2011 Emmy nominations: 10 burning questions answered

modern_family

Image Credit: Jordan Athaus/ABC

This morning, as you might have heard, the 2011 Emmy nominations were announced. But after a perusal of the list of those lucky enough to score nods, we found ourselves with questions. Lots of ‘em, in fact! Such as: Is this the first time four actors — Modern Family‘s Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, and Ty Burrell — from one show have been nominated in a single category? Why was PBS’ Downtown Abbey nominated in the Mini-Series category when a second season is in the works? And: Why is Cloris Leachman showing up in the Guest Actress category when she was in 20 of Raising Hope‘s 22 episodes last season? Well, we searched high and low — and enlisted knower of all things Emmy, the Television Academy’s SVP of Awards, John Leverence — to help us get to the bottom of 10 perplexing queries. Read on for all the details.

• With Modern Family actors taking four spots in the Supporting Actor in a Comedy category, is this the first time a category has been so dominated by one television show? No. In 1982, five actors from Hill Street Blues — winner Michael Conrad, Taurean Blacque, Charles Haid, Michael Warren, and Bruce Weitz — filled the category. [Ed. note: Thank you, commenters, for helping us catch our mistake with this answer initially!] The full-sweep feat is rare, but multiple nominations from one show in the same category happens every so often. It was common with Hill Street Blues. As for other examples, in 2004, three of the leads from Desperate Housewives — Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher, and Felicity Huffman (sorry, Eva Longoria!) — all scored nods. (Huffman eventually took home the trophy, and she was the only other DH lady to be nominated again.) And back in the late ’80s, The Golden Girls had a similar embarrassment of riches: Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Betty White were nominated together in 1986 (White won), 1987 (McClanahan won), 1988 (Arthur won), and 1989 (none of them won).

• Is there the possibility that one entire category could be dominated by one show? Yes, definitely. First, see above. In 1992, every spot in the Voice-Over category went to voice actors from Fox’s animated comedy The Simpsons: Dan Castellaneta, Marcia Wallace, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Jackie Mason. And Leverence explains another similar situation. “For example, a couple years ago, all five writing nominations were Mad Men writing nominations,” he says. “So that can happen. It would be a rarity, but it certainly could happen. There’s nothing in our rules that would preculde that.”

• With its six regular adult cast members all scoring nominations, is Modern Family have the most performer nominations for one show ever? No, again back to Hill Street Blues: The drama scored nine acting nods in its stellar performance year of 1982. Within comedies, though, Modern Family matches the much-decorated Cheers in 1990, when Kirstie Alley, Ted Danson, Rhea Pearlman, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelsey Grammer, and Woody Harrelson were all nominated across Supporting and Lead categories. Cheers wins for the most performer nominations in one year in comedies, though, when you factor in the detail that two other actors — guest stars Alexis Smith and Georgia Brown — were nominated in the Guest Actress category.

• How was PBS’ Downton Abbey nominated in the Mini-Series category if it has a second season in the works? The short answer is that when Emmy submissions were made, there weren’t plans for more episodes — Downtown was originally designed as a mini. “That was a situation in which the second season was an afterthought after the original mini-series was done,” explains Leverence. “They had success that was, perhaps, unexpected. That happens from time to time, that you will get a show that looks to be a one-off mini, and then all of a sudden, everyone wants of it, and they will rev up for another season.” A follow-up question: Will Downtown have to go in the Drama Series category next year? Most likely. “That very well could be the situation,” Leverence says. “I do remember, however, the original Upstairs, Downstairs, which was a repeat in the Mini-Series category. Although categories were different back then, so it very well might not be applicable. I would say if you come back for a second season, you’ve probably established yourself as an ongoing series because you’re ongoing from the prior year.”

• Where is The Walking Dead’s nomination? Was the show not considered for a Drama Series nomination because it was only six episodes? No, The Walking Dead was definitely in contention for a Drama Series nomination, despite its short run. (Shorter than Downtown Abbey‘s seven episodes, in fact!) Its producers submitted it in the always-tough Drama Series category. (It probably didn’t help that its network sibling Mad Men was all but a lock in the category; two shows from AMC in the Drama Series category wouldn’t have been impossible, just difficult to pull off.) Would The Walking Dead have fared better in the Mini-Series category? Definitely, but with its second season greenlit months ago, it wouldn’t have been eligible there.

