Internet shows its muscle by making Emmy history
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Emmy Awards are television's biggest celebration of itself, but this year's ceremony will face an intruder: "House of Cards," the first online series to nab a top nomination with its best drama series bid Thursday.
Netflix's triumph, which includes nods for its revival of "Arrested Development," is putting a further squeeze on the broadcast networks that already have lost substantial Emmy ground to cable. New network offerings were almost completely shut out and, like last year, no network drama made the nominations cut.
Kevin Spacey, the nominated star of the political drama "House of Cards," reveled in its impressive nine bids and role as a groundbreaker.
It's "really, in many ways, kind of a new paradigm," he said. "It's just a great, great thing for all of us."
The major networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, likely have a different viewpoint. Cable channels over the year have sharply eroded their share of the audience, and now the Internet is nibbling away and will only become more robust as viewers turn increasingly to computers and other devices to consume video.
A 6-year-old TV academy rules change allows online entries to compete with cable and broadcast programs, but until Thursday online shows popped up only in lower-profile categories.
"It's really groundbreaking," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. "It's beyond our most bold expectations. We were thinking a single nomination would be a win... It's as much a win for Internet television as it is for the content creators."
Networks still field the most-watched series — such as top-rated series "NCIS" and the 20 million-plus viewers it delivers weekly to CBS — and enjoy the rich opportunities they represent.
"There's nothing more profitable than having a big broadcast television hit that can be exploited on multiple platforms," including syndication and online, said Garth Ancier, a former executive for both broadcast networks and cable.
But when the Emmys are presented this fall on CBS, it will surely be irritating to serve as a promotional vehicle for the competition. The ceremony rotates among the big four broadcasters who, with the exception of basically flat NBC, saw their number of Emmy bids decline this year.
Besides the showing by Netflix, the leading number of nominations went to a cable miniseries, FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum." HBO fielded the next top nominees: "Game of Thrones" with 16 nods and the Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" earned 15 nominations.
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" came in with 15 as well, but it, outgoing "30 Rock" (also NBC, 13 bids) and "Modern Family" (ABC, 12 nominations) had the only impressive tallies for broadcast.
The bonanza of nominations for "Game of Thrones" is the swords-and-fantasy show's most-ever and includes a best drama series nod and three acting bids, including one for Peter Dinklage.
Recognition went to a number of other primarily big-screen actors who have migrated to TV for powerhouse projects, with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon for "Under the Candelabra" among them.
Joining "House of Cards" and "Game of Thrones" in the best drama series category are "Breaking Bad," ''Downton Abbey," ''Mad Men" and last year's winner, "Homeland."
"Mad Men," which last year missed out on the best drama trophy that would have been its record-setting fifth, eclipsing fellow four-time winners "Hill Street Blues," ''L.A. Law" and "The West Wing," gets another shot this year.
"Mad Men" and its creator failed to receive any writing nominations for the first time in the series' six-year history.
Besides "American Horror Story: Asylum," others nominated in the miniseries or movie category are "Behind the Candelabra," ''Phil Spector," ''Political Animals," ''Top of the Lake" and "The Bible," which was a hit for the History channel and is getting a sequel on NBC.
Hot British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who gained fame in "Sherlock" and played the villain in "Star Trek Into Darkness," is nominated as best lead actor in the movie and miniseries category for "Parade's End."
In the comedy series category, nominees are "The Big Bang Theory," ''Girls," ''Louie," ''Modern Family," ''Veep" and "30 Rock," recognized for its final season. Another outgoing comedy, "The Office," didn't receive a best series nod.
Joining Spacey in the contest for best drama series actor are Hugh Bonneville of "Downton Abbey"; Jon Hamm of "Mad Men"; Jeff Daniels of "The Newsroom" and Damian Lewis of "Homeland," last year's winner.
Kevin Bacon, one of the big-screen stars trying their hand at TV, was not recognized in the category for "The Following."
"Breaking Bad," now in its final episodes on AMC, goes out with a best drama Emmy nomination.
"What's so great about this thing is it's going to bring us all back together. A little family reunion. So we get to come back together and celebrate the time we had together and the work that we did. It's very exciting," said "Breaking Bad" actor and best supporting nominee Aaron Paul, who co-hosted the award announcement with Neil Patrick Harris, a last-minute substitute for "House of Cards" actress Kate Mara.
Actresses nominated for their drama series work besides Wright include Vera Farmiga of "Bates Hotel"; Michelle Dockery of "Downtown Abbey;" Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men"; Connie Britton of "Nashville" and Kerry Washington of "Scandal." Claire Danes, last year's winner for "Homeland," got a nod.
Besides Bateman, the nominees for best actor in a comedy are Jim Parsons for "The Big Bang Theory": Matt LeBlanc for "Episodes"; Don Cheadle for "House of Lies"; Louis C.K. for "Louie" and Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock."
Jon Cryer, last year's surprise winner for "Two and a Half Men," didn't make the cut this year.
Actresses competing for top comedy acting honors are Laura Dern for "Enlightened"; Lena Dunham for "Girls"; Edie Falco for "Nurse Jackie"; Amy Poehler for "Parks and Recreation" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who claimed the trophy last year for "Veep."
Most of the 2012 trophy holders have a chance to repeat.
Maggie Smith was nominated again as best supporting actress in a drama for "Downton Abbey," which has brought her two trophies. Julie Bowen is up for supporting actress in a comedy for "Modern Family."
However, Eric Stonestreet, who claimed the supporting actor award last year for the show, was snubbed while castmates Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O'Neill and Ty Burrell got nods.
HBO received a leading 108 nominations, up a third over last year, followed by CBS and NBC with 53 each, ABC with 45, Showtime with 31 and AMC and FX Networks with 26 each. PBS has 24 and Fox received 19.
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will air Sept. 22 on CBS.
AP Entertainment Writers Sandy Cohen and Anthony McCartney contributed to this report.
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