In the brave, new Emmy world that produced some shocking nominations (and omissions) Thursday, Charlie Sheen, Barry Manilow and Stephen Colbert were among those happily surprised.
"What a great way to start the day," Sheen said of the best-ever seven nominations for his top-rated, but little-acclaimed sitcom, Two and a Half Men.
Among the show's nods were three big one for Outstanding Comedy Series, Supporting Actor (Jon Cryer) and Lead Actor (Sheen). Sheen's nomination is his first, and comes after months of headlines about his messy divorce from Denise Richards.
"Everyone worked really hard to achieve this kind of recognition," Sheen said in a statement. "I'm proud to be part of it."
Onetime Emmy winner Manilow hadn't been in the Emmy game since 1978--until his nomination for the PBS special, Barry Manilow: Music and Passion.
"It's been so long since I've been nominated for anything," Manilow told the Associated Press, "I don't know if my tuxedo fits anymore."
Among Manilow's rivals for the Emmy for variety/music performer is Colbert, nominated for outdoing Bill O'Reilly on The Colbert Report. In a statement, Colbert said he was "thrilled" and "proud" that his show was nominated for four awards overall.
Turning pugnacious and/or O'Reilly-esque, Colbert asserted that fellow nominee Manilow had "had a free ride for too long," and that the time had come "take him down."
"Mr. Colbert says he will then be going after Mandy," a rep said.
William Shatner similarly met good fortune with humor. When informed by E! Online TV columnist Kristin Veitch that he was "on a roll," having won two years in a row, and been nominated again, for trolling Boston Legal's waters as shark Denny Crane, Shatner responded: "On a roll? A Kaiser roll, maybe."
In a pun-free statement, Shatner declared himself "thrilled to pieces" for the third straight Boston Legal nod, and delighted "beyond belief" for the two noms for his History Channel science special, How William Shatner Changed the World.
"Thrill," and its variations, were the operative words for nominees.
Oscar-winner Geena Davis was "thrilled" for her first Emmy nod for the canceled Commander in Chief. Michael J. Fox, a guest actor nominee for his turn as a doomed man on Boston Legal, was "very grateful," especially since "it was such a thrill" to work on the ABC series.
In a twist, The Office's Steve Carell, up for a comedy actor Emmy, was "honored and overwhelmed." Additionally, he said, the cast and crew of the NBC series, up for five Emmys overall, including Outstanding Comedy Series, were "extremely honored."
Denis Leary found his first Emmy acting nomination, for fighting fires and demons on Rescue Me, "pretty exciting," while Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rimes found her hit show's 11 nominations "amazing."
Chandra Wilson, Seattle Grace's Dr. Bailey, learned of her supporting actress nomination while in Milan, Italy, promoting Grey's Anatomy to the world with the help of her costars, the Associated Press reported.
"Maybe we can go have a really expensive dinner," Wilson said, per the wire service.
While the nominations arguably were most notable for who wasn't nominated--the stars of Desperate Housewives, Lost, House, Gilmore Girls, etc.--snubees don't issue statements of angst or anger. For a touch of sadness, one had to go to Michael Imperioli, the only Sopranos player to bag an acting nod.
Said Imperioli to the AP: "I'm a little bit lonely."
Given his mood, Imperioli best be advised to avoid checking the odds at BetWWTS.com, where the online gaming site has The Sopranos as a long shot to claim the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. (Grey's Anatomy is the big favorite.)
Arrested Development and The Amazing Race, meanwhile, are the early picks of the oddsmaker to win the Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Reality-Competition Program races, respectively.
American Idol, which has lost the big prize to The Amazing Race for three years running, is considered a long shot by the gaming site to change its luck this fall. But Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe didn't have much to be discouraged about on Thursday--not with the show scoring eight nods, more than all but six other weekly series and the most ever for a reality show.
"I'm surprised by the nominations--the number of nominations," Lythgoe told E! Entertainment Television.
Conan O'Brien is scheduled to host the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards for NBC on Aug. 27.