A bounty of stars: Emmy Awards kick off fall TV season

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Kyla Brewer / TV Media
Stephen Colbert hosts the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

Stephen Colbert hosts the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

As the weather begins to cool and TV fans prepare to tuck into a whole new season of prime time, the stars of the small screen take a look back at the year's achievements and celebrate the outstanding work of their peers.

Stephen Colbert ("The Late Show With Stephen Colbert") welcomes some of the television industry's biggest names to the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles as he hosts the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, airing Sunday, Sept. 17, on CBS. Bestowed annually by the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences, the awards recognize excellence in American prime-time programming in a variety of categories, which include acting, directing, writing and a "best of" category.

Colbert is the latest in a string of late-night personalities to helm a major awards ceremony this year. Jimmy Fallon ("The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon") hosted The 74th Golden Globe Awards, Jimmy Kimmel ("Jimmy Kimmel Live!") emceed The 89th Academy Awards and James Corden ("The Late Late Show With James Corden") took the reins of the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

Now it's Colbert's turn, and the folks at CBS couldn't be happier. The network's head honchos sang Colbert's praises in January when news broke that he'd be the latest Emmy host.

"Stephen is the ultimate master of ceremonies with award-winning creative talents, and as we've seen in the past few months, he has a fearless passion for live television," CBS executive Jack Sussman said.

When his Emmy gig was announced, Colbert responded in his trademark tongue-in-cheek fashion, saying: "This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period." The quip was a not-so-subtle jab at the controversy surrounding attendance at President Trump's inauguration in January.

This year's ceremony could be very big for Colbert indeed. He's up for six of the coveted statuettes and is poised to make Emmy history should he win multiple awards while also hosting the show. "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" has earned Emmy nominations for directing, writing and outstanding variety talk series. The comedian's Showtime election night special, "Stephen Colbert's Live Election Night Democracy's Series Finale: Who's Going to Clean Up This Sh*t," has been nominated in the same three categories.

Such a win would be stellar for Colbert, but there will be plenty of other excitement during this year's ceremony. Shemar Moore ("Criminal Minds") and Anna Chlumsky ("Veep") announced the nominees in July, revealing that NBC's "Saturday Night Live" and HBO's "Westworld" had each earned a whopping 22 nominations. Other big nominees include FX's "Feud: Bette and Joan" and Netflix's "Stranger Things," which tied with 18 Emmy nods, while HBO's "Veep" came in next with 17 just ahead of HBO's "Little Big Lies" and FX's "Fargo," which each earned 16.

Stephen Colbert is set to host the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

Stephen Colbert is set to host the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards

With nods for everything from supporting actor to makeup to writing, "SNL" led the way for NBC, which came through with 64 overall nominations. That's a mere drop in the bucket, however, compared to HBO's 111 nominations, and that's without ratings juggernaut "Game of Thrones," which was ineligible for this year's Emmys. Streaming service Netflix brought home a total of 91 nominations, pushing NBC to third place just ahead of FX, which earned 55 Emmy nominations for its programs. ABC followed with 33, CBS was close behind with 29 and Fox came through with 20.

It is worth noting that NBC's hit "This Is Us" became the first Outstanding Drama Series nominee from a broadcast network since 2011. It's up against HBO's "Westworld," AMC's "Better Call Saul," Hulu's "The Handmaid's Tale" and Netflix's "The Crown," "Stranger Things" and "House of Cards."

The Outstanding Comedy Series category includes a mix of traditional broadcast sitcoms, quirky streaming series and star-studded cable shows. ABC's "Black-ish" and "Modern Family" are both nominated for the Emmy, while HBO's "Silicon Valley" and "Veep," Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and "Master of None" and FX's "Atlanta" round out the category. 

Defending champion Jeffrey Tambor is once again nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his role in Amazon's "Transparent." The other nominees include Anthony Anderson ("Black-ish"), William H. Macy ("Shameless"), Aziz Ansari ("Master of None"), Zach Galifianakis ("Baskets") and Donald Glover ("Atlanta").

Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown from "This Is Us" are both up for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, a category which also includes Matthew Rhys ("The Americans"), Bob Odenkirk ("Better Call Saul"), Kevin Spacey ("House of Cards"), Liev Schreiber ("Ray Donovan") and Anthony Hopkins ("Westworld").

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin both made the cut for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for their work in the Netflix series "Grace and Frankie." Other nominees include Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep"), Ellie Kemper ("Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), Allison Janney ("Mom"), Tracee Ellis Ross ("Black-ish") and Pamela Adlon ("Better Things").

Oscar winner Viola Davis ("How to Get Away With Murder") represents broadcast television in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category, which also includes Keri Russell ("The Americans"), Claire Foy ("The Crown"), Elisabeth Moss ("The Handmaid's Tale"), Robin Wright ("House of Cards") and Evan Rachel Wood ("Westworld").

Join Colbert to find out whether your favorites take home gold during the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, airing Sunday, Sept. 17, on CBS.