LOS ANGELES, July 29, (AP): “Watchmen,” cloaked in superhero mythology and grounded in real-world racism, received a leading 26 nominations Tuesday for the prime-time Emmy Awards. The HBO series, which captured America’s deep unease as it faces racial and political discord amid a pandemic, was nominated as best limited series and received bids for cast members including Regina King and Jeremy Irons. King was part of a vanguard of actors of color indicating that TV academy voters took heed of the social climate.
“Zendaya!” exclaimed Emmy announcement host Leslie Jones, her gleeful reaction to the “Euphoria” star’s nomination as best actress in a drama. “This is a great day,” Jones said. She was part of a socially distanced, virtual release of nominees that was online, not on television as is usual. But nothing is usual during a coronavirus era that has brought Hollywood production to a virtual standstill and is making the Emmys and other awards grasp for alternatives.
The strong showing by Netfl ix’s “Ozark” helped the streaming service achieve a record-setting 160 nominations that bested onetime perennial leader HBO, which earned 107 nods. Netfl ix, although the Emmy veteran among streamers, has yet to win a best comedy or drama series trophy. Streaming newcomer Apple TV+ earned attention in its first season with Jennifer Aniston’s best drama actress bid for “The Morning Show.” Another streaming newbie, Disney+, saw its Star Wars franchise spinoff, “The Mandalorian,” claim a best drama nomination among its hefty 15 total nods.
The Amazon comedy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is the second most-nominated series with 20, followed by Netfl ix’s “Ozark” with 18. “This year, we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history. And it is our duty to use this medium for change,” Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy said at the outset of the presentation.
The acting categories included a record number of Black nominees, 35, among the 102 contenders for lead, supporting and guest performances in drama, comedy and limited series or TV movie. At slightly more than 34 percent of nominees, that bettered the 2018 record of just under 28 percent of Black actors in those categories. In sharp contrast, few other people of color were recognized. Among them: Sandra Oh, repeating as a best actress nominee for “Killing Eve,” and Dev Patel, who received a comedy guest actor nod for “Modern Love.”
Kerry Washington’s four nominations covered a wide range, including lead actress for “Little Fires Everywhere” and for her production company’s work on the limited series and other programs. Washington said she was most emotional about the posthumous nomination for “Little Fires Everywhere” director Lynn Shelton, who died from a blood disorder in May. “For the academy to acknowledge her in her passing, deservedly so, it’s really moving. We’re at a moment where we so desperately need the voices of storytellers from marginalized communities: women directors, people of color,” Washington said.