Cable dramas may finally get some respect at Emmys

Wed Jul 9, 2008 2:45pm EDT
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By Ray Richmond

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Something historic appears to be brewing in anticipation of the announcement of the nominees for the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards next Thursday.

There is near-unanimous agreement that if ever cable drama series are going to get their rightful representation beyond just HBO, this is the year, what with acclaimed rookies like AMC's "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," FX's "Damages," and TNT's "Saving Grace" now in the mix along with Showtime's second-year pair "Dexter" and "The Tudors."

Not that there is necessarily any sort of tie-in between the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., but the latter already chose four cable shows among the six nominees for best drama at the Golden Globes in January. Moreover, one of them, "Mad Men," won.

And now "Mad Men" creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner dares to dream of Emmy glory as well.

"Oh my God, winning both an Emmy and a Globe would be amazing," says Weiner, who executive produced last year's best drama Emmy winner, HBO's "The Sopranos."

"It would be especially sweet because with this show I was able to do exactly what I wanted to do. And the 'Mad Men' idea was hardly a natural sell. I mean, a New York ad agency in the early 1960s? And then I was able to hire people for the cast who weren't famous. It's all worked out perfectly."

That Weiner was permitted so much artistic freedom underscores the wider creative parameters afforded writers and producers in cable over broadcast, and why the quality meter has swung in cable's direction the past few years. It could well lead to a radical shakeup of a category that in 2007 featured "The Sopranos," NBC's "Heroes," Fox's "House," and ABC's "Boston Legal" and "Grey's Anatomy" as nominees.

At least three of those, and possibly more, could be replaced this year, without even tapping the legion of cable series that have been passed over year after year: HBO's "The Wire," Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica," and FX's "The Shield" and "Rescue Me." None has ever received nominations for best drama, nor has any non-HBO cable series -- ever.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Jon Hamm (R) smiles next to co-stars January Jones (C) and Elisabeth Moss during a panel for the AMC television series "Mad Men" at the Television Critics Association 2008 summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 9, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>