After three years in which TV movies and miniseries were lumped together in one ungainly category, the television academy believes there's enough programming to again warrant a separation. (The acting awards remain combo affairs, however.) Were they right? Let's take a look at these newly independent categories and, while we're at it, an early peek at the variety and reality races.
FOR THE RECORD
In the variety series category, the wrong show is listed for Jimmy Fallon. NBC says it is submitting "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" for possible nomination and not "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."
"The Hollow Crown" (
"The White Queen" (Starz)
Prime contenders: "Dancing on the Edge" (Starz), "Bonnie & Clyde" (Lifetime)
Analysis: With the War of the Roses-era "White Queen" and the jazz-driven "Dancing," Starz might find itself a big winner with two nominations. The spoiler could be "The Hollow Crown," PBS' "Great Performances" offering of "Richard II," "Henry IV" and "Henry V." It's a lot of Shakespeare — varied in presentation, uniform in its excellent quality, which, in any normal world, would be beyond reproach. But some voters might be a bit daunted at the prospect at viewing all this, though "Crown" is just the kind of high-minded project the
"The Normal Heart" (HBO)
"The Trip to Bountiful" (Lifetime)
"Return to Zero" (Lifetime)
"Killing Kennedy" (National Geographic)
Prime contenders: "Burton and Taylor" (BBC America), "Clear History" (HBO)
Bubbling under: "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" (HBO), "A Day Late and a Dollar Short" (Lifetime)
Analysis: Larry David's "Clear History" was a delight, playing like an extended, all-star edition of "
Billy Bob Thornton, "Fargo"
Prime contenders: Jeremy Irons, "The Hollow Crown"
Analysis: Unless the category has a disproportionate number of Shakespeare enthusiasts who go for one of "Crown's" standouts, the nominees should be those first six listed, all of whom have made indelible impressions in both film and television. It will be a race almost impossible to call with the "Fargo" antiheroes going up against Ruffalo's ferocious turn in the high-profile "Heart," the likely TV movie Emmy winner.
Cicely Tyson, "The Trip to Bountiful"
Jessica Lange, "American Horror Story: Coven"
Minnie Driver, "Return to Zero"
Rebecca Ferguson, "The White Queen"
Analysis: Tyson won the Tony for the Broadway revival of "Bountiful," and the Emmy's probably in the bag too. And in case you're wondering, Allison Tolman, playing "Fargo's" decent and determined deputy sheriff, is being campaigned for supporting. It's a curious decision, given that she has as much screen time as Freeman and quite a bit more than Thornton. She could have easily landed a well-deserved nomination here.
"The Daily Show With
"Last Week Tonight With
Prime contenders: "Real Time With
Bubbling under: "Inside Amy Schumer" (Comedy Central), "Late Show With
Analysis: Last year, voters rubber-stamped the same six shows — "Colbert," "Daily Show," "
REALITY COMPETITION SHOW
Bubbling under: "Hollywood Game Night" (NBC),
Analysis: With no notable premieres, last year's class figures to return intact, even though each series has dropped in the ratings. "Shark Tank" was the only reality show to actually gain viewers this year, and the Television Critics Assn. named it the best reality show. Now in its fifth season, you'd think that it would have enough juice to trip up one of the dance shows.
Betty White, "Betty White's Off Their Rockers"
Cat Deely, "So You Think You Can Dance"
Anthony Bourdain, "The Taste"
Analysis: Let's be honest here: Voters' thought process in this category, created in 2008, can best be described as cryptic. Probst won four years running and hasn't even been nominated since. Bergeron and Seacrest have been recognized every year, though with "Idol's" very public decline, that may finally change. Probably the only sure thing: Betty White will be nominated ... because she's Betty White. And that's the kind of reality we can heartily endorse.