With help from ‘Game of Thrones,’ HBO conquers Netflix in Emmy nominations

When the Emmy nominations were announced last year, Netflix had a big win, overtaking HBO for the first time. But this year, HBO is back in the lead, with 137 nominations compared to Netflix’s 117.

The Hollywood Reporter has tallied up the just-announced nominations, with Amazon Prime Video getting 47 nods and Hulu receiving 20.

HBO, meanwhile, didn’t just beat Netflix — it also beat its own record for most nominations in a single year. That’s good news for WarnerMedia, which is hoping that HBO branding can help its upcoming streaming service stand out from the crowd.

That said, its most-nominated show is one that just ended — “Game of Thrones,” which received 32 nominations, making it the most-nominated show of the year, and setting the record for the most nominations that any show has received for a single year.

That’s right: These are nominations for the show’s divisive final season, including nods for Outstanding Drama Series, Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Emilia Clarke), Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Kit Harington), Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Gwendoline Christie, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams) and Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Alfie Allen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage).

(Also, I didn’t hate the finale, but I definitely raised my eyebrows when I saw that “The Iron Throne” had been nominated for Best Directing and Best Writing.)

Coming in second among individual shows was Amazon’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” which won a whole bunch of comedy Emmys last year and snagged 20 nominations this year, including Outstanding Comedy Series.

Among Netflix’s shows, “When They See Us” scored 16 nominations (including Best Limited Series) and “Russian Doll” received 13 (including Outstanding Comedy Series). Amazon’s “Fleabag” and Hulu’s ” Handmaid’s Tale” received 11 nominations apiece.

The Primetime Emmy Awards will air on Sunday, September 22.

Apple hires A&E’s Molly Thompson as its Head of Documentaries

In addition to a growing lineup of scripted fare, documentaries will be another key focus for Apple TV+, the company’s new streaming service set to launch in May. According to a new report today from Variety, Apple has hired A&E’s Molly Thompson as its Head of Documentaries.

Thompson’s experience at A&E includes founding its documentary production arm, A&E IndieFilms, back in 2005. While there, several of its films earned Emmy nominations, including “Life, Animated,” “Cartel Land,” “Jesus Camp,” and “Murderball.”

Cartel Land,” “Life, Animated,” and “The Tillman Story,” combined, went on to win over a half-dozen Emmys, along with other industry awards.

Thompson also has exec produced: “The Clinton Affair,” Charles Ferguson’s “Watergate” docuseries, “Studio 54,” “City of Ghosts,” “The Imposter,” “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon,” “The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld,” “No Place on Earth,” “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” and “Being Evel”  — some of which were under A&E’s History Films banner.

For Lifetime Films, she exec produced two narrative features: “Lila & Eve,” which starred Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez and premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival; plus Eleanor Coppola’s “Paris Can Wait,” with Diane Lane and Alec Baldwin.

Thompson’s hiring indicates Apple’s interest in bringing content that will appeal to those who don’t regularly watch traditional TV, but instead like to stream more educational fare — like documentary films and docu-series, biographies, shows with a historical focus, and other non-fiction. Plus, documentaries would give Apple a way to compete early on for Emmy attention, even if its scripted series fail to gain critical praise.

Documentaries also represent another means of competing directly with Netflix, where the format has become a huge draw for subscribers — even zeitgeist-y, at times. Netflix today has a range of documentaries that nearly everyone has seen, or has at least heard of, like “Making a Murderer,” “Wild Wild Country,” “13th,” “Amanda Knox,” “Fyre,” “Amy,” and many more. This month it will have another hit in this genre, with Beyoncé’s Coachella documentary, out on April 17th.

Apple has already announced a few of its documentary efforts for Apple TV+, including Oprah’s docu-series, one of which is co-produced with Prince Harry; as well as a docu-series about extraordinary homes; and Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble’s documentary about an elephant matriarch, “The Elephant Queen.” The latter, which Apple picked up at the Toronto International Film Festival, was one of its first feature film buys.

Image credit: IMDb