LOS ANGELES — There’s something about “Mildred Pierce.”
The period melodrama about a self-made woman with a spoiled, backstabbing daughter earned Joan Crawford her first and only Oscar for the 1945 film version of the James M. Cain novel. And on Thursday, HBO’s lavish remake earned the 63rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards’ highest number of nominations — 21 — including those for best miniseries or movie, lead actress for Kate Winslet and director for Todd Haynes.
That capped a morning in which HBO earned a stunning 104 nods. Besides “Mildred Pierce,” the premium cable channel’s two freshman series, “Game of Thrones” and “Boardwalk Empire,” captured multiple nominations as did the movies “Cinema Verite” and “Too Big to Fail.”
There wasn’t even a close second. CBS followed in the nomination count with 50, then NBC with 46. HBO’s rival, Showtime, had 29. The series with the largest number of nominations were “Mad Men” with 19, “Boardwalk Empire” with 18, “Modern Family” with 17, “Saturday Night Live” with 16 and “Game of Thrones” with 13.
Nominated in the best drama series category are “Mad Men,” which has won this prize three years in a row, as well as “Dexter,” “The Good Wife,” “Game of Thrones,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Friday Night Lights.” The nod for “Friday Night Lights” comes just one day before the series ends its critically lauded run.
“After five seasons, it just feels incredible to have the show recognized,” said actress Connie Britton, who was nominated along with costar Kyle Chandler. “It was long deserved, I think.”
Best comedy series nominations went to “Glee,” “Modern Family,” “The Office” and “30 Rock.” Newcomers to the category include CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” which earned this nod in its fourth season, and NBC’s quirky comedy “Parks and Recreation.”
“We’ve had an interesting road,” said “Parks and Recreation” star and producer Amy Poehler, “so I guess this is a sort of validation.”
In the lead actor in a drama series category, the nominees are Steve Buscemi for “Boardwalk Empire,” Chandler for “Friday Night Lights,” Michael C. Hall for “Dexter,” Hugh Laurie for “House,” Jon Hamm for “Mad Men” and Timothy Olyphant for “Justified.”
Lead actress nominees in a drama series are Kathy Bates for “Harry’s Law,” Britton for “Friday Night Lights,” Mariska Hargitay for “Law & Order: SVU,” Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife” Elisabeth Moss for “Mad Men” and Mireille Enos for the new AMC thriller “The Killing.”
Enos joked that if she won, awards host Jane Lynch could find plenty of joke material in the somber character she plays. “She probably could talk about my character’s terrible wardrobe,” said Enos. “Or the fact that I never smile.”
Steve Carell is a sentimental favorite for lead actor in a comedy series for his final season on “The Office,” but he will be competing against Matt LeBlanc for “Episodes,” Alec Baldwin for “30 Rock,” Louis C.K. for “Louie,” Johnny Galecki for “The Big Bang Theory” and last year’s winner, Jim Parsons, also for “The Big Bang Theory.”
Vying for lead actress in a comedy series are Edie Falco, last year’s winner, for “Nurse Jackie”; Laura Linney in “The Big C,” Tina Fey for “30 Rock,” Melissa McCarthy for “Mike & Molly” and Poehler for “Parks & Recreation.”
Two octogenarians — Betty White and Cloris Leachman — also earned nominations in the supporting actress in a comedy series category. White received her 17th Emmy nomination for “Hot in Cleveland,” and Leachman picked up her 22nd nomination for “Raising Hope.”
“I’m still in shock — I’m so thrilled I can’t see straight!” White said Thursday morning. “I was in bed with the golden retriever. My agent called. He said congratulations — I’d totally forgotten. So I said out loud, I said, “Waaiiiitt.” The dog thought something wonderful had happened.”
Among the day’s many surprises were the 10 nominations announced for the Reelz Channel’s controversial miniseries “The Kennedys,” including best movie or miniseries, as well as nominations for stars Greg Kinnear and Barry Pepper, who play John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, respectively.
PBS earned 43 nominations Thursday, including 11 for its lavish Masterpiece Theatre miniseries about the British aristocracy, “Downton Abbey,” which was nominated for best miniseries or movie and lead actress in a movie or miniseries for Elizabeth McGovern. The reboot of the classic “Upstairs Downstairs” earned six nominations, including one for Jean Marsh for lead actress in a miniseries or movie. It’s deja vu for Marsh: She was nominated three years in a row for her performance as the maid Rose in the series when it originally aired in the 1970s. Rounding out the best miniseries or movie category are “Cinema Verite,” “Too Big To Fail” and “The Pillars of the Earth.”
“Saturday Night Live” continues its record run of Emmy nominations, with a nod for best variety, music or comedy series. Castmember Kristen Wiig secured a spot in the comedy supporting actress category, while Justin Timberlake scored three nominations Thursday as guest actor on a comedy series for his hosting duties on “Saturday Night Live,” as well as co-writing two songs from that episode. “
Jane Lynch, who won the Emmy for supporting actress in a comedy for “Glee” last year and earned a nomination in the same category Thursday, is hosting the ceremony. The show is set to air Sept. 18 on Fox.