Rookie skeins find their Emmy footing

'Arrested,' 'Joan' a surprise; 'Deadwood' takes 11 noms

While vet series and thesps ruled this year’s Emmy noms, TV Academy voters still found room to recognize a few rookies.

At the top of that list, Fox’s “Arrested Development” and CBS’ “Joan of Arcadia” earned surprise noms, while frosh HBO drama “Deadwood” scored 11 notices — more than any broadcast net series, save “The West Wing.”

It’s not quite a rookie revolt, but a promising sign for Emmy critics who point out how voters usually eschew the new and different in favor of the tried and true when it comes to the mainstream series categories.

“I’m a little bit in heaven, I have to admit,” said “Joan” exec producer Barbara Hall, whose birthday is Saturday. “We’re very different from anything else on TV. We sneaked in there and that’s great.”

Hall credited an early and aggressive Emmy campaign by Sony and CBS.

“It got people to watch it who maybe hadn’t seen it,” she said. “We just wanted to grab their attention.”

Hall said she was slightly surprised by the Outstanding Drama Series nom, noting that “Joan” cast a very different tone than the gritty nature of the category’s other nominees.

“It’s a show that deals with the heart and emotions,” she said. “We try to dig deep.”

While “Joan” sometimes feels like a WB show, Hall said the Eye’s early interest in the skein has been key to its success.

“The fact that CBS bought it preemptively and invested in it gave it a different patina,” she said. “It sets a different tone for the whole show.”

“Joan” scored three noms, including one for star Amber Tamblyn.

“She walked in, and she was Joan. Every week she educates us about who this character is.”

Critical fave “Arrested Development,” meanwhile, earned a strong seven nominations. Imagine’s Brian Grazer, on location in Toronto (where the shingle is in production on “The Cinderella Man”), said he rolled out of bed just in time to catch “Arrested’s” moment in the sun.

On the eve of the noms, “Arrested Development” producers (including Grazer and Imagine TV prexy David Nevins) were reluctant to get their hopes up.

“It was a huge surprise,” said Grazer, who credited creator/exec producer Mitch Hurwitz for the show’s rave reviews (“Even the most competitive comedy writers I know give him the props,” he said).

With the show’s sophomore year secure, Imagine TV now hopes the nomination might be the push “Arrested” needs to become a full-fledged hit this coming season.

“I think it does give it an adrenaline hit,” Grazer said. “It reminds me of our very first season of ’24,’ when we couldn’t find the audience. But with the help of the journalists we eventually got there.”

Then there’s “Deadwood,” which is poised to be HBO’s next big Emmymaker, just as “Sex and the City” leaves the air and “Sopranos” enters its final season.

The David Milch drama scored several key noms (although not in the outstanding series or acting categories), including outstanding writing and directing in a drama series.

As for Hall, the “Joan” writers were scheduled to take her to lunch Thursday to celebrate her birthday. In light of the Emmy noms, Hall said one particular restaurant felt appropriate.

“It’s an Ivy kind of day,” she laughed.

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