07/26/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Emmy Glory: Mad Men , Damages , Monk & More Make This a Big Year for Basic Cable

The 2008 Summer Television Critics Association tour has been notable for showcasing an unprecedented number of successful scripted basic cable series. A press conference with the cast of AMC's Mad Men and, one week later, an unforgettable field trip to the show's set, where critics eagerly explored the offices of the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. A party with the casts of TNT's The Closer and Saving Grace. Press conferences with the casts of FX's Damages and The Shield (and the opportunity to talk with most of the actors in both casts at Fox's spectacular party Monday night on the Santa Monica Pier).

Given the level of excitement surrounding these shows, it was truly satisfying to see them recognized yesterday with top nominations for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards. Indeed, voting members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences honored outstanding achievements in scripted basic cable programming as never before, and their choices allowed TCA members to continue with an established theme of this tour: The rise of scripted basic cable drama. For the first time in Emmy history scripted basic cable series broke through into the category of Outstanding Drama Series, with nominations for Mad Men and Damages.

Continuing the basic cable momentum, Mad Men star Jon Hamm nabbed a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Glenn Close scored her second nomination in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her galvanizing work in Damages. (Close was nominated in this category three years ago for her star turn in Season 4 of The Shield.) Happily, Hamm's co-star John Slattery and Close's cast mates Ted Danson and Zelijko Ivanek were nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, while the incomparable Robert Morse was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Sterling Cooper's founding partner Bertram Cooper in Mad Men. (Here's more good news: With 16 nominations, Mad Men was the most honored drama series in all of television.)

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