Emmy's Best Bets: Returning favorites and some surprises in this year's nominations

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Commercial broadcast network executives awoke to an unpleasant Emmy morning on Thursday: For the first time, not a single series on the Big Four -- ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox -- was nominated for a best drama Emmy award.

PBS's "Downton Abbey" joined "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO), "Breaking Bad" (AMC), "Game of Thrones" (HBO), "Homeland" (Showtime) and "Mad Men" (AMC) in the best drama derby. What do these shows have in common? They're all serialized with ongoing stories.

The most glaring network drama omission was CBS's well-regarded "The Good Wife," which did nab acting nominations for stars Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, Christine Baranski and guest stars Dylan Baker, Michael J. Fox and Martha Plimpton.

On the comedy side, broadcasters fared better while the most critically acclaimed cable comedy was ignored. FX's "Louie" did not get a best comedy nomination; those went to "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS), "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO), "Girls" (HBO), "Modern Family" (ABC), "30 Rock" (NBC) and "Veep" (HBO). But "Louie" star Louis C.K. did receive seven personal nominations for lead actor in a comedy, directing a comedy, writing a comedy for "Louie" and outstanding directing for a comedy special, writing for a comedy special, editing for short-form and variety specials, and outstanding special class program for FX's "Louis C.K. Live at The Beacon Theatre."

NBC's superior "Parks and Recreation" received no best comedy series nomination, but star Amy Poehler was recognized.

Understandably given its schizophrenic character development, Fox's "Glee" received no major category nominations; less understandably, TV's best reality competition series, Oxygen's "The Glee Project," also was snubbed.

Nomination winners

AMC's "Mad Men" and FX's "American Horror Story" tied for the most nominations for a program with 17 each. FX wisely entered "AHS" as a miniseries; had it been entered as a drama it seems unlikely it would have done as well.

PBS's "Downton Abbey" and History's "Hatfields & McCoys" miniseries each earned 16 nominations. "Downton's" strong showing, including six acting nominations, gives PBS something to brag about during an election year when some politicos are sure to be looking to slash federal appropriations for public broadcasting.

HBO had the most nominations of any network, as usual, with 81 nods, followed by CBS (60), PBS (58), NBC (51), ABC (48), AMC (34), Fox (26), FX (26) and Showtime (22).

Some deserving nominees who could have been overlooked: Giancarlo Esposito (best supporting drama actor) and Anna Gunn (best supporting drama actress) of AMC's "Breaking Bad"; Merritt Wever ("Nurse Jackie") and Mayim Bialik ("The Big Bang Theory") are best supporting comedy actress nominees; "New Girl" scene stealer Max Greenfield is a best supporting comedy actor nominee.

"Harry's Law" fans take note: The show was canceled, but star Kathy Bates received an Emmy nomination for lead actress in a drama and for guest actress in a comedy when she played the ghost of Charlie Harper on "Two and a Half Men."

Two "Desperate Housewives" stars received recognition in the show's finale season: Brenda Strong received a voice-over performance nomination for her role as series narrator Mary-Alice Young and the late Kathryn Joosten was nominated for supporting comedy actress.

Shambling AMC drama "The Walking Dead" received three nominations for behind-the-scenes work, including McCandless native Greg Nicotero for outstanding prosthetic makeup for a series, miniseries, movie or special.

Strangest category choice: ABC submitted its canceled series "Missing" as a miniseries and star Ashley Judd snagged a best lead actress in a miniseries nomination.

Nomination losers

Fox's "American Idol" and "The X Factor" did not receive show nominations, but NBC's "The Voice" did.

"Survivor" host Jeff Probst was not nominated, but Betty White was for NBC's "Betty White's Off Their Rockers."

FX's "Justified" did not receive a best drama nomination nor did star Timothy Olyphant receive a best actor nomination. TNT's "Southland" was shut out save for an outstanding stunt coordination nomination. Also MIA: "Sons of Anarchy" and "The Killing."

NBC's low-rated but well-loved "Community" also was snubbed in the best comedy category along with ABC's "The Middle."

Hugh Laurie did not receive a nomination for his final season starring in Fox's "House."

Starz's "Boss" received zero nominations, not even for well-regarded star Kelsey Grammer.

"Mad Men" actress Jessica Pare, who rose to prominence in the cast this season as Megan Draper, also was overlooked.

Olympics pre-emption

With the Olympics starting soon, regular programming will get pre-empted on NBC stations nationwide, including Pittsburgh's WPXI. But Channel 11 will continue to air two daytime talk shows in their regular time slots on the station's PCNC cable channel.

