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'Mad Men,' 'Mildred Pierce' top Emmy nominations

With so much good television clogging the dial these days, the Emmy academy would have to fill out ballots blindfolded to miss all the quality out there.

Which is my way of saying the award nominations announced Thursday morning got the broad strokes right, handing the most honors to top drawer shows such as HBO's Mildred Pierce (21 noms), AMC's Mad Men (19), HBO's Boardwalk Empire (18), and ABC's Modern Family (17).

And some local flavor surfaced courtesy of University of South Florida St. Petersburg professor Ray Arsenault, who saw the PBS documentary made from his 2006 book Freedom Riders nominated for excellence in nonfiction programming.

There was the expected: a nod for Steve Carell's final season on The Office as a best comedy actor, Empire's Steve Buscemi and Mad Men's Jon Hamm in best drama actor, and Julianna Margulies, for her amazing season on CBS' The Good Wife.

And there were pleasant surprises: Timothy Olyphant for his turn as laconic backwoods lawman Raylan Givens in Justified; groundbreaking comic Louis C.K. as best comedy actor on FX's Louie and former Friends star Matt LeBlanc (yes, he deserves it!) for Showtime's underappreciated Episodes.

I even did pretty well: after talking up Justified's Margo Martindale and Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage in these pages and on National Public Radio, both got nods in supporting actress and actor drama categories, respectively.

You had to look close to see the snubs this time around, with the biggest surprise omission going to perpetually nominated The Closer star Kyra Sedgwick, juked just days after starting her series final season (fear not, fans, the show's last goodbye is long enough that she's eligible for next year's contest, too).

Community's Joel McHale also got overlooked, along with Men of a Certain Age's Ray Romano. The snub hurts particularly for Men — though supporting actor Andre Braugher did get a nod again this year — because the show could be canceled by TNT after a low-rated season.

The other big snubs happen so often, they feel like Emmy's bad habits. Once again, a brilliant David Simon series on HBO gets overlooked, with no nominations for his New Orleans-set drama Treme. Up and coming NBC comedy Community got shut out in acting categories, in part because Modern Family and Glee sucked up many supporting categories.

(Modern Family is good, but every single adult actor on the show was nominated, which means they could divide the vote and keep anyone from actually winning).

In late night, TBS host Conan O'Brien tied with Comedy Central's The Daily Show for the most nominations (four each).

Awkward moments: Sex and the City alum Chris Noth was the only star on The Good Wife to not get a nomination; Closer guest star Mary McDonnell, who will star in TNT's spinoff Major Crimes next year, got a nomination while star Sedgwick did not.

And this may be the most ethnically diverse slate of acting nominations yet. Including miniseries categories, there were 10 nods for people of color in acting slots, including Braugher, Good Wife's Archie Panjabi, Modern Family's Sofia Vergara and two nominations for Idris Elba (The Big C and Luther).

All good signs for a pack of Emmy nominations that nod to innovation while making sure the old favorites get some time in the sun.

. Fast facts

63rd Primetime Emmy Awards

The show is at 8 p.m. Sept. 18 on WTVT-Ch. 13.

• For a complete list of this year's nominees, visit

The top nominees

'Mad Men,' 'Mildred Pierce' top Emmy nominations 07/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 14, 2011 11:07pm]
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