New stars and programs break into the Primetime Emmys ranks as TV makes history.
It may have looked like business as usual, but there was an unmistakable buzz in the air at the Emmy nominations ceremony — and it wasn’t from the coffee.
In fact, the pre-dawn broadcast was so polished and proficient — going live July 10 at 5:40 a.m. and wrapping at 5:46 — it probably took most early risers at least a few minutes to gather that television history had been made on several fronts.
In those 6 minutes, viewers learned that:
• Three series had broken into the prestigious outstanding-program categories in their freshman year: HBO’s True Detective in outstanding drama series and Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black as well as HBO’s Silicon Valley in outstanding comedy;
• Another new program, FX’s Fargo, earned the second-highest number of nominations, 18 (only HBO’s Game of Thrones earned more, with 19);
• Digital streamer Netflix scored outstanding series nominations in both comedy (for Orange Is the New Black) and drama (House of Cards);
• Several prominent actors were nominated in lead series categories for the first time, including Lizzy Caplan (Showtime’s Masters of Sex), Woody Harrelson (True Detective) and Taylor Schilling (Orange Is the New Black).
• Matthew McConaughey, who was nominated along with his costar, Harrelson, for his lead role in True Detective, could become the first male actor to capture an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year.
All those breakthroughs are no accident. As Bruce Rosenblum, chairman of the Television Academy, noted at the podium of the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood, the changing nature of television is changing the Emmys.
“What is truly telling from this year’s list of nominees,” Rosenblum said, “is the rapidly expanding definition of television. Quality television is now platform-agnostic. We’re watching broadcast networks, basic cable, premium cable and on-demand premium services. And we’re watching on flat screens, tablets and mobile devices.
"The great news is that there are more Emmy-worthy series, movies and miniseries being produced by our industry than ever before.”
Another change that was significant but less visible: for the first time, Television Academy members were able to vote online for nominations. “Because we had electronic voting this year, our voting was up meaningfully,” Rosenblum said.
Joining the Academy chairman to announce the nominations in 10 key categories were Mindy Kaling, star and creator–executive producer of Fox’s The Mindy Project, and Carson Daly, host and producer of NBC’s The Voice.
The performers took turns revealing the news; it fell to Daly to declare the nominees for outstanding reality-competition program.
Along with the category’s perennial winner, CBS’s The Amazing Race, were ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, Lifetime’s Project Runway, Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, Bravo’s Top Chef and Daly’s own The Voice. The host made a modest fist pump and whispered “Yes!” before handing off to Kaling.
Rosenblum announced the outstanding series nominees. Joining Orange Is the New Black and Silicon Valley in the comedy competition were CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, FX’s Louie, ABC’s Modern Family (the winner the past 4 years) and HBO’s Veep.
On the drama side, joining True Detective and House of Cards were AMC’s Breaking Bad (last year’s winner), PBS’s Downton Abbey, HBO’s Game of Thrones and AMC’s Mad Men.
As noted, the most honored programs were Game of Thrones, with 19 nominations, and Fargo with 18. They were followed by American Horror Story: Coven, with 17; Breaking Bad and HBO’s The Normal Heart, 16 each; NBC’s Saturday Night Live, 14; House of Cards, 13; and 12 each to Fox and Nat Geo’s Cosmos, Downton Abbey, Orange Is the New Black, True Detective and Sherlock: His Last Vow on PBS’s Masterpiece.
Among all the networks, HBO retained its top spot with 99 nominations. Several networks set a personal best: FX, 45; Netflix, 31; Comedy Central, 21; Lifetime, 17; Starz, 11; and IFC, 8. Among other major networks, CBS took 47; NBC, 46; ABC, 37; PBS, 34; and Showtime, 24.
In all, television industry members are competing in 106 categories this year, and as usual, the Emmys will be awarded on 2 nights. The NBC telecast from NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles will air live coast to coast on August 25 at 5 p.m., with the red-carpet pre-show starting at 4 p.m.
The Creative Arts Awards — where most of the Emmys acknowledge behind-the-scenes artistry — will be held August 16, also at the NOKIA.
The primetime telecast will be hosted by Seth Meyers of NBC’s Late Night and executive-produced — for the 15th time — by Don Mischer, who made it known at the nominations announcement that he was ready to roll.
“We’re always thinking about everything we can do to make the show fresh and different,” he said. “But until this morning, it was all conjecture. It’s like we’re at the starting line of the 100-meter dash. You can’t start the race until the gun goes off. This morning the gun was fired — we now know the nominees and we’re going to sprint to the finish line.”
But not everything is in the hands of the executive producer, he cautioned.
“The 2 things that make award shows memorable and significant are 2 things that the producers have no control over — who’s going to win and what they’re going to say. We can go so far to produce a show, but the awards show gods have to smile on us and help us in the other areas. But I’m really happy with the nominees.”
Another happy camper was Rosenblum. “We’re in great hands with Don,” he said of the veteran producer. “He’s a consummate pro. And Seth brings a fresh voice to the proceedings. Of course, NBC has a vision of what they’d like to see as well. So between Don, Seth, NBC and the Academy, we should have a really fun show this year.”