Hands-off approach nurtures creativity, resulting in a leading 101 nominations.
Los Angeles Times; Reporting from New York; By Matea Gold, July 9, 2010
The 101 Emmy nominations HBO scooped up Thursday marked the 10th straight year that the premium cable channel has won the most nods from the television academy.
Network executives hope the impressive tally, HBO's third-highest ever, will finally put to rest any lingering questions about whether it lost its cultural footing after the conclusion of "The Sopranos."
"It's really, really a sweet morning," said Michael Lombardo, president of HBO's programming group. "What's so satisfying and so exciting is the fact that all of the areas we program in were recognized. We can be jumping up and down across the board."
The big winner of the day was the 10-part World War II miniseries "The Pacific," which garnered 24 Emmy nominations, the most of any broadcast or cable program.
Two HBO films — "Temple Grandin" and "You Don't Know Jack" — earned 15 nods apiece.
As it has it past years, HBO dominated the miniseries and movie acting categories, with performers such as Jeff Bridges, Michael Sheen, Al Pacino, Hope Davis, Claire Danes and Susan Sarandon getting recognized.
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" scored its sixth nod for best comedy series, while the gothic vampire saga "True Blood" landed its first nomination for best drama series....
For all its accolades, however, HBO was largely left out of the major acting categories for television series. The only series regular to receive a nomination was "Curb
's" Larry David. None of the cast members of " Big Love
," or "True Blood
" made the list.
"I think we have a lot of ensemble shows where they're not built around one character," Lombardo said. "What you see is Emmy choices often times are shows where one character really gets to shine the entirety of the show. We don't have many of those."
The cast of "The Pacific" was also shut out of the nominations, the one sour note for the producers of that series
. Executive producer Gary Goetzman noted that the same thing happened to the cast of "Band of Brothers," the 2001 miniseries that serves as the companion to "The Pacific."
"I don't know if they're not known enough at the time or it's the nature of being in uniform with a helmet," Goetzman said. "People don't associate the name with the character. It's the one thing that saddens us.... These kids got us here, and we appreciate all their great work."
With a price tag of $200 million, "The Pacific" may be the costliest television miniseries ever produced.
It's the kind of risk for which the network is known and, according to those who work with HBO, why it thrives.
"I think HBO the bravest organization in the broadcasting world," said Mick Jackson, nominated Thursday for his direction of "Temple Grandin."
"I can't imagine any other broadcasting organization making 'Temple Grandin.' On the face of it, it's a story about an autistic woman who can't bear to be hugged by her mother and who grows up to invent better slaughterhouses. You try pitching that in a meeting."
With a subscription-based model that frees it from the advertising worries that plague its broadcast brethren, HBO has attracted a loyal stable of writers, directors and actors who say the network's hands-off approach allows creativity to flourish.
"To be able to produce programming that exists on its own, that's not an anchor for advertising, that isn't interrupted by commercials or constrained by network broadcast standards, gives you a lot of creative freedom that is a wonderful environment in which to work," said Ball, who also served as executive producer of HBO's "Six Feet Under
"They do movies that have a purpose and a cause and movement," said veteran actress Brenda Vaccaro, nominated
Thursday for supporting actress in a miniseries or movie for her performance as Jack Kevorkian's sister in "You Don't Know Jack."
"And best of all, they let the artist be free to do the work. They never bother you. There are no notes. They don't come on the set and haunt you."
Sarandon, who co-starred with Vaccaro and was nominated for her portrayal of a right-to-die activist,
said doing a movie for HBO is in some ways more appealing than starring in an independent feature film.
"Initially you think, I really want it to be a film, that snobbery thing comes in," she said. "Then you realize you'll get much more support and distribution and more people have a chance to see it than would if it came out in a little theater, because distribution these days is just so fragile for anything that is not in 3-D."