Rob Lowe Enters Emmy Race as Lead Actor Contender for 'Parks and Rec'

Sitcom newbie Rob Lowe enters himself in the lead comedy actor category, despite playing what many consider a supporting role in the NBC ensemble series.
Byron Cohen/NBC

Though he’s been a series regular for less than one season, Parks & Rec actor Rob Lowe has chosen to submit himself as a contender for lead actor in a comedy in this year’s Emmy race.

A rep for the NBC comedy says Lowe, who left ABC's Brothers & Sisters to play the impossibly optimistic government official Chris Traeger, “decided on his own to enter in the lead category - not NBC. We don't normally decide these things anyway— they do on their own,” she says.

Strategically, it’s probably a smart move: the supporting actor comedy category is jam-packed with contenders.

Each actor in ABC’s Emmy-winning Modern Family, including last year’s winner Eric Stonestreet, is up against the likes of Glee Globe-winner Chris Colfer, Two and a Half Men’s embattled one-time winner Jon Cryer, and the four-time nominee How I Met Your Mother’s Neil Patrick Harris, whose Barney Stinson has had a meatier - and more dramatic - arc in the CBS sitcom’s sixth season.

The lead actor in a comedy race is considerably less crowded: Likely nominees include The Office’s now departed and never-awarded Steve Carell, 30 Rock’s two-time winner Alec Baldwin, Glee’s Matthew Morrison and last year’s winner, The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons.

Lowe, who’s been hitting the media circuit of late to promote his Hollywood memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, is also an Emmy contender for his three-episode guest-star arc on Showtime’s Californication in which he delivered a convincing mashup of Brad Pitt and Robert Downey Jr. in the form of spaz-actor Eddie Nero.

Lowe received an Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for The West Wing in 2001.