Emmy nominees include 'Big Bang Theory,' 'House of Cards,' 'Downton Abbey'

"Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul and surprise announcer Neil Patrick Harris delivered the news television's loyal binge watchers were hoping for: Netflix original series "House of Cards" cracked the Emmy code and scored a nomination for best drama series.

As a whole, it was a fine morning for Netflix: "Cards" actors Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright also snagged nominations, and Jason Bateman of "Arrested Development" was nominated for lead actor in a comedy. The streaming service received a total of 14 nods.

FX's horror/drama "American Horror Story: Asylum," which resets each season with a new location and cast, received the most nods with 17 for its 13-episode second season. The show was nominated for outstanding miniseries, and star Jessica Lange was recognized as a best lead actress in a miniseries for her portrayal of Sister Jude Martin.

But HBO's epic fantasy drama "Game of Thrones" wasn't far behind, nabbing a total of 16 nominations, including supporting actor and actress for Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke. The series, which features sweeping landscapes and detailed costumes, was also recognized for cinematography, costumes and drama series.

"Game of Thrones" was just part of HBO's huge morning. The premium cable network snagged a total of 108 nominations to top all the networks. Drama "Boardwalk Empire," which stars Steve Buscemi, helped add to the total with 10 nominations, as did the Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra," which snagged 15. HBO far outpaced NBC and CBS, which both earned 53 nods. Broadcast networks ABC received 45, PBS 25 and FOX 19.

"Breaking Bad," which debuts its final season next month, wasn't far behind with 13 nominations, including one for announcer Paul, who was recognized for his role of Jesse Pinkman on the AMC drama. Star Bryan Cranston is up once again for best lead drama actor, a category in which he's won three times for his role as chemistry teacher turned drug lord Walter White. (Damian Lewis of "Homeland" beat Cranston last year.)

Critical darling "Mad Men" walked away with 12 nominations, including nods for actors Jon Hamm (lead actor), Elisabeth Moss (lead actress), Christina Hendricks (supporting actress), Robert Morse (supporting actor), Harry Hamlin (supporting actor) and outstanding drama. It's a bit of a slide for the AMC drama, which last year received 17 nods but won nothing. According to Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil, it was the biggest shutout in Emmy history.

British period series "Downton Abbey" tied "Mad Men" with 12 nominations, with the stars nabbing a number of the nods. Hugh Bonneville is up for lead drama actor, Jim Carter for supporting drama actor, Michelle Dockery for lead drama actress and the amazing Maggie Smith for supporting drama actress. The show was also recognized for its writing, music, costumes, and of course, overall drama.

Last year's winner, "Homeland," nabbed 11 nominations, including outstanding drama, writing and directing and nominations for four actors. Stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, who both won last year, were recognized again. Supporting players Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin both scored their first nominations.

"Being with this company of people — these writers, these actors, this crew, it’s just a beautiful place to go to work," Patinkin said on Thursday. "And I love being in the mindset of where Saul’s mind is a lot. He’s a deep, optimistic, hopeful human being. And to put my mind in that frame of mind for 12 to 14 hours a day is a wonderful place to live."

Surprisingly, AMC's wildly popular critical hit "The Walking Dead" was mostly ignored by Emmy voters. The drama about a group of survivors living in a world overrun by zombies received only one nod: prosthetic makeup.

Comedy juggernaut "Modern Family" was not the top sitcom after the Emmy nominations were announced Wednesday. NBC's "30 Rock" beat it by one nod with a total of 13 nominations. Both shows are up for the best comedy trophy, but "Modern Family" has dominated in this category, winning the last three trophies.

"Modern Family" star Eric Stonestreet, who was the show's only actor not to be nominated, was quick to cheer on his co-stars.

But the show could face tough competition from "The Big Bang Theory," which received eight nods. The CBS comedy about a group of geeky friends gave further depth to its characters this season and also set new ratings records, at points reaching more than 19 million viewers in January.

Julia Louis Dreyfus of "Veep" and Amy Poehler of "Parks and Recreation," who cracked up viewers of the awards show last year when Dreyfus was pronounced the winner and they both stood up, collided and mixed up their acceptance speeches, were nominated for lead actress in a comedy again. They both issued statements on Thursday morning without getting them mixed up.

"It's taken me decades, but I have finally avenged Lucille Ball. I am euphoric," said Louis-Dreyfus, who has won three times in her career and on Thursday broke Ball's record of 12 nominations.

"I appreciate the nominations. I love my job. But nice try, guys. I'm not falling for this old trick again," Poehler said.

"Saturday Night Live" was the big winner for NBC, snagging a total of 15 nominations, including outstanding variety series and a supporting actor nod for Bill Hader, who announced that this past season was his last. Other standouts for the network include a best reality host nod for "Betty White's Off Their Rockers," coverage of the 2012 London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, outgoing comedy "30 Rock" and singing competition "The Voice."

In reality TV, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" dominated with nine nods. Host Tom Bergeron was once again nominated for best reality host, which he won last year. The ballroom bash was also recognized in the best reality program, choreography, makeup, lighting and other categories.

CBS' "The Amazing Race," which has won best reality competition show every year between 2003 and 2009, and again in 2011 and 2012, was once again nominated in the same category. Host Phil Keoghan did not get a nod this year. Former ratings juggernaut "American Idol" received only three nominations, with one being Ryan Seacrest for best host.

In the outstanding variety TV category, Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" appears poised for yet another win. "The Daily Show" has won the Emmy every year since 2003. But Stewart and gang face tough competition — again — from sister show "The Colbert Report," which is also nominated this year. Also competing are "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," "Real Time With Bill Maher" and "Saturday Night Live."

"Honored to be nominated for an Emmy this morning," Fallon said in a statement. "Takes the sting away from being snubbed by the ESPYs last night."

Kimmel, who will soon compete with Fallon head-on when Fallon takes over the "Tonight Show," reacted, well, like you would expect: "It just goes to show you — good things happen to bad people."

Neither of late-night TV's old guard — "Late Show With David Letterman" and "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" — received recognition for outstanding variety TV. It'll be interesting next year to see whether Leno's "Tonight" successor, Fallon, can stay in the competition once he gets settled at his new desk. And will Fallon's "Late Night" replacement, Seth Meyers, be able to elbow his way in?

The full list of Emmy nominations is available on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences website. The awards ceremony airs Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on CBS.

2013 Emmy nominees

This year's contenders include "The Big Bang Theory," "Downton Abbey," "Breaking Bad" and many more as television celebrates a banner year.


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