‘Game of Thrones’ Leads Emmy Nominations as HBO Shines

“Game of Thrones,” the HBO drama about noble families fighting over a mythical land, was nominated for 19 Emmy awards to lead the annual contest for TV’s top honors.

The show, among the most-watched series on cable TV, garnered nominations for drama, writing, directing and acting. Time Warner Inc.’s HBO also scored a nomination for the new show “True Detective.” They will compete with the political drama “House of Cards” from Netflix Inc., which also grabbed its first best-comedy nomination.

HBO, home of “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” burnished its creative credentials with two nominations each in both drama and comedy, getting nods for “Veep” and “Silicon Valley,” the new parody of culture at technology start-ups. The network, which routinely leads the Emmy nominations, did so again today with 99.

“HBO has a been on a tear in critically acclaimed dramas and comedies,” said Brad Adgate, head of research at the advertising company Horizon Media in New York. “There was a lull post ‘Sopranos,’ but clearly that is over. They have a competitive advantage in content over broadcast rivals, and in branding over cable rivals.”

“Game of Thrones,” based on “A Song of Ice and Fire,” author George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, had been nominated three times for the best-drama Emmy, without winning.

Emmy Records

Along with “True Detective” and “House of Cards,” the other best-drama nominees are “Breaking Bad,” which won last year and ended its run, the PBS nobility show “Downton Abbey” and multiple winner “Mad Men,” which comes back for a final season next year.

The record for nominations is 37 for the miniseries “Roots” in 1977. “NYPD Blue” set the high mark for drama with 27 in 1994, according to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The group released its nominations today at a news conference in Los Angeles featuring NBC’s Carson Daly and Fox’s Mindy Kaling. The awards air Aug. 25 live on Comcast Corp.’s NBC.

“Fargo,” a new FX network program featuring Billy Bob Thornton, garnered 18 nominations, second-most this year, including best miniseries, and will also compete for acting, writing and directing awards. The HBO AIDS drama “The Normal Heart” received 16 nominations, including best TV movie.

“Game of Thrones” co-creator David Benioff, who was nominated for his writing, told Entertainment Weekly in 2013 that the series, starring an ensemble cast, has more actors than any show on TV. Supporting actor Peter Dinklage, a 2011 Emmy winner, was nominated again today, along with Lena Headey, one of his co-stars.

‘House of Cards’

Netflix, the largest Internet subscription service, was nominated a second year in a row for “House of Cards,” the political thriller featuring Kevin Spacey as a congressman scheming his way to power in Washington. Spacey was nominated for his role as Francis Underwood in the series, along with Robin Wright, who plays his equally calculating wife, Claire.

Netflix also won a nomination in the comedy category for the women’s prison series “Orange Is the New Black.” The show’s lead actress, Taylor Schilling, was nominated for her portrayal of Piper Chapman, the fish-out-of-water convict trying to cope with life among more hardened criminals.

It will compete with HBO’s “Veep” and “Silicon Valley,” along with CBS Corp.’s “The Big Bang Theory,” “Louie” on FX, and “Modern Family” on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC.

‘True Detective’

CBS placed second among all networks with 47 nominations, and led traditional broadcasters, according to the academy. For the third year in a row, none of the big four garnered a nomination in the coveted best-drama category.

With shows like “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective,” HBO continues to stand out as competition for audiences has expanded to include new online competitors serving fresh TV fare on smartphones and tablets.

Conventional programmers, like HBO and AMC Networks, are embracing on-demand technology on the Web and pay TV, reaching audiences in new ways that can give critically acclaimed shows like “Breaking Bad” time to build a fan base.

“The consumers are finding that great content,” Bruce Rosenblum, chairman of the academy, said in an interview. “The delivery system into the home or the handheld doesn’t matter anymore.”

Lead Actors

“True Detective” was an eight-episode series featuring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The show focused on their 17-year hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana and the troubled lives of two detectives.

Both actors were nominated for their roles in the series, which was written by novelist Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga. The other best actor nominees in drama include Bryan Cranston for AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” Jon Hamm for “Mad Men,” also on AMC, and last year’s winner Jeff Daniels for HBO’s “The Newsroom.”

For lead actress in a drama, “House of Cards” co-star Wright faces five competitors: Michelle Dockery for her role as Lady Mary Crawley on “Downton Abbey,” Julianna Margulies, star of CBS’s “The Good Wife,” two-time winner Claire Danes from Showtime’s “Homeland,” Lizzy Caplan from the Showtime series “Masters of Sex,” and Kerry Washington from ABC’s “Scandal.”

The Emmy telecast historically airs on a Sunday night in September, letting the networks promote new and returning shows to a large national audience. This year’s 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, with Seth Meyers scheduled to host, is set for Monday, Aug. 25 on NBC, before the new TV season starts.

Because the network enjoys big audiences for pro football on Sunday nights, NBC slotted the program for a Monday in August, among the earliest since the show moved from May and June in the 1970s.

Last year’s Sept. 22 show on CBS drew 17.6 million viewers, the most in eight years.


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