LOS ANGELES (AP) — Groundbreaking Internet series and movie actors could be the headliners in the upcoming Emmy Awards contest.
"House of Cards" and "Arrested Development," which Netflix delivered to viewers on the Internet, not on TV, may become the first online programs to receive top series and acting bids when the Emmy nominations are announced early Thursday.
A 6-year-old TV academy rules change allows online entries to compete with cable and broadcast programs, although so far Internet shows have popped up only in lower-profile categories. That could change with the 65th Primetime Emmys.
"It certainly is a marker of the new era. ... It will send shock waves through the industry," said Tim Brooks, a TV historian and former network executive.
"House of Cards," a tale of political intrigue, is aiming for a best drama series bid and nods for stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. "Arrested Development," the sitcom revived by Netflix after Fox canceled it, may get a best comedy series nod and nominations for cast members including Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor and Jessica Walter.
Spacey and Wright also are part of a movement that keeps growing: prominent film actors finding good reason to work on the small screen.
With theaters dominated by blockbuster movies that are heavy on action and light on acting, performers are seeking out juicy roles in well-crafted series and made-for-TV flicks. Women, in particular, are being welcomed, even after passing the ingénue stage of their career.
Movie stars with a shot at Emmy gold include Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in "Behind the Candelabra"; Al Pacino and Helen Mirren in "Phil Spector"; Holly Hunter in "Top of the Lake"; Shirley MacLaine in "Downton Abbey," Jeff Daniels in "The Newsroom" and Kevin Bacon in "The Following."
There are so many big names it could put the squeeze on TV-centric actors, even those who have collected multiple trophies like three-time winner Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad."
British stage, screen and TV star Maggie Smith, for instance, didn't even have to grace the Emmy ceremonies in 2011 and '12 to nab awards for "Downton Abbey," while more traditional TV nominees in the category showed up.
Potential behind-the-camera nominees from the industry's movie side include filmmakers Jane Campion for "Top of the Lake," Steven Soderbergh for the Liberace biopic "Candelabra" and David Fincher for "House of Cards."
A "House of Cards" best drama nod would weaken cable's near-monopoly on the category last year, aside from PBS contender "Downton Abbey." The 2012 winner, "Homeland," likely will be back to defend its crown, with other possible nominees including "Breaking Bad," ''Game of Thrones" and "Downton" again.
"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," will get another shot this time if nominated.
Comedy series nominees could include three-time winner "Modern Family," along with "The Big Bang Theory," ''Girls," ''Louie," ''Veep" and "Parks and Recreation."
A previous champion, "30 Rock," is looking for a last hurrah for its last season, and so is "The Office."
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and air Sept. 22 on CBS.