'John Adams' predicted to take home longform Emmy

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In the midst of a bracing election year, it's only fitting that HBO -- long-dominant in Emmy's longform categories -- should strike pay dirt in both the outstanding miniseries and outstanding made-for-television movie categories with politically themed projects set a couple of centuries apart.

HBO's $100 million-plus epic miniseries "John Adams," based on David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, hauled in a whopping 23 noms, including two acting noms (for Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney) as well as top mini. Pacing the TV movie race, meanwhile, is "Recount," a drama that revisits the controversial 2000 presidential election and the contentious aftermath in Florida that wound up being decided in the U.S. Supreme Court. It tallied 11 nominations, one more than fellow HBO entrant "Bernard and Doris."

It's hard to dispute what is virtually a foregone conclusion, that "Adams" will take home the top prize, along with numerous other trophies. It may not challenge HBO's "Angels in America" for the miniseries record of 11 wins in 2004, but it could come close.

"Everyone involved put his or her guts into this project day after day, so I'm thrilled to see them all get the recognition they deserve," says "Adams" executive producer Gary Goetzman. "At the same time, when I heard we got 23, I was totally blown away."

The other three nominees for outstanding miniseries -- A&E's "The Andromeda Strain," PBS' "Cranford (Masterpiece)" and Sci Fi Channel's "Tin Man" -- will likely just have to console themselves with the honor of being nominated. But they can also hold their heads high: The four miniseries nominees' combined tally of 47 noms underscores the genre's return to health and dwarfs the 31 combined noms for the five television movie projects.

In that area, the one-two punch of "Recount" and the much-praised "Bernard and Doris," which starred Susan Sarandon and Ralph Fiennes, gave Kevin Spacey 21 total nominations for his Trigger Street production company, which co-produced both.

"(Each) of these films could have wound up as features playing in theaters," Spacey says, "but it was a great decision to have them wind up on HBO. It helped us generate a much wider audience and kept us from sitting around, having to ride that first-weekend roller coaster."

Bob Balaban, who served as executive producer and director of "Bernard and Doris" and was nominated for his supporting role in "Recount," notes that "Bernard" was originally made for a mere $500,000, though HBO put more money into sweetening and reshooting after picking up the film.

"That we were able to make a film with the quality we did, with stars the caliber of Susan and Ralph, is really sort of miraculous and shows what can happen when you put your mind to just telling a great story -- and luck out in terms of your performers having amazing chemistry," he says.

Howard Braunstein, executive producer of "The Memory Keeper's Daughter," understands how strongly the deck is stacked against his film winning in a category that's found HBO taking the statuette a staggering 13 of the past 15 years.

"We're just thrilled to be recognized for a film that we think harkened back to great projects like 'Ordinary People' (1980) and 'Kramer vs. Kramer' (1979)," he says. "We were also Lifetime's highest-rated film since 1995. So we feel pretty good about things, no matter what happens from here."

Outstanding Miniseries

"Cranford (Masterpiece)" (PBS)

"John Adams" (HBO)

"The Andromeda Strain" (A&E)

"Tin Man" (Sci Fi Channel)

Outstanding Made For Television Movie

"A Raisin in the Sun" (ABC)

"Bernard and Doris" (HBO)

"Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale" (HBO)

"Recount" (HBO)

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter" (Lifetime)
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