• Why is Raising Hope’s Cloris Leachman — who appeared in 20 of the series’ 22 episodes from the first season — nominated as a guest actress instead of a supporting actress? We sort of answered this question about a month ago with our burning questions a week before Emmy nomination ballots were due. Here’s an excerpt from that post that explains:

The differentiation — much like the one between supporting actor and lead actor in the case of ensemble casts — is subjective and up to the performer. “A person is thought of as a particular kind of player, a particular kind of role within [the show],” Leverence says. “That person who’s the guest can choose to go guest or can choose to go supporting. It used to be no more than three episodes, and then no more than six, and then it really came down to, we’re not going to look quantitatively. We’re going to look at the title the person has. You have people like Shelley Long, an example of a guest on Modern Family, where she plays the mother and wreaks havoc [and then is gone]. But then you also have the Cloris Leachman situation in which you have an ongoing guest.”

• Is this the first time the broadcast networks were only represented by one series in the Drama Series category? A quick bit of research shows us that this, indeed, is the first year there is only one drama from the broadcast networks represented in the Drama Series category. The networks completely dominated the Drama Series category until 1999, when HBO’s The Sopranos because the first cable series nominated in the category. (The first cable series to ever be nominated for an Emmy was The Larry Sanders Show in 1993, but that was in the Comedy Series category.) It has been a slow decline for the broadcast networks in the Drama Series category since then: Six Feet Under joined the party in 2002 and was the only cable show nominated that year. In 2003, two cable shows received nominations, marking the first time the networks had less then four nods in the Drama Series category. The Sopranos won in 2004, marking cable’s first win here. Mad Men scored for cable in 2008. As recently as just two years ago, in 2009, the number of network dramas in the category had dwindled to just two. This year, we’re at just one, with CBS’ The Good Wife.

• When is the last time all the nominees in the Comedy Series category were from the broadcast networks? 2005, when Fox’s Arrested Development, ABC’s Desperate Housewives, CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond, NBC’s Scrubs, and NBC’s Will & Grace were all nominated. Since then and before that, there had been cable interlopers every in the Comedy Series category since 1993, when The Larry Sanders Show originally broke the barrier for comedies not on the broadcast networks.

• During the nomination announcement this morning, there was a huge rush of excitement from the crowd when So You Think You Can Dance‘s host Cat Deeley was nominated in the Outstanding Reality-Competition Host category. Why was that? This is a category that had been locked up, for years, by Survivor‘s Jeff Probst, The Amazing Race‘s Phil Keoghan, Dancing with the Stars‘ Tom Bergeron, American Idol‘s Ryan Seacrest, and Project Runway‘s Heidi Klum. So the excitement was likely because there is love for Deeley, who swiped Klum’s spot. We’ll let Leverence explain: “[The excitement] happened when Cat Deeley was announced,” he says. “I think the [Outstanding Reality-Competition Host] category has been a somewhat static cateogry, in terms of the nominations. I think that [Cat’s] very highly thought of. Heidi [Klum] had basically had that spot for some time, so I think that the general good feeling about Cat is the tide that raised the ships this morning. The feeling was, you know, good for her!”

Glee is again nominated as a Comedy Series category, but it certainly has lots of dramatic overtones and is an hour long. Will there ever be a Dramedy category created for such series? Not any time soon, it seems, but it is a topic that bubbles up with the Television Academy from time to time. “It comes up with some frequency,” says Leverence. “The Board of Governors has, at least, looked at the possibility of having Comedy: Sitcom Style and Comedy: Dramedy Style categories and then keep the Drama Series as it is. The board has thought about that and has decided it will remain, at least for the time being, with a Comedy Series category that embraces a rather broad range, all the way from one end of the spectrum, which would be the sitcom style to the other end, which would be more dramedy style.” (Additional reporting by Kevin Sullivan)

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

Read more:
Emmy snubs: Here’s our grouse list
Emmy nominations 2011: ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ score drama series nods
Emmy nominating ballots due a week from today! Five burning questions answered.


Comments (116 total) Add your comment
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  • harperloki

    And now for the real question: How did Ron Fu**ing Swanson fail to get a nomination?

    • Brooke

      Seriously! I can’t believe none of the men from P&R got a nomination – I even think Rob Lowe could have bested two of those Lead Actor noms. And my only solace in Community not being nominated is that I don’t have to split my loyalties.

