Thursday's unveiling of television's Emmy nominations was a glorious moment for teenagers dancing through their angst and soldiers slogging through the mud and dodging Japanese bullets. HBO's World War II miniseries The Pacific picked up 24 nominations and Fox's high-school musical Glee earned 19.
Aside from the onslaught for The Pacific and Glee (the latter included nominations for best comedy as well as lead acting bids for Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison), the announcement was a nod to:
• Revenge. Conan O'Brien's short, doomed tenure as host of The Tonight Show got it a nomination as best variety show. Guess which NBC host who preceded and followed him in the job wasn't mentioned?
• Longevity. Eighty-eight-year-old Betty White, having the hottest year of her more than half a century in show business, got a nomination for her stint hosting Saturday Night Live -- one of 12 for SNL, which made it the most-nominated show of all time. With 126 total nominations, it passes ER's 124.
• Basking in past glory. The almost-unwatchable final season of Lost garnered 12 nominations (including one for best drama as well as a best-acting bid for Matthew Fox), the most since its 2004-2005 debut.
• We-try-harder premium cable networks. Perennial second banana Showtime had two nominees for best comic actress: Edie Falco as the hard-bitten title character of Nurse Jackie and Toni Colletteas a housewife with multiple personalities in United States of Tara. Nurse Jackie also won a nomination for best comedy.
As usual, however, HBO, led all networks in nominations with 101. ABC's 63 topped those among broadcast networks.
It was a good year for rookie shows. In addition to Glee, ABC's fractured sitcom Modern Family collected 14 nominations -- including a startling five for supporting actors and actresses -- and CBS' wronged-political spouse drama The Good Wife got nine.
But veterans continued to rack up awards, some to the point of being blase. "This is great and exciting news," cracked Tina Fey, star and producer of NBC's withering inside-TV sitcom 30 Rock, whose three nominations (for writing and acting on 30 Rock, plus one for guest-hosting Saturday Night Live) ran her lifetime total to 16. "Also, this seems like an appropriate time for me to announce to NBC that I will not be renewing my contract . . . with my gym."
30 Rock received 15 nominations, running its total over the past four years to 64 -- a number perilously close to that of the actual viewers for the low-rated show. But another scathing Hollywood-insider sitcom, HBO's Entourage, wasn't nominated for best comedy, breaking a three-year run. Even more surprising, star Jeremy Piven, whose role as a crazed agent won him a nomination for comic actor the past four years (and the award in three), was shut out this time.
So was Charlie Sheen, nominated the past four years as best comic actor for 2½ Men, though his December arrest on domestic-violence charges may have had something to do with that.
Though the Emmys offer nominations more promiscuously than any other awards in show business -- there are 512 in the prime-time category alone -- some of Thursday's nominees were openly bedazzled.
"I want to say this stuff doesn't matter to me right now, but I can't wipe the smile off my face," Glee's Matthew Morrison told trade journal The Hollywood Reporter after learning he'd been nominated for best comic actor for his role as a beleaguered chorus director.
Morrison said he was so nervous the night before the announcement that he couldn't sleep and went for a 10-mile run instead.
The winners will be presented in a televised Aug. 29 ceremony hosted by NBC late-night TV talker Jimmy Fallon.