TV NotebookEmmy HopefulsLet's pick the picks
By Tom O'Neil Los Angeles Times
May 30, 2007 in his awards column The Envelope
Gold Derby blogger Tom O'Neil prognosticates the Emmy nominees for the Envelope, today looking at the races for comedy, drama, variety and reality series, plus TV movies and miniseries. In the June 6 edition of the Envelope, O'Neil breaks down the acting categories. For ongoing discussion of the Emmy races visit TheEnvelope.com.COMEDYWhos' Laughing Now?
WHO'S ahead in the top Emmy races? Here's a breakdown based on past results, voters' quirky tastes and a good shake of a crystal ball.
The comedy category could see some newcomers, since two of last year's contenders were out of action this season (HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" missed the eligibility cutoff date and low-rated "Arrested Development" was axed by Fox).
Expect last year's champ, "The Office," to return. It's still considered cool and it appeals to voters' notorious elitism. NBC's office may be set in the rather unglamorous Scranton, Pa., but its white-collar idiocy can be found in offices all across Hollywood.
It took several years for uppity voters to acknowledge slapstick superhit "Two and a Half Men," which some critics insist is better than its raunch-for-dudes reputation. Can it make it two in a row?Overdue: the theories
"Scrubs" didn't get nominated for best comedy series until its fourth season, but since then it's been nominated twice, suggesting a steady voter base and a favorite to return to the top five, especially since it plans to wow judges with the cast's deft song-and-dance chops in the critically acclaimed "My Musical" episode.
"Scrubs" probably took so long to catch on because voters tend to be guys older than 50 who may not connect with its frat-boy sensibility. Perhaps that's why HBO's "Entourage" hasn't been nominated. Voters, remember, are TV industry pros who consider such celeb wolf packs the scourge of Hollywood. Still, last year they gave an Emmy to its nastiest carnivore, Jeremy Piven. TV academy members may be finally getting "Entourage," and its submission this year, "One Day in the Valley," is strong.
This Emmy voting pattern of delayed recognition gives hope to Showtime's "Weeds," which has the same kind of hip 'tude, plus sophisticated pretensions. If it breaks in, it'll be the first non-HBO cable show to do so, and its marketers are pressing hard to pull that off. Showtime was the first Emmy player to ship its DVD campaign box to voters.The working-class snub
"My Name Is Earl" (NBC) won best writing and direction last year but was shut out of the series race. Good news: That's what happened to Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle" before it was recognized in its second season. Bad news: "Earl's" real problem might be its blue-collar sensibility.
Emmy snobbery against the working class could be what's behind voters' refusal to recognize CBS' long-running "The King of Queens." Its TV ancestor "The Honeymooners" never won an Emmy, but there's still hope. Voters are watching the show: They actually nominated Kevin James for lead actor for the first time last year, causing jaws to drop all over TV land.
"King of Queens" has something else going for it too: length. Two-part episodes are permitted to compete against half-hours, and they often trounce them. "King" producers entered both parts of series finale "China Syndrome," which includes poignant scenes of the always-bickering lovebirds finally facing the option of soaring off in different directions. (USA's one-hour "Monk" has always had the double-time advantage, but it hasn't paid off with a series bid only in the race for best actor, which Tony Shalhoub has won three times.)Rookies
The comedy lineup usually contains one or two rookies. "Men in Trees" (ABC) has an outside shot, but the best bets are "Ugly Betty" (ABC) and "30 Rock" (NBC).
"Betty" is a rare combination: a critically cheered superhit Hollywood can't help but adore as it mocks media lunacy, skewers its dastardly villains and exults in its fabulousness. "Betty" already has won the DGA and Peabody and two Golden Globes. Producers are submitting the pilot, often a successful strategy.
But "30 Rock" is more about TV media, so it may hit home harder, and it features the most delicious of today's villains: Alec Baldwin. Nielsen viewership is low, but Emmy voters traditionally don't care about that. It should make the top 10 runoff, which is based on a popular vote of academy members. Then its fate for making the final list of five nominees will be up to judging panels viewing one episode. That'll be "Hard Ball," full of hilarity when Jenna (Jane Krakowski) causes an uproar by confusing Barack Obama with Osama bin Laden while appearing on Chris Mathews' "Hardball."
There's less certainty that "Everybody Hates Chris" will make the top 10, since it airs on nascent network the CW, but voters have probably heard TV critics' huzzahs. Its success will be up to the "Everybody Hates Malvo" episode, a winner about Chris losing his job in the store when he refuses to unmask a thief.Returning faves
Some top Emmy watchers believe "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS) will get in, following its big victory last year for lead actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She has survived "The 'Seinfeld' Curse."
ABC's "Desperate Housewives" fell off last year, reputedly due to a poor episode selection, but could rally with a strong entry, which has not been announced.
