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‘Succession’ sets pace in Emmy nominations


Brian Cox was nominated for best actor in a drama for his work in “Succession.” HBO

By John Koblin


“Succession,” the HBO dramedy about a feuding media dynasty, landed 25 nominations for this year’s Emmy Awards on Tuesday, the biggest haul of any show.


The HBO series earned a nomination for best drama, the prize that it won in 2020, as well as multiple nominations in the acting categories, including Brian Cox, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook, J. Smith-Cameron, Nicholas Braun, Kieran Culkin and Matthew Macfadyen.


HBO’s “The White Lotus,” a limited series chronicling well-to-do vacationers at a Hawaii resort, picked up 20 nominations, and the Apple TV+ comedy “Ted Lasso” also picked up 20. “Ted Lasso” won last year for best comedy and this year will face off against a new entrant, “Only Murders in the Building,” the Hulu series starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez. “Only Murders in the Building” landed 17 nominations, an impressive number for a rookie show.


Netflix landed three nominations in the best drama category, including for the smash hit “Stranger Things,” the first season of the South Korean thriller “Squid Game” and the final season of the crime thriller “Ozark.” “Squid Game” earned 14 nominations, the most ever for a foreign language show.


But Netflix’s top Emmy rival, HBO, and its accompanying streaming service, HBO Max, had a big year and came armed with a fleet of programming that landed a significant number of nominations, including for “Euphoria,” “Hacks” and “Barry” in addition to “Succession” and “The White Lotus.”


HBO and HBO Max finished with 140 nominations, the most of any network or TV studio. Netflix was in second place with 105. It is the second consecutive year that HBO, along with its streaming service, outpaced Netflix.


The Emmy Awards ceremony will be Sept. 12, broadcast on NBC and livestreamed on Peacock.


The acting categories are stacked.


The comedy acting categories are loaded with top talent, including many past winners.


For best actor in a comedy, last year’s winner, Jason Sudeikis, in his role as a cheery soccer coach on “Ted Lasso,” earned another nomination. He will face the 2019 winner — and his former “Saturday Night Live” castmate — Bill Hader, for “Barry.” And both will have to face someone who hasn’t won an Emmy since 1969: Steve Martin, for his role as a washed-up actor turned true-crime podcaster, in “Only Murders in the Building.” (Martin’s lone Emmy win was for best writing on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.”)


The best comedic actress category will be just as competitive. Jean Smart, last year’s winner for her role as a stand-up comedian in “Hacks,” will face off against the 2018 winner, Rachel Brosnahan, from “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Quinta Brunson, the breakout star from the rookie hit “Abbott Elementary,” got a first-time nomination (she was also nominated for best writing in a comedy). Issa Rae will get one last chance to try to pull off an Emmy acting win for her defining role in “Insecure.”


The best actress in a drama category features another intriguing matchup: Zendaya, the 2020 winner for “Euphoria,” versus Laura Linney, for her final turn in “Ozark.” Linney, a four-time Emmy winner, has been nominated for the role twice before but has never won for it. Emmy voters have been known to try to honor series in their final seasons, and Linney might be their best way to do it.


The limited series category is up for grabs.


At the end of the 2021 Emmys ceremony, the final Emmy handed out was not for best drama, as has been the case for years, but for outstanding limited series. The Television Academy, which organizes the Emmys, seemed to be making a statement: The limited series category may now be the industry’s most prestigious.


This year’s category was full of critic favorites. In addition to “The White Lotus” from HBO, three shows from Hulu earned nominations in the category: The OxyContin drama “Dopesick,” the Elizabeth Holmes-Theranos saga “The Dropout” and “Pam & Tommy,” about the notorious Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape. The Shonda Rhimes Netflix series “Inventing Anna” was also a nominee.


Hulu had its biggest haul ever at the Emmys, earning dozens of Emmy nominations. Poll random Hollywood executives or talent agents, and they are quick to praise Hulu’s big year. Michael Keaton (“Dopesick”) and Amanda Seyfried (“The Dropout”) both got acting nominations.


Hulu and HBO dominated one acting category in particular. In the race for best supporting actress in a limited series, there were seven nominees; all were from “The White Lotus” and “The Dropout.” One of the nominees in the category was Sydney Sweeney for her performance as an acid-tongued college student in “The White Lotus.” She also earned a nomination for best supporting actress in a drama for HBO’s “Euphoria.”


Unknowns surround the ceremony.


Here’s what we know about this year’s Emmys broadcast. It will be broadcast on NBC — and livestreamed on Peacock — in two months. The production team that handled the last few Emmys broadcasts will return as well.


What we don’t know: whom NBC and the Television Academy will select as a host for this year’s ceremony, if they select one at all. Both NBC and the Television Academy were not commenting about hosting plans.


The ceremony will return to its traditional home, the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, for the first time in three years. In 2020, because of the pandemic, the Emmys settled for a mostly virtual ceremony and had a record-low viewership. Last year, the Emmys staged a mostly in-person event in a tent in downtown Los Angeles, where the nominees and presenters sat at tables with food and drink, à la Golden Globes. Cedric the Entertainer hosted, and ratings bounced back up, with nearly 8 million viewers tuning in.


Whether the 7,100-seat Microsoft Theater will be completely or partially filled — and whether there will be a vaccine requirement — has gone unannounced. Tuesday’s nominations announcement was conducted virtually.


This year’s Emmy nominee selection process was far more competitive than last year’s. With productions more or less back up and running after a prolonged pandemic-induced slowdown, submissions in all the key categories reached pre-pandemic levels. Entries for the drama category went up 29%, according to the Television Academy. The limited series category saw a 51% increase, and the number of hopefuls for best comedy went up 67%, the academy said.

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