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Emmy nominations embrace old and new

Primetime lineup includes new shows and names and underscores cable's strong presence.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / July 17, 2009

Los Angeles

The 61st annual Primetime Emmy nominations came out this morning and, say media watchers, despite the shunning of HBO's vampire saga, "True Blood," the most notable trend is the presence of so much fresh blood.

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"For many years, the Academy [of Television Arts and Sciences] used to nominate the same shows over and over," says Mediaweek's Marc Berman, "but this year is refreshingly full of new shows and names." He points to such first-timers as Simon Baker for "The Mentalist," Jemaine Clement (HBO's "The Flight of the Conchords"), Toni Collette (Showtime's "United States of Tara"), Jim Parsons (CBS's "The Big Bang Theory") and Sarah Silverman (Comedy Central's "The Sarah Silverman Program").

At the same time, the tally underlines just how powerful cable has become in the past decade. HBO walked off with an eye-popping 99 nominations and both basic and pay cable had strong showings in nearly all major categories, taking five of the seven nominees for outstanding dramatic series – "Big Love" (HBO), "Breaking Bad" (AMC), "Damages" (Fox), "Dexter" (Showtime), "House" (Fox), "Lost" (ABC), and "Mad Men" (AMC).

"Cable doesn't put on as many episodes and the shows don't typically run as long as many broadcast shows," points out Mr. Berman, which encourages new material. It also helps that cable doesn't have to work within the same standards and practices guidelines as the broadcast networks, which in turn leaves room for both edgier and more raw material, adds the pundit, also known as "Mr. Television."