The ad agency saga Mad Men is in the running for a record fifth best drama Emmy Award. Its rivals include:
- Boardwalk Empire.
- Breaking Bad.
- Downton Abbey.
- Game of Thrones.
Altogether, Mad Men earned a leading 17 nominations, tying in number with newcomer American Horror Story, which is competing as a miniseries.
Mad Men has four consecutive wins in the best drama category under its belt, putting the bleak, 1960s-era tale in the company of past TV classics Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and The West Wing.
Along with the possibility of snagging another series trophy, Mad Men lead actors Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss will compete in the dramatic lead categories, while Christina Hendricks and Jared Harris earned supporting actor nods. Guest stars Julia Ormond and Ben Feldman are also in the running for prizes, while the show earned a swath of nominations for technical categories such as direction, writing and art direction.
Hamm also earned a guest actor nomination for showing off his comedic chops on 30 Rock.
Miniseries rack up nominations
The dark, nightmarish chronicle American Horror Story, which is centred on a family newly ensconced in a haunted home, shared the Emmy spotlight at Thursday morning's announcement for matching Mad Men's 17 nominations, including for lead actress Connie Britton.
Other top nominees include British-born period soap Downton Abbey (16 nominations) and the two miniseries Hatfields & McCoys (16 nominations) and Hemingway & Gelhorn (15 nominations).
Popular ensemble comedy Modern Family has a shot at its third consecutive best comedy series Emmy. It faces:
- Big Bang Theory.
- Curb Your Enthusiasm.
- 30 Rock.
The mockumentary style family tale leads among sitcoms with 14 nominations. Its stars dominate in the comedy performance categories, including nods for actors Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, Ed O'Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet.
Girls, New Girl and Veep represent the new faces of a female-centred batch of comedies in the running for the annual television honours.
HBO series Girls, set in New York, is described as a darkly comic coming-of-age series that offers a current spin on Sex and the City. Along with its best comedy nod, star Lena Dunham earned an acting nomination.
Its cable network-mate Veep, another best comedy series contender, earned acting kudos for its veteran star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who portrays an ineffectual vice-president.
Meanwhile, actress Zooey Deschanel's offbeat, charming and vulnerable turn as a quirky schoolteacher sharing an apartment with a trio of wacky men helped land her an Emmy nod for the series New Girl, which also scored nominations for fellow cast member Max Greenfield and in technical categories.
Performance nominees include:
- Actor, drama: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire; Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad; Michael C. Hall, Dexter; Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey; Damian Lewis, Homeland; Jon Hamm, Mad Men.
- Supporting actor, drama: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad; Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad; Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey; Jim Carter, Downton Abbey; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones; Jared Harris, Mad Men.
- Actress, drama: Glenn Close, Damages; Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife; Kathy Bates, Harry's Law; Claire Danes, Homeland; Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men.
- Supporting actress, drama: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad; Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey; Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey; Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife; Christine Baranski, The GoodWife; Christina Hendricks, Mad Men.
- Actress, comedy: Lena Dunham, Girls; Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly; Zooey Deschanel, New Girl; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie; Amy Poehler, Parks And Recreation; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep.
- Supporting actress, comedy: Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory; Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives; Julie Bowen, Modern Family; Sofia Vergara, Modern Family; Merritt Weaver, Nurse Jackie; Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live.
- Actor, comedy: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory; Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm; Don Cheadle, House of Lies; Louis C.K., Louie; Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men.
- Supporting actor, comedy: Ed O'Neill, Modern Family; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family; Ty Burrell, Modern Family; Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family; Max Greenfield, New Girl; Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live.
- Actress, miniseries or movie: Connie Britton, American Horror Story; Julianne Moore, Game Change; Nicole Kidman, Hemingway & Gelhorn; Ashley Judd, Missing; Emma Thompson, The Song of Lunch.
- Supporting actress, miniseries or movie: Frances Conroy, American Horror Story; Jessica Lange, American Horror Story; Sarah Paulson, Game Change; Mare Winningham, Hatfields & McCoys; Judy Davis, Page Eight.
- Actor, miniseries or movie: Woody Harrelson, Game Change; Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys; Bill Paxton, Hatfields & McCoys; Clive Owen, Hemingway & Gellhorn; Idris Elba, Luther; Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock.
- Supporting actor, miniseries or movie: Denis O'Hare, American Horror Story; Ed Harris, Game Change; Tom Berenger, Hatfields & McCoys; David Strathairn, Hemingway & Gelhorn; Martin Freeman, Sherlock.
Uma Thurman (Smash), Martha Plimpton (The Good Wife), Joan Cusack (Shameless) and Margaret Cho (30 Rock) are among those nominated for guest appearances.
Audience hits reigned among the reality and variety categories, with perennial Emmy favourites The Amazing Race, TheColbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in the running.
- Reality competition: The Amazing Race, Dancing With The Stars; Project Runway; So You Think You Can Dance; Top Chef; The Voice.
- Reality program: Antiques Roadshow; Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution; MythBusters; Shark Tank; Undercover Boss; Who Do You Think You Are?
- Reality host: Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race; Ryan Seacrest, American Idol; Betty White, Betty White's Off Their Rockers; Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars; Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance.
- Variety, music or comedy series: The Colbert Report; The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; Jimmy Kimmel Live; Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Real Time with Bill Maher; Saturday Night Live.
The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, hosted by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel, air live on ABC on Sept. 23.