      • Marco

        Proof positive that the Emmy voters are not worthy of the Ron Swanson pyramid of greatness…

      • MCS

        I am P&R’s biggest fan, but there is no way Lowe should have been nominated in the Lead Actor category. Every other male actor on the show has a bigger role (and is much funnier) than him.

      • Shannon

        MCS – OFFENSE!

      • Mike

        MCS – I feel the same exact way. Lowe is decent, but in no way deserves a nod. P&R is the best comedy out there, but lets be realistic, not to mention discerning – Lowe is there to bring recognition to the show and he hasn’t really had a chance to shine.

    • Pash

      Better question: Why did Modern Family get 4 noms and Parks and Rec get none in the supporting male in a comedy? Modern Family is definitely geared toward older (and by older I mean over 30) viewers which is where Emmy voters tend to skew (hello 2.5 men). I think that Parks and Rec skews young and is being punished for that. Apparently comedy about a mini horse and a man who has dream of having his own cologne is not funny. Chicky chicky parm parm.

      • Jon

        What? Every college kid I know enjoys MF no reason it doesn’t dominate with us.

      • Thomas R

        You’d almost think it’d be the opposite. “Parks & Recreation” is about a small-town in Indiana with several characters having an almost old-fashioned can-do spirit. Even the hip/young/glowering April likes old people. “Modern Family” has a gay couple raising a kid, a mixed race couple, and so forth. Possibly the idea is older people want to watch shows about families, of any kind, and don’t care about unmarried people. I’d like to think that’s not so though. I’ve considered getting my Mom to watch P&R as I think she’d like it if she might like it if she gave it a chance.

      • Deke

        Better question: Will the Emmys ever come to appreciate “Community?”

      • Rachael

        Community and Parks and Rec definitely deserve Emmy recognition.

      • Mindy

        Why are you talking about Modern Family actors stealing a spot when JON CRYER was nominated? That is who really stole a spot in that category.

      • Cara

        Pash, I agree 100%. I would argue that the problem with Parks and Rec is that it’s difficult to get older people to watch because it is on the quirky side (apparently quirk wasn’t valued pre-1970). I think older people and (college aged students) like Modern Family because they don’t watch it every week. If they did they’d realize that the show is extremely predictable, which takes some of the comedy out of it. I’m betting Jon Cryer wins this category because the MF guys will split the votes and Cryer will win yet another undeserved award.

    • Bringbackrocky

      And how did Megan Mullaly not score a Guest Actress nod as Tammy Swanson?

    • Mar

      It’s so sad.

    • ELLE

      lol

  • ben

    @harperloki Thank you. Nick Offerman no, but Jon Cryer for a sixth consecutive time? Kcuf me!

    • tracy bluth

      Seriously!!!!

  • junebug

    I was just a kid, but I think your expert needs to look back to the 80’s. Did not the late great Hill Street Blues fill every slot in the Drama Supporting Actor one year?

  • TorontoTom

    You overlooked Hill Street Blues – they took all 5 Best Supporting Actor nominees in its first or second year.

    • TorontoTom

      1982

  • Justin

    Dear EW,

    I’m a little surprised you haven’t taken the time to do the proper research. In response to the first 2 bullet points – yes there has been a time that 4 cast members from one show were nominated. In 2002, the West Wing had 4 actors nominated in Supporting Actor in a Drama (Dule Hill, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and John Spencer, who won). And to your second bullet point, that same year the West Wing had 9 total cast members nominated. In addition to the 4 mentioned above Martin Sheen, Allison Janney (who won), Stockard Channing (who won), Janel Maloney, and MaryLouise Parker were all nominated. Please do your research next time.

    • CC

      I’m astonished that no one proofreads your copy. Re-read your paragraph on Downton Abbey for starters.

      • Carl

        This. Downtown Abbey? Really EW?

    • Fact Checker

      Also, Mad Men hasn’t swept the writing for a drama series category. It got four out of five slots one year (Lost got the fifth slot), but never all five.

    • Erik

      Glad you pointed that out about The West Wing cause I was going to point out the same thing. Someone needs to do better research next time.

    • Mick

      That’s was also my first thought.
      Mark Harmon, Tim Matheson and Ron Silver were also nominated in Best Guest Actor, Drama for The West Wing, the same year.

    • David

      And, in 2005, Will & Grace had 8 performers nominated in the same year, tying the Cheers record EW mentions in this article: McCormack, Hayes, Mullaly in Lead and Supporting categories, and 5 guest nominations: Bobby Cannavale, Jeff Goldblum, Alec Baldwin, Victor Garber, and Blythe Danner. Those 4 guys competed against each other (Cannavale won).

