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It’s that time again when the Primetime Emmy Awards pays homage to the TV industry. Hosted by comedian and talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, this year sees HBO dominating with 81 nominations and CBS following close behind with 60 – that’s not forgetting pioneering shows such as Homeland and Hemingway & Gellhorn vying for honours alongside favourites such as Mad Men, Modern Family, 30 Rock and Boardwalk Empire, writes Debashine Thangevelo.
JANE Lynch (Sue Sylvester, Glee) made quite an impression on the audience with her quirky behind-the- scenes glimpses of the shows The Big Bang Theory, Mad Men and Parks and Recreation at the Emmys last year. And that’s not forgetting her dance routine. So it will be interesting to see just what bag of tricks comedian and actor Jimmy Kimmel comes up with as this year’s host.
For the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, HBO (81) and CBS (60) are leading the nomination poll with their shows, while PBS (58), NBC (51), ABC (48), AMC (34) and Fox (26) have thrown in their oars, too.
Interestingly, Ricky Gervais, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jim Parsons, Amy Poehler and James Rolfe are among the presenters lined up.
Now for the contenders…
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Michael C Hall (Dexter), Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Damian Lewis (Homeland).
Firm favourite: Damian Lewis.
Why: Somewhat of a dark horse in the running, Lewis deserves kudos for doing justice to his unflinchingly deceptive role as Nicholas Brody, an American soldier, who, while being hailed as a war hero, is actually a traitor. He was “turned” during his captivity by Al-Qaeda.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law), Glenn Close (Damages), Claire Danes (Homeland), Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) and Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men).
Firm favourite: Michelle Dockery.
Why: As brilliant as Margulies is, she has won an Emmy before. This year, I think Dockery deserves the honours for her genteel portrayal of Lady Mary Crawley. She does justice to her character’s defiance of subservience while managing to uphold the honour of her family.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Louis CK (Louie), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory).
Firm favourite: Don Cheadle.
Why: Aside from the fact that it is Don Cheadle? How about his swag as Marty Kaan? Or the fact that he is a genius when in spin doctor mode.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Lena Dunham (Girls), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Tina Fey (30 Rock), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreations).
Firm favourite: Lena Dunham.
Why: Forget Ugly Betty’s Betty Suarez. Hannah Horvath, a 20-something overweight, unemployed writer, is darn funny, albeit uninten- tionally so. Aside from her foot-in-mouth moments, Hannah endears herself to viewers in her quest to attain independence… and over- come the stumbling blocks of adulthood.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Nominees: Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia), Idris Elba (Luther), Woody Harrelson (Game Change), Clive Owen (Hemingway & Gelhorn) and Bill Paxton (Hatfields & McCoys).
Firm favourite: Clive Owen.
Why: Cast as writer Ernest Hemingway, he exudes charm and an intensity that leaves the audience stupefied. And he lends authenticity to the role.
OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINI SERIES OR MOVIE
Nominees: Connie Britton (American Horror Story), Ashley Judd (Missing), Nicole Kidman (Hemingway & Gellhorn) and Emma Thompson (The Song of Lunch).
Firm favourite: Ashley Judd.
Why: Casting is as crucial as the storyline and Judd, playing a former secret agent and a mother hell-bent on finding her kidnapped son, does complete justice to her role, which left viewers on tenterhooks.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Jared Harris (Mad Men) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad).
Firm favourite: Jared Harris.
Why: He plays his anally retentive character with aplomb. Not sure if it is enough to bag him the honours, but wishful thinking can’t hurt.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Christine Baranksi (The Good Wife), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) and Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey).
Firm favourite: Archie Panjabi
Why: Close, but no cigar – that’s her from last year. Fingers crossed, she might finally walk away with the title for her tough-ass investigative role in the face of numerous adversities and personal challenges.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live), Ed O’Neill (Modern Family) and Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family).
Firm favourite: Max Greenfield.
Why: Although Modern Family is monopolising this category, Greenfield’s OCD shenanigans – as a surprisingly straight character – have proved a big anchor for New Girl.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie) and Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live).
Firm favourite: Sofia Vergara.
