'Thrones' eyes Emmys crown, but all to play for

Posted at 08/26/2014 7:54 AM | Updated as of 08/26/2014 7:54 AM

LOS ANGELES - Royal feud saga "Game of Thrones" battles for glory Monday at the annual Emmy awards, where stars will also pay emotional tribute to comic Robin Williams after his apparent suicide.

But all was to play for at television's equivalent of the Oscars, with hit shows including "Breaking Bad," "True Detective" and "Orange Is the New Black" tipped for gold at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

"The Emmys are the hardest to gauge" of all Hollywood's annual awards fests, said industry journal Variety, which included "Masters of Sex" and "The Good Wife" among its top predictions.

Emmys host Seth Meyers joined fellow stars in rolling out the red carpet at the Nokia Theater, hours ahead of curtain up at 5:00 pm (0000 GMT Tuesday).

"Thrones," based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling novels about power struggles between dueling clans in seven mythical kingdoms, won most nominations overall with 19 including in the prestigious best drama series.

"Thrones" -- already renewed for a fifth and sixth season -- is among Home Box Office's nominated shows. Overall, HBO heads into the glittering ceremony with a winning 99 nods, compared to 31 for online streaming giant Netflix.

"Fargo," an offshoot of the quirky 1996 Coen brothers' movie, heads into the ceremony with nominations in an impressive 18 categories, with Billy Bob Thornton a contestant for lead actor in a miniseries.

Breaking Bad vs True Detective

Cult crime series "Breaking Bad" -- which won best drama last year -- is again among the top contenders for the coveted title, although dismayed fans saw it end almost a year ago after five highly acclaimed seasons.

Bryan Cranston, who played cancer-stricken teacher-turned-drugs kingpin Walter White in the blockbuster series, is nominated for best drama actor, while the series is also up for best supporting drama actress and actor.

But "Breaking Bad" executive producer Mark Johnson played down expectations. "There are so many good shows... I've learned a long time ago you don't take anything for granted."

Another hot commodity is HBO crime drama "True Detective," which scored competing lead actor nominations for its co-stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, a police duo who hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana.

It is in the running for best drama series as well.

But Netflix's breakthrough women's prison show "Orange Is the New Black" is very much on the radar, too.

It is vying for the best comedy series crown against long-running series "The Big Bang Theory," "Louie," "Modern Family" and "Veep," as well as HBO newcomer "Silicon Valley."

Taylor Schilling from "Orange Is the New Black" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus from "Veep" are among those facing off for lead actress in a comedy.

The race for lead drama actress, meanwhile, pits last year's laureate Claire Danes from "Homeland" against Michelle Dockery from "Downton Abbey," Lizzy Caplan from "Masters of Sex," Julianna Margulies from "The Good Wife," Kerry Washington from "Scandal" and Robin Wright from "House of Cards."

But the ceremony was overshadowed by the August 11 death, at age 63, of Hollywood great Williams, which rocked the entertainment world.

With emotions still raw, his friend and fellow actor-comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to the Oscar winner during the "in memoriam" part of the primetime program.

When nominations were announced in July there were some notable snubs, including CBS's widely acclaimed "The Good Wife" in the best drama race, as well as for "Homeland" star Damian Lewis and Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men."

Bruce Rosenblum, chairman of the Television Academy, which nominates and votes on the awards, said its members were faced with an embarrassment of riches.

"We're in a golden age of television," he said. "When you look at the dramas that were nominated, I'm not sure which one of those you would move out" to accommodate others, Rosenblum said.