MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Emmy nominations were announced in Los Angeles today. The big winners were the FX miniseries "American Horror Story," with 17 nominations, and HBO's "Game of Thrones" with 16. And then there's Netflix. The company that began as a DVD mail service is now producing its own shows and today, three of them picked up Emmy nods, including nine for "House of Cards," as we hear from NPR's Elizabeth Blair.
ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: Now, if you look at Emmy nominations per network, Netflix is nowhere near the top. It got a total of 14 nominations. The veterans at HBO got 108. But Netflix is brand new to the game, though you wouldn't know it watching "House of Cards." It's a taut cinematic drama starring Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a cynical Southern congressman.
(SOUNDBITE FROM SHOW, "HOUSE OF CARDS")
KEVIN SPACEY: (as Frank Underwood) Any politician that gets 70 million votes has tapped into something larger himself, larger than even me, as much as I hate to admit it. Look at that winning smile, those...
BLAIR: Frank's wife is played by Robin Wright. She works for a non-profit that clearly benefits from Frank's connections.
(SOUNDBITE OF NETFLIX SERIES, "HOUSE OF CARDS")
ROBIN WRIGHT: (as Claire Underwood) You should be angry.
SPACEY: (as Frank Underwood) I'm livid.
WRIGHT: (as Claire Underwood) Then where is that? I don't see it.
SPACEY: (as Frank Underwood) What do you want me to do, scream and yell?
BLAIR: Both Spacey and Wright received Emmy nods today, as did "House of Cards"' director David Fincher.
Netflix also received three nominations for its revival of "Arrested Development," including Lead Actor for Jason Bateman.
(SOUNDBITE OF NETFLIX SERIES "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT")
JASON BATEMAN: (as Michael Bluth) Mother, give me your company checkbook, you're cut off.
BLAIR: And the series "Hemlock Grove" won two Emmy nominations.
(SOUNDBITE OF NETFLIX SERIES "HEMLOCK GROVE")
BLAIR: Yes, it's a thriller.
Everyone at Netflix was surprised today, says Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.
TED SARANDOS: To have all three of eligible series rack up 14 Emmy nominations was just beyond our wildest expectations. We're so thrilled.
BLAIR: Web-only shows like "House of Cards" have been eligible for Emmys since 2008. But critics say this is the first year digital players have been so good. But it's even more remarkable that this Emmy love is going to Netflix, a company that's had some big ups and downs in recent years. It began as the leader in the DVD and streaming business but then lost subscribers - lots of them - when it made clumsy policy changes and raised prices.
That helped to open the door to competitors like Amazon. One headline just last year asked: is Netflix about to become a has-been? Original programming has been part of their turnaround strategy.
DOROTHY POMERANTZ: This is sort of, I think, the cherry on the sundae of their turnaround story.
BLAIR: Dorothy Pomerantz is the L.A. bureau chief for Forbes. She says Netflix took a very big, expensive gamble with "House of Cards."
POMERANTZ: They were willing to spend millions and millions of dollars to turn this show into something that really looked like movie and felt like a movie, in a way that we haven't seen so much before.
BLAIR: But Pomerantz says the relationship between Emmy nominations and profits is tenuous. She says there's no guarantee Netflix will suddenly see a huge increase in subscriptions. But Ted Sarandos of Netflix is hoping the Emmy nominations will at least help.
SARANDOS: Well, you'll see in a week or so.
BLAIR: If Netflix doesn't see a spike in subscribers from all the buzz around today's Emmy nominations, they'll have another chance in September, if they win any.
(SOUNDBITE OF NETFLIX SERIES, "HOUSE OF CARDS")
SPACEY: (as Frank Underwood) Let's be absolutely clear. You wouldn't have won without me.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You're right.
BLAIR: Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.
BLOCK: And one final note from the world of entertainment about a mystery supposedly solved. As you may have heard on our air earlier this week, J.K. Rowling was unmasked as the writer of a well-reviewed but little sold detective novel called "The Cuckoo's Calling."
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The author, galactically famous for creating "Harry Potter," had written the new book under a pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. There's been suspicion that her real identity was revealed to boost sales of the novel. Well, today, a culprit came forward. Rowling's own law firm said in a statement that one of its partners inadvertently let the news out by sharing the secret with his wife, who then - oops - tweeted it to a reporter.
BLOCK: Well, whether or not this is the whole truth, the firm, Russells Solicitors, is apparently in the doghouse. Rowling said in a statement: I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells - a reputable professional firm - and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.