Other contenders: "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (FX), "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS), "Extras" (HBO), "The Sarah Silverman Program" (Comedy Central), "Till Death" (Fox), "Reno 911" (Comedy Central) and "Andy Barker, P.I." (NBC).DRAMAThe Hot And Heavy
Four of last year's drama nominees return (only "The West Wing" left the air) and all look difficult to dislodge: 2004 winner "The Sopranos" (HBO), "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC), "House" (Fox) and last year's champ "24" (Fox).
But competition is fierce in this boom time for TV dramas, making this Emmy race a true drama to watch.
ABC's "Lost" hopes to avenge its failure to be nominated last year after winning the award for its first season in 2005. Some Emmy watchers blamed the snub on the episode its producers submitted it had dangling plot lines that baffled any judges not regular viewers of this serialized drama. This year's entry is a self-contained story cheered by TV critics: "The Man From Tallahassee."Rookies
Critics are even more enthusiastic about "Friday Night Lights," a front-runner to be named best new program by the TV Critics Assn. in July. But such acclaim has not translated into ratings success for NBC, so it might not make the top 10 runoff. Even if it does, will elite Hollywooders respond to a series about high school football in Texas?
The new series with the highest ratings and hip factor, NBC's "Heroes," should make the runoff easily, but then must face voter bias against fantasy programs that has probably kept "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi) from being nominated despite rave reviews. "Lost's" early Emmy success proves that fantasy thrillers can occasionally break through.
"The Tudors" is more akin to traditional academy tastes. A year ago a drama about Henry VIII's daughter, "Elizabeth I," swept the TV movie/ miniseries categories. This new Showtime series has the same highbrow appeal plus a studly young Henry plotting intrigue and warming up women in cold British castles.
ABC newcomer "Brothers & Sisters" is so loaded with past Emmy favorites winners Sally Field and Patricia Wettig and nominees Calista Flockhart, Rob Lowe and Rachel Griffiths that it should do well with acting nominations. It could score a series nom too, since it's similar to "Family," a three-time nominee in the 1970s about another Pasadena clan that won acting Emmys for Sada Thompson, Kristy McNichol and Gary Frank.Chances for cable
Michael C. Hall was nominated as a mortician on "Six Feet Under," but now is doing the killing on Showtime's "Dexter." Voters can be a bit squeamish about serial murderers, but he only does it to wreak justice, so it's OK. "Dexter's" best Emmy hope may be in the lead actor race, but it could slash its way into the series lineup too.
But: No non-HBO cable program has managed to break into this category.
The TV academy acknowledges that one would've made the cut if new changes planned for this year's voting (judges' scores of finalists' episodes will be mixed on a 50-50 basis with results of the first- round popular vote) had been applied to last year's balloting. Best bets: FX's long-running "The Shield" or "Rescue Me" now could break through.
FX's newest drama, "The Riches," may get noticed, thanks to the marquee draw of stars Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard.
TNT's crime-chasing "The Closer" scored a lead actress bid last year for Kyra Sedgwick and is in hot pursuit of a shot at best series. And the crack marksmen of "The Unit," a CBS show created by hipster David Mamet, also have Emmy in their sightlines.Overlooked, but not forgotten
"ER" (NBC), "Deadwood" (HBO) and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS) have been nominated in the past.
Shows that have done well in the acting races are overdue for a series nod: "Law & Order: SVU" (NBC), "Medium" (NBC) and "Boston Legal" (ABC).
After failing to crack the comedy category for six years, acclaimed "Gilmore Girls" (CW) moves into the crowded drama field for its final try at Emmy glory.
Also in competition: "Shark" (CBS), "Nip/Tuck" (FX), "Brotherhood" (Showtime), "Prison Break" (Fox), "Rome" (HBO), "Bones" (Fox), "Sleeper Cell" (Showtime), "The Wire" (HBO), "Dirt" (FX).THE REST OF THE FIELDTV Movie
Once again, HBO looms large
Sure looks as if HBO again will dominate the TV movie categories (it's won 12 times in 15 years), with four strong entries:
"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," an adaptation of the bestseller about the defeat of the Sioux after their victory at Custer's last stand, is an epic production with Anna Paquin and Aidan Quinn.
Jim Broadbent stars in the biopic "Longford" as a crusty British lord who believes so strongly in human redemption that he is easily manipulated by a psychopathic killer (Samantha Morton) seeking mercy from the state.
In the true-event-based "Life Support," Queen Latifah is cast as a crack addict who becomes an AIDS activist. Inspirational life stories are popular in this category ("Tuesdays With Morrie," "Warm Springs" are previous winners).
HBO also has another inspirational drama in "Angel Rodriguez," about a troubled, homeless teen who seeks help from a good-hearted counselor (Rachel Griffiths).
But HBO has some competition.
Matthew Perry reaches out to help tough Harlem schoolkids in TNT's true-life "The Ron Clark Story." It's already received nominations from the Globes, SAG and the writers' and directors' guilds, so it's ripe for Emmy attention.
Lifetime made sure voters took note of its three most Emmy-friendly movies by shipping campaign DVDs early. "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy" features "Scrubs" star Sarah Chalke as a real-life, sassy "gloss girl" who strives to keep a positive attitude while battling breast cancer. "A Girl Like Me" tells the true story of a single mom (Mercedes Ruehl) who campaigns for the rights of transgendered people after her son-turned-daughter is killed by a gang.
