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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Netflix Makes Emmy History

Actor Kevin Spacey is pictured in a promotional image from "House of Cards." (Netflix)

Actor Kevin Spacey is pictured in a promotional image from “House of Cards.” (Netflix)

Netflix’s “House of Cards” made Emmy history Thursday with a top drama series nomination, the first time that television’s leading awards have recognized a program delivered online as equal in quality to the best that TV has to offer.

The nomination, one of nine nods earned by the political thriller, is a marker in the unfolding revolution in how we get and watch video entertainment.

“It’s really groundbreaking,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. “It’s beyond our most bold expectations. We were thinking a single nomination would be a win… It’s as much a win for Internet television as it is for the content creators.”

The most Emmy nominations, 17, went to “American Horror Story: Asylum.” Close behind was “Game of Thrones” with 16 nods, while “Saturday Night Live” and the Liberace biopic “Behind the Candelabra” earned 15 nominations each, including nods for stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

The bonanza of nominations for “Game of Thrones” is the swords-and-fantasy show’s most-ever and includes a best drama series nod and three acting bids, including a supporting nod for Peter Dinklage.

“House of Cards” stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright received acting bids, along with a number of other primarily big-screen actors who have migrated to TV for powerhouse projects, with Douglas and Damon among them.

Another Netflix series, “Arrested Development,” didn’t earn a best comedy series but scored three nominations, including one for star Jason Bateman.

Joining “House of Cards” and “Game of Thrones” in the best drama series category are “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “Mad Men” and last year’s winner, “Homeland.”

“Mad Men,” which last year missed out on the best drama trophy that would have been its record-setting fifth, eclipsing fellow four-time winners “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and The West Wing,” gets another shot this year.

The major broadcast networks were shut out of the prestigious category, a repeat of last year and a particular blow with the entry of Netflix’s streamed drama. “Boardwalk Empire” was the only show not to return in the category, its spot claimed by “House of Cards.”

In the comedy series category, nominees are “The Big Bang Theory,” “Girls,” “Louie,” “Modern Family,” “Veep” and “30 Rock,” recognized for its final season. Another outgoing comedy, “The Office,” didn’t receive a best series nod.

A 6-year-old TV academy rules change allows online entries to compete with cable and broadcast programs, although so far Internet shows have popped up only in lower-profile categories. That changed with the 65th Primetime Emmys.

“It certainly is a marker of the new era. … It will send shock waves through the industry,” said Tim Brooks, a TV historian and former network executive, predicted on the eve of the nominations.

They were announced by Aaron Paul, a previous winner for “Breaking Bad” and nominated again this year, and, in a surprise, Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris. He filled in “House of Cards” actress Kate Mara, kept in Santa Fe, N.M., by a plane’s mechanical malfunction.

“Special thanks to Kate Mara for getting me out of the house before my kids start screaming and crying,” Harris said.

An in-demand emcee, the “How I Met Your Mother” star earned a bid for hosting Broadway’s Tony Awards.

Joining Spacey in the contest for best drama series actor are Hugh Bonneville of “Downton Abbey”; Jon Hamm of “Mad Men”; Jeff Daniels of “The Newsroom” and Damian Lewis of “Homeland,” last year’s winner.

Kevin Bacon, one of the big-screen stars trying their hand at TV, was not recognized in the category for “The Following.”

Actresses nominated for their drama series work besides Wright include Vera Farmiga of “Bates Hotel”; Michelle Dockery of “Downtown Abbey;” Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men”; Connie Britton of “Nashville” and Kerry Washington of “Scandal.” Claire Danes, last year’s winner for “Homeland,” got a nod.

Besides Bateman, the nominees for best actor in a comedy are Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory”: Matt LeBlanc for “Episodes”; Don Cheadle for “House of Lies”; Louis C.K. for “Louie”; and Alec Baldwin for “30 Rock.”

Jon Cryer, last year’s surprise winner for “Two and a Half Men,” didn’t make the cut this year.

