PBS bags a surprise 58 Emmy nominations

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:42pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Public television network PBS surprised Hollywood by landing 58 Emmy award nominations on Thursday, the third-highest total among all the nets, thanks to the critically acclaimed drama "Downton Abbey" and a Sherlock Holmes miniseries.

Cable network HBO topped the list for the 12th straight year with 81 nods, including best drama series nominations for "Game of Thrones" and "Boardwalk Empire." CBS came in second and led broadcast channels with 60 programs, including comedy "The Big Bang Theory" and contest "The Amazing Race."

Not far behind was non-profit PBS, best known for historical documentaries, arts programs and "Sesame Street." In recent years it has begun offering more entertainment programming.

Sixteen of the PBS nods went to "Downton Abbey," a British World War I era drama about a cast of countesses, cooks and kitchen maids. Six of its actors, including stars Hugh Bonneville and Michelle Dockery, all earned nods.

The episode of the Sherlock Holmes miniseries that led to the nomination was "A Scandal in Belgravia."

"The big story today is 'Downton Abbey.' It's suddenly poised as the serious rival to 'Mad Men,'" said Tom O'Neil of awards site goldderby.com in a reference to the Emmy favorite from AMC Networks about Madison Avenue in the 1960s.

"Mad Men" had 17 nominations, more than any drama series and last season earned its fourth straight Emmy for best drama.

Emmy nods bring prestige and can boost viewer interest in shows, which for most networks helps attract more advertisers. For pay-cable channels like HBO and Showtime, Emmy recognition can drive higher subscription fees.   Continued...