Five key Emmy matchups


Will rookies dominate the Emmys?

Variety, Music or Comedy Series
What would Conan say? That question is surely on the minds of Emmy voters debating between O'Brien's aborted "Tonight Show," "Real Time With Bill Maher," "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," "The Colbert Report" and "Saturday Night Live." If CoCo wins an Emmy, will he take another on-stage jab at Jay Leno and/or NBC? And if so, would NBC, which is broadcasting the show, hit the censor button?

Lead Actor, Drama Series

If Golden Globes and SAG Awards wins are reliable Emmy tea leaves, Michael C. Hall ("Dexter") is a lock to break Bryan Cranston's two-year winning streak for "Breaking Bad." But not so fast. The academy often goes its own way, just ask Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue," 1995), Anthony Edwards ("ER," 1998) and Hugh Laurie ("House," 2007), all of whom won the Globe and SAG but failed the bag the Emmy.
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Writing, Drama/Comedy Series

An indicator of Emmy series wins could be the writing categories. After two years of domination by "Mad Men" (drama), sentiment is especially strong for "The Good Wife" pilot, or voters could reward the ambitious finale of "Lost." (Criminally underrated "Friday Night Lights" is also nominated). Meanwhile, another two-time winner "30 Rock" (comedy) is up against the pilots of "Glee" and "Modern Family," both universally praised and breakout hits, plus the hilarious wedding episode of "The Office."

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series
The "Modern Family" all-for-one strategy in the supporting categories worked out well. (Sorry, Ed O'Neill, but when was the last time one show scored four acting noms in the same category?) Now the intrigue is whether the three "Family" men -- Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet -- will split votes or whether one will break out over Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother"), newcomer Chris Colfer ("Glee") or last year's winner, Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men").

Guest Actress, Comedy Series
Is it too late for an addition to the primetime telecast? How can the TV Academy exile to the nonbroadcast event a category that will likely produce a Betty White acceptance speech? White's "SNL" hosting gig has tough competition -- Christine Baranski ("The Big Bang Theory"), Kristin Chenoweth ("Glee"), Elaine Stritch ("30 Rock"), Jane Lynch ("Two and a Half Men"), Kathryn Joosten ("Desperate Housewives") and Tina Fey (also for "SNL") -- but Emmy voters wouldn't dare enrage the masses on Facebook. Would they?