There are no slackers in the adult cast of ABC comedy “Modern Family,” with all six actors receiving nominations in the supporting categories.
It was the first time in over two decades that this many headliners from one show were recognized in one year; six noms were more than some of TV’s biggest ensemble comedies ever managed to achieve.
“Mad Men,” “Glee,” “Justified” and “The Good Wife” were among the series that logged multiple thesp nods on Thursday. But “Modern Family’s” six-pack tied a record set back in 1990 when “Cheers” cleaned up on acting noms.
“That’s an amazing thing,” said “Modern Family” co-creator and exec producer Levitan, who noted the show’s younger thesps also deserve credit. “They really do bring so much to the show — itshow — it wouldn’t be the same without them.”
The dominance of “Modern Family,” which topped all comedies with 17 noms, wasn’t entirely surprising given that five of the six actors were also nominated last year. But this year Ed O’Neill was able to nose in alongside Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, who won last year’s race for supporting actor. Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen return in the supporting actress category.
That so many are able to shine simultaneously is a credit to the show’s writers, Burrell noted. “How do you service the actors enough in a 22-minute episode to get six acting nominations?” he said.
The wealth of “Modern” mentions is a validation of its nominations strategy, which didn’t elevate any one member of the ensemble in the lead actor or actress categories. The sweep is well timed for the cast given that they are in salary renegotiations with 20th Century Fox TV, as is customary for a studio after a series is sold into syndication. “Modern” scored big-bucks syndication deals with USA Network and local broadcast stations for runs that begin in 2013.
“Modern” wasn’t the only production that threw its weight around in the actor categories. On the movie/miniseries side, “Mildred Pierce” drew nods for six of its actors. In addition to the inevitable nom for Kate Winslet in lead actress, Guy Pearce and Brian F. O’Byrne were recognized for supporting actor while Evan Rachel Wood, Mare Winningham and Melissa Leo got love in the supporting actress category.
Elsewhere on the series side, a few programs made surprisingly strong showings. While Julianna Margulies and last year’s supporting-actress winner, Archie Panjabi, were expected to represent “The Good Wife,” the CBS series got two more nods on the supporting side for Josh Charles and Alan Cumming. FX’s “Justified” drew its first nominations in major categories, with Timothy Olyphant, Margo Martindale and Walton Goggins recognized.
A more expected multi-nom machine was “Mad Men,” which saw nods for Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks and John Slattery.
Multiple nominations can be a mixed blessing as they can split voters and boost chances for others. Multiple mentions may not be much of a morale-builder, either, among casts where competitive tension could potentially arise.
Shows with multiple noms could make some key races even more interesting. “Two and a Half Men’s” Jon Cryer and “Glee’s” Chris Colfer will have their work cut out for them in the supporting-actor category, going up against four “Modern Family” players.
The lead-actor categories are more wide open, with returning favorites getting challenged by new blood. Alec Baldwin of “30 Rock” and Steve Carell of “The Office” are again vying on the comedy side, while Louis C.K. will try to spoil the party with his FX half-hour the only cable representative in the pack.
On the drama side, the leading men contending against Olyphant and Hamm are “Boardwalk Empire’s” Steve Buscemi, Kyle Chandler of “Friday Night Lights,” “Dexter’s’ Michael C. Hall and “House’s” Hugh Laurie. The race is wide open given that “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston is ineligible this year after three consecutive wins.
The actress categories could be even more surprising given that a few past winners were not nominated, including Kyra Sedgwick of “The Closer” and Toni Collette of “United States of Tara.”
That category saw two surprises as relatively unheralded newcomers from rookie sitcoms broke in: Martha Plimpton of Fox’s “Raising Hope” and Melissa McCarthy of CBS’ “Mike and Molly,” who may be better known for her supporting turn in the box office hit “Bridesmaids.”
Femme drama competish feels wide open, too, with the absence of Sedgwick and other past contenders. “Mad Men’s” Moss, Mireille Enos of “The Killing” and Kathy Bates of “Harry’s Law” will look for an upset against returning actresses Margulies, Mariska Hargitay (“Law and Order: SVU”) and Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”).
Overall there were plenty of surprises in the acting and performing categories. The addition of O’Neill in the supporting actor comedy category left no room for Neil Patrick Harris of “How I Met Your Mother.” “Project Runway” host Heidi Klum was the only one who didn’t repeat in the reality host category, making way for Cat Deeley of “So You Think You Can Dance.” “Glee” stars Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison failed to repeat in the comedy actor and actress categories.
“Glee” fared better in the guest comedy actress category, with three entries: Gwyneth Paltrow, Kristin Chenoweth and Dot-Marie Jones. If Paltrow wasn’t enough star power, the male guest actor competish recognized Matt Damon for “30 Rock” and Justin Timberlake and Zach Galifianakis for “Saturday Night Live.”