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Cable could pass broadcast at Globes

Top freshman contenders found on pay TV

Broadcast networks, watch your backs: This could be the year freshman cable skeins dominate the Golden Globes’ TV categories.

While the traditional webs managed to drum up only lackluster buzz and Nielsen ratings during this strike-struck fall campaign, cable — and in particular, basic cable — had a summer to remember.

Now, those shows (and the thesps on them) are in the running for the Globes’ top drama and comedy nomination spots.

This year, the focus is on shows such as AMC’s critically adored “Mad Men” and star Jon Hamm.

Another strong contender: FX’s “Damages,” starring Glenn Close (a 2005 winner in the TV movie category). Ted Danson, who drew raves as Close’s nemesis in the skein, could also secure a nom.

And don’t count out Showtime’s “The Tudors,” a sweeping look at King Henry VIII starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers — who won a Globe in 2006 for playing another (but slightly more contemporary) historical figure, “Elvis.”

Meanwhile, a number of other cable ratings grabbers could earn at least some acting nods: TNT’s “Saving Grace,” starring Holly Hunter (a 1994 Globe winner for “The Piano”), and Lifetime’s “Army Wives,” with thesps Catherine Bell and Kim Delaney (a two-time Globe nominee for “NYPD Blue”), just to name a few.

And if there’s going to be a dark horse, why not HBO’s lovably weird “Flight of the Conchords”? The show about two clueless New Zealand musicians in New York garnered a cult following during its brief summer run.

Of course, even with the brutal fall, there are still a handful of broadcast contenders for nomination status. Possibly the biggest shoo-in: ABC’s “Pushing Daisies,” and its fresh-faced stars Lee Pace and Anna Friel (a U.K. vet finally making her way to this side of the pond).

Helping “Daisies”‘ cause: ABC classifies the show as a comedy, and the competish is lighter in those categories (with fewer yuks on the air).

Other new comedies that could potentially see some Globe love are Fox’s “Back to You,” with awards bait Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, and Christina Applegate, star of ABC’s top-rated new comedy “Samantha Who?” “Aliens in America,” though not on many radars, has enough charm to potentially land a surprise nod.

Among new network dramas, Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. voters may also take a shine to the Alphabet’s “Dirty Sexy Money,” especially scene-stealer Donald Sutherland (a two-time Globe winner) and star Peter Krause (a two-time Globe nominee).

The HFPA prides itself on frequently recognizing new skeins first. Of course, that’s partly a function of its January timing, which allows the Globes to award frosh series when the season is only half-over.

In some ways, that timing also gives new shows a leg up: The hype is still fresh, critics are still raving, and the shows are still creatively just tapping the surface (and haven’t yet hit a sophomore or even mid-season slump).

Last year, newcomer “Ugly Betty” won the buzz sweepstakes in the fall, and was rewarded with a Golden Globe for best comedy. But this year, with so many solid returning shows in addition to the marquee crop of frosh cable entries, it’s not expected to be as good year at the Globes for broadcast TV’s new hour-longs.

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