Last week, I dedicated this space to a first look at this year's Emmy nominees for both outstanding comedy and drama series, as well as the finalists for the movie/miniseries prize, plus the nominees in the outstanding reality-competition and variety series categories. I'm continuing with my Emmy award preview this week by offering a look at the lead and supporting actor and actress categories, which contain a mix of familiar faces, along with a few intriguing newcomers.
Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Kathy Bates, "Harry's Law" (NBC)
Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights" (DirecTV)
Mireille Enos, "The Killing" (AMC)
Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC)
Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife" (CBS)
Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men" (AMC)
Margulies and Hargitay are virtually automatic picks for Emmy voters these days; they're genuine broadcast network TV stars with years of service to the industry under their belts. These are performers that the old-guard Academy members like to reward with nominations. But when it comes time to actually vote for the trophy, Moss' work on this past season of "Mad Men" will be very tough to ignore, even by those people who still look down their noses at cable.
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Kelly Macdonald, "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO)
Archie Panjabi, "The Good Wife"
Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"
Margo Martindale, "Justified" (FX)
Michelle Forbes, "The Killing"
Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"
Panjabi's win in this category last year was maybe as surprising as Margulies' not taking home the lead actress trophy; the results won't be nearly as shocking this year. While Martindale has given one of the most acclaimed performances of the season in "Justified," I think Macdonald or Hendricks could be considered the front-runners here, mainly because the TV Academy seemed to adore all things "Mad Men" and "Boardwalk Empire" this year.
Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" (Showtime)
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Hugh Laurie, "House"
Timothy Olyphant, "Justified"
Without three-times-in-a-row winner Bryan Cranston in the running -- "Breaking Bad" was off the air for the entire Emmy eligibility period -- there will be a new name in the envelope this year. To add to the excitement, none of this year's nominated actors has ever even won an Emmy. Hamm is the default front-runner here, with Buscemi probably right behind him, but if there was a chance for a surprise winner this year in any category, this is it.
Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones" (HBO)
Josh Charles, "The Good Wife"
Alan Cumming, "The Good Wife"
Walton Goggins, "Justified"
John Slattery, "Mad Men"
Andre Braugher, "Men of a Certain Age" (TNT)
A deep and talented group populates this category, making it one that's awfully tough to predict. With actors like Slattery, Goggins, Dinklage and Braugher in the mix, there will likely be a number of lead changes as the votes are tabulated. Braugher is a particular favorite of Emmy voters, so even though his low-rated series was just cancelled by TNT, it wouldn't be surprising to see him take the stage to collect the award.
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie" (Showtime)
Tina Fey, "30 Rock" (NBC)
Laura Linney, "The Big C" (Showtime)
Melissa McCarthy, "Mike & Molly" (CBS)
Martha Plimpton, "Raising Hope" (FOX)
Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation" (NBC)
Last year, as she accepted the Emmy in this very category, Falco told the audience that she "wasn't funny." Since her show is more drama than comedy, perhaps someone from a comedy could win -- maybe the overdue Poehler -- but don't forget, Emmy voters put checkmarks next to the names they like, and they like Falco.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Jane Lynch, "Glee" (FOX)
Betty White, "Hot in Cleveland" (TV Land)
Julie Bowen, "Modern Family" (ABC)
Sofia Vergara, "Modern Family"
Kristen Wiig, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock"
I said months ago that I thought Vergara should win this one on the basis of her work in the episode "Halloween." While that's not the episode she's submitted for consideration (her showcase episode will be "Slow Down Your Neighbors" instead), I still think she should win. Of course, Lynch -- who will be hosting the awards presentation, airing Sept. 18 on FOX -- could very well be a repeat winner here. However, since there are rumbles among those in the know that she didn't have the best material this year, the odds seem to be against her name being in the envelope.
Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Steve Carell, "The Office" (NBC)
Louis C.K., "Louie" (FX)
Johnny Galecki, "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS)
Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes" (Showtime)
Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"
There were several surprises in this list. LeBlanc's nomination for smartly playing a broad version of himself would have topped that list, if writer-comedian Louis C.K. hadn't pulled in his own nomination. The "Louie" creator's selection here is one of four total Emmy nominations he picked up this year -- the first ones of his career, by the way. I don't think he'll win, though; I'm going to err on the side of Emmy voters' emotion here, and pick Steve Carell to take the prize as a reward for his years of service on "The Office."
Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Chris Colfer, "Glee"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"
Ed O'Neill, "Modern Family"
Eric Stonestreet, "Modern Family"
Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"
Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS)
No, your eyes don't deceive you: all four of the "Modern Family" men picked up nominations this year, including Ed O'Neill, who should've been nominated last year (and probably would have been, had he elected to submit his name into the Lead Actor in a Comedy race). Cryer's nomination is, most likely, a way for the Academy to show their appreciation of his handling of the radioactive situation behind the scenes at "Two and a Half Men," and while Colfer is fine in his "Glee" role, his part isn't nearly as comic as the other men in this contest. This one looks like it will shape up to be a tight race between Burrell and O'Neill, with Burrell edging out his co-star.
That wraps up this portion of my Emmy Awards preview. There will be a lot more to talk about in the weeks leading up to the show; I plan to take the time to look at which actors and shows audiences feel were overlooked by the TV Academy, as well as highlight some past programs that were consistent Emmy favorites. Of course, as the date of the awards comes closer, I'll present a full list of my picks to take home the trophies. This promises to be an interesting year, so stay tuned....