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School of Communication Alumni Come Up Big with Emmy Nominations

The 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced July 13, and — as expected —they’re crawling with ‘Cats.

Most notable is the historic nomination of Julia Louis-Dreyfus (C83, H07) for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. This is her sixth nomination in a row for playing Selina Meyer on HBO’s Veep and her 23rd overall Emmy nod. Should she win, Louis-Dreyfus would advance her already-record-setting streak to 10 Emmy wins, seven in the Outstanding Lead Actress category, and six of those playing Meyer. Additionally, Louis-Dreyfus is an executive producer on Veep, which is also nominated for its third consecutive Outstanding Comedy Series award. It took home that award the last two years; if it wins in September, her overall Emmy wins will grow to 11.

The show, hosted by School of Communication alumnus Stephen Colbert (C87, H11), will be simulcast on September 17 on CBS.

The following School alumni also received nominations.

  • Colbert, of the eponymous The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, for Outstanding Variety or Talk Series award. Jen Spyra (GC12) is a writer for the show; both were nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series. Colbert was additionally nominated for Outstanding Variety Special for his Live Election Night Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up this Sh*t? These nominations bring his tally up to 29. He’s won nine Emmys. UPDATE: Late Night lost to Full Frontal with Samantha Bee in the Variety Special category at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 9 and 10.
  • Kristen Schaal (C00) for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for her work as Sarah Lynn on Bojack Horseman. Schaal also costars on Bob’s Burgers, nominated for Outstanding Animated Program. UPDATE: Kristen Schaal lost to Seth McFarlane in this category at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 9 and 10.
  • Kathryn Hahn (C95) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Raquel Fein in Transparent.
  • Denis O’Hare (C84) for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Jessie on This Is Us. It is his third nomination. UPDATE: Denis O’Hare lost to Gerald McRaney (also of This is Us) in this category at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 9 and 10.
  • Billy Eichner (C00) for Outstanding Sketch Series for his show Billy on the Street. Eichner also costars in Bob’s Burgers and Hairspray, Live!, both nominated for Emmys. This is Eichner’s second nomination.
  • Seth Meyers (C96, H16) and Jenny Hagel (GC09), both for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series, for Late Night with Seth Meyers. This is Meyers’ 17th nomination (he’s had one win).
  • Joel Watson (C96) for Outstanding Picture Editing for a Structured or Competition Reality Program for Shark Tank. UPDATE: Shark Tank lost in this category to RuPaul’s Drag Race at the Creative Arts Emmys Sept. 9 and 10.
  • UPDATE: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondent’s Dinner” won the award for Outstanding Variety Special at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 9 and 10. Ashley Nicole Black (GC08) is a writer for the show.

Three shows nominated in the Outstanding Drama Series category have significant School of Communication ties: HBO’s Westworld, for which Richard J. Lewis (C83) is an executive producer; Netflix’s House of Cards, for which Laura Eason (C89) is a writer; and NBC’s This is Us, for which Aurin Squire (C01) is a writer. Westworld tied Saturday Night Live for most nominations at 22. Additionally, Jimmy Kimmel Live! is nominated for Outstanding Variety Talk Series; Jill Leiderman (C93) is executive producer. And Silicon Valley is nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series; Jim Kleverweis (C90) is a co-executive producer on the HBO series.

The web series Brown Girls was nominated for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series. Aymar Jean Christian, assistant professor of Communication Studies, is the creator of its distribution platform. UPDATE: Brown Girls lost to Los Pollos Hermanos Employee Training in this category at the Creative Arts Emmys Sept. 9 and 10.

While the Northwestern nomination tally was sizable this year, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ nomination did not come as a surprise. She was a shoo-in among Emmy nomination prognosticators, and for valid reasons: she is widely considered one of the most gifted comedic actors in a generation, and Veep has become a cultural touchstone in a time of reality-show politics. Her Outstanding Actress in a Comedy award last year set a record for overall wins in this category (eclipsing Mary Tyler Moore and Candice Bergen) and wins in a row (one more than Helen Hunt). Louis-Dreyfus won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Emmy for the first time in 2006 as the titular character on The New Adventures of Old Christine, and earned a supporting actress award in 1996 for her work as Elaine on Seinfeld. At seven overall acting wins, she is now tied with Mary Tyler Moore and Allison Janney for most Emmys won by a female performer. The record, eight wins, which she may clinch in September, is held by fellow School of Communication alumna Cloris Leachman (C48, H14).

Many more School of Communication alumni are working on, with, and for Emmy-nominated programming. Congratulations to each and every one of our talented and accomplished Northwestern graduates in the creative arts and entertainment industry.