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Originally published September 21, 2013 at 11:08 PM | Page modified September 22, 2013 at 9:32 PM

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6 things to look for at the 65th Emmy Awards

A preview of the “65th Primetime Emmy Awards” show on CBS, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

Special to The Seattle Times

‘The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards’

5 p.m. Sunday, CBS.

Tonight in Prime Time

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Yawn. Yet another "Awards Show" brought to you by a bunch of people who need... MORE
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“The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards” air live at 5 p.m. Sunday on CBS with potential honors for some of TV’s most popular and most critically-acclaimed, buzz-magnet series.

Here’s a glimpse at what may be in store for viewers tuning in:

Host with the most

Far be it from us to question the wisdom of having “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris host another awards show, but here we go anyway.

There’s no arguing that Harris is one of the best awards-show hosts working in the entertainment business today. One look at his energetic opening number on the Tonys telecast in June made that clear.

But is he risking awards-show overexposure by hosting a second major TV awards program in one year? Viewers — and especially social-media commenters — will be the judge.


“Scandal” star Kerry Washington is the first African American to be nominated in the lead drama actress category since Cicely Tyson’s 1995 nomination for “Sweet Justice.” If Washington wins, it will be the first-ever win in the category for a black actress.

Washington will also be a presenter during the telecast, paired with four-time Emmy nominee Diahann Carroll.

“Bad” vs. “Thrones”

So-good AMC drama “Breaking Bad,” which has never won a deserved best drama series Emmy, could be poised for a sweep given its 13 nominations in multiple categories, including drama series, lead actor (Bryan Cranston), supporting actor (Aaron Paul, Jonathan Banks) and supporting actress (Anna Gunn).

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is also well-positioned with 16 nominations, including drama series, supporting actor (Peter Dinklage), supporting actress (Emilia Clarke) and guest actress (Diana Rigg).

Broadcast blues

The Emmy awards are probably not as fun for broadcast-network executives left to stew in disappointment as they watch cable-network series take home most of the trophies.

In the best drama category, not a single commercial broadcast-network series was nominated.

“It’s hard to put ‘The Good Wife’ up against ‘Game of Thrones,’ ” said CBS CEO Leslie Moonves. “ ‘Game of Thrones’ probably cost three times as much. ... It’s a brilliant, good show. I love it as much as anybody. But there are some terrific shows on network that do get passed over, and the competition from cable in terms of that has become pretty extreme. The cable shows get a lot more attention for a lot fewer (ratings) numbers.”

NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt used to be among those cable executives who got to stick out their tongue at broadcast networks by winning Emmys for shows with millions of fewer viewers. Now he’s on the receiving end of the tongue wagging.

“(TV critics) give us credit for ‘Community’ and ‘Parks and Rec’ and ‘Parenthood’ and some of the great quality shows that we have, but our peers in this industry don’t,” he said in July, sounding a bit miffed. “They just look at the shiny new bulb in the cable world. Cable can do things we can’t do, but it’s just a fact of life that we deal with.”

The Netflix invasion

It’s not just broadcasters looking over their shoulders in the Emmy race. Cable networks are now seeing their awards-show turf invaded by online-streaming services, most notably Netflix, which garnered 14 major nominations this year, including a best drama series nod for “House of Cards.”

Granted, 14 nominations is small potatoes compared to HBO’s 108 nominations, but with more competition, more series get shut out. If not for Netflix’s “House of Cards,” maybe HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” would have drawn a best drama series nomination this year.

“We have been engaged in competition for the whole history of our network,” said HBO CEO Richard Plepler, downplaying the impact of streaming rivals. “First, it was the broadcast networks and then premium and then basics and now digital and Amazon and Netflix. So we live very comfortably amid competition, and we think there’s plenty of room, as we’ve said before, for other people to do good work. … (If we) focus as we have always focused on getting the best quality work on TV, we are going to have more than our fair share of attention and primacy in the popular culture, and I think 108 Emmy nominations is a pretty good manifestation of that.”

Colbert’s turn?

Once again, “The Colbert Report” is competing against “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Real Time with Bill Maher” and “Saturday Night Live”) in the outstanding variety, music or comedy series category. Colbert has never won; Stewart has won 10 times.

“The reason up till now that Stewart keeps getting it is he was the alpha show, he was on first,” said Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University. “Colbert was the spinoff, and I think it takes a while for that dominance to dissipate, though it can dissipate.”

Thompson said Colbert might finally nab the trophy if Emmy voters are thinking about Stewart taking the summer off and not judging solely on episodes submitted for consideration.

“His taking the summer off makes us realize that while we always refer to how great Jon Stewart is, that show is made by those writers,” Thompson said, before adding, “And the poor suckers who have to compile all those clips.”

Freelance writer Rob Owen: or on Facebook and Twitter as RobOwenTV.

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