Matt Sayles, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — "Mad Men," the sharply observed drama of a changing 1960s America, captured 19 Emmy nominations Thursday to lead the series pack, with the melodramatic miniseries "Mildred Pierce" starring Kate Winslet grabbing a top 21 bids.
"Mad Men" has a chance to repeat for a fourth consecutive year as best drama. "Modern Family," last year's top comedy series, was the most-nominated sitcom with 17 bids.
Other leading contenders include the Prohibition-era drama "Boardwalk Empire" with 18 nominations, "Saturday Night Live" with 16 and 13 bids each for the sex-and-swords fantasy "Game of Thrones" and the sitcom "30 Rock."
"OK, keep it together," a surprised nominations co-announcer Melissa McCarthy said when she realized she was a nominee for her sitcom "Mike & Molly."
It's been a sweet year already for McCarthy, the one-time "Gilmore Girls" cast member who's drawn critical raves for her turn in the box office hit "Bridesmaids."
The controversial miniseries "The Kennedys," which was dropped by the History channel and given a second chance by the lesser-known ReelzChannel, received 10 nominations, including best miniseries and acting bids for Greg Kinnear as President John F. Kennedy, Barry Pepper as Robert Kennedy and Tom Wilkinson as family patriarch Joe Kennedy.
Familiar faces have a chance to claim — or reclaim — Emmys, including last year's lead comedy actress winner Edie Falco of "Nurse Jackie" and Jim Parsons, best actor for a comedy for "The Big Bang Theory." Both were nominated this year, with Parsons' co-star Johnny Galecki earning his first bid for the show.
"Project Runway" was nominated in the reality category for the seventh consecutive year and host Heidi Klum got the happy news while filming an upcoming episode. The show has never won, but Klum said getting nominated proved it is still relevant.
"What I always say when I talk to my designers, 'One day you're in and the next day you're out — as quick as that.' There's always great new shows that come in, and they can kick you off just as easy as you came on. Therefore, we're very happy to be nominated again."
Jon Hamm received his fourth lead acting bid for "Mad Men," and this time the competitor who denied him the award three times before isn't in the category. Bryan Cranston and "Breaking Bad" weren't eligible for this year's awards because the series took a break between seasons.
Hamm's new competition includes Steve Buscemi, who received a Golden Globe for his performance as an Atlantic City political boss in "Boardwalk Empire."
Steve Carell earned a best comedy actor nomination for his final season of "The Office," his last chance to win an Emmy statuette for his role as TV's most clueless boss.
Matt LeBlanc, best known for his role as Joey in "Friends," received a lead comedy actor bid for playing a screen version of himself in the satiric show business series "Episodes."
"I knew I was on some prediction lists and stuff like that, but it's not the kind of thing you expect," he said by phone. "You just work hard. If you get recognized for it, that's great, but if not, it's OK, too."
And proving that the Betty White phenomenon still has legs: The 89-year-old wonder nabbed a best supporting actress bid for the sitcom "Hot in Cleveland." If she wins, it would be her eighth Emmy.
"I am so thrilled. How lucky can an old broad be?" she said by phone a few minutes after her agent woke her. "I wasn't even thinking about the nominations because I didn't even think there was a chance."
There were fresh faces as well, including best drama actress nominee Mireille Enos of "The Killing" and best drama actor Timothy Olyphant of "Justified."
Kyra Sedgwick of "The Closer," last year's best drama actress winner, found herself closed out of the category this year.
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