LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami/AP) — After skipping a year due to a larger-than-usual gap between seasons, “Game of Thrones” was back in the Emmy spotlight with this year’s nominations.
The hit HBO show roared back onto the Emmy battlefield, topping Thursday’s nominations with 22 bids but with a formidable opponent in last year’s winner “The Handmaid’s Tale,” while a streaming platform made history by earning the most bids for the first time.
Netflix’s 112 nominations took away the front-runner title that HBO held since 2001, giving cable and broadcast networks more reason to fear their future as the TV industry continues to change.
HBO is no piker: It claimed 108 bids. “Game of Thrones” helped boost the premium cable service’s total and became the most-nominated series of all time, with its 129 nods topping the 124 nominations earned by “ER.”
Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” was the top comedy series nominee with 16 bids, poised to take advantage of the absence this time around of three-time winner “Veep.” ”Atlanta” will face newcomers including “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” ”GLOW” and “Barry.” Others in the category include “black-ish,” ”Silicon Valley,” ”Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
The newbie comedies aced out long-time Emmy favorite “Modern Family,” a five-time winner and perennial nominee since it debuted in 2009 on ABC. Its absence leaves just one network contender for best comedy, ABC’s “black-ish,” which also earned nods for Tracee Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson, who noted his urban California roots.
“Being a kid from Compton, one could only dream of moments like this, so it’s truly a humbling experience right now,” Anderson said.
The short-lived revival of “Roseanne,” canceled because of star Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet, drew only one major nomination, a supporting actress nod for Laurie Metcalf. Another revival, “Will & Grace,” got Emmy love for nominees Megan Mullally and Molly Shannon but the main stars and series itself were snubbed.
“Killing Eve” star Sandra Oh made history of her own, becoming the first actress of Asian descent to be nominated for lead acting honors in a drama series. Oh had earned five supporting bids for “Grey’s Anatomy.”
The TV industry has made recent strides toward inclusion, with Glover and Sterling K. Brown of “This Is Us” winning top acting awards last year and both nominated again.
“I think we’re all happy with the direction we’re going. This is the most diverse class of performer nominees we’ve had — we’re almost up to a third, which is fantastic,” Maury McIntyre, TV academy president. “There’s still a lot of work to be done in terms of gender” and with behind-the-camera jobs, he said.
CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” received a nomination in the category for best information series or special, which also includes shows with Leah Remini and David Letterman. The show featuring chef-writer Bourdain, who died in early June, has won four Emmys.
Among the notable first-time nominees: Issa Rae for “Insecure,” Darren Criss, Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” Tiffany Haddish for “Saturday Night Live,” Letitia Wright for “Black Museum (Black Mirror)” and John Legend for “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert.”
If Legend wins, he’ll join the rarified club of “EGOT” performers who’ve won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.
“Saturday Night Live,” riding high with its relentless pillorying of the Trump administration, was rewarded with 21 nods.
HBO’s fantasy dragons-and-swords saga is a two-time best drama winner that sat out the last year’s awards because of its production schedule. Although it’s up for top series honors, it drew only three supporting actor bids for cast members Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage.
“The Handmaid’s Tale,” the dystopian sci-fi series based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, drew 20 bids, including one for last year’s best actress winner, Elisabeth Moss, and supporting bids for Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strahovski and Joseph Fiennes.
“The reaction is beyond what you hoped, but in some ways it’s a testament to the alchemy that comes from a lot of people working together and putting their best work into it,” said “Handmaid’s” executive producer Bruce Miller. “Everybody from the composer to the makeup people to everyone, so it’s such a team effort. That’s the wonderful thing about being recognized.”
Other drama series contenders are “Westworld,” with an impressive 21 nods; “The Americans,” nominated for its final season and with nods for stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys; “The Crown,” ”Stranger Things” and “This Is Us” from NBC, the only broadcast show to make the cut.
Shawn Levy, an executive producer of “Stranger Things,” got the good news after landing in New York following weeks of directing season three episodes in Georgia.
“We not only faced the burden of expectation given the show’s popularity, but we did want to top ourselves, we did not want to repeat ourselves,” he said. “Our deepest fear was complacency.”
The limited series category is led by “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” with 18 bids. Other nominees are “The Alienist,” ”Genius: Picasso,” ”Godless” and “Patrick Melrose.”
Competing with Moss, Oh and Russell for lead drama actress are Claire Foy for “The Crown,” Tatiana Maslany of “Orphan Black” and Evan Rachel Wood of “Westworld.”
Rhys and Brown will be up against Brown’s castmate Milo Ventimiglia, along with Jason Bateman for “Ozark” and Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright for “Westworld.” Brown is also nominated for comedy series guest actor for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
Glover and Anderson’s competitors for best comedy series actor are Ted Danson for “The Good Place,” Larry David for “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” William H. Macy for “Shameless” and Bill Hader for “Barry.”
“It’s truly an honor to be nominated, and especially nice not to be the oldest person in the category. Thanks, Larry,” Danson joked in a statement.
Actresses competing for top comedy honors are getting a break with the temporary absence of six-time” ”Veep” winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Besides Rae and Ross, the nominees are Rachel Brosnahan for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Allison Janney for “Mom,” Pamela Adlon for “Better Things” and Lily Tomlin for “Grace and Frankie.”
The Emmys ceremony airs Sept. 17 on NBC with Colin Jost and Michael Che of “Saturday Night Live” as hosts.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)