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Writers Dig Dexter, Lost, 30 Rock, True Blood

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The blood, sweat and tears begot by a conflicted serial killer, some Madison Avenue suits, a troop of desperate castaways, Texas' grittiest high school football team and the Baltimore drug trade were what really got the television writers' juices flowing this year, even if most audiences have yet to drink the Kool-Aid.

Paying more attention to sharp dialogue and crackerjack pacing than ratings glory, the Writers Guild of America tapped recent Emmy fave Mad Men, the just-concluded and woefully underawarded The Wire, the just as woefully underwatched Friday Night Lights, the killer-as-hero nail-biter Dexter and a resurgent Lost as nominees for Best Dramatic Series for the 2009 WGA Awards, honoring TV, radio, news, promo writing and graphic animation.

As evidenced by the one category, scripted cable series had a big year as far as the scribes were concerned, with HBO, Showtime and burgeoning heavy hitter AMC combining for 17 nominations. ABC and CBS led the networks with 14 apiece (including radio nods), while NBC followed with 10 nominations, four of them coming from Best Comedy Series nominee 30 Rock.

The Emmy-winning sitcom, which also had three episodes singled out in the Episodic Comedy category, will go up against The Office, Weeds, The Simpsons (responsible for 5 of Fox's 10 nominations and the most nominated series overall) and Entourage for top comedy series writing.

WGA members also veered to the darker side when selecting their favorite new shows, nominating the desperate-chem-teacher-turns-meth-cooker drama Breaking Bad, the J.J. Abrams-created mind trip, Fringe; the latest edition to the small-screen vampire canon, True Blood; the time-traveling cop show, Life on Mars; and the psychotherapy drama In Treatment.

Film nominees will be announced at a later date. All of the WGA honors will be handed out Feb. 7 during simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.

Here's a rundown of the major TV nominations for the 2009 Writers Guild of America Awards:

DRAMATIC SERIES:

• Dexter, Showtime
Friday Night Lights, NBC
Lost, ABC
Mad Men, AMC
The Wire, HBO

COMEDY SERIES:

30 Rock, NBC
Entourage, HBO
The Office, NBC
The Simpsons, Fox
Weeds, Showtime

NEW SERIES:

Breaking Bad, AMC
Fringe, Fox
In Treatment, HBO
Life on Mars, ABC
True Blood, HBO

EPISODIC DRAMA:

"Don't Ever Change," House, Fox
"Double Booked," Burn Notice, USA
"Gray Matter," Breaking Bad, AMC
"Pilot," Breaking Bad, AMC
"Pilot," Eli Stone, ABC
"There's Something About Harry," Dexter, Showtime

EPISODIC COMEDY:

"Believe in the Stars," 30 Rock, NBC
"Cooter," 30 Rock, NBC
"Crime Aid," The Office, NBC
"Crush'd," Ugly Betty, ABC
"Succession," 30 Rock, NBC
"Vote for This and I Promise to Do Something Crazy at the Emmys," My Name Is Earl, NBC

LONG-FORM ORIGINAL:

• An American Crime, Showtime
"Pilot," Fringe, Fox
• Recount, HBO

LONG-FORM ADAPTATION:

• Generation Kill, HBO
•John Adams, HBO
• The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Lifetime

ANIMATION:

• "Apocalypse Cow," The Simpsons, Fox
"The Debarted," The Simpsons, Fox
"E Pluribus Wiggum," The Simpsons, Fox
"Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words," The Simpsons, Fox
"Life: A Loser's Manual," King of the Hill, Fox
"Strangeness on a Train," King of the Hill, Fox

COMEDY/VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) SERIES

• Late Night With Conan O'Brien, NBC
• Late Show With David Letterman, CBS
• Real Time With Bill Maher, HBO
• Saturday Night Live, NBC
• The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
•The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Comedy Central

COMEDY/VARIETY—MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES—SPECIALS

• 2008 Film Independent Spirit Awards, AMC/IFC
•Jimmy Kimmel's Big Night of Stars, ABC

DAYTIME SERIALS

• As the World Turns, CBS
•One Life to Live, ABC

Get the complete list of nominees.

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