Emmy nods: Conan O'Brien gets his day as TV landscape evolves

Emmy Award nominations released Thursday tapped Conan O'Brien's short-lived stint on NBC's Tonight Show, as well as a handful of shows from non-broadcast networks.

By , Staff writer

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    Actress Sofia Vergara (l.), Television Academy Chairman and CEO John Shaffner (c.), and actor Joel McHale announce the nominees for Outstanding Drama Series for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards Thursday in Los Angeles.
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The nods are in. This morning, the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards nominations showed once more that the ongoing slow-motion revolution all over the television landscape continues, with an evolving mix of broadcast network, basic, and premium cable shows – not to mention a satellite drama – in the blend.

The handful of new series with the most buzz came from traditional broadcasters – “Glee” (Fox), “The Good Wife" (CBS) and “Modern Family” (ABC), while returning dramas such as Showtime’s “Dexter” and AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” and “Mad Men” make it clear that the universe for TV entertainment continues to expand.

“We are in the middle of a revolution,” says Robert Thompson, founder of the The Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. At the same time, he adds, “ we are also in the midst of high orthodoxy.” Such conventional TV dramas as “The Good Wife” persist, despite innovations such as “Lost” or even “24” – a critical and stylistically groundbreaking hit that ended this year and is surprisingly absent from the nomination list, he adds. “The Good Wife’ is such old-school TV,” he says, adding, “but just like ‘CSI,’ ‘Law and Order,’ and ‘Jag’, it shows that network television can still get good results.”

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IN PICTURES: Conan O'Brien

While there were few big surprises, Conan O’Brien’s presence in the late-night comedy show category, alongside Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart – and most notably not David Letterman or Jay Leno – suggests that NBC, home to this past year’s Leno-O’Brien soap opera, “has egg on its face,” says Yahoo! TV expert Matt Whitfield.

The red-haired comic’s abbreviated show ran on NBC, but the peacock network did not mount the highly visible campaign in support of its nomination. Rather, TBS, Mr. O’Brien’s new home this fall, pushed for his place on the list. “This just proves that NBC has wrecked its late-night schedule,” says Mr. Whitfield. “TBS must be pretty happy, and Conan must be giggling at home right now.”

Other welcome first-timers include comediennce Jane Lynch, nominated for her supporting role on “Glee,” and nearly the entire cast of “Modern Family,” with another notable exception – “Married with Children” veteran Ed O’Neill.

Continuing the handicapping, Fordham University’s Paul Levinson points to what he considers two of the top shows on this year’s Emmy list – “Friday Night Lights,” and “Dexter,” as evidence of the changing TV landscape. “Lights" is simply one of the best shows ever on TV, and yet it aired only on satellite, DIRECTV in the fall,“ he says, pointing out that the series didn’t land back on NBC until 2010.

"Dexter," he notes, airs on premium cable's Showtime. “This is just more of the move away from traditional broadcasters into new areas such as cable and other platforms including satellite and mobile phone,” says the author of “New New Media," adding “it won’t be too far off that we will see a series that never aired on either network or cable, that began and ended just on the web on this list.”

Despite the hype around award shows nominations, "this list is not what many outside the industry sometimes suppose,” says Mr. Thompson, who calls it “some sort of exalted, scientific selection of the objectivly best shows on TV.” Rather, the media maven says, “the Emmys are a snapshot of what a group of industry insiders think is good at any given time, so in the sense that it is interesting to see what people who make television think of their handiwork , then this awarrd show has its place.”

IN PICTURES: Conan O'Brien


The 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will air live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on NBC on Sunday, August 29.

From Mediaweek’s Marc Berman in The Programming Insider, here are the key nominations:

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Dexter (Showtime)
The Good Wife (CBS)
Lost (ABC)
Mad Men (AMC)
True Blood (HBO)

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Glee (Fox)
Modern Family (ABC)
Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
The Office (NBC)
30 Rock (NBC)

OUTSTANDING REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race (CBS)
American Idol (Fox)
Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
Project Runway (Lifetime)
Top Chef (Bravo)

OUTSTANDING VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)
Saturday Night Live (NBC)
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (NBC)

OUTSTANDING MINISERIES
The Pacific (HBO)
Return to Cranford (Masterpiece, PBS)

