A funny thing happened when the nominations were announced for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards: NBC came away as the most recognized of the broadcast networks, with 67 total nods.
Yes, NBC — the subject of so much ribbing about waning ratings, omnipresent reality programming and Leno-verdosing.
"It's exciting to get so many nominations and be so recognized," Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, tells TVGuide.com. "Across the board, it was a great day." Silverman himself even scored a nod, as an executive producer of The Office.
Surveying NBC's embarrassment of Emmy riches, Silverman lauds 30 Rock's 22 nominations — an all-time record for a comedy series — as "an incredible validation and a confirmation of the depth of the team involved." Producer and star Tina Fey, he says, continues to prove herself to be "the best player-coach."
Saturday Night Live also set an Emmys record for the most nominations for a variety series: 13. Helping lead the way to that milestone were Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig (both of whom will vie for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy) and nominated guest stars Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake.
Silverman says that while he was not expecting SNL's buzz from the 2008 presidential campaign to translate into Emmy love, "It's so great to see it."
He notes that with Poehler now fronting Parks & Recreation, Wiig a part of this fall's SNL Weekend Update Thursday series, Rainn Wilson and Steve Carell still working at The Office, and Fey and Alec Baldwin 30 Rock-ing harder than ever, "Thursdays on NBC are going to be the funniest night on broadcast TV.
"It's a great story that quality can succeed," he says.
Also making the Peacock stand proud is Mariska Hargitay, who earned her fifth career nod (she won in 2006) for playing Law & Order: SVU's Det. Olivia Benson.
"It's great to see her nominated, and to know we're going to have the show on at 9 o'clock and have an even bigger audience available to it," says Silverman. "The momentum can only build."