'The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards'
When: 8 tonight, CBS
Host: Stephen Colbert
Top Emmy category nominations:
"Master of None" (Netflix)
"Modern Family" (ABC)
"Silicon Valley" (HBO)
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
"Better Call Saul" (AMC)
"The Crown" (Netflix)
"The Handmaid's Tale" (Hulu)
"House of Cards" (Netflix)
"Stranger Things" (Netflix)
"This Is Us" (NBC)
Best Limited Series
"Big Little Lies" (HBO)
"Feud: Bette and Joan" (FX)
"Genius" (National Geographic Channel)
"The Night Of" (HBO)
Best Actress, Comedy
Pamela Adlon ("Better Things")
Jane Fonda ("Grace and Frankie")
Allison Janney ("Mom")
Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep")
Ellie Kemper ("Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt")
Tracee Ellis Ross ("Black-ish")
Lily Tomlin ("Grace and Frankie")
Best Actor, Comedy
Anthony Anderson ("black-ish")
Aziz Ansari ("Master of None")
Zach Galifianakis, ("Baskets")
Donald Glover ("Atlanta")
William H. Macy ("Shameless")
Jeffrey Tambor ("Transparent")
Best Actress, Drama
Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder")
Claire Foy ("The Crown")
Elisabeth Moss ("The Handmaid's Tale")
Keri Russell ("The Americans")
Evan Rachel Wood ("Westworld")
Robin Wright ("House of Cards")
Best Actor, Drama
Sterling K. Brown ("This Is Us")
Anthony Hopkins ("Westworld")
Bob Odenkirk ("Better Call Saul")
Matthew Rhys ("The Americans")
Liev Schreiber ("Ray Donovan")
Kevin Spacey ("House of Cards")
Milo Ventimiglia ("This Is Us")
Best Actress, Limited Series or TV Movie
Carrie Coon ("Fargo")
Felicity Huffman ("American Crime")
Jessica Lange ("Feud: Bette and Joan")
Nicole Kidman ("Big Little Lies")
Susan Sarandon ("Feud: Bette and Joan")
Reese Witherspoon ("Big Little Lies")
Best Actor, Limited Series or TV Movie
Riz Ahmed ("The Night Of")
Benedict Cumberbatch ("Sherlock: The Lying Detective")
Robert De Niro ("The Wizard of Lies")
Ewan McGregor ("Fargo")
Geoffrey Rush ("Genius")
John Turturro ("The Night Of")
For the 2017 Emmys, there's more television with the potential to be recognized than ever before. The number of scripted series - on broadcast, cable and now streaming services - continues to rise.
There were 455 original scripted series in 2016, up significantly from 216 in 2010. FX CEO John Landgraf said he expects that number to rise to more than 500 original scripted series debuting in 2017.
With the number of TV series more than doubling in six years, getting nominated for an Emmy is more challenging than ever. And it makes predicting winners tougher, too.
"It's just the sheer number of shows," said Chris Beachum, managing editor for awards website GoldDerby.com, noting the splintering of viewership is reflected just in conversation about TV. "It used to be when you'd go out to dinner with a group of people, you used to be able to talk about your favorite shows with them. Now you don't watch the same shows anymore because there are so many of them."
Beachum said the biggest difference at this year's Emmys (airing 8 p.m.Sept. 17 on, CBS) will be in the drama category, in which HBO's "Game of Thrones," winner of the best drama trophy the past two years, is not in the running.
"The reason it was not eligible is the Emmy eligibility period runs June 1 to May 31," Beachum said. "'Game of Thrones' usually airs in the spring, but this year it came back in the summer and missed a cycle, so we're guaranteed a new drama series (winner)."
"Game of Thrones" isn't the only returning TV series to fall through the cracks of the Emmy calendar. Filmed-in-Richmond AMC drama "TURN: Washington's Spies" was not eligible this year because its final, fourth season aired during the 2018 eligibility period over the summer. (Canceled filmed-in-Richmond PBS drama "Mercy Street" was eligible but did not receive any Emmy nominations.)
With "GOT" out of the running, the Emmy drama race features five new series - Netflix's "The Crown," Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale", Netflix's "Stranger Things," "NBC's "This Is Us" and HBO's "Westworld" - and two returning shows, AMC's "Better Call Saul" and Netflix's "House of Cards."
