The decision to place American Horror Story in the movie and miniseries categories paid off for the show — probably better than anyone expected. The anthology series received a whopping 17 nominations, tied with Mad Men for the most this year.
American Horror Story could have gone into the drama field — but the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences ruled earlier this year that it was eligible to be classified as a miniseries. (PBS' Prime Suspect is a previous example of a show that competed in the miniseries category.)
"The rules of the academy are pretty clear," says TV academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum. "If a show qualifies in more than one category that producer is entitled to choose which category they want to submit. The American Horror Story example is unique. The way the show is designed, it's a very close-ended series this year. Our academy was convinced that this belonged in the miniseries category and voted accordingly." That decision hasn't sat well with some movie and miniseries producers ("I feel the academy made a very poor decision," Hatfields & McCoys executive producer Leslie Greif told TV Guide Magazine last month.)
But the debate over how to classify TV shows that defy categorization — witness the debate over whether Desperate Housewives is a comedy — is an ongoing one at the TV Academy. "It's an evolving industry," says Rosenblum, who notes that the organization is still figuring out how to deal with the growth of programs produced for digital platforms.
Here are several more trivia nuggets and curiosities that have emerged out of this year's Emmy nominations:
CHARLIE HARPER LIVES: Charlie Sheen may be no longer a part of Two and a Half Men, yet the hard-living character he made famous (and who earned him four Emmy nominations) lives on. That's because Kathy Bates has earned an Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series nomination for playing, yes, the ghost of Charlie Harper on Two and a Half Men.
That appears to be a first: TV Academy awards senior vice president John Leverence can't recall any other instance of two separate actors being nominated for playing the same series character. For example, Leverence notes that of the two Darrin Stephens on Bewitched, only Dick York was nominated (Dick Sargent was not).
EMMY OVERACHIEVERS: It's not uncommon for individuals to earn performing, writing and directing nominations in a single year — but in 2012, both Louis C.K. and Lena Dunham have broken the bank by going even further. Louie C.K.'s nominations this year include outstanding lead actor, directing and writing in a comedy series nods, all for Louie, as well as producing, directing, writing and picture editing nods for his special Louie C.K. Live at the Beacon Theatre. Lena Dunham's Girls nominations include outstanding lead actress, directing and writing for a comedy nods, in addition to her producer nomination for Girls as an outstanding comedy series nominee. Leverence says that's the first time nominees have landed so many noms in so many different fields at the same time.
MOVIN' ON UP: The decision to move from the miniseries to drama categories paid off handsomely for Downton Abbey (with 16 nominations in the drama field, compared to 11 last year in the movie/miniseries categories), but such a transition does not always guarantee success. Both The Starter Wife and Sleeper Cell started out as miniseries — and earned nominations as such. When both shows were turned into regular series and moved to the drama competition, they received none.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Pan Am vanished from the air after its initial run, but TV academy voters still have a soft spot for the short-lived ABC drama. The show received three nominations, including ones for cinematography, music composition and special effects. That's as many nominations as American Idol, Glee, Once Upon a Time, Veep and The Walking Dead, among others.
GONE... AND FORGOTTEN: They're not a sentimental bunch, those Emmy voters. Viewers may have said farewell to Entourage, House and Desperate Housewives this year, but Emmy said "good riddance." Entourage, which received as many as 7 nominations (and two wins) in 2007, landed just one nod for its farewell — in an obscure sound mixing category. House landed none, while one-time Emmy darling Housewives — which earned 15 nominations in 2005 (its first season), said farewell with just two.
POSTHUMOUSLY: One of those Desperate Housewives nominations was for Kathryn Joosten, who died on June 2. Joosten, who earned a nod for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy (for her role as Karen McClusky), was an active TV Academy leader, having served as governor of the organization's performers peer group. She had previously won two guest actress Emmys for her Housewives role.
THE STREAKS CONTINUE: With 14 more nominations (narrowly missing last year's record 16 nods), Saturday Night Live has now hit a total 156 nominations over the course of its life — a record that may very well never be beat. (ER is second, at 124). Also, this marks the fifth outstanding drama series nomination for AMC's Mad Men — already a record for a basic cable show. (Now, of course, Mad Men is gunning to become the first drama ever to win five consecutive Emmys). Then there's the case of unsung Emmy superstar Hector Ramirez, a cameraman who holds the record for most Emmy nominations for an individual (a whopping 68). HBO documentary boss Sheila Nevins, who's close behind at 59 nominations, has already won more Emmys than anyone else in history (23) and is on track to extend that lead this year.
NETWORK SNUBS: The CW, which has long been ignored by the TV Academy, continued to be missing in action at the nominations. The person behind the CW's Twitter feed had some fun with that distinction: "Emmy nomination day! Or as we call it, Thursday." But the CW is in good company: USA Network picked up just one piddly nomination — and that was for an interactive project tied into Psych. TBS and Starz also received just one nod, while TNT got just three.
THANKS, SORTA: Conan didn't receive a nomination, but TBS' lone nomination was The Team Coco Sync App in the wordy category "Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media — Enhancement to a Television Program or Series." (And critics accuse the TV academy of harboring too many Emmy categories!) Also, Family Guy may have been shut out this year, but don't shed a tear for creator Seth MacFarlane: His Epix special Seth MacFarlane: Swingin' In Concert at least received a nom for outstanding music direction. And interestingly, voters weren't interested in nominating South Park as a series — but they were interested in nominating a special about how South Park is made. 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park earned a nomination for Comedy Central in the nonfiction special category. Meanwhile, after landing a nomination last year for Raising Hope, Martha Plimpton was pushed out of the comedy actress category — but still landed a guest actress in a drama nomination, for The Good Wife.
POUR A DRINK: Emmy voters sure are hot for the prohibition era. HBO's Boardwalk Empire, which won 8 Emmys last year, is nominated 12 times this year. Meanwhile, the PBS special Prohibition is up for three awards.
LIKE A FINE WINE: This year's Outstanding Variety Special category is heavy on veteran performers: Betty White's 90th Birthday: A Tribune to America's Golden Girl will face off against specials starring Mel Brooks (86) and Dick Cavett (75), Tony Bennett (85) and a Kennedy Center Honors special with honorees including Sonny Rollins (81), Barbara Cook (84) and Neil Diamond (71). And then... there's Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker, starring young whippersnapper Griffin (51).
BIG RATINGS? NO EMMY: The American Idol performance show remained the most-watched series of the 2011-2012 TV season, but Idol couldn't secure a nomination in the outstanding reality series category this year. Then there's the case of TV's most-watched scripted series, NCIS, which continues to be shut out all together.
HOLD ON, SHOWTIME: Here's an extra reason why Showtime execs — already ecstatic over their 22 nominations — should be happy with this year's nominations. A website called L Studio landed a broadband Emmy nomination for the Lisa Kudrow web series Web Therapy — which has been reworked into a series on the pay cable network.
MOONLIGHTING: Besides Louie C.K. and Dunham, other stars with multiple show nominations include Kathy Bates (Harry's Law and Two and a Half Men), Michael J. Fox (Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Good Wife), Jon Hamm (Mad Men and 30 Rock), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly and Saturday Night Live) and Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live and The Looney Tunes Show).
YA FEEL LUCKY? Clint Eastwood has only been nominated for an Emmy once (in 2010, as a producer on a special), but his Super Bowl commercial "It's Halftime in America," for Chrysler, has just been nominated for outstanding commercial.