Emmy nominations: '30 Rock' explosion, '24' implosion, 'Family Guy' wreaks havoc, newcomers snubbed in expanded series races
• Both of last year's series champs -- comedy "30 Rock" and drama "Mad Men" -- lead the field in their respective categories again this year. "30 Rock" broke the record for nominations it set last year with 17 bids by landing 22 nods this year. "Mad Men" repeated with 16 nominations, far off the 27 nods for the first season of "NYPD Blue" in 1994. "30 Rock" won seven of its races last year and "Mad Men" prevailed in six.
• After being benched last year because of the writers strike, former Emmy powerhouse "24" made a lackluster return to the race this year, failing to score bids for either series or TV movie ("24: Redemption"). Kiefer Sutherland, who was a fixture in the best actor in a drama series category, was snubbed for the first time in the show's seven years. He had to make do with a nod in the TV movie actor race for the one-off "24: Redemption." How fast the mighty had fallen! For its fifth season in 2006, "24" won best drama series and Sutherland reigned as best actor.
• "Big Bang Theory" star Jim Parsons -- who announced Emmy nominations this morning with Chandra Wilson ("Grey's Anatomy") -- could win best comedy actor now that he's finally nominated. Last year, when we chatted with Parsons via podcast, we asked him how often he hears people compare his TV role to the wacky, persnickety performance given by Tony Randall as Felix Unger in "The Odd Couple." "There's no way around it," Parsons told us. "I hear that all the time." That's great news as Randall won this Emmy in 1975.
• Kathy Griffin is not only hosting the Creative Arts Emmys but may add a third Emmy to her mantle as "My Life on the D-List" once again contends for best reality program. Since Emmy voters did not nominate the increasingly popular "Jon & Kate Plus 8," Griffin is the front-runner, having won this race for the last two years. If "Jon & Kate Plus 8" had gotten its first nod, producers planned on submitting that powerhouse Season 5 premiere, which showcased the happy celebration of the sextuplets' fifth birthday mixed with harsh scenes of Jon and Kate Gosselin confronting their crumbling marriage. It scored staggering Nielsen ratings: more than 10 million viewers. No word yet on which episode of "My Life on the D-List" Kathy Griffin will submit.
• Just as I had predicted, "Family Guy" broke through to become the second cartoon nominated for best comedy series. Only "The Flintstones" managed the feat back in 1961, losing to "The Jack Benny Program." "The Simpsons" tried to make the cut during the 1990s, switching from the category for best animated program (which it won a few times) to best comedy, but didn't get nommed, so switched back and resumed winning. How did "Family Guy" pull it off? It had two strong pluses that "The Simpsons" didn't have: There are currently only a few strong comedies on TV and the Emmys just expanded this category to include at least six nominees (turns out seven made it in) from five.
• Given that seven comedies and seven dramas are contending for best series, it is odd that none of the newcomers nabbed Emmy nominations: "True Blood," "The Mentalist," "United States of Tara," etc. However, there are four veteran shows that finally made the cut in comedy: "Family Guy," "Flight of the Conchords," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Weeds." And "Big Love" and "Breaking Bad" broke through on the drama side.
• Even Anna Paquin, the Oscar-winning star of "True Blood," could not break the Emmy curse against vampire shows! Despite pleas from smitten TV critics and avid fans of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Sarah Michelle Gellar never got nominated for best drama actress between 1998 and 2003.
• With Toni Collette ("United States of Tara") in the race for best comedy actress, she might be the front-runner considering what suckers voters are for roles with split personalities. They can't resist falling for them, thus getting several performances for the price of one vote. Sally Field pulled off an upset over Jane Alexander ("Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years") in 1977 for portraying more than a dozen personalities in "Sybil." That was the same year that Lindsay Wagner ("The Bionic Woman") pulled off one of the biggest upsets ever in the acting races when she prevailed over Sada Thompson ("Family") for best drama actress. Her secret weapon: The episode she submitted to Emmy judges featured her in twin roles, one evil, one good.
Photo credit: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences