Wednesday, September 19, 2018
TV and Media

'Saturday Night Live,' 'Westworld' lead the Emmy nominations with 22 nods each

Saturday Night Live, powered by madcap skits skewering the Trump administration, earned 22 Emmy Award nominations, including bids for Alec Baldwin's florid portrayal of the president and Melissa McCarthy's manic, gender-busting take on press secretary Sean Spicer.

The long-running NBC variety show tied with HBO's sci-fi drama Westworld, which also earned 22 bids on Thursday, to jointly top the field for the 69th Primetime Emmys to be presented in September.

Netflix big-shouldered the best drama category with three contenders, The Crown, House of Cards and Stranger Things, a best-ever total for streaming as its platforms grow in strength as competitors to broadcast and cable.

Feud: Bette and Joan, about the epic clash of Hollywood divas Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, reaped 18 nominations, including for stars Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon. Other big-screen stars making a splash on the small screen were Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, nominated for Big Little Lies, which is competing with Feud for best limited series.

Veep, the most-nominated comedy with 17 bids, has a chance for its third consecutive top comedy trophy. Star Julia Louis-Dreyfus has the chance to build on her record of most wins for a lead comedy actress: She has five for Veep and one for New Adventures of Old Christine.

Emmy voters showed their willingness to recognize new comic voices as well as diversity. Donald Glover's freshman "Atlanta" earned a best comedy bid, as did Master of None, starring Aziz Ansari, and Black-ish, and the TV academy noted that the majority of nominated writers are people of color.

But there was room in for an old favorite, Modern Family, although it earned only a handful of bids besides best comedy, including for Ty Burrell in the supporting actor category. Silicon Valley and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt round out the best comedy ranks.

Samantha Bee, who broke into the late-night male domain with Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, earned a variety talk show nomination for her efforts. Her competitors include Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, James Corden and Bill Maher.

The drama field opened up with the absence of HBO's dominant Game of Thrones, which aired outside the eligibility window for Emmy consideration this year. It won 12 Emmys last year, including its second consecutive best drama award.

Newcomers were ready to step in, including breakout series This Is Us. It received 11 nods, including the first best-drama series for a network show since The Good Wife in 2011. NBC's intricately told story of an extended family, a hit with viewers and critics, also earned bids for Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia, who are competing with each other in the best actor category.

"I grew up on network television and the idea that there were three and eventually four places that everyone had in their home, before DVDs, it's something that everybody could access — not just in terms of literally but also emotionally and comedically," said This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman. "And I think there is a place for television that is for everybody, art that is for everybody, that also hopefully can live in the conversation with the darker, edgier stuff. I think people are craving that."

Sci-fi series Stranger Things received an impressive 18 bids, including one for star Millie Bobby Brown, while The Crown, a lavish peek at the life of Britain's Queen Elizabeth as played by the nominated Claire Foy, received a total of 13 bids.

So did the dystopian Hulu saga The Handmaid's Tale, including a nomination for star Elisabeth Moss. Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad spinoff is also nominated, along with star Bob Odenkirk.

"Chuffed, thrilled, proud, honored!" Peter Morgan, creator of The Crown, said in a statement. "So delighted for everyone involved. A proper fat cigar moment, if only I smoked. Drinks all round, if only I drank. I shall have to make do with turning cartwheels."

He's not the only visitor to American TV who will be celebrating. Others include Anthony Hopkins for Westworld, Benedict Cumberbatch for Sherlock: The Lying Detective, Ewan McGregor for Fargo and Geoffrey Rush for Genius.

Girls didn't get a best comedy bid for its sixth and final season. But it cleaned up for its guest actors, with nods going to Becky Ann Baker, Riz Ahmed and Matthew Rhys, with Ahmed and Rhys nominated in drama categories as well, for The Night Of and The Americans, respectively.

Competing with Brown, Ventimiglia, Hopkins and Odenkirk for best drama acting honors are Rhys of The Americans, Liev Schreiber from Ray Donovan and Kevin Spacey of House of Cards.

Foy and Moss are joined in the best drama actress category by 2015 winner Viola Davis from How To Get Away With Murder, Keri Russell of The Americans, Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld and Robin Wright from House of Cards.

Orphan Black isn't in the running because it missed the eligibility window, depriving star Tatiana Maslany of the chance to repeat as best drama actress.

The Emmys are scheduled to air Sept. 17 on CBS, with Stephen Colbert as host.

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