In a year that saw a writer’s strike and a pending actor’s strike shake the US television industry to its core, a strong list of contenders to take home a gold statuette come September.

The AMC original drama Mad Men and NBC’s 30 Rock led the charge with 16 and 17 nominations, respectively.

But this year, Emmy shared the love like never before, spreading the nominations among first-timers, old favorites and a slew of first-year series’.

Neil Patrick Harris scored yet another nomination for Best Supporting Actor in How I Met Your Mother, though his two-time guest star Britney Spears failed to snag a Best Guest Actress nod.

Harris will go up against a string of category veterans, including Two and a Hal Men’s Jon Cryer and Entourage’s Jeremy Piven.

The Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy category offered up a couple of huge surprises, including Amy Poehler for Saturday Night Live.

The late night sketch comedy show is repeatedly ignored for its talent, but break out star Poehler broke the streak. She’ll go up against Kristin Chenoweth for Pushing Daisies and Jean Smart for Samantha Who?, both nominated for first-year series.

While all four leading ladies of Desperate Housewives were shut out, cable series fared particularly well this year. FX show Damages and Mad Men will face off in the Best Drama Series categories, the first time Basic Cable shows have ever been nominated in that category.

Damages star Glenn Close scored a Best Actress nod, and her co-star Zeljko Ivanek-whose character was revealed to be gay in the bloodied season finale—scored a Best Supporting Actor nod.

Of course, we’ll see some old favourites and legends come Emmy night. Elaine Stritch does the guest actress category again… another year, another show, this time for 30 Rock. And Claire Huxtable herself, Phylicia Rashad, looks to parlay her historic Tony win into an Emmy for A Raisin in the Sun.

And perennial gay fave Kathy Griffin, who caused a ruckus when she told Jesus to “suck it” accepting last year’s trophy, is nominated twice—once for her reality show My Life on the D List and once for her comedy special.

The Emmys will be handed out Sunday, September 21 at the Kodak Theatre.

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