Actresses competing for top comedy acting honors are Laura Dern for “Enlightened”; Lena Dunham for “Girls”; Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie”; Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who claimed the trophy last year for “Veep.”

Most of the 2012 trophy holders have a chance to repeat.

Maggie Smith was nominated again as best supporting actress in a drama for “Downton Abbey,” which has brought her two trophies. Julie Cryer is up for supporting actress in a comedy for “Modern Family.”

However, Eric Stonestreet, who claimed the supporting actor award last year for the show, was snubbed while castmates Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill and Ty Burrell got nods.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Emmy ceremony will air Sept. 22 on CBS.



AARON PAUL: Lead actor in a drama series, Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards."

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: Lead actress in a drama series, Robin Wright, "House of Cards." The nominees for lead actor in a comedy series, Jason Bateman, "Arrested Development."

PAUL: In the drama series category, "House of Cards."


Today, for the first time ever, an online distributor, it happened to be Netflix, won nominations in major Emmy categories, 14 in all, for "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development."

Eric Deggans is the TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times. Eric, this Netflix coup was not, you know, unexpected, but still a big deal?

ERIC DEGGANS: Yes, very much a big deal, because it proves that Netflix is a big player. It has status from the TV industry, and it also proves that an online outlet can be considered for an Emmy Award and can do well.

YOUNG: Yeah.

DEGGANS: There was some question about whether or not an online outlet, original shows aired there, would actually be considered television that's nominated for an Emmy.

YOUNG: Yeah.

DEGGANS: They used to call the Emmy Awards the Primetime Emmys, that's out of the name now because of Netflix.

YOUNG: Well, and Netflix campaigned for these nominations, they put lawn signs all over Los Angeles. But, of course, they had a couple of great shows. Some people are comparing this to when HBO's "The Sopranos" knocked out the network shows. And at the time, you know, the network shows complained, gee, they can have nudity and foul language, we can't. It's kind of sad that that maybe what makes a show great, but were people sort of jealous of Netflix this time around?

DEGGANS: I think the complaint about Netflix is that they - especially in terms of "House of Cards," the first series and the one that seems to have gotten the most nominations, they spent a tremendous amount of money to make this show. They spent $100 million to make two seasons of the series. So there are going to be people who say, you know, each season has only 13 episodes and they're spending $50 million to make each one of these.

They have people like David Fincher and Kevin Spacey involved. So, of course, they have an advantage. But network television makes billions of dollars a year. If they wanted to spend that much money to make a show, they certainly could. So some of these complaints about the "advantage," quote unquote, that some platforms have over the other, I think, are a little ill-founded.

YOUNG: Yeah. And just briefly, Netflix is the big headline, but what would you leave us with? What was the biggest surprise or snub for you?

DEGGANS: Well, you know, Netflix joining the fold meant that some really important shows that people like either got overlooked or people got snubbed. So Julianna Margulies, who - the star "The Good Wife," who we normally we nominated for drama, she wasn't nominated. Steve Buscemi and "Boardwalk Empire" from HBO, great shows and a great actor, he got snubbed.

"Southland" on TNT, really great cop drama that people thought might get some nominations in its final season, it got snubbed. And "Orphan Black," a show on BBC America, with a female star who plays at least seven different roles, she plays clones of herself, she didn't get nominated. And so there was not a lot of room for all the great television out there.

YOUNG: Well, you just gave a list that we should check out. Eric Deggans, TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times. Thanks so much.

DEGGANS: Thank you.


YOUNG: So they're casting for season two of "House of Cards" and...


Just hearing this music, Robin, is making me so excited for season two. I was glued to the first season.

YOUNG: Well, yes, because the trouble with these is you can watch them all in one night.

HOBSON: Absolutely. Or over the course of a couple of weeks, if that's your pleasure. That's the great thing about this new Netflix world. Well, HERE AND NOW is a production of NPR and WBUR Boston. I'm Jeremy Hobson.

YOUNG: I'm Robin Young. This is HERE AND NOW.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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