Emmys 2011 Preview: 'Mad Men,' 'Boardwalk Empire' Face Off, 'Glee's' Jane Lynch Hosts

Courtesy of AMC

THR’s The Race awards coverage highlights the most heated races, and what to expect from the first-time host.

The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards will air live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 18, bringing together television’s biggest talents under one roof. This year’s event will be hosted by Jane Lynch, who is also up for a supporting actress nomination for her role as Sue Sylvester on Glee.

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With the awards just a few hours away, The Hollywood Reporter highlights the most heated races of the night, what to expect from first-time host Jane Lynch and what surprises are in store during the show:

The Heated Races

HBO's Mildred Pierce leads the charge with 21 nominations, but one of the most heated races will be between the shows with the second and third most nominations: AMC’s Mad Men and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

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Mad Men already has 13 Emmy awards, including Outstanding Drama Series for the past three years. Will this Emmy favorite be usurped by newcomer Boardwalk Empire? Leading men Jon Hamm and Steve Buscemi will also go head to head in the Actor, Drama category.

However, also in the Drama race is the critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights. The show never garnered a public following as strong as its critical acclaim, but with the wrap up of the series this year with its final season, some feel that an Emmy win would be a proper way to honor the series. Leads Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are also up for awards.

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On the comedy side, last year’s winner Modern Family is the frontrunner again this year. However, it’s still a tough race with fan favorites Glee and The Office in the running.

The Office’s former on-screen boss Steve Carrel is also in the running for Actor, Comedy, and could take home the statuette now that he’s officially exited from the show. He’s up against 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin, and Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki.

Read all of THR’s expert predictions for the 2011 Emmys here.

The Hostess With the Most-ess: Jane Lynch

Actress Jane Lynch, who has previously hosted VH1’s Do Something Awards will take on the heavy duty of hosting the award shows. The comedian, who plays the snarky, slightly sinister cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on Glee, told THR she’s most nervous for the live pieces. “When I get in those moments where I get scared, my focus needs to be that it's my job to do my joke and get off the stage and let the awards be what the show is about,” she said. “It won't be a snarky show.”

Mark Burnett -- the first reality producer to oversee the telecast – also told THR that Lynch will continue Jimmy Fallon’s musical-heavy theme from last year by also singing. “Jane has all the necessary qualities: She's a stage actress; she's a comedian; she's a movie star,” he said. “Comedy is so important to the show.”

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Performances and Appearances
While many of the show’s highlights are going to be surprises, The Hollywood Reporter has already revealed some savory morsels planned for the show. Andy Samberg's digital production arm famous for such Saturday Night Live viral hits as "Mother Lover," "D--- in a Box" and its recently-nominated "3-Way (The Golden Rule)," is doing a medley of songs. The Office's Ed Helms and Up All Night's Maya Rudolph will appear.

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Additionally, THR has learned that Charlie Sheen, whose Comedy Central roast will air on Monday, is expected to present. Other presenters at this year’s show will include Sheen’s Two and Half Men replacement Ashton Kutcher, along with Julianna Margulies, Amy Poehler, Sofia Vergara, Zooey Deschanel, Minka Kelly, Jimmy Kimmel, William H. Macy, and Anna Paquin.

THR's Full Emmy 2011 Coverage