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Prime Time Players: 2009 Emmy Nominations

July 16th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

The 2009 Emmy nominations were announced today, with critical favorite — and last year’s winner — 30 Rock getting 22 nods from the Academy of Television Arts and Scientists, including Best Comedy and Best Actress for Tina Fey. The winners will be announced during the September 12 awards ceremony hosted by Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”), but in the meantime, the Hulu team took a look at some category highlights. — Rebecca Harper (rebecca.harper@hulu.com) for the Yahoo! TV Blog

Outstanding Animated Program
This category, devoted to the best episodes from an animated series, features entries from Robot Chicken and South Park as well as The Simpsons. In “Gone Maggie Gone,” Lisa Simpson goes undercover as a nun to track down her missing sister. The episode riffs on The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure) as Lisa, Principal Skinner and Comic Book Guy race against Mr. Burns and Smithers to find a hidden gem. With an important clue solved, the “good guys” hitch a ride in Mr. Burns’ helicopter.

Outstanding Comedy Series
With seven series up for Best Comedy Series, the competition is tight. This season, 30 Rock tried to pull in ratings with big-name guest stars (Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Martin, Salma Hayek and Alan Alda, to name a few), while The Office had arguably its best season yet, with Michael undergoing major changes: heartbreak, a new boss, and founding his own company. Also getting nods were CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, Showtime’s Weeds and HBO’s Entourage and Flight of the Conchords. Fox’s Family Guy rounds out the competition with a season that touched on religion, gays, marijuana and even Nazi Germany.

Outstanding Drama Series
Cable networks dominates the Best Drama category again this year, with Breaking Bad, Damages, Big Love, Dexter and Mad Men all getting nominations. Two major network shows managed to get the Academy’s attention this season, however: Lost and House. While the Oceanic survivors went back to the island on Lost, Dr. House dealt with the fallout of Amber’s death — and a bit of sexual tension with Cuddy.

Outstanding Guest Actor, Comedy Series
NBC’s 30 Rock leveraged its high-profile fans to bring in major talent this season, and the guest stars paid off, earning three nods in the Outstanding Guest Actor category (and, below, two more for Outstanding Guest Actress). Steve Martin and Alan Alda gave buzz-worthy performances, but the favorite at Hulu was Jon Hamm’s (Mad Men) turn as Tina Fey’s love interest. Beau Bridges also received a nomination for his appearance on Desperate Housewives, and pop star Justin Timberlake gets official recognition for his hilarious turn as host of Saturday Night Live. (“Motherlover,” anyone?)

Outstanding Guest Actress, Comedy Series
While Tina Fey may have left Saturday Night Live to head up 30 Rock, she returned a number of times this season as Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Her spot-on portrayal lampooned the former Alaskan governor, making Saturday Night Live the must-see show each week leading up to the election. In this year’s Emmys, she’ll be up against Gena Rowlands (Monk), Betty White (My Name is Earl), Elaine Stritch (30 Rock) and Jennifer Aniston (30 Rock) in the Best Guest Actress field.

Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy Series
While critics are thrilled to see “The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons get an Emmy nomination for Best Actor, we’re hoping to see Steve Carell awarded for his performance as Michael Scott on The Office. This season, Carell shined as the bumbling office manager stood up for himself — and his staff — against Dunder Mifflin management. The Generalissimo (aka Jack Donaghy) from 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin, was also nominated, along with Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men), Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords).

Outstanding Lead Actor, Drama Series
The field for Best Actor, Drama, is tight, with nominations going to Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment), Golden Globe winner Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Simon Baker (The Mentalist). House‘s Hugh Laurie receives his third Emmy nomination this year, as well.

Outstanding Lead Actress, Comedy Series
Last year’s Best Actress in a Comedy winner, Tina Fey, is nominated in the category once again. Her turn as 30 Rock‘s Liz Lemon, head writer for “The Girlie Show” is a guaranteed laugh each week, whether providing a glimpse into her early acting career or offering dating advice (“Deal breaker!“). She’s up against Christina Applegate (Christina Who? ), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine), Sarah Silverman (The Sarah Silverman Program), Toni Collette (United States of Tara) and Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds).

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
In the Best Actress, Drama category, Sally Field is up again for her role as Nora Walker on the family drama Brothers & Sisters. (Field won the category last year.) Also up: Damages‘ Glenn Close, Law & Order: SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay, Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss, Saving Grace‘s Holly Hunter, and The Closer‘s Kyra Sedgwick.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Helping 30 Rock pull in its 22 nominations this year: Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, and Jack McBrayer as Kenneth the page. In this clip, Tracy helps Kenneth with his date. (Isn’t that what friends are for?) Also up: Rainn Wilson as The Office‘s Dwight Schrute, Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Kevin Dillon (Entourage) and Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Saturday Night Live received two nods in this category, thanks to the stellar work of Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig. Ugly Betty‘s Vanessa Williams is also nominated, along with 30 Rock‘s Jane Krakowski, Pushing Daisies‘ Kristin Chenoweth and Weeds‘ Elizabeth Perkins.

In the Supporting Actor, Drama category, William Shatner and Christian Clemenson (Boston Legal) , Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), William Hurt (Damages), Michael Emerson (Lost), and John Slattery (Mad Men) are all up for an award. Likewise, in Supporting Actress, Drama, 24‘s Cherry Jones and Damages‘ Rose Byrne received nominations, as did two stars from In Treatment — Dianne Wiest and Hope Davis — and Grey’s Anatomy — Sandra Oh and Chandra Wilson.