ABOVE PHOTO: Saturday Night Live Cast at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards (Photo: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock)
By Lynn Elber
LOS ANGELES — “Saturday Night Live,” powered by madcap skits skewering the Trump administration, earned 22 Emmy Award nominations, including bids for Alec Baldwin’s florid portrayal of the president and Melissa McCarthy’s manic, gender-busting take on press secretary Sean Spicer.
The long-running NBC variety show tied with HBO’s sci-fi drama “Westworld,” which also earned 22 bids to jointly top the field for the 69th Primetime Emmys to be presented in September.
Netflix shouldered into the best drama category with three contenders, “The Crown, “House of Cards” and “Stranger Things,” a best-ever total for streaming as the platform grows in strength as a competitor to broadcast and cable.
The drama field opened up with the absence of HBO’s dominant “Game of Thrones,” which aired outside the eligibility window for Emmy consideration this year. It won 12 Emmys last year, including its second consecutive best drama award.
Newcomers were ready to step in, including breakout series “This Is Us.” It received 11 nods, including the first best-drama series for a network show since “The Good Wife” in 2011. NBC’s intricately told story of an extended family, a hit with viewers and critics, also earned bids for Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia, who are competing with each other in the best actor category.
Sci-fi series “Stranger Things” received an impressive 18 bids, including one for star Millie Bobby Brown, while “The Crown,” a lavish peek at the life of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as played by the nominated Claire Foy, received a total of 13 bids.
So did the dystopian saga “The Handmaid’s Tale,” including a nomination for star Elisabeth Moss. “Better Call Saul,” the “Breaking Bad” spinoff is also nominated, along with star Bob Odenkirk.
“Chuffed, thrilled, proud, honored!” Peter Morgan, creator of “The Crown,” said in a statement. “So delighted for everyone involved. A proper fat cigar moment, if only I smoked. Drinks all round, if only I drank. I shall have to make do with turning cartwheels.”
He’s not the only visitor to American TV who will be celebrating. Others include Anthony Hopkins for “Westworld,” Benedict Cumberbatch for “Sherlock: The Lying Detective,” Ewan McGregor in “Fargo” and Geoffrey Rush for “Genius.”
“Veep,” the most-nominated comedy with 17 bids, has a chance for its third consecutive top comedy trophy. Star Julia Louis-Dreyfus has the chance to build on her record of most wins for a lead comedy actress: She has five for “Veep” and one for “New Adventures of Old Christine.”
Emmy voters showed their willingness to recognize new comic voices as well as diversity. Donald Glover’s freshman “Atlanta” earned a best comedy bid, as did “Master of None,” starring Aziz Ansari, and “black-ish.”
But there was room in for an old favorite, “Modern Family,” although it earned only a handful of bids besides best comedy, including for Ty Burrell in the supporting actor category.
“Silicon Valley” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” round out the best comedy ranks.
Competing with Brown, Ventimiglia, Hopkins and Odenkirk for best drama acting honors are Matthew Rhys of “The Americans,” Liev Schreiber from “Ray Donovan” and Kevin Spacey of “House Of Cards.”
Foy and Moss are joined in the best drama actress category by 2015 winner Viola Davis from “How To Get Away With Murder,” Keri Russell of “The Americans,” Evan Rachel Wood in “Westworld” and Robin Wright from “House Of Cards.”
“Orphan Black” isn’t in the running because it missed the eligibility window, depriving star Tatiana Maslany of the chance to repeat as best-drama actress.
The Emmys are scheduled to air Sept. 17 on CBS, with Stephen Colbert as host.