LOS ANGELES — The sprawling and bloodthirsty saga "Game of Thrones," defying the Emmy Awards' grudging respect for such fantasy fare, emerged as the leader in the nominations announced Thursday with 19 bids, including best drama series.
Other top nominees included a pair of ambitious miniseries, "Fargo," with 18 bids, and "American Horror Story: Coven," with 17. The AIDS drama "The Normal Heart" received 16 nominations, including best TV movie. The meth kingpin tale "Breaking Bad" got 16 bids for its final season, including best drama and a best actor nod for star Bryan Cranston.
The 66th prime-time Emmy Awards ceremony will have big-screen star power to spare. This year's Academy Awards best-actor winner Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club") and nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years a Slave") are both nominees for TV projects, as is past Oscar winner Julia Roberts.
In the competitive best-drama series category, "Game of Thrones" will compete with "Breaking Bad," ''Downton Abbey," ''House of Cards," ''Mad Men" and "True Detective."
Whether HBO's "Game of Thrones" can take home the top trophy is another question: Only one fantasy or sci-fi series, "Lost," has ever captured it, according to Tom O'Neil, author of "The Emmys" and organizer of the Gold Derby awards site.
Snubbed in the category was "The Good Wife," despite a season that was both critically acclaimed and gasp-inducing for the sudden, violent death of character Will Gardner (Josh Charles).
Netflix's "House of Cards" which made a breakthrough last year as the first online series nominated for a major award, has the chance again to grab Emmy gold.
"Orange is the New Black," also from Netflix, leaped that barrier on the flip side this time around with a bid for best comedy series, along with a nod for star Taylor Schilling.