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Emmy Nominations 2009: See Who's Up For TV's Biggest Prize

LYNN ELBER   07/16/09 02:28 PM ET   AP

Emmy Nominations

LOS ANGELES — Tina Fey's urbane sitcom "30 Rock" received a record 22 Emmy Award nominations Thursday, while the 1960s retro series "Mad Men" led the drama pack with 16 bids.

The shows were honored last year as best comedy and drama, and have a chance to repeat the performance at September's awards. "30 Rock" broke the record it set last year, when it received 17 nominations.

The TV movies "Grey Gardens," with 17 nominations, and "Into the Storm," with 14 nominations, were among the front-runners. Chandra Wilson of "Grey Anatomy's" and Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" helped make the announcement at the TV academy's theater – and both proved to be among the lucky.

"No! ... This is some sort of trick fest," said Parsons, when his nomination for lead actor in a comedy series was announced.

"I feel a little dreamlike right now," Parsons said later about his first-time Emmy nomination.

"I'm going to the party" was Wilson's response to her bid for lead actress in a miniseries or movie for "Accidental Friendship." She was also nominated for supporting actress in a drama series for "Grey's Anatomy."

In a sad tribute, "Farrah's Story," a documentary account of Farrah Fawcett's battle against cancer, was nominated in the nonfiction special category. The former "Charlie's Angels" star died June 25.

"It's very bittersweet. Farrah passed away three weeks ago today," said Alana Stewart, who helped film her longtime friend. "I know that she would be so, so happy. This was so important to her, this project. She's been nominated before, and I just know that this would be the most important one of all."

The number of contenders in series and acting categories were expanded this year, which may have allowed room for some unexpected bids, including a rare best-comedy series nomination for an animated series, "Family Guy."

Even long-running "The Simpsons" had to settle once again for inclusion in the category designated for animated programs. Only one animated program besides "Family Guy" has gained a nomination among filmed comedies – "The Flintstones" in 1961.

The series fields are especially crowded, with seven contenders in both drama and comedy categories. Joining "Mad Men" are fellow cable dramas "Big Love," "Breaking Bad," "Damages" and "Dexter." Two network dramas, "House" and "Lost," also made the cut.

Among comedies, the nominees besides "30 Rock" and "Family Guy" include other network series "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Office." Cable contenders include "Entourage," "Flight of the Conchords" and "Weeds."

In announcing that the traditional five nominees would grow to six in top categories, the TV academy noted that a tie could expand the field even more.

Affection was scarce for series that came to an end last season, including long-running medical drama "ER," "Boston Legal" and "Battlestar Galactica." There was a scattering of nominations among them, but nothing in the marquee categories of acting or best series. Another just-ended series, "The Shield," was shut out.

Also snubbed for major awards were "Desperate Housewives" and "Jon & Kate Plus 8," left out of the reality series category. Top-rated TV show "American Idol" is a contender in the reality-competition category.

NBC found little glory in its late-night lineup, with Jay Leno's final season with "Tonight" and Conan O'Brien's farewell season of "Late Night" missing from the variety, music or comedy series category. O'Brien took over as "Tonight" host this year.

Car-buff Leno drew a nomination for online series "Jay Leno's Garage," nominated in the short-format nonfiction program category.

Vampire saga "True Blood" and its star Anna Paquin, who won a Golden Globe earlier this year, were shut out of the major categories.

Academy voters have a history of slighting sci-fi and fantasy series, dating back to "Star Trek" and including "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Fey, the executive producer as well as star of "30 Rock," had a chance to repeat as lead actress in a comedy series. Other contenders in the category are Christina Applegate for the canceled "Samantha Who?", Toni Collette for "United States of Tara," Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "The New Adventures of Old Christine," Mary-Louise Parker for "Weeds" and Sarah Silverman for "The Sarah Silverman Program."

Joining last year's winner Alec Baldwin of "30 Rock" and Parsons in the comedy category for lead actor is Steve Carell of "The Office," Jemaine Clement of "Flight of the Conchords," Tony Shalhoub of "Monk" and Charlie Sheen of "Two and a Half Men."

Lead acting nominations for drama series went to last year's winner, Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad," along with Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"; Hugh Laurie, "House"; Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment"; Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"; and Simon Baker, "The Mentalist."

Glenn Close's performance in "Damages," which won her an Emmy last year, received a bid again. Also earning nominations were Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters"; Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"; Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"; Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"; and Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace."

"Grey Gardens," the fact-based movie about two of Jackie Kennedy Onassis' eccentric relatives, drew nominations for both its stars, Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. They're competing in the lead actress in a miniseries or movie category with Wilson, Shirley MacLaine for "Coco Chanel" and Sigourney Weaver for "Prayers for Bobby."

"I was awake already and I had forgotten that this was the morning," Lange said. "I'm way up north at my cabin in the woods in northern Minnesota. And I thought it was somebody calling to talk to me about my bat problem here in the cabin. So I was very relieved and it was an unanticipated bit of joyful information."

The 17 bids for "Grey Gardens" tied it with the 1977 TV movie "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years." In the variety program category, the 13 bids for "Saturday Night Live" grabbed the record from 1985's "Motown Returns to the Apollo," which had gotten 10 nominations.

Among the actors nominated for lead actor in a miniseries or movie are Kenneth Branagh for "Wallander: One Step Behind" and Ian McKellen for "King Lear." Kiefer Sutherland gained a nomination for the movie "24: Redemption" but failed to get a nomination for the "24" series itself.

HBO again dominated with the most number of nominations, 99. Among the networks, NBC led with 67, followed by ABC with 55, CBS with 49 and Fox with 42. Showtime earned 29 nominations and PBS had 26.

The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, with Neil Patrick Harris as host, will air live Sept. 20 from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Harris also is a nominee, for best supporting actor in a comedy series, for "How I Met Your Mother."

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this report.

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Filed by Katherine Thomson  |