Cable produced the top three vote getters in the 59th annual Emmy Awards. HBO’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and The Sopranos and AMC’s Broken Trail secured 48 of the 219 nominations earned by programs distributed on cable.
HBO, which earned 86 nods in topping ABC’s 70, was the leading nominee in all of television. But kudos were spread across 22 cable networks. Other double-digit-earning networks include AMC, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Showtime, TNT and USA Network.
As expected, the recently concluded The Sopranos received a big send-off from viewers, garnering 15 nominations for its final season. Acting nominations for the acclaimed mob series were widespread, with the work of James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Ada Turturro, Lorraine Bracco and Tim Daly all receiving notice.
The Academy members made their feelings known about that controversial black screen ending: David Chase was nominated for writing “Made in America,” the ambiguous, series finale.
The current slate of nominations brings The Sopranos tally to 111 over the life of the series, a total that left cable’s biggest-ever show nine nominations short of the all-time drama nod champ, NBC’s ER.
Emmy watchers note the show will have to break new ground again to win: No drama series has ever captured the best series award after it has ceased production. To date, The Sopranos has won 18 Emmy awards.
But TV’s top nominee was Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee with 17. It will go toe-to-toe in most craft and acting categories with the next highest nomination earner, Broken Trail, with 16. Bury’s principal actors, including Aiden Quinn, August Schellenberg and Anna Paquin were nominated, as was Broken Trail’s Robert Duval, Thomas Haden Church and Greta Scacchi.
Broken Trail’s take made it the most-nominated show on basic cable, and it earned the greatest number of miniseries nods since Roots. That Alex-Haley-inspired mini garnered 37 Emmy nominations in 1977.
Broken Trail would have to win at least 12 of its categories to beat HBO’s 2004 Angels in America to become the most honored miniseries in TV history.
Other multiple cable nominees include The Starter Wife, earning 10 for USA Network. The heavily promoted miniseries was nominated for star Debra Messing and supporting players Joe Mantegna and Judy Davis, as well as for best miniseries, writing, editing, costumes and makeup.
Nominations for HBO’s Hollywood buddy comedy Entourage included competitive nominations for Jeremy Piven and Kevin Dillon as best supporting actor, and a nod for Academy Award winner Martin Landau for a guest starring role.
Multiple nominee Planet Earth, Discovery Channel’s all high-definition look at life on our globe, was nominated as the best non-fiction series among its seven nods; HBO’s epic Rome also earned seven; and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart was nominated six times.
The latter will go head-to-head with the show it spawned, The Colbert Report, for best comedy/variety show and for best performer in that category, pitting Stewart against Stephen Colbert. Both will have to beat Tony Bennett, star of his own special.
Cable knows it will take home the Emmy in at least these categories: best actor in a miniseries or movie and best supporting actor and actress in a miniseries. All of the nominees in these categories come from cable’s camp.
Some of the more interesting races to look for:
- Best actress in a miniseries. Watch to see if Queen Latifah can win the statuette for her first Emmy nomination, for her role in the AIDs drama Life Support on HBO. But she will have to beat, among others, Mary Louise Parker, responsible for Oxygen’s only Emmy nomination for her lead role in The Robber Bride. Parker can become a double winner if she also takes home the Emmy as best comedy actress for her role in Showtime’s Weeds.
- The race for best animated series of less than one hour. South Park dukes it out with Robot Chicken, SpongeBob SquarePants and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- What past Emmy or Oscar award winner will take home the best miniseries acting Emmy? Oscar winners Jim Broadbent or Robert Duvall? Emmy winners William H. Macy or Tom Selleck? Or Matthew Perry, who’s never won?
- The fate of the funniest nominee: Will Saturday Night Live and YouTube favorite “Dick in a Box” win an award for best original music and lyrics?
- The FX nominations: Will this third nomination be the charm for Rescue Me’s Dennis Leary? Will Minnie Driver take home the actress award in her freshman year on The Riches?
- Can Ed Asner solidify his position as the second-most honored actor on television with his eighth Emmy with a best supporting actor win for The Hallmark Channel’s The Christmas Card? (No. 1 is Carl Reiner with nine awards).
The winners will be announced Sept. 16 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Fox will televise the kudofest.