By LYNN ELBER
LOS ANGELES - Stars from the small screen began arriving Sunday for the Emmy Awards, where perhaps the biggest drama will be how Netflix's "House of Cards" does in competition with cable series "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men."
Christina Hendricks, Heidi Klum, Connie Britton, Andre Braugher, Jeff Daniels, Matt LeBlanc and Fred Armisen were spotted early on the red carpet - some with varying levels of excitement. "This is my fifth time at the dance. You know when the bar opens," joked ex-"Friends" star LeBlanc.
Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Scott Reid of the series "Veep" expressed a mixed perspective on being at the awards show: "Not a bad way to spend a Sunday but I'm missing out on my football."
There were plenty of slit skirts, romantic lace overlays, graphic black-and-white combinations, strategic skin-baring slashes and tough-girl harnesses. Emilia Clarke of "Game of Thrones" was in a chalk-blue gown with geometric leaf cutouts, Claire Danes of "Homeland" wore a champagne-colored beaded gown and Robin Wright of "House of Cards" was in a black silk-cady gown.
There were blue skies over the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and a slight cool breeze, a refreshing change from hot temperatures last year when the stars were pouring sweat as they made their way inside.
"Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul brought two dates - his mom, Darla, along with his wife. Why his mom? "She just so incredible and always has been so supportive. She literally threw me out of the house when I was 17 and said, `Good luck.' She always knew I wanted to do this."
Inside the Nokia Theatre, all eyes will be on the "House of Cards." The political thriller, the first online program to compete for the top trophy, is part of a video universe explosion that's added streaming services including Netflix and websites like YouTube to broadcast, cable and satellite TV delivery.
The Emmy ceremony, airing at 8 p.m. EDT Sunday on CBS with host Neil Patrick Harris, will boast its fair share of movie stars, among them TV movie nominees Michael Douglas and Matt Damon for the Liberace biopic "Behind the Candelabra" and Al Pacino and Helen Mirren for "Phil Spector."
There could be history made: "Scandal" star Kerry Washington, the first African-American nominee for best actress in a drama since Cicely Tyson in 1995 for "Sweet Justice," would be the first ever to win.
ABC's "Modern Family" has the chance at its fourth consecutive best comedy series trophy.
"House of Cards" faces tough opposition. AMC's "Breaking Bad" is after its first best drama award as it nears the end of its five-season run, and "Mad Men" would like to claim a fifth honor to set a record for most wins in the category.
AMC's "Mad Men" is tied with past greats "Hill Street Blues," "The West Wing," and "L.A. Law." Last year, Showtime's "Homeland" played spoiler by taking the trophy and is nominated again along with PBS' "Downton Abbey" and HBO's "Game of Thrones."
Bryan Cranston is bidding for a fourth lead-actor trophy for "Breaking Bad," facing competitors including Kevin Spacey of "House of Cards" and Jon Hamm of "Mad Men."
Spacey, his co-star Robin Wright and Jason Bateman of Netflix's comedy "Arrested Development" are the first to snare lead online series bids.
There have been Internet nominees before, such as last year's "Web Therapy" and "30 Rock: The Webisodes" in a short-format category, but not in the premier fields of acting and best series.
At last weekend's creative arts Emmys for technical and other achievements, "Behind the Candelabra" received a leading eight awards. Overall network leaders included HBO with 20 awards, followed by CBS with 15 and NBC with eight.
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