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'Glee,' 'Modern Family' nominated for TV series by Golden Globes

Unlike last year when no new series were nominated, these two first-year shows get the nod.

December 16, 2009|By Scott Collins

After snubbing the new TV shows last year, Golden Globe voters on Tuesday gave a thumbs-up to this season's two biggest critical darlings.

Fox's "Glee" and ABC's "Modern Family," first-year series that have tried to balance laughter and sentiment, were nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. in the best comedy or musical category, alongside previous nominees "30 Rock," "Entourage" and "The Office."

"Modern Family" -- a mockumentary-style sitcom about three generations of one clan -- is the season's most-watched new comedy. But "Glee," about misfits who join a high-school singing club, is struggling to expand beyond its fiercely devoted cult audience and could use an extra boost from awards publicity. Both series are produced by 20th Century Fox Television, which has promoted them aggressively.

The creative teams behind the shows suggested that in hard times, audiences are ready to laugh -- as long as the laughter isn't mean-spirited.

"Right now, people need to be uplifted, and it's a very uplifting show," said Broadway veteran Matthew Morrison, nominated for his performance as glee-club director Will Schuester on "Glee." "It's a good escape for people."

Steve Levitan, executive producer of "Modern Family," echoed that view regarding his own show's nomination: "I think that people were ready for a show that was not just hopefully smart and funny but also has heart and a warm tone," he said.

In addition to Morrison, other leads in new series who picked up nominations included Lea Michele in "Glee," Edie Falco in Showtime's "Nurse Jackie" and Thomas Jane in HBO's "Hung." A nomination for Courteney Cox in ABC's sitcom "Cougar Town" surprised many observers because critics and viewers alike have given the show, about a middle-aged woman returning to the dating scene, a lukewarm reception.

The results are a big change from last year, when Globe voters failed to nominate a single new show in either the comedy or drama categories. At the time, the industry was still hobbled by the effects of a three-month writers strike that ended in February 2008.

Even so, voters still stuck mainly with the tried-and-true. All the shows cited for best drama were repeat nominees, including AMC's "Mad Men," Fox's "House" and HBO's "True Blood." Among the acclaimed series left off the list was AMC's "Breaking Bad," which has never gotten Globe recognition despite two Emmys for actor Bryan Cranston.

Likewise the best-drama list did not include CBS' courtroom series "The Good Wife," perhaps the season's best-reviewed new drama. However, star Julianna Margulies did pick up an acting nod.

Otherwise, the dramatic actress category had very little drama to offer. All the other aspirants -- Glenn Close of FX's "Damages," Kyra Sedgwick of TNT's "The Closer," January Jones of "Mad Men" and Anna Paquin of "True Blood" -- were making repeat appearances in the category (Close, Paquin and Sedgwick have won in recent years).

In the dramatic actor category, Michael C. Hall of Showtime's "Dexter," Jon Hamm of AMC's "Mad Men" and Hugh Laurie of Fox's "House" were all carry-overs from last year. And Jeremy Piven picked up his sixth nomination as the brash agent Ari Gold on HBO's "Entourage" (he won in 2008) -- the kind of safe choice that prompted grumbling among some critics.

But however familiar the nominations might feel, even a repeat nominee like Close insists that they still matter deeply to the people who create TV shows. "Damages" has drawn substantial critical acclaim but small viewership. Close said she hopes this year's Globe nominations -- which also went to costars Rose Byrne and William Hurt -- could offer a boost.

"There's so much content on television," she said. "I hope this recognition all counts."

Times staff writers Maria Elena Fernandez and Matea Gold contributed to this report.

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