Considering recent headlines, voters might be tempted to give top Emmy noms to Lifetime's "The Mermaid Chair," starring Kim Basinger as a married woman who falls in love with a Benedictine monk. Because it's likely that Basinger's ex, Alec Baldwin, will be nominated for best comedy actor in "30 Rock," an awkward reunion could occur on Emmy night.
Other contenders: "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines" (TNT), "Wallis & Edward" (BBC America), and three heartfelt Hallmark Hall of Fame productions on CBS: "The Valley of Light," "Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness" and "Candles on Bay Street."MINISERIESBrits, true events, the West and a King
Three installments of PBS' "Prime Suspect" (2, 3 and 5) have won the Emmy for miniseries, so No. 7, "The Final Act," will be a formidable foe, with recent Oscar-champ Helen Mirren as the booze-bedeviled police detective who finally surrenders her badge.
PBS is also campaigning for "Jane Eyre," starring newcomer Ruth Wilson, who edged out Mirren for a BAFTA nod, as the forlorn governess in the adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte classic.
HBO, which has won five of the last 10 Emmy mini races, has "Tsunami: The Aftermath," starring Toni Collette, Sophie Okonedo and Chiwetel Ejiofor in an intense drama about the tragedy in Thailand.
TNT's "Nightmares & Dreamscapes" showcases two award veterans in chilling tales by Stephen King: William Hurt as a hit man attacked by a battalion of indefatigable toy soldiers and William H. Macy as a novelist who swaps lives with his fictional gumshoe. Two of King's long forms have been nominated in the past, "The Shining" (1997) and "The Stand" (1994), and TNT picked up the Emmy for the mini "Joseph" in 1995.
Emboldened by its Emmy win for Steven Spielberg's "Taken" in 2003, the Sci Fi Channel is campaigning for "The Lost Room" starring Peter Krause and Julianna Margulies in a mystery about a hotel room that's a secret portal to an alternate universe.
AMC's first mini, "Broken Trail," was a bonanza hit, roping in 9.8 million viewers. TV Guide called the sprawling western epic an "instant classic" and The Times hailed the "quiet, lyrical performances of Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church" as cowboys herding horses from Oregon to Wyoming.
ABC, which last won this race in 2001 with "Anne Frank," has the controversial "The Path to 9/11," which stirred controversy for its dramatization of events leading up to the World Trade Center bombings.
BBC America is hoping for its first Emmy win with the political thriller "The State Within" about a British ambassador to Washington (Jason Isaacs) who faces off against a formidable secretary of Defense (Sharon Gless).REALITYWill 'Idol' make its voice heard?
For the first four years of this category, CBS' "The Amazing Race" zoomed past Fox's "American Idol" to win best reality competition series, leaving TV's most popular show in the dust. With 22 defeats in all categories, including tech, "Idol" needs only three more to become Emmy's biggest loser.
"Idol" has hopes of claiming the top prize this year, however, if it submits the "Idol Gives Back" special to judges. Voting for it might be an irresistible and true act of charity.
All of last year's remaining nominees have a good shot to return: "Dancing With the Stars" (ABC), "Project Runway" (Bravo) and "Survivor" (CBS). NBC's "The Apprentice" was last nominated two years ago.
Other contenders: "America's Next Top Model" (CW), "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" (Fox), "Big Brother" (CBS), "The Biggest Loser" (NBC) and "Top Chef" (Bravo).
In the separate category for best reality series (noncompetitive), ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" has won the last two years, beating repeat nominees "Antiques Roadshow" (PBS) and "Penn & Teller" (Showtime). National Geographic's "The Dog Whisperer" and Bravo's "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" took bites out of the category last year and could do so again.
Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" won two years ago but hasn't been nominated since.
Other contenders: "The Real Housewives of Orange County" (Bravo), "Sexual Healing" (Showtime), "The Simple Life ('Til Death Do Us Part')" (E!), "Sons of Hollywood" (A&E) and "Supernanny" (ABC).VARIETYFormer colleagues could be rivals
The "Late Show With David Letterman" (CBS) swept this category five years in a row (1998 to 2002), and "The Daily Show" seems ready to match after claiming victories the last four years.
But just like on Comedy Central, "Daily" now has a serious rival in spinoff show "The Colbert Report," which got four nominations for its first season last year.
Two trusty nominees usually return "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (NBC) and "Real Time With Bill Maher" (HBO) though both shows have yet to win any Emmys, even in tech categories.
Two rivals with the strongest chance to break through are on NBC: "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (which won in 1995 but hasn't been nominated in three years) and "Saturday Night Live" (which won in 1993 and 1976, but hasn't been nominated in two years).
Other contenders: "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (ABC), "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" (CBS), "The Underground" (USA), and two Comedy Central shows, "Mind of Mencia" and "The Showbiz Show With David Spade."http://www.calendarlive.com/tv/cl-en...?coll=cl-tvent