LOS ANGELES (AP) — Power-and-blood fantasy saga “Game of Thrones” ruled the Emmy Award nominations Thursday with a leading 23 bids, including best drama, while a real-life epic of murder and celebrity, “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” was close behind with 22 nods.
“Game of Thrones” gets the chance to win its second top Emmy, while “Veep,” last year’s top comedy winner, also will get another shot at holding office and with 17 nominations was the comedy leader.
Breakthrough nominations include a best comedy series nod for sophomore “black-ish,” which brought the African-American family sitcom back to network TV, with bids as well for its stars, Anthony Anderson – who helped announce the awards live on Thursday and read his own name with glee – and his co-star Tracee Ellis Ross.
They were among a number of black actors recognized by TV academy voters, who have started to keep pace with TV’s growing diversity – in sharp contrast to moviedom’s Academy Awards, which were slammed as “Oscars So White” this year.
Viola Davis, the “How to Get Away with Murder” star who last year became the first woman of color to win a best drama actress trophy, was nominated again. So was “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson.
But there were no major acting nods for the stars of “Fresh Off the Boat” or other Asian-American actors, or for Latinos, which has been a recurrent Emmy pattern.
“Game of Thrones” and “Mr. Robot” will compete with “Better Call Saul,” ”Homeland,” ”House of Cards,” ”The Americans” and “Downton Abbey,” the last a nod for its farewell season. But the final season of “The Good Wife” was not recognized, and star Julianna Margulies also was snubbed.
Aziz Ansari received a lead comedy acting bid for his series “Master of None,” a first for an Indian-American actor, and the show received a best comedy series nomination. Rami Malek, of Egyptian descent, earned a top drama acting nod for his role as a renegade hacker in another freshman, “Mr. Robot,” which also will compete for drama honors.
“The Americans,” which gained in attention last season, also earned bids for its stars, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.
Besides Russell, Davis and Henson, lead drama actress bids went to Claire Danes for “Homeland” and Tatiana Maslany for “Orphan Black.”
Malek and Rhys will be competing with Kevin Spacey for “House of Cards,” Kyle Chandler for “Bloodline,” Bob Odenkirk for “Better Call Saul” and Liev Schreiber for “Ray Donovan.”
On the comedy side, “Veep,” ”black-ish” and “Master of None” will tussle for the trophy with five-time champ “Modern Family,” ”Transparent,” ”Silicon Valley” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”
A top acting nod for “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays a U.S. vice president now elevated to the Oval Office, gives her the chance to score her fifth consecutive win and set a record.
She and Ross will be competing with Ellie Kemper in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Laurie Metcalf in “Getting On,” Amy Schumer in “Inside Amy Schumer” and Lily Tomlin in “Grace and Frankie.”
“Black-ish” star Anderson, who got his second nod, will be competing with last year’s winner, Jeffrey Tambor of “Transparent,” along with Ansari, Will Forte for “The Last Man on Earth,” William H. Macy for “Shameless” and Thomas Middleditch for “Silicon Valley.”
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which recounted the football legend’s sensational, racially charged trial for the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, is a best limited series nominee and earned a number of acting awards for its cast’s portrayal of well-known figures.
Lead nominations went to Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, Courtney B. Vance as defense attorney Johnnie Cochran and Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark. Supporting bids were given to Sterling K. Brown as prosecutor Christopher Darden, David Schwimmer as Simpson friend Robert Kardashian – patriarch of the now-famous family – and John Travolta as defense attorney Robert Shapiro.
Gooding and Vance will compete with Bryan Cranston as President Lyndon B. Johnson in “All The Way,” Benedict Cumberbatch in “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (Masterpiece),” Idris Elba in “Luther” and Tom Hiddleston in “The Night Manager.”
Paulson’s rivals are Kirsten Dunst for “Fargo,” Felicity Huffman and Lili Taylor for “American Crime,” Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday for “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” and Kerry Washington as Anita Hill in “Confirmation.”
The Sept. 18 Emmy show will be broadcast live on ABC from 8-11 p.m. EDT, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.