Emmy Watch: Acting nominees

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COMEDY ACTING

FAVORITES (Lead Actor): Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" (NBC); Steve Carell, "The Office" (NBC); David Duchovny, "Californication" (Showtime); Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies" (ABC); Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" (USA Network); Larry David, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO); Kevin Connolly, "Entourage" (HBO); Kelsey Grammer, "Back to You" (Fox); Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" (CBS); Josh Radnor, "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS); Brad Garrett, "'Til Death" (Fox); Jason Lee, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC)
FAVORITES (Lead Actress): Tina Fey, "30 Rock" (NBC); Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?" (ABC); Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds" (Showtime); America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty" (ABC); Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS); Tichina Arnold, "Everybody Hates Chris" (The CW); Felicity Huffman, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC); Marcia Cross, "Desperate Housewives" (ABC); Anna Friel, "Pushing Daisies" (ABC); Patricia Heaton, "Back to You" (Fox); Joely Fisher, "'Til Death" (Fox); Sarah Silverman, "The Sarah Silverman Program" (Comedy Central)

The lead comedy actor category always, or nearly always, defies conventional wisdom. Consider that "Monk's" Shalhoub won three of the four years before last year's ceremony, when "30 Rock's" Baldwin was as close to a slam dunk as one can get. If not Baldwin, it was destined to be Shalhoub again -- or the always-passed-over Carell. So who wins? Ricky Gervais for "Extras." There is just no figuring these Emmys. But Gervais is out of the running this time, so perhaps now it's Baldwin's turn. Or Carell's. Or Shalhoub's again. Or Golden Globes darling Duchovny could swoop in and steal it.

Knowing the TV academy, however, it might be none of 'em.

As for the lead actress lineup, it is not inconceivable that all five nominees from a year ago could be back for a second go-around. Those would be Fey, Huffman, Louis-Dreyfus, Parker and winner Ferrera. The wild card this time, however, is "Samantha Who's?" Applegate, who is considered nearly a shoo-in for a nomination. Might we see six nominations this time? It wouldn't be unprecedented. The favorite for the statuette itself? It looks to be very much up for grabs.

DRAMA ACTING

FAVORITES (Lead Actor): Hugh Laurie, "House" (Fox); James Spader, "Boston Legal" (ABC); Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" (AMC); Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" (AMC); Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" (Showtime); Denis Leary, "Rescue Me" (FX); Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment" (HBO); Patrick Dempsey, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC); Eddie Izzard, "The Riches" (FX); Jonathan Rhys Meyers, "The Tudors" (Showtime); Peter Krause, "Dirty Sexy Money" (ABC); Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights" (NBC)

FAVORITES (Lead Actress):
Glenn Close, "Damages" (FX); Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" (TNT); Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace" (TNT); Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC); Calista Flockhart, "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC); Minnie Driver,
"The Riches" (FX); Patricia Arquette, "Medium" (NBC); Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC); Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights" (NBC); Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men" (AMC); Ally Walker, "Tell Me You Love Me" (HBO); Mary McDonnell, "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci Fi Channel)

It seems that the Emmy voters like to choose one name and stick with it in the series acting categories. How else to explain the unblemished success of "Boston Legal's" James Spader, who has been eligible for lead actor honors three times and won each year?

It could happen again this year, though the competition has, if anything, grown stiffer. Gone from the category are James Gandolfini for the departed "The Sopranos" and Kiefer Sutherland for Fox's ineligible "24." But standing in Spader's way for a fourth Emmy are "House's" Laurie, who has been expected to take home the gold the past two years only to get shut out (instead earning a pair of Golden Globes), and this year's Globe victor, Hamm, from "Mad Men." A wholesale reconfiguration of the category this year is not out of the question.

Meanwhile, among drama series lead actresses, the overwhelming favorite has to be Close for "Damages." Not only did she already earn a Globe for the role, the 10-time Emmy nominee (and one-time winner) is widely considered the finest actress in television.

But there's plenty of competition between "The Closer's" Sedgwick (a 2007 Globe winner), 2007 Emmy champ Field, and 2007 category nominees Driver, Hargitay (who won in 2006) and Arquette (who won in 2005). Flockhart, from "Brothers & Sisters," also has to be seen as a strong candidate. And "Mad Men's" Moss has the look of a wild card, particularly if a bandwagon gets rolling for the show.



Home Sweet Home: Get to know the Nokia -- downtown L.A.'s new home for the Primetime Emmys

By Noel Murray

The scene: Nokia Theater L.A. Live

Opening night: Oct. 18, 2007 (Eagles/Dixie Chicks concert)

Seating capacity: 7,100 seats

Refined seating capacity: 12 luxury boxes, 250 luxury seats (and 12,000 square feet of VIP and hospitality areas)

Space considerations: Seats are 23.5 inches wide

Why relocate?
After a decade at the Shrine Auditorium, ATAS signed on with the Nokia for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards because, as veteran awards show producer Ken Ehrlich says, it provides fresh approaches to lighting and staging. ATAS chairman and CEO John Shaffner says the Nokia offers more space for the post-show Governors Ball and more seating (4,340 seats) in the orchestra section.

Getting real
Best reality show host will debut as a category at this year's Emmys, which Ehrlich is aiming to make more spontaneous. "Award shows used to provide the most unrehearsed, 'real' moments on television," he says. "One of the things that we've always tried to do with both the Emmys and Grammys is inject a little unpredictability."

Ratings boost?
That's a hope for the new locale, though Shaffner believes media attention to falling ratings may be overblown. Last year, the Emmys finished in second place in weekly ratings with an 8.4 rating/14 share according to Nielsen Media Research, despite being scheduled against an NFL game, but it was the lowest-rated Emmys since 1990. "We're doing pretty well, all things considered," Shaffner says.
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