Much like Spotlight and The Big Short during the Oscar season, FX’s acclaimed American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson boasts a large ensemble that has some Emmy voters wondering who is being promoted in which category. Now, there’s some clarity.
Cuba Gooding Jr., in the title role of O.J. Simpson, and Courtney B. Vance, as defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, are being pushed for best actor in a limited series, while Sarah Paulson, for her sympathetic portrayal of prosecutor Marcia Clark, is being pushed for best actress in a limited series, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. The other actors and actresses in the sprawling cast will be promoted in their respective supporting categories.
The three contenders for leading performances look like sure-bets for noms — and, in light of how thin the supporting categories tend to be, it’s conceivable that People v. O.J. castmembers could account for a ton of those slots, as well.
Possibilities among the men include John Travolta‘s turn as Robert Shapiro — though his performance has been the show’s most divisive — as well as Sterling K. Brown, who has gotten lots of praise for his performance as defense attorney Christopher Darden, and David Schwimmer, who plays Simpson’s conflicted confidante Robert Kardashian, along with such others as Nathan Lane (F. Lee Bailey), Evan Handler (Alan Dershowitz), Rob Morrow (Barry Scheck), Robert Morse (Dominick Dunne), Steven Pasquale (Detective Mark Fuhrman), Kenneth Choi (Judge Lance Ito) and Bruce Greenwood (Gil Garcetti).
There are longer shots on the distaff side, such as Connie Britton (Faye Resnick), Jordana Brewster (Denise Brown) and Selma Blair (Kris Jenner).
Ryan Murphy‘s shows have tended to rack up impressive numbers of Emmy nominations across all categories — from Glee (20 in 2010, 12 in 2011) to The Normal Heart (16 in 2014) to the American Horror Story installments (17 in 2012, 17 in 2013, 17 in 2014, 19 in 2015). An early read of the 2016 landscape suggests that People v. O.J. could register to a greater extent than any of the above.
In the history of the Emmys, the record for most nominations for a limited series — if you include shows that competed for the best miniseries Emmy, since miniseries and limited series are now regarded as one and the same — belongs to Roots (1977), which landed a remarkable 37 noms, including 13 for acting (in two of the acting categories its cast claimed four slots), at a time before many of today’s technical categories that are presented at the Creative Arts Emmys even existed. But that record is probably out of reach of People vs O.J.
Wins might be a different story, though. John Adams (2008), which received 23 noms, bagged a limited series-record 13 prizes — three for acting (Angels in America and Caesar’s Hour hold the record with four), as well as others for best miniseries, writing, art direction, casting, cinematography, costumes, prosthetic makeup, sound editing, sound mixing and special visual effects. (For point of reference, Game of Thrones set a new record for wins by a drama or comedy series with 12 in 2015.)
If People v. O.J. realizes its full potential — meaning wins for limited series, Paulson and the like, all of which seem well within the realm of possibility — then John Adams‘ eight-year-old record could fall.