LOS ANGELES – “Mad Men,” a piercingly bleak portrait of a 1960s American anti-hero, earned a leading 17 Emmy nominations Thursday and the chance to set a new record as the most-honored drama in television history.
“Mad Men,” which has won four best drama series trophies and is tied with “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “The West Wing,” received a fifth bid in the category.
The miniseries “American Horror Story,” a nightmarish saga about a haunted house, received a matching 17 awards.
Other leading nominees include the elegant British-born soap opera “Downton Abbey,” which earned 16 bids, and two miniseries, “Hatfields & McCoys,” with 16, and “Hemingway & Gellhorn” with 15.
Top nominations were announced by Kerry Washington of “Scandal” and by Jimmy Kimmel, who will host the awards Sept. 23 on ABC.
“Modern Family,” honored as best comedy series for the past two years, was the sitcom leader with 14 bids and practically ran the table in supporting actor nods, but the category also saw an infusion of girl power.
Breakout comedies with women at their center – in fashion after the box-office success of “Bridesmaids” – proved alluring to Emmy voters.
“Girls,” creator-star Lena Dunham’s darkly comedic coming-of-age New York story, received a best comedy nod and acting, writing and directing nominations for her. Zooey Deschanel’s offbeat charm in “New Girl” earned her an acting bid.
Betty White, 90, brought her brand of female empowerment to the nominations, earning two nominations – best reality series host nod for “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” and best variety special for “Betty White’s 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America’s Golden Girl.”
“Downton Abbey,” which has earned ratings and buzz for PBS, was named best miniseries last year but was switched to the drama category this time around. The TV academy’s prime-time awards committee decided its continuing story line made it a series.
“American Horror Story” decided to move to the miniseries category after competing as a drama series in the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.
A no-show this year is perennial reality show host winner Jeff Probst of “Survivor.”
Also getting little love was “American Idol,” TV’s top-rated talent show, which was shut out of the best reality series contest, although Ryan Seacrest was nominated as host.
Meanwhile, Fox’s “House,” which recently ended its eight-year run, goes empty-handed into Emmy annals deprived of one last chance for a best drama trophy, or a best actor nod for Hugh Laurie.
Other lame-duck series are getting a similar Emmy cold shoulder.
FX’s firefighter drama “Rescue Me” has now concluded its seven-year run with routine Emmy neglect for this outstanding series and its gifted star-writer-producer.
And ABC’s much-honored “Desperate Housewives” will be remembered in its eighth and last season only with a nomination for the late Kathryn Joosten in the category of supporting actress in a comedy.
On small screen
Big-screen stars who have a shot at the small-screen trophy for their TV movie work include Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman for “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” Julianne Moore for “Game Change” and Kevin Costner for “Hatfields & McCoys.”