Limited series “American Horror: Freak Show” and “Olive Kitteridge” were the second- and third-highest nominees with 19 and 13 nominations, respectively.
Also competing in the drama series category alongside “Game of Thrones” are Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” and “House of Cards,” AMC’s “Mad Men” and “Better Call Saul,” Showtime’s “Homeland” and PBS’ “Downton Abbey.”
Comedy series nominees include “Louie,” “Modern Family,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Silicon Valley,” “Veep,” “”Transparent” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
Thanks to “Game of Thrones’” haul, HBO set a new Emmy best by raking in 126 noms in total, topping its previous high of 124 set in 2004.
ABC was a distant second with 42, followed by NBC and CBS with 41 apiece. FX Networks claimed 38 and Fox grabbed 35. Netflix was right behind with 34, followed by PBS (29), Comedy Central (25) and AMC (24).
The wealth of nominations that went to Netflix and Amazon series reflect the breadth of the digital medium these days — and are a sign that Emmy voters were willing to look beyond the tried and true in evaluating the landscape. That was likely aided by the fact that online voting made it easier for the Academy’s 20,000-plus members to take part in noms voting on their own timetables.
Changes in Emmy voting rules were evident in the bumper crop of seven nominees in both the comedy and drama series categories. Other categories such as supporting comedy actress had a whopping eight nominees.
Half of this year’s lead drama actors were first-time nominees in the category including Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”), Kyle Chandler (“Bloodline”), Liev Schreiber (“Ray”), Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”), Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”), and Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”). Also nominated were vets Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss from “Mad Men,” Claire Danes (“Homeland”), Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright from “House of Cards,” and Jeff Daniels for “The Newsroom.”
The biggest surprises came in the category of comedy series, where CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” TV’s most-watched comedy series, was left off the list for the first time since 2010.
Netflix’s newbie “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” broke through in its first season with seven noms, another surprise. Amazon’s “Transparent” was recognized by Emmy voters — an expected move given the accolades showered on the transgender series.
“Louie,” “Modern Family,” “Veep” and “Silicon Valley” were repeat nominees, while NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” made the cut for its final season.
The entry of Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer”), Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”) and Lisa Kudrow (“The Comeback”) made for a big shakeup in the lead comedy actress race. Lena Dunham of “Girls” is out of the mix this year, as is Melissa McCarthy for CBS’ “Mike & Molly.”
Jim Parsons of “Big Bang” and Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife” were among the Emmy stalwarts left out of the race this year.
“Good Wife” also failed to make the cut for drama series, although it grabbed acting noms for Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski and Michael J. Fox.
Among comedy thesps, Anthony Anderson of ABC’s “Black-ish” and Will Forte of Fox’s “Last Man on Earth” were surprise nominees for first-year shows. Jeffrey Tambor of “Transparent” was a slam-dunk given the acclaim for his work as a transgender woman.
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” grabbed supporting acting bids for Jane Krakowski and Tituss Burgess even as star Ellie Kemper did not crack the tough lead comedy actress category.
Another notable statistic from the comedy acting nominees: Edie Falco’s bid for “Nurse Jackie” makes it nomination No. 12 in a lead acting category for “The Sopranos” alum. That makes her tied with Angela Lansbury for the most noms in a lead acting category.
The lead drama actress race is a new ballgame this year with four fresh entrants from last year, including Henson of Fox’s “Empire” and Davis of ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder.” This marks the first time two African-Americans have been nommed in a category that has never been won by a black actress.
ABC broke through in the Academy’s revamped limited series category with “American Crime” grabbing a best series nom as well as acting bids for stars Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton. The field’s other contenders include FX’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” SundanceTV’s “The Honorable Woman,” which also garnered a nom for star Maggie Gyllenhaal; HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge” and PBS’ “Wolf Hall.”
The made-for-TV movie category is a motley mix of titles. HBO’s Bessie Smith bio “Bessie,” which earned a nom for star Queen Latifah, is the clear frontrunner in a race that also includes HBO’s “Hello Ladies” wrap-up movie and drama “Nightingale,” which landed a nom for star David Oyelowo. Lifetime’s “Grace of Monaco,” the Grace Kelly biopic that was scrapped for theatrical distribution by the Weinstein Co., landed a nomination, along with National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Jesus” and Acorn TV’s “Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case.”
In the variety series heat, Emmy voters gave a final season salute to CBS “The Late Show With David Letterman,” which nabbed its first nom since 2009. HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” moved into the race, edging out perennial HBO nominee “Real Time With Bill Maher.” “The Colbert Report,” “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Saturday Night Live” were repeat nominees.
The reality-competition field was a carbon copy of 2014: “The Amazing Race” (last year’s winner), “Dancing With the Stars,” “Project Runway,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Top Chef” and “The Voice.”
HBO’s “Thrones” comes out of the nominations announcement with renewed momentum in the most competitive Emmy race of all.
The show, which just wrapped its fifth season, has been nominated every year that it has been eligible but has yet to win the top prize.
Peter Dinklage won for drama supporting actor in 2011.
Andy Samberg is set to host the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast, to air live Sept. 20 on Fox. The three-hour ceremony will originate from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.