Betty White can do no wrong. Ed O'Neill can't catch a break. And we can pretty much tell where Emmy voters stand in the Great Late-Night Debate. (Hint: They're right next to the tall Conan O'Brien guy.)
Five big takeaways from today's Emmy nominations—plus some bonus factoids:
Conan O'Brien Is Going to Be the Story of Emmy Night: His show, or rather his old show, The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien, is up for four awards, including the big one, Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series. If he wins, he gets to take his final parting cracks at NBC on NBC, which is broadcasting the show. Now, that is Must-See TV.
Betty White Is Magic: Seven of Saturday Night Live's 12 nominations were for last May's top-rated White show. According to Emmy voters, everything about that episode rocked—the hairstyling, the makeup, the writing, and, of course, the hostess herself. (She's up for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.)
Ed O'Neill Is the Anti-Emmy Favorite: The man was the only major Modern Family player to not be nominated, just as he's not been nominated for anything he's done in his last 23 years of steady prime-time work.
Change Is a Matter of Perspective—and Ratings: It sure feels like Emmy finally got with the 21st century, doesn't it? Well, numbers-wise, yes, there are more new faces in the top acting series categories this year than last, but by our quick count, there aren't that many more new faces—maybe one or two more in the lead and supporting races. So, why does it feel like this year's crop is so different? Because last year, the first of nominee expansion, the newbies largely hailed from cult cable faves like Flight of the Conchords and In Treatment. This year, the newbies are largely from broadcast-TV hits like Glee and Modern Family.
Entourage Is Radioactive: Sorry, but the Jeremy Piven joke never gets old. For us. In any case, since Piven blamed a high mercury level for his departure from Broadway's Speed-the-Plow, Entourage has gone from five nominations in 2008 to four last year to one this year, and Piven has gone from a three-year winning streak in the supporting comedy actor category to nothing the past two years. Additionally, Entourage was one of four shows not welcomed back to the Outstanding Comedy Series race (which last year boasted seven nominees). The other shut-out victims—Family Guy, Flight of the Conchords, Weeds and How I Met Your Mother—don't star Piven, so we don't know what their problem was. (Well, actually, Conchords has flown its last flight, so that's what its problem was.)
Now, about those bonus factoids…
• Bad press, like Piven's bad sushi, might have taken its toll on Charlie Sheen's Emmy shot. He's not up for Two and a Half Men for the first time in four years.
• Remember the Academy Awards everybody hated—and the dance number on the Academy Awards that everybody really hated? The telecast was nominated (in the Special Class Programs category), as was the show's choreography.
• Newly minted Oscar winner Jeff Bridges could be halfway to his EGOT necklace by the end of next month. He's up for the HBO TV movie A Dog Year. Other Oscar vets in the Emmy hunt: Susan Sarandon, for HBO's Dr. Jack Kevorkian biopic, You Don't Know Jack; Kathy Bates, for Syfy's Alice (but not for serving as Dunder Mifflin's new corporate boss on The Office); and composer Randy Newman, who's already won an Emmy (plus a Grammy—he needs only the Tony to complete Philip Michael Thomas' mission). Newman's nominated for writing the farewell song for Monk.
• Michael Sheen finally figured out how to play Tony Blair! A few years after he was passed over for an Oscar nomination for portraying the former British prime minister in The Queen, he picked up an Emmy nod for playing the former you-know-who in the HBO TV movie The Special Relationship.
• This is the part where we're going to list all the nominations that the Tonight Show With Jay Leno got. Except it didn't get any. (For what it's worth, David Letterman's Late Show got shut out of the Variety, Music or Comedy Series race, too, although it did pick up two other nods.)