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'SNL' and 'Westworld' Lead Emmy Nominees
July 13, 2017  | By Ed Bark
 

Saturday Night Live
makes Donald Trump grate -- again and again.

Thursday’s 69th annual Primetime Emmy Award nominations were further evidence that his presidency has been very good for shows and performers that lampoon it.

SNL tied HBO’s first-year series Westworld for the most overall nominations with 22. Paced by Alec Baldwin’s almost weekly sendups of Trump, SNL received a rather astonishing total of nine acting nominations, including in guest categories. Melissa McCarthy of course made the cut for her brawling guest impersonations of White House press secretary Sean Spicer. SNL regulars Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Vanessa Bayer also got Emmy nods.

The streaming network Hulu put itself on the map in a big way with 13 nominations for The Handmaid’s Tale, which will compete for both best drama series and in the lead actress category with former Mad Men co-star Elisabeth Moss trying to break through for her first win.

Hulu also notched five nominations for the Ron Howard-produced The Beatles: Eight Days A Week -- The Touring Years. Its total of 18 nominations were a quantum leap from just two last year -- and also good enough to beat rival streamer Amazon’s 16. But Netflix still reigns supreme in the streaming world, amassing 91 nods compared to 54 in 2016. Its big scorers this time around are the freshman drama series Stranger Things (16 nominations) and The Crown (13).

Besides the wealth of nominations for SNL, NBC also will be a strong contender in the best drama series category with its acclaimed first-year ratings hit This Is Us. It has 11 nominations and joins Westworld, Stranger Things, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, AMC’s Better Call Saul and Netflix’s House of Cards among the category’s seven finalists.

Emmy’s best comedy series nominees are FX’s freshman Atlanta and six repeat finalists from last year -- HBO’s reigning champ Veep, ABC’s black-ish, ABC’s Modern Family, Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix’s Master of None and HBO’s Silicon Valley. Amazon’s Transparent is the only dropout from the 2016 field.

HBO again led all networks and streamers with 110 nominations, up from 94 last year despite Game of Thrones being ineligible because it didn’t have a new season premiere episode during the eligibility period of June 1, 2016 to May 31, 2017. Besides Westworld, (right) HBO received double-digit nominations for Veep (17), Big Little Lies (16), The Night Of (13) and Silicon Valley (10).

FX slipped slightly from 56 to 54 nominations, but is likely to take home multiple trophies for Feud: Bette and Joan, which tied Stranger Things for the second most Emmy nominations with 18.

The third season of FX’s Fargo made another strong showing with 13 nominations. Feud and Fargo will square off as finalists in the “Outstanding Limited Series” category, where the other nominees are The Night Of, Big Little Lies and National Geographic’s Genius, which made a substantial impression on voters with a total of 10 nominations for its bio of Albert Einstein.

In the “Outstanding Television Movie” division, the nominees are PBS’ Sherlock: The Lying Detective, NBC’s Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love, Netflix’s Black Mirror: San Junipero, HBO’s The Wizard of Lies and HBO’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which surprisingly did not receive a nomination for Oprah Winfrey’s standout performance.

Two other notable Emmy snubs left HBO’s The Leftovers (right, with Fargo star Carrie Coon) with just one nomination in a guest actor category and NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with a lone nod for best interactive program.

Fallon may have paid a price for the paucity of Trump jokes in his monologues and for a now infamously toothless interview in which he playfully ruffled the future president’s hair without asking anything close to a pointed question.

In contrast, CBS’ Late Show with Stephen Colbert, one of six nominees in the “Outstanding Variety Talk Series” category, has vaulted past Fallon in the late night total viewers ratings with opening monologues devoted almost exclusively to ridiculing Trump.

Three of the other nominees in this category -- TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (right), HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver -- also have made Trump the focal point of their barbs. The other finalists, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and CBS’ Late Late Show with James Corden, have gone a bit softer on him.

NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, a reliable Trump antagonist, also failed to make the cut, leaving the Peacock starkly without major nominations for its two Monday through Friday after-hours shows. SNL oddly is a nominee in the lesser “Outstanding Variety Sketch Series” category, even though all nine of its acting nods are under the “Comedy Series” umbrella.

EMMY NUGGETS -- This year’s Emmy strikeout king is Kevin Spacey, who has received 10 previous nominations but still hasn’t won. Five of them have been for his portrayal of sinister Frank Underwood, who’s now president in House of Cards. Spacey’s House of Cards co-star, Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, likewise is still winless.

***Moss also is hoping to make a first-time acceptance speech. The star of The Handmaid’s Tale now has eight total nominations, with six of them for Mad Men and the other for Top of the Lake.

***Robert De Niro has his first ever Emmy nomination as Bernie Madoff in The Wizard of Lies. Other notable maiden Emmy voyagers are Wizard of Lies co-star Michelle Pfeiffer (right, with De Niro), Martha Stewart (Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party), Reese Witherspoon (Big Little Lies) and venerable Gerald McRaney, who finally and deservedly broke through for his guest appearances on This Is Us as wizened Dr. Nathan Katowski. First-timer Donald Glover of Atlanta made it a trifecta with nominations for acting, writing and directing.

***In contrast, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is up for what would be her sixth consecutive “Lead Actress in a Comedy Series” win as venal politician Selina Meyer in Veep. If this happens, she’ll tie Cloris Leachman for the most total Emmys (eight) won by a female performer. Louis-Dreyfus also took home one Emmy apiece for Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine. She also could break her three-way tie with Candice Bergen and Don Knotts for the most Emmys won by a performer in the same role and same series. Each currently has five.

***The aforementioned Colbert will be this year’s Emmy host when the major awards ceremony is televised Sept. 17th on CBS. The Creative Arts trophies will be handed out the night before on FXX. For a complete list of all nominees, go here.

 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is available on Amazon for $20. (Paperback will be available September 5th, here.)

Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. A high point is the author’s interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer and many others...Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

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