LOS ANGELES, United States – The Emmy Awards take center stage Monday, August 25, with "Breaking Bad," "True Detective" and "Orange is the New Black" among the favorites of TV's 66th annual version of the Oscars.
But this year's ceremony will be overshadowed by the apparent August 11 suicide of Hollywood great Robin Williams that rocked the entertainment world.
With emotions still raw, his friend and fellow actor-comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to the Oscar winner during the "in memoriam" part of the primetime program.
Last year, Williams – who himself received two Emmys in the 1980s – honored the memory of comedian and former "Mork and Mindy" sitcom colleague Jonathan Winters during the same segment.
But despite the underlying sadness, the Emmys – to be hosted by comedian Seth Meyers – still promise to serve up a fair amount of laughs and suspense.
Cult crime series "Breaking Bad" – which won best drama last year – is once again among the top contenders for the coveted title although dismayed fans saw it end almost a year ago after 5 seasons.
Bryan Cranston, who played the cancer-stricken teacher-turned-drugs kingpin Walter White in the blockbuster series, is nominated in the lead actor category, a top prize snagged in 2013 by Jeff Daniels of "The Newsroom" who is his competitor again this time around.
"Breaking Bad" is also up for statuettes in the best supporting drama actress and actor categories.
Another hot commodity is HBO crime drama "True Detective" that scored competing lead actor nominations for its co-stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, a police duo who hunt for a serial killer in Louisiana. (READ: TV to movies: How hard is it for actors to make the jump?)
It, too, is in the running for best drama series.
But Netflix's breakthrough women's prison show "Orange is the New Black" is also very much on the radar, vying for the best comedy series crown against long-running series "The Big Bang Theory," "Louie," "Modern Family" and "Veep," as well as HBO newcomer "Silicon Valley."
Taylor Schilling from "Orange is the New Black" and Julia Louis-Dreyfus from "Veep" are among those facing off for lead actress in a comedy.
The race for lead drama actress, meanwhile, pits last year's laureate Claire Danes from "Homeland" against Michelle Dockery from "Downton Abbey," Lizzy Caplan from "Masters of Sex," Julianna Margulies from "The Good Wife," Kerry Washington from "Scandal" and Robin Wright from "House of Cards."
'Game of Thrones' a big player
Not to be forgotten is HBO's grisly royal feud saga "Game of Thrones," which picked up the most nominations this year – 19 in all – including for best drama series.
Based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling novels about power struggles between dueling clans in seven mythical kingdoms, it has been renewed for a fifth and sixth season.
Overall, HBO heads into the ceremony with a winning 99 nods, compared to 31 for online streaming giant Netflix.
"Fargo," an offshoot of the quirky 1996 Coen brothers' movie, heads into the ceremony with nominations in an impressive 18 categories, with Billy Bob Thornton a contestant for lead actor in a miniseries.
But there were some notable snubs when the nominations were announced in July, including CBS's widely-acclaimed "The Good Wife" in the best drama race, which aside from "Breaking Bad," "Game of Thrones" and "True Detective," also features "Mad Men," "Downton Abbey" and Netflix's "House of Cards."
The Emmys – to be presented at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles – kick off at 5:00 pm (0000 GMT Tuesday).
Joining Meyers on stage will be a slew of celebrities, including fellow comedians Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon.
Others slated to make an appearance include the actresses Halle Berry, Debra Messing and Lucy Liu, as well as singer Gwen Stefani and nominees Cranston and Harrelson. – Rappler.com