Laura Dern from HBO's canceled series "Enlightened" joined returning nominees Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep"), Lena Dunham ("Girls"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock"), Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") and Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie") in the Emmy lead actress comedy category
Last year's field swelled to seven, thanks to a tie. "Mike & Molly's" Melissa McCarthy and Zooey Deschanel ("New Girl") drew the short straws among the potential returnees.
Dern has received four Emmy nominations over the course of her career, most recently for the HBO movie "Recount" in 2008. The nod for "Enlightened" comes as a surprise as HBO pulled the plug on the low-rated, second-year comedy in March. Dern's performance as the show's endearing and infuriating corporate whistle-blower won wide acclaim from critics, however.
Louis-Dreyfus won the Emmy in this category last year. It was her third Emmy award, following trophies for "Seinfeld" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine," making her only the second actress to win Emmys for three different roles. (Tyne Daly is the other.) Her nomination Thursday, for playing the put-upon vice-president in HBO's "Veep," is the 14th of Louis-Dreyfus' career, an Emmy record. She had previously been tied with Lucille Ball for most career Emmy nominations.
Dunham made a splashy entry at the Emmys last year for her acclaimed HBO comedy, "Girls," winning nominations in four different categories -- writing, directing, series and lead actress. Dunham's show and her portrayal of the neurotic and frequently naked aspiring writer, Hannah, have divided audiences and driven conversation around the proverbial pop culture water cooler since its premiere in spring 2012.
Fey won her seventh acting nomination for "30 Rock's" final season. She took the prize in 2008, has six other acting nods for playing "30 Rock's" head writer Liz Lemon and has won six other Emmys, including three as a producer of "30 Rock."
Fey's frequent comedy partner, Poehler, is also an Emmy favorite. Poehler has won four acting nominations for her portrayal of the cheerful government advocate Leslie Knope on "Parks and Recreation," as well as nods for writing and producing the show.
Falco's nomination for "Nurse Jackie" is her fourth for the Showtime series. She won the Emmy for playing the show's strong-willed New York nurse in 2010 and took three Emmys for lead drama actress for her work on "The Sopranos."
The Emmy Awards will be handed out on Sept. 22 and will air live on CBS.
[For the Record, 1:10 p.m. PDT July 18: A previous version of this post said "Nurse Jackie" airs on HBO. The series airs on Showtime.]