Can cable make it three in a row in the best drama category? How about repeats for Bryan Cranston and Glenn Glose in the outstanding actor an actress in drama series. Will Jermey Piven take home his fourth consecutive statue for best supporting actor in a comedy series?
These are some of the big questions from a cable perspective as TV's best and brightest gather in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre Sunday Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. (ET) for the 61st annual primetime Emmy Awards. Hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, CBS will televise the event.
As mentioned, cable can extend its drama run to three in a row, following wins for HBO's The Sopranos in 2007 and AMC's Mad Men in 2008. The retro advertising series became the first basic-cable series to capture that prestigious honor last September.
Matt Weiner's show has a chance to defend its crown, along withBreaking Bad, another entry for AMC. Cable has three other chances here with HBO's polygamy show Big Love, Showtime's Dexter and FX's Damagesare also in the hunt. Broadcast has two contenders, with Fox's medical series House and ABC's Lost also in the hunt.
New Emmy rules allowed for more than five nominations in categories this time around.
In the best comedy arena, cable will look to end NBC's 30 Rock's two-year reign. HBO's Hollywood buddy series Entourage, the premium network's The Flight Of The Conchords and Showtime's Weeds will look to stop Tina Fey's show from capturing a comedic three-peat. The Office, which took category laurels in 2006, is also a broadcast contender with Fox's animated show Family Guy and CBS's How I Met Your Mother, which includes Harris, nominated for outstanding support actor for a comedy series in its ensemble cast.
As for the top acting awards, Cranston's crystal-meth-cooking anti-hero Walter White in Breaking Bad surprised everybody last year with his Emmy and could double down for AMC, as he faces Jon Hamm, who was nominated again for his portrayal of Mad Men's top ad guy, the troubled Don Draper. Michael C. Hall is also back as the lead character in Showtime' serial killer show Dexter, while Gabriel Byrne plays Paul, the head shrink in HBO's In Treatment. Hugh Laurie's cranky Gregory House is also back for Fox's House, while Simon Baker earned a nod for CBS's The Mentalist, broadcast's top new show during the 2008-09 season.
Glenn Close, who scored a statue last year for her role as Patty Hewes in FX's Damages, has cable company again from Kyra Sedgwick in TNT's The Closer, Holly Hunter in the drama network's Saving Grace and Elizabeth Moss's copywriter on the climb in Mad Men. Mariska Hargitay and Sally Field, who won in 2006 and 2007, for their work in NBC's Law & Order SVU and ABC's Brothers and Sisters, provide formidable competition as the top femme drama actress.
Piven, who plays the over-the-top uber agent Ari Gold in HBO's Entourage, is looking for a fourth Emmy as the outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series. He'll have to beat out castmate Kevin Dillon's Johnny Drama again, as well as Harris' Stinson, Rainn Wilson in NBC's The Office, Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer in the Peacock's 30 Rock and Jon Cryer in CBS's Two And A Half Men.
There are a few things for certain, cable will take home an Emmy in the made for television movie category, sweeping all five slots for HBO's Grey Gardens, Taking Chance and Into The Storm, as well as Lifetime telepics Prayers For Bobby and Coco Chanel.Similarly, the medium will be collecting hardware in outstanding lead actress in a minseries or movie, garnering all five nods, including Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange in Grey Gardens, which scored 17 nominations. That's second only to the 22 nods for 30 Rock, with Mad Men grabbing 16 nominations.
Overall, HBO set the pace with 99 Emmy nominations.
A complete list of the Primetime Emmy nominations can be found here.