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Inside the already-intense Emmys race

This year's Emmy race is already at a fever pitch and the show is four months away

Whoever said the seasons don't change in L.A. couldn't be more wrong. There are in fact two: Oscar season and Emmy season.

The Emmys show may still be more than four months away, but with nominations in July (online voting starts June 15), campaigning is already at a fever pitch, with screeners flooding the mail and "For Your Consideration" panels assembling nightly. This year is shaping up to be one of the most intense, kicked off by the TV Academy's expansive rule changes, announced in February.

A Flood of Contenders

Netflix is no longer the only new kid in town. Sure, the streaming service has an armload of shows in the race -- from returning favorites "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black" to newbies "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," "Bloodline" and "Grace and Frankie." But there are other digital players: Amazon gained awards show cred with its Golden Globe win for "Transparent," and Yahoo has pledged to throw mega-marketing muscle behind cult favorite "Community." (Your turn will come next year, Hulu.)

Cable continues to dominate: AMC's "Better Call Saul" hopes to inherit "Breaking Bad's" buzz, and Showtime freshman "The Affair" rides a Golden Globe win, while "Homeland" looks to get back into contention. The field has widened beyond the usual suspects: WGN is trumpeting "Manhattan" (the first to send out screeners), Starz has high hopes for "Outlander," and Cinemax is touting "The Knick."

Broadcast is back in the game with shows other than CBS' "The Good Wife" and "The Big Bang Theory" and ABC's "Modern Family," thanks to Fox's hit "Empire." Comedy contenders include ABC's "Black-ish," the CW's "Jane the Virgin" and Fox's "The Last Man on Earth," while the drama slate boasts Oscar cred with Viola Davis starrer "How to Get Away With Murder." John Ridley's "American Crime" is vying as a limited series.

Given all this, there's little chance of a repeat of that #Oscarssowhite problem.

No Clear Front-Runners

Last year, all the buzz going into Emmys was about "Breaking Bad's" final season and the star turns in HBO's "True Detective." Given the two series' stellar reviews, the competition was all but sewn up.

But both are out of contention this year, and the wide-open playing field only clouds the forecast.

In the drama category, the seven-episode final season of "Mad Men" faces tough competition from buzzy shows like "Game of Thrones," "Masters of Sex," "Saul," and "Empire." FX boasts a critical darling in "The Americans," and "Justified" rode off into the sunset on the best reviews of its seven-season run.

As for comedy, "Modern Family" stands to break records if it wins a sixth consecutive Emmy. But the reigning champ will have to fend off fresh-faced challengers like "Transparent," "Jane the Virgin" and "Kimmy" -- as well as the comeback of HBO's "The Comeback" -- along with "Veep," "Silicon Valley" and FX's "Louie."

It's Noisy Out There

Given all this drama (and comedy), it's hard to get watched, let alone noticed. But clever awards consultants are looking for creative ways to build interest.

The costumes of Netflix's "Daredevil" are being turned into a traveling exhibit; similarly, the clothes from "The Mindy Project" are being featured at Neiman Marcus. "Top Chef" contestants fed Academy voters at a panel for "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce"; and to promote "The Goldbergs," Sony is offering free downloads of classic '80s tracks, including "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now."

Indeed.

Variety

 

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