The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences changed its voting procedures for the Emmys this year with the goal of opening up the awards to a wider range of shows and performers.
That did indeed happen Thursday, when the nominees for the 58th annual Emmys were announced. But the new blood appeared to come at the expense of past winners and those considered shoo-ins for nods once more.
Edie Falco and James Gandolfini of "The Sopranos"? Whacked. "Desperate Housewives"? Swept under the rug. "Lost"? Missing. Ditto for last year's drama acting winners James Spader and Patricia Arquette, along with "House" star Hugh Laurie -- this year's Golden Globe winner for best actor in a drama -- and the critically hailed "My Name Is Earl" and "Entourage" for best comedy.
Thanks to its dominance in the miniseries and movie categories, HBO once again is the nominations leader with 95, two more than it received last year. ABC is second with 64 (up from 51), followed by CBS (47), NBC (46), FOX (41) and PBS (34). Showtime earned 19 nods and TNT 17.
All but one of TNT's nominations came for the miniseries "Into the West," which leads all programs this year with 16 nominations (Kyra Sedgwick earned the 17th for "The Closer"). HBO's miniseries "Elizabeth I" snagged 13 nominations, and FOX's "24" -- the leader among weekly series -- and the HBO movie "Mrs. Harris" each earned 12.
The nominations for "24" include one for outstanding drama series and acting nods for Kiefer Sutherland -- his fifth straight -- and Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart, who played the president and first lady.
Other surprises in the big categories include "Rescue Me's" Denis Leary for outstanding actor in a drama series, "The King of Queens" star Kevin James for lead actor in a comedy and the departed "The West Wing" for best drama series, in what was a very crowded field this year.
So crowded, in fact, that last year's best drama winner, "Lost," didn't even make the nominees this time around. Its omission from the best drama list is maybe the biggest surprise in a nominee list full of them.
Other contenders for biggest head-scratcher would be the exclusion of multiple winners Falco and Gandolfini from their respective categories and the fact that none of the core cast of "Desperate Housewives," including comedy actress winner Felicity Huffman, was nominated this year (nor is the show up for outstanding comedy). The show's only acting nods are for supporting actress Alfre Woodard and guest star Shirley Knight.
Then there's the lead actress in a comedy category, in which four of the five nominees -- Stockard Channing ("Out of Practice"), Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm in the Middle"), Lisa Kudrow ("The Comeback") and Debra Messing ("Will & Grace") -- are from series that no longer exist. Only Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who helped announce the nominees Thursday morning, will be back next season in "The New Adventures of Old Christine."
The TV academy changed its voting rules this year for the top series and acting honors. In those categories, members voted for their favorites, but rather than just taking the top five vote-getters as in the past, the leaders were then referred to judging panels who picked the nominees. The panels chose from the 10 leading vote-getters for best comedy and drama and the top 15 among lead actors and actresses.
The new process certainly did shake up the field some. Somehow, though, the outcome doesn't quite feel like this is what the academy intended.