LOS ANGELES – The Emmy nominations could mark a breakthrough for shows as varied as "The Wire," "Mad Men" and "Family Guy."
The programs are among the 10 drama series and 10 comedies that emerged as the semifinalists in balloting by Academy of Television Arts & Sciences members, the academy said Thursday.
The final five nominees in each category will be determined with the help of blue-ribbon panels that are to screen submitted episodes for the top vote-getters this weekend. The results, based on both the academy vote and the panels' decisions, will be announced July 17.
The possibilities are tantalizing.
"The Wire," the critically acclaimed HBO drama that traces urban decay through the stories of police and drug dealers in Baltimore, has a last shot at ending years of Emmy snubs: it recently wrapped its fifth and final season.
It could help fill the void for HBO created by the end of "The Sopranos."
Basic cable has the chance for an unprecedented milestone, with AMC's "Mad Men," about Madison Avenue circa 1960, and FX's legal drama "Damages," starring Glenn Close, among the semifinalists. Although premium channels like HBO and Showtime routinely field nominees, basic cable has yet to nab a best drama or comedy series bid, the academy said.
"Family Guy" has the chance to achieve what has eluded even stellar veteran "The Simpsons": a best comedy series bid. "Family Guy" is on the short list for the category, and also submitted a special episode for best animated program longer than an hour.
"The Simpsons" made one effort at getting a comedy series bid, according to the academy, but it has routinely competed in — and often won — the category for animated series of a half-hour or less.
Premium cable and network shows are both well-represented on the comedy front with such shows as HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and NBC's "30 Rock," which was last year's winner in the category.
As posted by the TV academy on its Web site, the best drama semifinalists are: "Boston Legal"; "Damages"; "Dexter"; "Friday Night Lights"; "Grey's Anatomy"; "House"; "Lost"; "Mad Men"; "The Tudors" and "The Wire."
Among the snubbed series were "Desperate Housewives" and "Heroes," a nominee last year that failed to make even the top 10 cut this time around.
Semifinalists for best comedy are "Curb Your Enthusiasm"; "Entourage"; "Family Guy"; "Flight of the Conchords"; "The Office"; "Pushing Daisies"; "30 Rock"; "Two and a Half Men"; "Ugly Betty" and "Weeds."
Last year's group of nominees was dominated by network series, although "The Sopranos" went out with a blaze of glory and claimed the best drama trophy.
The nominees for the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced by Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris and TV academy Chairman John Shaffner in July's predawn ceremony.
The ceremony will be held Sept. 21 and broadcast on ABC.