"You don't ever see that many new shows in one genre," Beachum said. "And those shows also picked up a lot of acting nominations."
At GoldDerby.com, Beachum predicted "This Is Us" will take home the best drama award. He chalks up his pick to multiple factors, including a relatively recent tweak to the Emmy voting system that allows Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters to pick only one winner per category rather than rank their choices.
"What we saw last year is it's all about passion," Beachum said. "It's simply a person's No. 1 vote."
That's why he picked "This Is Us."
"I've been to a lot of (Emmy-related) receptions and parties since the (Emmy) ballots came out, and it was the show I heard most people talking about in drama," he said. "I don't know if I'm right or not, but just because it's a broadcast show it automatically means it's got the most viewers, and it seems to have more general appeal compared to the other four new shows."
Beachum has "Handmaid's Tale" as his No. 2 choice in the drama category. This series marks streaming service Hulu's first big contender in one of the major categories.
"They could win," Beachum noted, besting better-established streaming rivals Netflix and Amazon, which have yet to win in the top categories. "('Handmaid's Tale') peaked at the right moment, airing in spring and early summer. It's almost guaranteed to win (an Emmy for star) Elisabeth Moss for best (drama) actress. It had political or social issue overtones and it has that literary pedigree a lot of programs (in the category) don't have. It's a real contender."
If the Golden Globes, the other major televised awards show that honors TV programs, has a tendency to bestow awards on shiny new series and underdogs, the Emmys gravitate toward returning favorites. That's most obvious in recent years in the best comedy category.
ABC's "Modern Family" won best comedy for five consecutive years beginning in 2010 before HBO's "Veep" took home the trophy the past two years. Beachum picks the Julia Louis-Dreyfus-starring comedy again this year, but he doesn't rule out freshman FX comedy "Atlanta," starring Donald Glover, which is his second choice in the category.
Beachum cites the limited series category as one that's gotten quite a makeover in recent years with the advent of limited anthology series, a concept pioneered by producer Ryan Murphy in "American Horror Story" and last year's Emmy-winner "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story."
"It's one of the most fascinating set of races," Beachum said. "You have (Murphy's) program, 'Feud,' and he swept everything last year with 'O.J.,' and 'Big Little Lies' on HBO, which typically swept the movies and limited series (categories). And then you've got some shows that are very well-liked, such as 'The Night Of' and 'Fargo.'"
Within the category, the best actress race intrigues with a lineup of powerhouse actresses, including four Oscars winners: Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon for "Feud," Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon for "Big Little Lies." They're joined by Oscar nominee Felicity Huffman ("American Crime") and "probably the person who had the biggest year between 'Fargo' and 'The Leftovers,'" Beachum says of nominee Carrie Coon.
"Nicole has been nominated before and never won an Emmy, so it seems to be down to Nicole and Jessica Lange," Beachum said. "Lange has won three, so that might hurt her. People might say, 'She has three; let's give it to Nicole.'"
Emmys host Stephen Colbert may also win an award during the telecast for variety talk show as host of CBS' "The Late Show." And while Colbert is known for his political commentary on his late-night program, Beachum expects he'll be less political in prime time as the Emmy Awards' host.
"I talked to him earlier this summer, and at the time he was trying to figure out what the tone would be," Beachum said. "That's a closely kept secret, but this is a mass-audience show unlike the late-night shows, which have their own unique, particular feel. He'll touch on politics, but he can't make it his overarching theme because he'd turn off 50 percent of the country. I think you might hear more politics from people getting up on stage picking up their trophies than you'll hear from Stephen Colbert."
Unlike late-night talk show hosts of the past, who didn't seem to have much love for television, the current crop of hosts all seem to be legitimate fans of TV, including Colbert.
"I think you'll see him celebrating the people coming out as presenters," Beachum said. "He loves this medium so much."
Presenters are expected to include Riz Ahmed ("The Night Of"), Alec Baldwin ("Saturday Night Live"), Jason Bateman ("Arrested Development"), Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Anna Faris ("Mom"), Debra Messing ("Will & Grace"), Shemar Moore ("Criminal Minds"), Kumail Nanjiani ("Silicon Valley"), Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), Tracee Ellis Ross ("black-ish") and Oprah Winfrey.
Rob Owen is a former Times-Dispatch staff writer. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Facebook and Twitter as @RobOwenTV.
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