LOS ANGELES "Mad Men," AMC's sleek drama set in the advertising world circa 1960, and FX's legal thriller "Damages" made Emmy nominations history Thursday as the first basic cable programs to gain best-series nods.
"John Adams," HBO's prestige historical drama about one of America's founding fathers, was the overall frontrunner with 23 bids, including a lead-actor nomination for Paul Giamatti's turn as Adams.
"30 Rock," which was honored at last year Emmy Awards as best comedy series, was the top nominee among sitcoms with 17 bids. "Mad Men" was the leading drama series contender with 16 nominations, including one for star Jon Hamm.
"The Wire," the critically acclaimed HBO drama about police and drug dealers in Baltimore, lost its last shot at ending years of Emmy snubs after wrapping its final season.
But other cable series made a serious dent in several top categories as broadcast networks watched their share of Emmy nominations glory erode.
In the lead drama actor category, four of the five nominees were stars of cable shows, including Jon Hamm of "Mad Men." In the corresponding actress category, three of the slots went to cable series stars, including Glenn Close of "Damages."
Network audience favorites that failed to make a serious showing included "Grey's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives," both left out of the best-series categories, although "Grey's Anatomy" stars Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson received nominations.
"Lost," rebounding with a well-received season, joined "Mad Men" and "Damages" in the best-drama series category with six nominees, including "Boston Legal, "Dexter" and "House."
Other best comedy series nominees besides "30 Rock" were "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Entourage," "The Office" and "Two And a Half Men."
The final list of nominees was determined with the help of blue-ribbon panels that screened submitted episodes for the top vote-getters.
Nominees in the top categories for the 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were announced at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences by Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris and TV academy Chairman John Shaffner.
Shaffner surprised Harris and Chenoweth at the end of the telecast by announcing each actor's supporting-actor nomination. Chenoweth, of "Pushing Daisies," stood open-jawed, while Harris pumped his fist and said, "Nice!"
The trio then blew out candles on a birthday cake to celebrate the Emmys' 60th anniversary.The Emmy Awards ceremony will be held Sept. 21 and broadcast on ABC. Other Emmy honors, including those for technical achievement and guest actors and actresses in series, will be given at the creative arts ceremony on Sept. 13.
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