OUTSTANDING MADE-FOR TV MOVIE
Endgame (Masterpiece, PBS)
Georgia O'Keefe (Lifetime)
Moonshot (History Channel)
The Special Relationship (HBO)
Temple Grandin (HBO)
You Don't Know Jack (HBO)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights, NBC)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, AMC)
Matthew Fox (Lost, ABC)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Showtime)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men, AMC)
Hugh Laurie (House, Fox)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, NBC)
Glenn Close (Damages, TNT)
Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU, NBC)
January Jones (Mad Men, AMC)
Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife, CBS)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer, TNT)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock, NBC)
Steve Carell (The Office, NBC)
Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO)
Matthew Morrison (Glee, Fox)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory, CBS)
Tony Shalhoub (Monk, USA)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Toni Collette (United States of Tara, Showtime)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine, CBS)
Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie, Showtime)
Tina Fey (30 Rock, NBC)
Lea Michele (Glee, Fox)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation, NBC)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Jeff Bridges (A Dog Year, HBO)
Ian McKellan (Two, AMC)
Al Pacino (You Don't Know Jack, HBO)
Dennis Quaid (The Special Relationship, HBO)
Michael Sheen (The Special Relationship, HBO)

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Joan Allen (Georgia O'Keefe, Lifetime)
Claire Danes (Temple Grandin, HBO)
Hope Davis (The Special Relationship, HBO)
Dame Judi Dench (Return to Cranford, Masterpiece, PBS)
Maggie Smith (Capturing Mary, HBO)

OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION SERIES
Tom Bergeron (Dancing With the Stars, ABC)
Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race, CBS)
Heidi Klum (Project Runway, Lifetime)
Jeff Probst (Survivor, CBS)
Ryan Secrest (American Idol, Fox)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age, TNT)
Michael Emerson (Lost, ABC)
Terry O'Quinn (Lost, ABC)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, AMC)
Martin Short (Damages, FX)
John Slattery (Mad Men, AMC)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Christine Baranski (The Good Wife, CBS)
Rose Byrne (Damages, FX)
Sharon Gless (Burn Notice, USA)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, AMC)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, AMC)
Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife, CBS)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Ty Burrell (Modern Family, ABC)
Chris Colfer (Glee, Fox)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men, CBS)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family, ABC)
Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, CBS)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family, ABC)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Julie Bowen (Modern Family, ABC)
Jane Krakowski (30 Rock, NBC)
Jane Lynch (Glee, Fox)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men, CBS)
Sofia Vergara (Modern Family, ABC)
Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live, NBC)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Michael Gambon (Emma, Masterpiece, PBS)
John Goodman (You Don't Know Jack, HBO)
Jonathan Pryce (Return to Cranford, Masterpiece, PBS)
Patrick Stewart (Hamlet, Great Performances, PBS)
David Stathairn (Temple Grandin, HBO)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Kathy Bates (Alice, Syfy)
Catherine O'Hara (Temple Grandin, HBO)
Julia Ormond (Temple Grandin, HBO)
Susan Sarandon (You Don't Know Jack, HBO)
Brenda Vaccaro (You Don't Know Jack, HBO)

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Dylan Baker (The Good Wife, CBS)
Beau Bridges (The Closer, TNT)
Alan Cumming (The Good Wife, CBS)
Ted Danson (Damages, FX)
Gregory Itzin (24, Fox)
John Lithgow (Dexter, Showtime)
Robert Morse (Mad Men, AMC)

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Shirley Jones (The Cleaner, A&E)
Mary Kay Place (Big Love, HBO)
Ann-Margret (Law & Order: SVU, NBC)
Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, ABC)
Sissy Spacek (Big Love, HBO)
Lily Tomlin (Damages, FX)

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Will Arnett (30 Rock, NBC)
Jon Hamm (30 Rock, NBC)
Neil Patrick Harris (Glee, Fox)
Mike O'Malley (Glee, Fox)
Eli Wallach (Nurse Jackie, Showtime)
Fred Willard (Modern Family, ABC)

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory, CBS)
Kristen Chenoweth (Glee, Fox)
Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live, NBC)
Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives, ABC)
Jane Lynch (Two and a Half Men, CBS)
Elaine Stritch (30 Rock, NBC)
Betty White (Saturday Night Live, NBC)

IN PICTURES: Conan O'Brien

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