creator and star of HBO's "Girls," in both the lead-actress-in-a-comedy and outstanding-comedy categories.

Dunham's competition includes Upper Darby's Tina Fey, long an Emmy-winning machine, who was again nominated as lead actress in a comedy, along with NBC's "30 Rock," the show she created. Other actresses in the comedy include Melissa McCarthy (CBS' "Mike & Molly"), Zooey Deschanel (Fox's "New Girl"), Edie Falco (Showtime's "Nurse Jackie"), Amy Poehler (NBC's "Parks and Recreation") and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (HBO's "Veep").

Jim Parsons, who's already won two Emmys for his role in CBS' "The Big Bang Theory," is nominated for a third as lead actor in a comedy, along with Larry David (HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Don Cheadle (Showtime's "House of Lies"), Louis C.K. (FX's "Louie"), Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock") and Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men").

"American Idol," which failed to be nominated in the reality competition category, might as well blame departing judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

This year's Emmys, the 64th, will air Sept. 23 on ABC and be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.

A complete list of nominations can be found at emmys.org.

Contact Ellen Gray at 215-854-5950 or graye@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @elgray. Read her blog at EllenGray.tv.

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