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'American Horror Story,' 'The Normal Heart' get Critics' Choice Television nods

Director-creator-producer Ryan Murphy has plenty to celebrate following the May 28 announcement of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association 4th Annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards nominations. Murphy’s third installment of his Emmy-winning anthology series, “American Horror Story,” received three nods and his HBO film adaptation of Larry Kramer’s Tony Award-winning Broadway play earned an impressive 5 nods.

Jessica Lange is nominated for a Critics' Choice Television Award for her riveting portrayal of Fiona Goode on 'American Horror Story: Coven.'
Jessica Lange is nominated for a Critics' Choice Television Award for her riveting portrayal of Fiona Goode on 'American Horror Story: Coven.'Michele K. Short/FX Used with Permission

“Coven” has been the highest rated installment of “American Horror Story’s” three seasons, which is a rare feat. “The Normal Heart” premiered on HBO on May 25 to heavy critical acclaim and Murphy has been moved by the film’s support. On May 28 he tweeted: “I am really overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for The Normal Heart. I am so thankful and emotional about it.”

“American Horror Story: Coven” brought fellow Oscar winners and friends Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates to the popular, groundbreaking horror series together last season with Lange playing wily, self-serving coven Supreme Fiona Goode and Bates playing her immortal nemesis Delphine Lalaurie, a real-life New Orleans socialite who kept slaves captive in her mansion where she tortured and killed them.

“Coven” earned a Critics’ Choice Television Award nomination for Best Mini-Series. Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates snagged Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series nominations for their incomparable portrayals of two unforgettable characters, respectively. The two leading ladies will pair up again in “American Horror Story’s” highly-anticipated fourth season, subtitled “Freak Show,” this fall.

“The Normal Heart” chronicles the story of Ned Weeks (Mark Ruffalo), an openly gay writer who is disturbed by a friend’s illness and subsequent death at the onset of the HIV-AIDS crisis in the early eighties in New York City. Ned turns to Dr. Emma Brookner (Julia Roberts) for help understanding the disease and he enlists gay “New York Times” reporter Felix Turner’s (Matt Bomer) help to publish stories about the rapidly spreading health crisis. Ned and Felix fall in love and Felix tragically contracts AIDS and dies.

Murphy clearly directs this triumphant film with his heart on his sleeve and the stellar cast couldn’t pay better tribute to a terribly dark time in our nation’s social and political climate that was seized by fear at the onset of a highly debated and grossly misunderstood epidemic. Murphy channels Kramer’s important and emphatic commentary on the AIDS crisis loud and clear and to this end, for his sheer fearlessness in this and every socially-sensitive project he tackles, Murphy deserves a resounding round of applause.

Apparently, the BTJA agrees with the film itself garnering a Best Movie nod, Mark Ruffalo earning a Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series nod, Matt Bomer and Joe Mantello each earning a Best Supporting Actor nod and Julia Roberts finishing off the accolades with a Best Supporting Actress nod.

The first two seasons of “American Horror Story” earned a spectacular 17 Primetime Emmy Award nominations each. With its high ratings and BTJA support, “Coven” seems destined to rack up several more nods at this year’s Primetime Emmys. “The Normal Heart” should also be a shoe in for Emmy recognition as well.

The 4th Annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards honor programs and performances that aired between June 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014. The awards gala will take place on June 19.

“American Horror Story: Freak Show” premieres on FX in October 2014.