The cast, writers, and directors of hit HBO TV show "Game of Thrones," pictured on September 20, 2015 at the Emmy Awards, have more to celebrate as the show pulls in nearly nine million viewers for the finale
The show raked in a record-breaking 12 awards last year

Fantasy drama "Game of Thrones" led the field for television's coveted Primetime Emmy awards Thursday for a third straight year, with nominations in 23 categories.

HBO's fantasy epic about noble families vying for control of the Iron Throne will compete for the prestigious outstanding drama series trophy for the fifth year in a row, the Television Academy announced. 

The show, which raked in a record-breaking 12 awards last year, faces competition from "House of Cards," "Better Call Saul," "Mr. Robot," "Downton Abbey," "The Americans" and "Homeland."

FX's hotly-tipped "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" scored the second highest tally with 22 nods, followed by "Fargo" with 18. 

Jonathan Nackstrand (AFP/File)

Anthony Anderson, star of ABC's hit series "black-ish," and "Gilmore Girls" actress Lauren Graham presented the nominations for the 68th Emmy Awards at the Television Academy in Los Angeles.

Anderson whooped when Graham read out his name in the best comedy actor category, shouting: "Hi momma -- I know you're watching!"

HBO's political comedy "Veep," starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as hapless President Selina Meyer -- scored 17 nominations for television's equivalent of the Oscars, to be handed out on September 18 in Los Angeles. 

Several hotly tipped shows missed out on widely-expected nods, however, including "The Good Wife," which was shut out of best show honors, and Netflix's prison comedy drama "Orange is the New Black" which failed to pick up a single nomination.

"Television dominates entertainment conversation and is enjoying the most spectacular run in its history... Today marks the start of our annual celebration of the best of the best," said Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum.                   


"Empire," Fox's debut melodrama about family feuds in a musical empire, picked up just one nomination despite its success with TV viewers, 17.6 million of whom tuned into the first season finale.

That went to Taraji P. Henson in the best actress in a drama category for her portrayal of family matriarch Cookie Lyon. Henson would be only the second African American actress to pick up prize.

Another black actress, Viola Davis, won the category last year and is nominated in the same category for her work on ABC's "How to Get Away with Murder."

Valiere Macon (AFP)

Comedy show "Saturday Night Live" scored 16 nominations to squeeze into the top five, edging out political thriller "House of Cards," which managed 13 nods. 

The Television Academy's 19,000 members were given two weeks in June to sift through a crowded field of more than 8,000 entries from shows aired during the previous 12 months across 113 categories.

The most star-studded category was perhaps lead actor in a limited series or TV movie which included six-time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston, who has received rave reviews for anchoring HBO's Lyndon B. Johnson biopic "All the Way."

Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, Cuba Gooding Jr, Tom Hiddleston and Courtney B. Vance were also nominated while other big name contenders in the category including Bill Murray and Johnny Depp missed out.

The topic of race figured heavily in the limited series category -- formerly known as "outstanding miniseries" -- with "The People v. O.J. Simpson" matched up with historical saga "Roots" and ABC's "American Crime."

"Downton Abbey," which picked up eight nominations last year but won only for hairstyling, marks its final season with 10 nods, including a fourth in the prestigious outstanding drama category.

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