"Family Guy," which made it to the 10 finalists on the category last year but missed the final cut, might have been one of the beneficiaries of the TV Academy's decision to expand the number of nominees in the main categories from five to six.
Seven half-hours made it in to the best comedy series category, with two more first-timers, HBO's offbeat "The Flight of the Conchords," CBS' often overlooked "How I Met Your Mother" and Showtime's veteran "Weeds." They will compete against defending champ "30 Rock," previous winner "The Office" and HBO's "Entourage," which landed a third consecutive nomination in the top comedy category.
Also seven are the nominees in the best drama series category. Critics' darling "Mad Men," the reigning winner at all major TV awards, is back in contention in the best drama series field, alongside another AMC series, "Breaking Bad," ABC's resurgent "Lost," FX's "Damages," Showtime's "Dexter," HBO's "Big Love" and Fox's "House."
In the lead actor in a drama category, last year's surprise winner Bryan Cranston of AMC's "Breaking Bad," is back, along with fourth-time nominee Hugh Laurie for Fox's "House," Gabriel Byrne of HBO's "In Treatment," Michael C. Hall of Showtime's "Dexter," Jon Hamm of "Mad Men" and the new kid on the block, Simon Baker of CBS' freshman "The Mentalist."
In the lead actress in a drama series category, first-time nominee Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men" joins the five actresses nominated in the category last year: previous winners Glenn Close of "Damages," Sally Field of "Brothers & Sisters" and Mariska Hargitay of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" as well as Kyra Sedgwick of TNT's "The Closer" and Holly Hunter of another TNT drama, "Saving Grace."
"The Big Bang Theory's" Jim Parsons, one the most buzzed about contenders this year, landed his first awards nomination in the lead actor in a comedy series category where he will face off last year's winner Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell of "The Office," Charlie Sheen of "Two and a Half Men," three-time winner Tony Shalhoub of "Monk" and newcomer Jemaine Clement of HBO's The Flight of the Conchords."
Toni Collette earned her first Emmy nomination for her multiple personality disorder-stricken heroine on Showtime's "United States of Tara. In the best lead actress in a comedy series category, she is joined by three previous winners Tina Fey of "30 Rock," Julia Louis-Dreyfus of "The New Adventures of Old Christine," Sarah Silverman for "The Sarah Silverman Program," Mary-Louise Parker for "Weeds" and Christina Applegate, nominated for the recently canceled ABC comedy "Samantha Who?"
It's a familiar group in the best reality competition category where dominant winner "The Amazing Race" will compete against "American Idol," "Dancing with the Stars, "Project Runway" and "Top Chef."
The nominations in the major category were announced early Thursday morning by Parsons and Chandra Wilson of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" who were joined by the chairman of the Academy of TV Arts & Sciences John Shaffner.
The nominations in top categories follow:
Outstanding comedy series
"Flight of the Conchords"
"How I Met Your Mother"
Outstanding drama series
Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Charlie Sheen, Two And A Half Men
Outstanding lead actor in a drama series
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures Of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Outstanding lead actress in a drama series
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Outstanding supporting actor in a drama series
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
William Hurt, Damages
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men
Outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Vanessa William, Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Outstanding supporting actress in a drama series
Rose Byrne, Damages
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Cherry Jones, 24
Outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Padma Lakshmi (host) and Tom Colicchio (co-host), Top Chef
Outstanding made for television movie
Into The Storm
Prayers For Bobby
Outstanding variety, music or comedy series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Late Show With David Letterman
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
– Nielsen Business Media