Wow, didn’t see that coming. HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” overcame its critics, historians and otherwise, to clean up with some 17 Emmy bids, including a bid for best made-for but not one for the pic’s star Adam Beach. Go figure. Still, exec producer Dick Wolf (pictured left on “Knee” set with actor August Schellenberg, who played Sitting Bulland earned a supporting nom) is a happy guy today, with the “Knee” bounty plus a lead drama actress bid for “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay. AMC’s period Western “Broken Trail” did well too, coming in second to “Wounded Knee” with a total of 16 Emmy chits, including a lead actor bid for the evergreen fave Robert Duvall. Cowboys and Indians indeed. (I was in the minority among TV pundits in generally liking HBO’s filmed take on the landmark 1971 historical tome by Dee Brown, as I discussed with Wolf in this column back in May.)
All in all it’s been a good year for new series (“Heroes,” “Ugly Betty,” “30 Rock”) and another breakthrough year for basic cable, especially over at FX with Minnie Driver snaring a lead drama actress bid for “The Riches” and Denis Leary getting his due for “Rescue Me.” Bravo flexed some muscle with two entries in the reality-competition race, “Project Runway” and “Top Chef.” Kyra Sedgwick is back for a second year for TNT’s “The Closer,” and of course Tony Shalhoub is the one to beat for lead comedy actor for USA Network’s “Monk.” USA also looked sharp with “Starter Wife” a contender for mini and lead actress bid for Debra Messing. Lifetime deservedly earned a nom for its “Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy,” one of its better telefilm efforts in recent years. I think “Mastectomy” star Sarah Chalke deserved a seat in the lead movie/mini actress category, but the competition was tough. Gena Rowlands tough.
The drama and comedy series noms went as we might’ve predicted last night. The absence of “24” on the drama side is a little surprising, and with all due respect for David E. Kelley, I’ve just never quite gotten “Boston Legal” but Emmy voters to love him so. “Heroes” (pictured right) was something of a surprise but not undeserved, by any means. The Acad likes to reward any new show that gets people talking about primetime TV. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the snub of critical, Peabody-winning darling “Friday Night Lights,” especially in the lead acting categories for Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. (This should teach me to go out on a limb with Emmy predicts, as I did earlier in the week after “FNL’s” TCA sesh.) “FNL” did land bids for casting and for directing, for the pilot helmed by exec producer Peter Berg.
Also in the near-shutout category is Showtime, which mounted huge campaigns for “Dexter” and “The Tudors,” both of which were held to a handful of noms each in tech categories.
“Lost” to my mind was snubbed, but I can’t say unexpectedly. It would’ve been a nice surprise if voters got over the rough patches at the start of this past season to honor the show’s fine second half, but so be it, and just wait ’til next year. Good to see Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson recognized for their work in the supporting drama actor heat, but really couldn’t they have thrown Dominic Monaghan a bone — he died already! At least Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse got a writing nom and helmer Jack Bender got a directing nom for their work on the wonderful two-hour finale, “Through the Looking Glass.”
Peacock’s “30 Rock” (pictured left) impressed by scoring a comedy series bid — it certainly would’ve been enough for the first-year show to land bids for star-creator Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, whose much publicized parenting issues obviously didn’t get in the way of Emmy voters evaluating his work. Ricky Gervais was a surprise in that category as well for HBO’s “Extras.” Would’ve expected Zach Braff to pop up in the funny-men heat but he was probably elbowed out by Gervais. Very, very cheered to see Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer break into the supporting field on the comedy side for “The Office.”
No surprise whatsoever to see “Sopranos” clean up with 15 noms in its swan-song year. Who could deny the show a deserved last hurrah? James Gandolfini, Edie Falco and Michael Imperioli, Aida Turturro and Lorraine Bracco all are deserving of the recognition, as is Tim Daly, who played the writer friend Christopher Moltisanti whacked during his downward spiral in his last days and is up for guest actor. “Sopranos” as usual dominated he drama writing field with three noms, including one for capo David Chase and the much-discussed finale, “Made in America.”