The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which will air its NBC broadcast of the 68th annual award ceremony on Jan. 16, focused more on popular picks than it has in recent years. "Glee," a family show that follows a singing group of high school misfits, recently earned some finger-wagging for a racy photo shoot with GQ and an inconsistent second season, but viewers haven't stopped watching — and Globe voters haven't stopped noticing. Gleeks Lea Michele, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison and Chris Colfer were all recognized for their performances.
Colfer, who plays a lovable underdog, admitted that he'd been practicing for this moment a very long time. "I was totally an awards show junkie when I was growing up, and Golden Globes was my favorite," he said. "I would print out the ballots and make my mother fill one out for me."
Joining "Glee" and a string of previous nominees and winners (NBC's " 30 Rock," Showtime's "Dexter," AMC's " Mad Men," CBS's "The Good Wife") were other popcorn hits, including CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" and ABC's "Modern Family."
Supporting actor nominee Eric Stonestreet, who plays gay dad Cameron Tucker on "Modern Family," hoped that sharing a men's room with A-listers might raise his profile. "Last year I was standing at a urinal next to Robert De Niro and I thought, 'I'm really at the Golden Globes,'" he said. "Maybe this year someone will say, 'Hey, I'm peeing next to Eric Stonestreet.'"
Showtime received the most original series nominations of any network on cable or broadcast: "The Big C," "United States of Tara," "Dexter" and "Nurse Jackie" all made the list. ( HBO had the most nominations overall, with 12 nods, but many were for movies and miniseries.)
"It's a big deal for us," said Showtime's president of entertainment David Nevins. "I think we're in a golden age of television. Adult comedies and dramas are increasingly rare in the movie business, so more and more great writers and actors are coming to cable to do their best work."
The comedy series acting categories remained nearly identical to last year's lineup, with two exceptions: Laura Linney of "The Big C" replaced "Cougar Town's" Courteney Cox, and Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" traded in for " Californication's" David Duchovny.
This was a first Golden Globe nomination for Parsons and for "The Big Bang Theory," which is in its fourth season. "It's been a slow climb," he confessed. "Maybe having us on a new night is showing us to different eyeballs."
Having worked as a presenter last year, Parsons said he looks forward to finally sitting at the chocolates-and-champagne table with other nominees. "I'm a shy person, and I can be a bit of a wilting flower when I see people I've watched all my life," he admitted. "Last year, I stood next to Meryl Streep when I was waiting for my car, and I couldn't even talk to her. How can you not talk to Meryl Streep?"
The Globes also righted some of last year's oversights, including Bryan Cranston of " Breaking Bad," who has won three consecutive Emmys for his performance as a chemistry teacher turned meth cooker.
"This will hopefully open up a more global spyglass for the show," Cranston said. "We would like the world to look and see the nature of this man's plight. It's a universal condition that he finds himself in — it's not just an American story. We would love it to be exposed to the international public."
Balancing the ratings stalwarts with critically adored series and upstarts, the Globes gave the biker drama "Sons of Anarchy" its first mainstream award nomination, acknowledging Katey Sagal with a lead actress in a drama nomination. HBO's first-year prohibition epic "Boardwalk Empire" earned three nominations, including drama, and acting nods for Steve Buscemi and Kelly Macdonald. Showtime's living-with-cancer comedy "The Big C" and AMC's zombie drama "The Walking Dead" rounded out the new series nods.
Asked why Globe voters and others were drawn to a fairly grisly show about zombies, "Walking Dead" executive producer Gale Anne Hurd said, "I think there's a global zeitgeist about pending catastrophe, whether it's global financial collapse, natural disasters, H1N1 flu. People are consumed by sense of when is the other shoe going to drop. Plus, zombies are a lot of fun. That's why this show has connected in a way that people didn't expect."
Notable absences included " Lost," which earned a supporting actor in a drama nomination for Michael Emerson last year, but seemed to disappoint viewers and critics in its final season.
Times staff writers Yvonne Villarreal, Greg Braxton, Scott Collins and Maria Elena Fernandez contributed to this report.