From July 30 through Aug. 10, "Ellen" (10 a.m. weekdays) and "Anderson" (11 a.m. weekdays) will move over to PCNC.

In addition, at 7 p.m. July 27 WPXI will pre-empt "Jeopardy!" for "Pittsburgh Goes for the Gold," a half-hour special profiling 11 Western Pennsylvania athletes competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Renewals, premiere dates

MTV has renewed "Teen Wolf" for a third season, doubling the episode order from 12 to 24 episodes. Disney Channel ordered a fourth season of sitcom "Good Luck, Charlie."

A new Fred Figglehorn movie, "Fred 3: Camp Fred," debuts at 8 p.m. July 28 on Nick. A new Bravo comedy special, "Kathy Griffin: Seaman 1st Class," debuts at 10 p.m. Thursday.

History will premiere the new season of the U.S. "Top Gear" at 9 p.m. Aug. 14, and A&E brings back "Shipping Wars" at 9 and 9:30 p.m. Aug. 7, followed six days later by new seasons of "Hoarders" and "Intervention" at 9 and 10 p.m. Aug. 13.

GSN will premiere its new original series, "The Pyramid," based on the classic word guessing game "$100,000 Pyramid," at 6 p.m. Sept. 3 and it will air in that time slot weekdays.

AMC's "The Walking Dead" will return for its third season at 9 p.m. Oct. 14, airing eight episodes this fall and the remaining eight episodes beginning in February.

And planning way ahead, HBO's "Game of Thrones" will kick off its third season on March 31, 2013.

TCA coverage begins

The Television Critics Association summer press tour begins Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., and I'll be reporting from there with posts to Tuned In Journal blog beginning this weekend. Coverage in the print edition begins Monday.

'Sunny' tour in town

The Sunny Challenge from FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (returning with new episodes Oct. 11) will stop in Pittsburgh on Aug. 5, noon to 4 p.m., at McFadden's, 211 North Shore Drive., on the North Shore.

Fans can participate in games inspired by the comedy series, including Mac's Lucky Hockey Puck Shot, Jersey Shore Dunk Tank, Charlie's Garbage Dive, Frank's Rum Ham Toss and Dennis' Speedo Relay Race. Participants must be 21 and have a government-issued ID.

The first 400 participants in attendance will receive an exclusive T-shirt, two bottles of Coors Light and a hot dog.

This is a ticketed event. Free tickets are available online at gofobo.it/sunnychallenge.

Pitt grad creates 'The Thrill'

Last week I reported on The Sportsman Channel airing "The Thrill With Benmont and Kate" (2:30 p.m. Tuesday; 8 a.m. Wednesday and 1:30 p.m. Saturday), but I screwed up the credits. So let's try again: The series is written, produced and edited by Keith Parish, a 2007 University of Pittsburgh graduate. Katelyn Frey and Benmont Locker are the hosts.

The series combines hunting scenes with a look at the redevelopment of Medalist, a line of hunting apparel. Sportsman Channel can be found on Comcast (Channel 153 and 917HD), Verizon's FiOS TV (308), DirecTV (605) and DISH Network (285, 395).

Channel surfing

Ratings reports galore this week: AMC's "Breaking Bad" returned with its most-watched episode ever (2.9 million viewers); USA's "Political Animals" had a soft debut (2.6 million) while TNT's "Perception" grew demographically in its second week (5.5 million). And PBS reports final numbers from May show the "American Masters" Johnny Carson biography was watched by 6.3 million viewers (including repeats and DVR viewing) and "Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates Jr." averaged 2.5 million viewers over its run, besting PBS's prime-time average of 2.1 million viewers. ... Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night" musical sketches will get a prime-time showcase at 10 p.m. Wednesday. ... GSN will air reruns of "Minute to Win It" in four-hour blocks, 7-11 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning next week. ... Hulu.com will co-produce a fourth season of the BBC political comedy "The Thick of It," from the producer of HBO's "Veep," for streaming on Hulu before it airs on BBC America next year. ... Kristin Powell of Imperial will be featured tonight at 9:30 on a new episode of TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress."

Tuned In online

Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about "The Firm," "Endeavour" and animal stories on local TV news. This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on "Sullivan & Son," what Pittsburgh viewers are recording on TiVo and a "Portlandia" special. Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.

This week's podcast includes conversation about "Breaking Bad," "Big Brother," "Eureka" and Comic-Con coverage on G4. Subscribe or listen at post-gazette.com/podcast.


TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news. First Published July 20, 2012 4:00 AM


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