Zooey Deschanel, New Girl, Lena Dunham, Girls


Jon Hamm. Julianna Margulies. Jim Parsons. Alec Baldwin. Tina Fey.

The acting field for 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards is all but the same as it ever was. 

With the occasional exceptions of Zooey Deschanel and Lena Dunham.

Deschanel and Dunham, the stars of the like-sounding but poles-apart comedies New Girl and Girls, respectively, were the rare newcomers as nominations were announced this morning.  

The two are up for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. The competition there includes reigning champ Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly) and perennial nominees Fey (30 Rock), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the Seinfeld and New Adventures of Old Christine favorite nominated for her new series, Veep.

And, yes, the count is right: There are seven, not five or six, contenders in the race, the most of any of the lead-acting categories.

The Lead Actor in a Drama Series race featured two breakthroughs, for Homeland's Damien Lewis and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville. Their competition should look familiar: Mad Men's Hamm, who has never won; Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston, a former winner who returns after his series' Emmy layoff last year; Boardwalk Empire's Steve Buscemi; and Dexter's Michael C. Hall.

In the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category, Two and a Half Men's Jon Cryer moved up to Charlie Sheen's old leading-man spot. Cryer will square off against: 30 Rock's Baldwin, The Big Bang Theory's Parsons, Louie's Louis C.K., Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David and House of Lies' Don Cheadle. All but Cheadle have been up for and/or won an Emmy for their respective series before.

Neither Sheen nor his new series, Anger Management, was eligible for awards as the comedy premiered after the Emmys' late-spring deadline. 

The Lead Actress in a Drama Series race likewise is stacked with returning nominees, including Kathy Bates (Harry's Law), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and The Good Wife's Margulies, who won last year. They're up against Damages' Glenn Close, still on the awards-show circuit after her Oscar run, Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery and Homeland's Claire Danes. The nomination is Danes' first for Homeland and her first in the category since she was the teenaged star of My So-Called Life.

In the supporting-acting drama-series categories, Mad Men's Christina Hendricks is back in the hunt, while Jared Harris rated his first-ever nomination as the series' doomed ad-agency partner. Another Mad Men player, Ben Feldman, who played the awkward, but brilliant newcomer Michael Ginsberg, scored a guest-acting nod.

Harris' competition includes Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage, a winner last year, and Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, a winner two years ago.

In the Comedy Series supporting-actress race, The Big Bang Theory star and Hollywood lifer Mayim Bialik earned her career-first Emmy nod. Her competition includes reigning winner Julie Bowen (Modern Family) and the late Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives), who passed away in June, and whose Wisteria Lane alter ego passed away on camera shortly before that.

The Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category is stacked with the men of Modern Family, plus Saturday Night Live's Bill Hader and New Girl's Max Greenfield, both acting Emmy first-timers.

Notable guest-acting nods include Martha Plimpton, up for The Good Wife, not Raising Hope; new mother Uma Thurman, recognized for her star turn in Smash; and Michael J. Fox, nominated for bits in both The Good Wife and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

In addition to Fox, multiple-acting nominees include Hamm, who picked up a second nod for a guest bit on 30 Rock, McCarthy, who added to her total for her SNL hosting stint, and Bates, who did likewise for her Two and a Half Men turn as the character formally played by Sheen.

Dunham, Fey, Poehler and Louis C.K. all earned nods for behind-the-scenes writing, directing and/or producing credits.

The miniseries acting categories are stacked with big-screen faces: Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen, both up for Hemingway & Gellhorn; Julianne Moore, experiencing her Fey moment by earning a nod for playing Sarah Palin in Game Change; and, Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton, both up for Hatfields & McCoys. Connie Britton, Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy represent for American Horror Story

(Originally publised at 6:25 a.m. PT on July 19, 2012.)

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