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Highs and lows of Emmy nominations

By Alan Pergament

Until 16 years ago, the cable industry gave out its own awards, the cable ACE (for Award for Cable Excellence), because its shows couldn't compete with broadcast network series.

After looking at the Emmy nominations announced today, you wonder if the broadcast networks want to break out of the current competition with pay-cable, cable and online series and have their own awards to reward such popular but ignored series as "NCIS," "Grey’s Anatomy," “CSI”  and "Once Upon a Time" that get little or no respect.

Looking at the nominations, I can almost hear many viewers – especially ones that still overwhelmingly watch prime shows on broadcast TV – asking, "what is that (nominated) show about?" Or “who is  that (nominated) actor?"

Not one broadcast network or male actor in a network drama was nominated as cable and Netflix's enjoyable "House of Cards" dominated the awards. A few females, Kerry Washington of ABC’s "Scandal" and Connie Britton of ABC’s "Nashville," got nominated for their network TV roles and some popular network comedies and comedy actors and actresses were rewarded.

But overall, the nominations of "House of Cards" on Netflix, HBO’s "Game of Thrones," Showtime's "“Homeland," AMC’s "Breaking Bad" and “Mad Men” and FX’s “American Horror Story: Asylum" speak to the different content and language rules advantages that basic cable and pay-cable series live by.

In other words, it isn’t a fair fight for the broadcast networks, which desperately need some breakout hit in the 2013-14 TV season.

At first look, I don't have many quibbles with the nominations, though I am stunned by a few things.

The 15 nominations received by the HBO film "Behind the Candelabra" about the secret life of Liberace startled me a little bit because I found the movie slow going. However, I wasn't surprised by the nominations of stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. They were just about sure things.

The best drama nomination for "Mad Men" -- which lost the support of many critics this season, including me -- was a little surprising.

 I wasn't surprised that Jon Hamm of "Mad Men" was nominated and was pleased to see Jeff Daniels of HBO's "The Newsroom" rewarded with a nomination in the same category for his role as an anchorman in a series that got little Emmy love. Interestingly, its title sequence, which has been changed, was nominated. And Jane Fonda, who had little do in the first season, also was nominated.

I also was happy to see all the nominations for PBS’ "Downton Abbey," which primarily appeals to older viewers.

I also was glad to see Buffalo native Christine Baranski nominated as supporting actress for her role as Diane Lockhart in "The Good Wife." She is the only actress in a broadcast network series in that category.

It was amusing to see Jerry Seinfeld get a nomination in "the short format, nonfiction program category" for his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” I expect a few more viewers will now flock to it.

The final season of NBC’s "The Office" didn’t get much Emmy love but Greg Daniels deservedly got a comedy writing nomination for scripting the classic finale.

Interestingly, the ageless "Saturday Night Live" got 15 nominations, while the aging David Letterman and Jay Leno’s late-night shows weren’t nominated. The ABC show headlined by Jimmy Kimmel and the NBC show headlined by Jimmy Fallon – who will be competing with each other in 2014 – were nominated.

I may have more things to share Friday after I get a longer look at the nominations.

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