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Do the broadcast networks' drama series direct themselves?

August 26, 2011 |  1:30 pm

Good wife

The domination by cable drama series over their broadcast network counterparts in recent years is nowhere more noticeable than in the Emmy category for drama directing.

This year marks the first time that all five nominees stem from cable shows: Two are for HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" ("Anastasia," directed by Jeremy Podeswa and the pilot helmed by Martin Scorsese). Also in the mix are the pilots of these three shows: Showtime's "The Borgias" (Neil Jordan), HBO's "Game of Thrones" (Tim Van Patten) and AMC's "The Killing" (Patty Jenkins).

Over the last 10 years, cable has made significant inroads as far as TV directors are concerned. Last year, 4 out of 5 nominees in the directing race were cable offerings, and over the course of the last decade, drama series from AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime and even Syfy wiped the floor with their broadcast rivals.

Broadcast TV certainly had a lot of strong contenders. "The Good Wife" — the only broadcast show nominated for outstanding drama series — was touted as a strong possibility for show runner Robert King, who won raves for directing the season finale, "Closing Arguments." Other contenders — like Tony Phelan for the buzzed-about "Grey's Anatomy" musical episode, "Song Beneath the Song"; Bill D'Elia for the pilot episode of "Harry's Law"; and segments of Fox's "House" and NBC's "Parenthood" — were in the hunt, but they were completely shut out in favor of lavish big-budget period pieces ("Boardwalk," "Borgias" and "Thrones") and moody, cutting-edge thrillers ("The Killing").

So, who is likely to take home the prize? The smart money is on Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese to triumph for bringing Prohibition-era Atlantic City to life in "Boardwalk Empire." Close behind as a possible spoiler: "Game of Thrones" pilot, directed by five-time Emmy nominee Tim Van Patten (for "The Sopranos"), who has yet to win.


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Photo: Julianna Margulies and Josh Charles in the "Closing Argument" episode of "The Good Wife," which was surprisingly not nominated for drama directing at the Emmys. Credit: CBS.