By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Cable shows got more Golden Globe nominations for television than traditional network programs on Thursday as HBO's political movie "Game Change" and Showtime's psychological thriller series "Homeland," - one of last year's big winners - led the race.
"Homeland" led the TV drama category with four nominations including best drama, best actor for Damian Lewis and best actress for Claire Danes in her role as a bi-polar CIA agent tracking down a home-grown Muslim extremist.
The show faces stiff competition from British aristocratic drama "Downton Abbey, which also won an acting nod for Michelle Dockery, along with "Breaking Bad," "Boardwalk Empire," and newcomer "The Newsroom."
"'Homeland' fans seemed to be a little more split on whether creatively the second season was as successful as the first season so it'll be curious if that ends up impacting the show's chances in terms of taking home the awards," James Hibberd, senior staff writer at Entertainment Weekly, told Reuters.
"Downtown Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes told Reuters: "We're up against the big boys now, but the whole thing is very flattering and exciting."
He added: "The themes of the show are pretty international, they're about adjusting to change and being caught out by what life does to you...all of that is common to every country."
HBO movie "Game Change," about the surprise selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential campaign, landed five nods in the miniseries/movie category, including for actors Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson.
"'Game Change' is pure awards bait. It's a well-done, smart political drama based on a book, with a certain amount of left-wing political slant and it's very much the type of movie you'd expect awards voters to like," Hibberd said.
New HBO drama "The Newsroom" bumped long-time awards favorite "Mad Men" from the best drama category, surprising many who believed the stylish advertising series was a shoo-in.
"The Globes tend to like the glamorous and sophisticated dramas with big city settings and they tend to shy away from gritty, rural Americana dramas...about sweaty guys with guns instead of charming men in suits, like 'The Newsroom' and 'Boardwalk Empire,'" Hibberd said.
He noted that the only exception was "Breaking Bad," which finally made the best drama category this year after four seasons on air.
Other notable snubs included HBO's epic fantasy drama "Game of Thrones," which failed to pick up any nominations, and Ryan Murphy's miniseries "American Horror Story: Asylum" which landed one best actress nod for Jessica Lange, who took home the award for 2012.
'MODERN FAMILY' LEADS COMEDY RACE
While last year's Golden Globes picked newcomers over staple awards favorites for leading nominees, this year's comedy categories saw the return of many old faces, including "Modern Family," which led the comedy race with three nods.
Comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who will be hosting the awards ceremony on January 13, each landed a best comedy actress nod in the television race for their long-popular NBC comedies - Fey for "30 Rock" and Poehler for "Parks and Recreation."
"You can be sure that the hosts are going to have fun with this during the telecast, they're going to find ways to play off this during their presentation," Hibberd said.
Fey and Poehler will replace Ricky Gervais at the awards gala dinner, after the British comedian helmed the Globes with his risqué dry humor for three years.
HBO's raunchy new comedy "Girls" earned two key nominations in the best TV comedy category and best comedy actress for Lena Dunham, while Showtime's new satire "House of Lies" landed the show's lead Don Cheadle a best actor nod.
With the exception of NBC's musical comedy "Smash" in the best comedy series category, no new network comedies managed to break into key races, which Hibberd attributed to a "disappointing" fall season.
Cable channel HBO picked up 17 nominations and Showtime garnered 7 across all major television categories. Networks ABC had 5, CBS and NBC got 4, and Fox got 2.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant)