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AUDIE CORNISH, Host:

The 63rd Prime Time Emmy Awards ceremony is being held tonight in Los Angeles. "Mad Men" is the most nominated television series with 19 nominations. The annual ceremony no doubt will draw its usual roster of television heavyweights and media stars. But it's been drawing fewer and fewer viewers. NPR's pop-culture blogger Linda Holmes joins us to talk about the ceremony. Linda, welcome to the program.

LINDA HOLMES: Thank you very much.

CORNISH: Why do we still care about the Emmys?

HOLMES: Well, if you're in the industry, you care about the Emmys because that is still the quickest shorthand they have for quality programming. It's the fastest way they can communicate you should take our shows seriously in addition to just enjoy them a lot. So, the industry cares for that reason. If you're a fan of a show, fans of shows still care a lot about seeing their shows nominated and seeing their shows win.

CORNISH: At the same time, it feels like for the regular networks, they haven't been doing as well as premium cable and cable. It seems like the Emmys has been this kind of showcase for all the shows that some of us don't get to see.

HOLMES: Absolutely. That's true, particularly in drama. If you look at drama series, cable - both basic cable and premium - have very heavy activity in Emmy nominations in drama. Broadcast networks, on the other hand, have still a lot of the strength in comedy. All six of the comedies that are nominated for outstanding comedy series this year are broadcast network shows. They're on those big essentially five networks. So, it really depends on whether you look at drama or comedy. The networks are hanging in well in comedy but they have definitely lost some ground in drama.

CORNISH: And this year, who's hosting?

HOLMES: Jane Lynch is hosting.

CORNISH: Ah. Jane Lynch is the kind of villain character from the high school musical-slash-comedy "Glee," right?

HOLMES: Right, absolutely.

CORNISH: I think of these award shows as being hosted by, number one, stand-up comics; number two, late-night hosts. I don't know, the Billy Crystal-types. That's the Oscar. But is it - it actually seems like a really interesting choice to have someone who's not naturally a host of things.

HOLMES: Right. I think the connection between her and an awards show is largely that "Glee" has this kind of variety aspect, where every once in a while she performs in numbers and bits as part of "Glee." But, yeah, it is a little bit unusual for it to be kind of a straight-up actress as opposed to, as you say, a comedian or a host.

CORNISH: And they probably want some of that audience, right? It's like get the kids somehow.

HOLMES: Right, absolutely. And she's a person, as divided as people sometimes are about "Glee," she's a person who people often agree on, that she's very...

CORNISH: Right. Even if you hate "Glee"...

HOLMES: Right.

CORNISH: ...you like that character.

HOLMES: Absolutely. And before that, she was a very respected comic actress prior to "Glee." Not nearly as famous as she is now but very, very well thought of.

CORNISH: OK. I want to hear your forecast. Who could be the surprise winner? Who are the sure bets?

HOLMES: The surest bet, I think, is that "Modern Family" is very likely to repeat as outstanding comedy series. They won last year. The entire adult cast of that show, which is six people, they are all nominated. So, clearly the Emmys are still very high on that show. I'd very surprised to see it not repeat. In terms of the surprise, one thing that's interesting is that "Mad Men," which has won Outstanding Drama Series the last three years may potentially have another win. They had another very good season, but I think you could potentially see it upended by something like perhaps HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," which...

CORNISH: Another sort of period drama that I don't see that often but everyone says is amazing.

HOLMES: Another period drama, and interestingly "Boardwalk Empire" won a whole bunch of the technical categories at the Creative Arts Emmys, which were this past weekend. So, sometimes those are a harbinger of things to come. Not always.

CORNISH: That was Linda Holmes. She's author of NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See. Thank you, Linda. And good luck to the programs you're rooting for.

HOLMES: Thank you.

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