But newcomer “Boardwalk Empire” brought Steve Buscemi into the picture with a first-string nomination for the actor who has been acclaimed for supporting roles. Also nominated for best drama series are “Dexter,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Good Wife.”
Executives from accounting giant Ernst & Young were spotted arriving with the winners envelopes in a silver briefcase. Fans in the bleachers cheered as they passed.
They also cheered when Ryan Seacrest came by. “Ryan! Ryan!” yelled the crowd in unison. Seacrest turned to them and mimed that he was framing them in a shot
“Modern Family” actor Eric Stonestreet gave better than that: He gave a bagel. Actually, he threw one, autographed in black marker, into the crowd, to roars of approval from fans.
Other contests to watch include best comedy series, with “Modern Family” trying to repeat last year’s win against competitors including “Glee” and “Parks and Recreation.”
Steve Carell of “The Office” is making his last Emmy stand for his fifth and final season as clueless manager Michael Scott, after being snubbed four years in a row.
A new category, which combines the previously separate best miniseries and made-for-TV movie nominees, includes the miniseries “Mildred Pierce,” with Kate Winslet nominated in the role of an embattled mother, and the movie “Too Big to Fail,” about the U.S. fiscal crisis in 2008.
Melissa McCarthy, a star of “Bridesmaids,” said she was most surprised at the blazing heat on the Emmy red carpet. “I didn’t realize the Emmys are held on the sun,” she said. “It’s just the whole energy of it. I keep running into people I know and want to know. There’s just so much positive energy.”
In the reality-competition category, perennial also-ran “American Idol” will take its ninth shot at winning, this time for a season in which it successfully navigated the loss of key judge Simon Cowell.
HBO came into the night with a leading 15 awards earned at the Sept. 10 creative arts awards, followed by PBS with 10, Fox with nine, CBS with seven and NBC with five.
After hitting an all-time viewership low of 12.3 million in 2008, the Emmys rebounded somewhat in the last two years and drew a 2010 audience of 13.47 million, compared to 26.7 million for this year’s Grammys and nearly 38 million for the Oscars.
AP Entertainment writers Sandy Cohen, David Bauder and Solvej Schou contributed to this report.