| LOS ANGELES, Sept 22
LOS ANGELES, Sept 22 If it was a good year for
American television, Sunday's Primetime Emmy awards could make
it a great year for the grittier side of the TV grid, led by a
drama about a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who cooks
"Breaking Bad" is the show to beat for the night's top
honor, best drama series, and Bryan Cranston as the unlikely
meth mastermind-turned-ruthless drug kingpin Walter White is
favored to win best actor in a drama. That would make him a
four-time winner for that role.
If it wins, "Breaking Bad" will take the drama prize for the
first time, and timing might have something to do with its good
fortune. Although its nominations are for the program's fifth
season, the eight episodes of the AMC show's sixth and final
season began airing in August, before Emmy voting concluded, to
widespread acclaim from fans.
The defending Emmy champ in that category, Showtime's
domestic terrorism thriller "Homeland," also has a chance,
although critics say its second season did not hit the
surprising high notes of its first year, while HBO's slick
medieval fantasy "Game of Thrones" has its share of buzz and 16
Then there is the big novelty in this year's race, the
political drama "House of Cards" from the TV streaming company
Netflix Inc, whose nine nominations were hailed as a validation
of production made specifically for online delivery.
But handicappers say it has better chances to win in the
best actor category, where Kevin Spacey could challenge Cranston
with his portrayal of conniving congressional leader Frank
For best comedy series, another gritty show appears to be
gaining steam: "Louie" featuring the New York comedian Louis
C.K., challenging the winner of the past three years, "Modern
Family," the smart ABC comedy about unconventional families.
Louis C.K. could also win best actor for comedy.
It could be a year of what Hollywood awards show handicapper
Tom O'Neil of Goldderby.com calls "atypical winners."
"Emmy voters are notorious elitists. They vote for the most
stylized, upscale programming," said O'Neil, pointing to their
support in the past for shows like "Frasier" and "Homeland."
"However, you could say that 'Breaking Bad' and 'Louie' are
chic in another way," he added. "They have elitist appeal
because they are cool shows right now. And that is what makes
the Emmy contest this year so exciting."
'AN EXCITING PERIOD'
The Emmys are handed out by the Academy of Television Arts
and Sciences in a televised ceremony from Los Angeles, which
will be hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris.
They honor a broad swath of television production, from the
pinnacle prize of best drama series to more obscure ones like
best sound mixing for non-fiction programming. There are 537
separate nominations and HBO alone picked up 108 of those, more
than twice its closest competitors, broadcasters CBS and NBC
with 53 each.
Although the premium cable network that made television
history with the likes of "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City"
has much more competition these days from basic cable outlets
like AMC and FX and newcomer Netflix, HBO still wields
considerable influence at the Emmys.
In addition to "Game of Thrones" and comedies "Veep" and
"Girls," HBO's Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" is the
strong front-runner to win best miniseries/movie. Michael
Douglas in the lead role is favored to take best actor in that
category, over co-star Matt Damon, who played Liberace's young
In a testament to the growing power of basic cable outlets,
FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum" about a mental hospital run
by nuns racked up the most nominations of any show at 17, just
ahead of "Game of Thrones." But the horror genre tends to
perform poorly at the Emmys.
It may not prove to be a stellar night for Netflix, which
has a total of 14 nominations split among three shows. But the
company that has taken the first big plunge in original
programming for internet streaming (and put all episodes online
on day one) has Hollywood talking.
"Netflix is an incredible thing," said Matthew Weiner,
creator of AMC's "Mad Men," the groundbreaking drama about the
1960s' Madison Avenue advertising world that has won the best
drama Emmy four times and is looking for its fifth win on
"It's very exciting as a TV writer and watcher to see new
things on there, and the talent they've attracted us incredible.
The more there is, the better, especially of this quality ...
it's an exciting period."