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AMC, FX dramas earn Emmy nominations

Fri., July 18, 2008

Shows are first from basic cable to be recognized by academy

The Emmys are getting down to basics – basic cable, that is.

AMC’s “Mad Men” and FX’s “Damages” on Thursday became the first shows outside network TV and pay cable to be nominated for outstanding drama series – a feat that past critics’ darlings on basic cable, including FX’s “The Shield” and “Rescue Me” and TNT’s “The Closer,” have failed to accomplish.

“Mad Men” and “Damages” will compete with ABC’s “Boston Legal” and “Lost,” Showtime’s “Dexter” and Fox’s “House” at the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 21.

“Men,” a ’60s drama set in the world of New York advertising, was the Cinderella story, garnering 17 nominations, including a best actor nod for Jon Hamm.

This was AMC’s first attempt at a dramatic series; its second, the dark drug-dealing comedy “Breaking Bad,” also earned a best actor nomination for its star, Bryan Cranston.

Rookie legal drama “Damages” racked up seven nominations, including three for the unforgettable performances of Glenn Close, Ted Danson and Zeljko Ivanek.

The basic-cable breakthrough counters the academy’s reputation as an institution slow to welcome newcomers, a stereotype further discounted by its embrace of ABC’s quirky “Pushing Daisies.”

While the freshman series failed to land a spot in the comedy category, it earned 12 nominations, second only to last year’s big winner, NBC’s “30 Rock,” among network shows.

“Rock” earned 17 nominations, the most ever by a comedy series, and will compete for best comedy with HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Entourage,” NBC’s “The Office” and CBS’ “Two and a Half Men” – leaving no room for past nominees “Ugly Betty” or “Desperate Housewives.”

“Housewives” had a particularly bad day with only four nominations, and no love for any of the show’s actresses.

HBO certainly had to feel giddy about its whopping 85 nominations, including 23 for its historical miniseries “John Adams” and 22 for the movies “Recount” and “Bernard and Doris.”

But with “The Sopranos” gone, HBO was without a best-drama nominee for the first time since 1998. “The Wire” was tabbed in just one category, outstanding writing – a disappointment for loyal fans who felt the show would finally get recognition in its final season.

The most heated (and star-studded) races are among series actresses.

All of the comedic lead nominees – Christina Applegate (“Samantha Who?”), America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty”), Tiny Fey (“30 Rock”), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Old Christine”) and Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds”) – are past winners.

In the drama department, contenders Close (“Damages”), Sally Field (“Brothers & Sisters”), Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: SVU”), Holly Hunter (“Saving Grace”) and Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”) have had a combined 33 nominations, and all are previous champs with the exception of Sedgwick.

The rivals for reality-show host have a long way to go before racking up those kinds of numbers, but that’s largely because this is the category’s first year.

The lucky pioneers: Tom Bergeron (“Dancing With the Stars”), Heidi Klum (“Project Runway”), Howie Mandel (“Deal or No Deal”), Jeff Probst (“Survivor”) and Ryan Seacrest (“American Idol”).

Joining Hamm and Cranston as nominees for best male actor in a drama were last year’s winner, James Spader (“Boston Legal”); Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”); Hugh Laurie (“House”); and Gabriel Byrne (“In Treatment”).

Nods for comedy series lead actors went to Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”), Steve Carrell (“The Office”), Lee Pace (“Pushing Daisies”), Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”) and Charlie Sheen (“Two And A Half Men).”


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