"30 Rock" leads fresher-looking Emmys

Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:57pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Satire-heavy "30 Rock" and 1960s drama "Mad Men" will defend their 2007 Emmy awards against a broad field of contenders for television's highest honors -- including irreverent cartoon series "Family Guy".

NBC's "30 Rock" picked up a leading 22 primetime nominations season on Thursday, including best comedy, best actress for its star and creator Tina Fey, and best actor for Alec Baldwin who all took home Emmys last year.

But in a list that reflected the move of some of TV's best writers to cable channels, last year's winner "Mad Men" on AMC seized 16 nominations, including best drama, best actor and four of the five picks for writing. Another AMC show, "Breaking Bad," was also among the drama and best actor nods.

"Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner told Reuters that his writing staff worked hard to take the characters to deeper human levels each season. "We don't repeat ourselves, which every season gets a lot harder," he said. "You try to bring in new stuff and in a weird way, we're getting better at it all the time."

The number of nominations was expanded this year, allowing new contenders like the HBO polygamy series "Big Love", AMC's "Breaking Bad", CBS comedy "How I Met your Mother" and HBO's "Flight of the Conchords" to grab a piece of the Emmy action in a contest often criticized for getting stale.

Comedy "Family Guy" -- rescued by fans from cancellation in 2005 -- became the first animated series to be nominated for a primetime comedy Emmy since "The Flintstones" in 1961.

"There is so much good work, we have really recognized the diversity on television today," said John Shaffner, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy, which gives out the Emmys.

Among networks, cable channel HBO lead with 99 nominations, while Showtime had 29 and AMC 23. Broadcaster NBC earned 67 nominations, followed by ABC (55), CBS (49) and Fox (42).   Continued...

<p>Actress Chandra Wilson and actor Jim Parsons announce the nominees for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards at the Academy of Television Arts &amp; Sciences in North Hollywood, California July 16, 2009. The awards will be given out in Los Angeles on September 20. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>