The thrills of 24 and the sex appeal of Grey's Anatomy eclipsed last year's Emmy darlings Lost and Desperate Housewives in the award nominations Thursday, while shows that have fallen off the TV schedule scored a number of high-profile bids.
The drama 24, with its tense formula of tracking a federal agent's anti-terrorism exploits hour by hour, episode by episode, capped what some deemed its best season yet with a leading 12 nominations.
Grey's Anatomy cemented its status as the hot water-cooler serial with 11 nominations, proving once again that young, attractive doctors in love are appealing, as well as hazardous to the health of last year's popular series.
"I'm so happy for our show," series co-star and nominee Chandra Wilson said from Italy, where she's on a promotional visit. "My family is here, so I got hugs right away, and the cast is here, so we're hugging on each other. Maybe we can go have a really expensive dinner."
The TNT miniseries "Into the West" was the top nominee, with 16 bids. The HBO miniseries Elizabeth I, with Helen Mirren, was next with 13 nominations.
Castaway drama Lost and suburban satire Desperate Housewives which critics accused of a sophomore slump looked like one-hit Emmy wonders, shut out of categories they dominated last year.
They both failed to get best-series nominations, an award that Lost won in 2005. The sole acting nomination for Lost was a guest-actor bid for Henry Ian Cusick, who plays ill-fated hatch-tender Desmond.
Alfre Woodard, a Desperate Housewives newcomer, was the only nominated cast member (Shirley Knight received a guest-actress bid). Last year, tongues wagged when series star Eva Longoria was overlooked while Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman were nominated, with Huffman winning; Longoria had company this time around.
Their absence aside, the category of best lead actress in a comedy had other surprises. Former Friends star Lisa Kudrow received a bid for the tepidly received The Comeback, while Stockard Channing was honoured for the buzz-less Out of Practice. Nominees for best comedy series were Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, Scrubs and Two and a Half Men.
Besides 24 and Grey's Anatomy, other drama-series bids went to The Sopranos, House and The West Wing.
Emmy glory was heaped on a number of shows that have ended production, either wrapping up long runs or cancelled because they couldn't find an audience from the start.
"It's totally bittersweet. Bittersweet is the order of the day. But we'll take the sweet," said Olive Platt, who received a best supporting actor bid for Huff, the Showtime drama canceled after its second season.
Will & Grace, which ended an eight-year run, saw its ratings dwindle but retained the affection of TV academy voters and nabbed bids for cast members Debra Messing, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes. On the drama side, Frances Conroy and Peter Krause of Six Feet Under, Geena Davis of Commander in Chief and Martin Sheen, Allison Janney and Alan Alda of The West Wing all were recognised for their vanished shows.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus was part of Thursday's ceremony at the TV academy that announced her own nomination for The New Adventures of Old Christine, the series that may have broken the Seinfeld curse that has haunted its former stars.
"Honey, I got nominated. It's hilarious, it's unbelievable," Louis-Dreyfus told her husband, writer-producer Brad Hall, over the phone.
"My skin feels like it's buzzing," she told The Associated Press. "Or maybe that's from all the coffee I've been drinking since 1 a.m."
Besides Kiefer Sutherland for 24, Krause and Sheen, other best-actor nominations for a drama went to Denis Leary of Rescue Me and Christopher Meloni of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.