Los Angeles (CNN) — When the curtain rises on the 64th Primetime Emmys Sunday night, viewers can expect”genuinely weird stuff” from host Jimmy Kimmel and perhaps TV award show history made by “Mad Men.”
With 26 statuettes to be handed out, the three-hour ABC-TV broadcast from the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles should be packed with hastened acceptance speeches, but at least some drama.
“Mad Men” has dominated the best drama category in its four seasons and could set a record with a fifth-straight win this year, but Showtime’s psychological thriller “Homeland,” which just started a second season, and AMC’s “Breaking Bad” may stand in its way.
“Downton Abbey,” last year’s best miniseries or movie winner, is competing for best drama series this year, along with HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and “Game of Thrones.”
While “Mad Men” was the most nominated show last year, with 19 nods, and this year, with 17, the AMC series has yet to win an acting Emmy. It has four chances Sunday to change that, including Jon Hamm’s fifth best drama actor nomination for his role as ad exec Don Draper.
“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, who beat Hamm in his first three seasons, is nominated again, along with Michael C. Hall, nominated a fifth straight year for the title role in Showtime’s “Dexter,” second-year nominee Steve Buscemi for playing Nucky Thompson on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” PBS’ “Downton Abbey” star Hugh Bonneville and Damian Lewis for Showtime’s “Homeland.”
“Mad Men” actress Elisabeth Moss, whose work as Peggy Olson has earned three nominations but no trophies, is contending for best actress in a drama against last year’s winner Julianna Margulies from CBS’ “The Good Wife,” “Homeland’s” Claire Danes, Glenn Close of DirecTV’s “Damages,” Michelle Dockery from “Downton Abbey” and Kathy Bates, who plays Harriet Korn in ABC’s “Harry’s Law.”
Bates, who recently revealed she had a double mastectomy because of breast cancer, will also present an Emmy category Sunday night. She was given the best guest actress in a comedy for playing the ghost of Charlie Sheen’s character in CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.” It was presented at the Emmy’s creative arts ceremony last week.
ABC’s “Modern Family,” the country’s highest-rated sitcom, will try to repeat its domination of the Emmy’s comedy categories. Last year’s show seemed like the “Modern Family” awards at times, with the series taking home five trophies.
CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” NBC’s “30 Rock,” and HBO’s “Veep” are challenging “Modern Family” for the best comedy series Emmy, which the ABC show has won for the last two seasons.
“The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons, who won best comedy series actor last year, is lined up against “30 Rock’s” Alec Baldwin and Jon Cryer of “Two And A Half Men” again this year. Other nominees include Larry David, who plays himself in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Don Cheadle for Showtime’s “House Of Lies” and Louis C.K. for FX Networks’ “Louie.”
The best comedy series actress competition includes Melissa McCarthy, who won a year ago for the CBS sitcom “Mike & Molly,” two-time winner Tina Fey for “30 Rock,” Lena Dunham for HBO’s “Girls,” Zooey Deschanel for FOX’s “New Girl,” Edie Falco from Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” NBC’s “Parks And Recreation” star Amy Poehler, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep.”
The reality show competition has lacked competitiveness over the past decade, with CBS’s “The Amazing Race” finishing first eight of the last nine years. Still, ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars,” Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” “So You Think You Can Dance” from FOX, Bravo’s “Top Chef” and NBC’s ” The Voice” will try.
“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” has won best variety show for nine years in a row, but this year it has a new competitor, ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
But Kimmel may not spend much time thinking about his chances, since he’ll have his hands full hosting the Emmy broadcast.
Kimmel told CNN the Emmy producers have given him a lot of creative freedom to make the show entertaining.
“I pitched them a number of ideas and they’re letting me do some genuinely weird stuff on the show,” he said. “I really appreciate it, and I’m kind of surprised to how open they’ve been. There will be a couple of things that have never been done for sure that I think will surprise people in the best possible way.”
Ricky Gervais, who provided plenty of surprises as host of the Golden Globes, will take the Emmy stage as a presenter Sunday.
Michael J. Fox, whose acting career continues 21 years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, will also present. Fox was nominated for best guest actor in both the comedy and drama series categories, but lost.