By Steve Pond
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap) - Ed O'Neill finally got his Emmy recognition. Katey Sagal didn't. Last year's top female was missing in action. And as usual, the Emmy nominations were a case of all HBO, all the time.
The cable giant, whose domination of the Primetime Emmy Awards has long irritated executives at the broadcast networks who take turns televising the Emmys, once again far outdistanced its competitors when nominations were announced on Thursday morning.
HBO racked up 104 nominations, more than double the total for its closest competitors, CBS (50), NBC (46), PBS (43), Fox (42) and ABC (40).
This was an even more dominant showing than 2010, when HBO had 101 nominations to 63 for ABC and 57 for CBS.
Not only did HBO claim the most-nominated program in the miniseries "Mildred Pierce," which received 21 nods, but it had the third-most-nominated show, "Boardwalk Empire" with 18, and two more of the Top 10, "Game of Thrones" (13 nominations) and "Too Big to Fail" (11).
"Game of Thrones" was perhaps the biggest surprise among the channel's nominees, with its Outstanding Drama Series nomination no doubt benefiting from the fact that no new episodes of AMC's "Breaking Bad" were aired during the eligibility period.
That show's absence also meant that its star, Bryan Cranston, was ineligible after wining the lead actor in a drama series Emmy for the past four years -- opening the door for Timothy Olyphant from FX's acclaimed new series "Justified" to claim one of the slots.
EMMY FEEL-GOOD STORY
In the comedy categories, the feel-good story of the morning was Ed O'Neill (right) and "Modern Family," a series whose top six actors all submitted their names in the Supporting Actor and Actress categories to emphasize that theirs is a true ensemble cast.
Last year, that strategy resulted in nominations for everyone except O'Neill who, as the family patriarch, could have legitimately entered himself in the lead actor category and probably had a better chance.
This time around, though, O'Neill, who had never been nominated despite his years on "Married...With Children," joined co-stars Eric Stonestreet, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell in giving "Modern Family" four of the six nominations in the supporting actor in a comedy category. The show's Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara, meanwhile, both made the cut in the supporting actress field.
But O'Neill's former "Married...With Children" costar Katey Sagal wasn't so fortunate. Another performer who's never been nominated despite a long career, she was once again passed over despite strong notices for her role in "Sons of Anarchy."
The biggest missing-in-action name, meanwhile, may have been Kyra Sedgwick; last year's winner in the lead actress in a drama series category was not nominated, while first-time nominees Mireille Enos ("The Killing") and Kathy Bates ("Harry's Law") were.
Also overlooked: "Community," which received multiple nominations at the recent Critics Choice Television Awards but likely proved too offbeat for TV Academy voters, and "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe, a Critics Choice winner who worked as an asphalt paver, meat processor and fish-guts cleaner but couldn't manage to break the Jeff Probst/Tom Bergeron/Ryan Seacrest/Phil Keoghan stranglehold on the reality host category.
If the slate of nominees contained many of the usual suspects -- Emmy voters, after all, have always been creatures of habit -- a few unusual choices snuck into the mix. It's not surprising that last year's lead actor in a comedy winner Jim Parsons is back for "The Big Bang Theory" -- but this time he'll be competing with his co-star Johnny Galecki (left), who beat out the more heralded likes of Joel McHale ("Community") and Matthew Morrison ("Glee").
And the nominations announcement's co-presenter, Melissa McCarthy, had reason to be surprised by her nomination in the comedy actress category, considering that she was up against 2010 nominees Toni Collette ("The United States of Tara") and Lea Michele ("Glee"), both of whom went unnominated.
In the newly consolidated miniseries or movie category, ReelzChannel's controversial miniseries "The Kennedys" had a better showing than the Sundance Channel's critical favorite "Carlos," 10 nominations to two.
Emmy voters also confirmed that they see a changing of the guard in the outstanding variety, music or comedy series category, where David Letterman won for five consecutive years in a row before "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" began its current nine-year winning streak.
Letterman was not nominated this year, and neither was late-night ratings champ Jay Leno's "Tonight Show." Instead, the Emmys recognized Comedy Central's "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report," TBS's "Conan," NBC's "Saturday Night Live," "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (the only old-style talk show to get a nomination) and HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher."
As for who's got the inside track to win, the directing categories might offer a clue or two: in the outstanding directing for a drama series category, "Boardwalk Empire" has two of the five slots (including one for Martin Scorsese's direction of the show's first episode), while 2010 winner "Modern Family" secured three of the five nominations in the outstanding directing for a comedy series field.
And HBO and "Modern Family" aren't the only Emmy juggernauts around: "Saturday Night Live" got another 16 nominations, bringing its total over the years to 142, an all-time Emmy record. In the category for original song (which the Emmys call outstanding original music and lyrics), the show was completely dominant: it secured four of the six nominations, including nods for the songs "Jack Sparrow," "3 Way" and "I Just Had Sex."
But don't worry: HBO got a nomination in that category, too.