  • kim in kentucky

    And how did James Noble (Fringe) NOT get nominated, along with Anna Torv ??????

    • tracy bluth

      THIS.

      • URGH

        THISSSSSSSS

    • Nic.

      Yes! Exactly what I would like to know! John Noble and Anna Torv had the toughest roles on any show and they pulled them off flawlessly!

  • kim in kentucky

    In 1985, all 5 supporting actors in a drama came from Hill Street Blues

  • kim in kentucky

    2002 – 4 of the 5 nominations for Best Support Actor in a drama came from West Wing

  • Philip

    And why did this actor or actress get nominated while this actor and actress did not?? Geez I understand people’s frustrations, but we should just nominate everybody. Even if you do get nominations for some people finally after years of trying, like Friday Night Lights, there will still be other people who are upset about other actors who didn’t get nominated. Face it Everyone has different tastes and you can’t please everyone.

  • Andrea

    I guess FNL doesn’t count as network anymore?

    • Sarah

      Right? That confused me as well. Is it because it’s on DirectTV?

    • CiCi

      Same here. I mean it’s in a parntership between DirectTV and NBC, but I still consider it a network since it’s NBC’s original baby and still airs on the network.

  • severine

    Great job Emmys giving the overrated Modern family cast who were all unbelievably grating this season all the nods and completely shutting out Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Joel McHale and Community as a whole. Modern Family wishes it were half as groundbreaking as Community

    • DvM

      Yes, modern family is so overrated, as is glee.

      • Shilo

        Glee and MF are overrated…Community was robbed this season for its great work and Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch shouldn’t be nomonated. And many might not agree,but HIMYM along with Neil Patrick Harris should be on that worthless list

      • Holden

        Jane Lynch is cool, but she barely appeared on “Glee” this season. “Community” was outright robbed — again. Danny Pudi should not just be nominated. He should win.

    • Anonymous

      I love Modern Family and Community. Ty Burrell was great this season. Did you see the episode when he was playing fake dumb? It was kind of brilliant. The others were good too, but I agree their spots should have gone to Parks and Rec and Community.

    • metallic

      Get over it. You and your fellow Community fanatics should be more concerned with keeping your low-rated show on the air rather than b****ing about the Emmy’s. Awards do not keep shows on the air – ratings do. You should just be glad it wasn’t canceled along with the other lame NBC comedies.

    • thin

      I agree about Glee. It’s overrated, shrill and grating. I don’t agree about Modern Family, though.

  • ben

    @Philip Take that “it is what it is” crap for someone who asks for it because honestly, I can really care less. It doesn’t matter how long has been on. Two and a Half Men has had eight seasons and the show still sucks. the office has had seven and has always sucked. Mad Men had had three years of overrated television. HBO gets nominated because it is HBO. Showtime just puts dramas in comedy sections just to piss me off and Glee just screwed the pooch and the academy still sucks them off and gives them 12 noms (thanks, FOX. It is totally not fixed). And nominating everybody is just a stupid suggestion or a joke. And everyone didn’t vote because if everyone voted, the majority of people would vote for dumb, underwhelming, ridiculously dismal crap.

    • MortalKombat

      I’m guessing you don’t like any TV shows cause you just trashed, AMC, HBO, Showtime, Fox and CBS

  • Glee? Really?

    This season of Glee was Awful! How were they nomiinated?

    • agreed but

      it’s politically correct.

  • mary

    What about FNL as a broadcast show? I suppose since it first premiered on Direct Tv, but its still an NBC branded show

    • Andie

      Yeah, I agree. FNL was an exclusively NBC show in its first two seasons, and it still airs on NBC and that’s where its primary viewership watches it.

  • Joey

    Not one Emmy nod for Sons of Anarchy and Glee gets 12?! Give me a break.

    • Frank

      no doubt, glee is terrible but popular (especially with media types). SoA is gritty, mean, and has a lot of very anti-glee type characters and is considered a niche show based on ratings and it’s network. I’d rather enjoy a bad episode of SoA than sit through 30 seconds of ‘glee’.

    • Joey’s Aunty

      Glee is in the comedy categories and Sons of America is in Drama (however, it should be in comedy for its laughable performances), therefore the competition is different… drrrrr

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