‘Downton,’ ‘Family’ fare best in acting categories

Pay cablers also well represented in drama, comedy

Emmy voters fell hard for the British residents of “Downton Abbey,” and they also spread the wealth among plenty of fresh faces and first-timers in the key acting races.

Onscreen couple Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt were among those nominated in the supporting actor-actress categories, giving PBS’ upstairs-downstairs hit six acting mentions, the most of any drama series. The vast majority of Stateside bizzers had never heard of the “Downton” thesps, except Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, prior its upset win last year for miniseries.

“We are getting recognized a lot Stateside,” said Michelle Dockery, nominated for lead actress in the role of Lady Mary Crawley. “After reading the first script, we knew we were on to something great.”

Jim Carter, who plays the rock-ribbed butler Mr. Carson, rounded out “Downton’s” half-dozen acting bids.

Gareth Neame, exec producer of the period drama created by Julian Fellowes, noted that the noms were spread equally among aristocrats and servants (three apiece).

“It has something to do with the way the characters are cherished and how audiences respond to them,” he said.

On the comedy side, “Modern Family” continued to dominate with six acting nominations — all returning from last year — in the supporting categories and a guest bid as well. Defending champs Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen will once again face off against castmates Eric Stonestreet, Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Sofia Vergara. Greg Kinnear, making a rare series-TV appearance, was noticed for his guest work on the ABC laffer.

The “Family” juggernaut undoubtedly edged out thesps who were seen as potential breakthrough contenders this year, including “Parks and Recreation’s” Nick Offerman and “Community’s” Danny Pudi.

Showtime’s stable of thesps mounted a big showing this year. For the first time, the pay cabler has contenders in all four lead actor and actress categories: Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”) and Don Cheadle (“House of Lies”) on the comedy side and Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), Damian Lewis and Claire Danes (“Homeland”) on the drama front.

“The acting categories were the big categories for us. It was nice to have it spread so widely among our shows,” said Showtime entertainment prexy David Nevins. “We’re in the brand-building business and awards help the perception of your brand.”

Two of HBO’s femme newbies also made the lead actress cut: Lena Dunham for “Girls” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep.” But some were surprised at the absence of “Enlightened’s” Laura Dern, especially after she took home a Globe for the show in January.

As for Starz, the omission of Kelsey Grammer was surprising. Grammer’s 180-degree TV turn from comedy to drama — he plays the ruthless Chicago mayor in “Boss” — was overlooked by voters.

In a successful category shifting maneuver, “Two and a Half Men” thesp Jon Cryer moved to the lead actor category from the supporting class.

Fox’s rookie laffer “New Girl” got some love with noms for both lead Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield.

Dramatically speaking, death was good to characters played by Giancarlo Esposito and Mark Margolis of “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” vet Jared Harris; saying goodbye didn’t work so well for “Boardwalk Empire” thug Michael Pitt.

Among characters that don’t have a great affection for each other, the “Hatfields and McCoys” rivalry will be played out in the mini-movies category: Kevin Costner, as Anse Hatfield, goes up against Bill Paxton’s Randall McCoy.

Emmy voters also paid a final tribute to “Desperate Housewives” actress Kathryn Joosten, who died in June at 72. Joosten, a member of the TV Acad’s board of governors, earned a supporting comedy actress bid for the farewell season of the ABC sudser. She won twice before in the guest-star category for her work on the show.