Why: If anyone deserves the plaudits, it is Vergara. Her heavy Colombian accent (and it isn’t a put-on) and rib-tickling lines are a hoot. Besides, she is way more entertaining than the prissy Bowen will ever be.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINI SERIES OR MOVIE
Nominees: Tom Berenger (Hatfields & McCoys), Martin Freeman (Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia), Ed Harris (Game Change), Denis O’Hare (American Horror Story) and David Strathairn (Hemingway & Gellhorn).
Firm favourite: Ed Harris.
Why: He gives good politician… on TV. Enough said!
OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINI SERIES OR MOVIE
Nominees: Frances Conroy (American Horror Story), Judy Davis (Page Eight), Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), Sarah Paulson (Game Change) and Mare Winningham (Hatfields & McCoys).
Firm favourite: Mare Winningham.
Why: If there is one thing this veteran actress does best, it is slipping into the skin of a character. Her depiction of Sally McCoy in the docu- drama has been lauded by critics. Then again, she has proved to be Emmy-worthy material in the past.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Jeremy Davies (Justified), Dylan Baker (The Good Wife), Ben Feldman (Mad Men), Michael J Fox (The Good Wife), Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad) and Jason Ritter (Parenthood).
Firm favourite: Michael J Fox.
Why: Drama and comedy are genres he excels in. Cases in point being Boston Legal and Spin City. He is masterful at straddling that fine line between cocky and charming as has been proved again as Louis Canning in The Good Wife.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES:
Nominees: Martha Plimpton (The Good Wife), Joan Cusack (Shameless), Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy), Julia Ormond (Mad Men), Jean Smart (Harry’s Law) and Uma Thurman (Smash).
Firm favourite: Joan Cusack.
Why: First, for playing William H Macy’s love interest. And, as an agoraphobic germophobe, she does crazy about as well as Adrian Monk.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Jimmy Fallon (Saturday Night Live), Will Arnett (30 Rock), Bobby Cannavale (Nurse Jackie), Michael J Fox (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jon Hamm (30 Rock) and Greg Kinnear (Modern Family).
Firm favourite: Jon Hamm
Why: Well, Tracy Morgan can’t be hogging all the limelight. Besides, Hamm is damn fine to look at. Eye- candy is essential, after all.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Kathy Bates (Two and a Half Men), Elizabeth Banks (30 Rock), Margaret Cho (30 Rock), Dot-Marie Jones (Glee), Melissa McCarthy (Saturday Night Live) and Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live).
Firm favourite: Kathy Bates.
Why: Aside from Two and a Half Men turning into a joke – her appear- ance as the “ghost of Charlie Harper” is riotously funny.
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland and Mad Men.
Firm favourite: Homeland.
Why: Besides cleverly playing the patriotic card, the suspense and brilliant casting has seen this show bag critical acclaim.
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Girls, Modern Family and Veep.
Firm favourite: The Big Bang Theory.
Why: This series has the perfect formula of social ineptness, geeky geniuses and romantically unhinged relationships. And the scripting is in a league of its own.
OUTSTANDING MINI SERIES OR TV MOVIE
Nominees: American Horror Story, Game Change, Hatfields & McCoys, Luther and Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia.
Firm favourite: Luther.
Why: It’s hard-hitting, intensely emotional and a compelling watch. Also, Idris Elba is unparalleled as a conflicted cop who is thrust into a war that sees him lose objectivity as well as loved ones.
OUTSTANDING VARIETY SERIES
Nominees: The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Real Time with Bill Maher and Saturday Night Live.
Firm favourite: Real Time with Bill Maher.
Why: Political incorrectness goes full throttle. And it features guests who can be witty and intelligible at the same time.
OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
Nominees: The Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef and The Voice.
Firm favourite: The Voice.
Why: In an era where reality shows are becoming painfully tedious, this show takes an unusual approach to talent-scouting singers.
OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL
Nominees: Betty White’s 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America’s Golden Girl, Kathy Griffin: Tired Hooker, Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again and Tony Bennett: Duets II (Great Performances).
Firm favourite: Betty White’s 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America’s Golden Girl.
Why: She is a veteran. She could be Joan Rivers’ more laid-back sister in comic arms. Okay, maybe not. But she certainly knows how to laugh at herself and make others chuckle.
OUTSTANDING REALITY PROGRAMME
Nominees: Undercover Boss, Antiques Roadshow, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Mythbusters, Shark Tank and Who Do You Think You Are?
Firm favourite: Undercover Boss.
Why: The concept has worked for the series as viewers find the show relatable and the stories humbling.
OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAMME
Nominees: Tom Bergeron (Dancing with the Stars), Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance), Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race), Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) and Betty White (Betty White’s Off Their Rockers).
Firm favourite: Ryan Seacrest.
Why: When you’ve got it, you got it. And he has that je ne sais quoi – not to mention is quick with his off-the-cuff banter. Don’t even get me started on the perfect hair and Hollywood smile… but envy cannot surpass his talent. His bank balance? Definitely!
OUTSTANDING CHILDREN’S PROGRAMME
Nominees: Degrassi, Good Luck Charlie, iCarly and Victorious.
Firm favourite: Good Luck Charlie.
Why: The growing pains of Bridgit Mendler’s character have left an indelible impression on teenagers – so much so the series is now in its fourth season.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Phil Abraham (Mad Men), Michael Cuesta (Homeland), Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) and Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire).
Firm favourite: Michael Cuesta.
Why: He has done an adroit job of juggling a cast of many big stars, while also doing justice to the journeys of the various characters, without losing focus of the overall story arc of the capture of an unexpected traitor.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Louis CK (Louie), Lena Dunham (Girls), Jake Kasdan (New Girl), Steven Levitan (Modern Family), Robert B Weide (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Jason Winer (Modern Family).
Firm favourite: Lena Dunham.
Why: She exudes that fresh, engaging spirit of Diablo Cody (Juno). It’s not quite the Sex and the City vibe among the four friends in the series, but Dunham captures a realistic take of the trials and tribulations of life and imbues it with unintentional humour.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A MINI SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Nominees: Philip Kaufman (Hemingway & Gellhorn), Paul McGuigan (Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia), Sam Miller (Luther), Kevin Reynolds (Hatfields & McCoys) and Jay Roach (Game Change)
Firm favourite: Jay Roach
Why: He offers a surreal look at the 2008 US presidential election campaign and probes beneath the patriotic speeches for the real drama.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Don Roy King (Saturday Night Live), Jerry Foley (Late Show with David Letterman), Jim Hoskinson (The Colbert Report), Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia) and Chuck O’Neil (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).
Firm favourite: Jim Hoskinson.
Why: It’s always a hoot taking pot-shots at politicians… and this satirical offering does it well.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Nominees: Louis CK (Live at the Beacon Theater), Louis J Horvitz (54th Grammy Awards), Don Mischer (84th Academy Awards), Alan Skog (New York City Ballet George Balanchine’s the Nutcracker) and Glenn Weiss (65th Tony Awards).
Firm favourite: Alan Skog.
Why: This vastly popular production has been staged numerous times since 1954, but it does demand skill and vision to put it together from creative, performance and technical perspectives. The pain- staking attention to detail is crucial so Skog definitely deserves kudos for being the puppet master.
OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR NON-FICTION PROGRAMMING
Nominees: Martin Scorsese (George Harrison: Living in the Material World), Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory), Craig Spirko (Project Runway), Bertram van Munster (The Amazing Race) and Robert B Weide (American Masters).
Firm favourite: Martin Scorsese.
Why: Aside from his Midas touch when making movies, he tells compelling stories. And in telling the story of the late George Harrison, from his early life in Liverpool to the Beatlemania era, Scorsese has left an indelible impression on music lovers the world over.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Nominees: Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner (Mad Men), Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff (Homeland), Andre Jacquemetton and Maria Jacquemetton (Mad Men).
Firm favourite: Either of the Mad Men writing duos could take this.
Why: This period drama has become one of the most lauded offerings on TV. And the well-crafted characters and stories have certainly helped to cement its success.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Nominees: Louis CK (Louie), Lena Dunham (Girls), Chris McKenna (Community), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation).
Firm favourite: Louis CK.
Why: You just can’t ignore this funny man. He has a unique brand of humour, sometimes very below the belt, and his stellar work in an array of comedies to date attests to his cleverness.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A MINI SERIES, MOVIE OR DRAMATIC SPECIAL
Nominees: Neil Cross (Luther), Bill Kerby, Ted Mann and Ronald Parker (Hatfields & McCoys), Steven Moffat (Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia), Abi Morgan (The Hour) and Danny Strong (Game Change).
Firm favourite: Danny Strong.
Why: Trying to capture the essence of real-life events demands nifty writing. And he has achieved that by doing justice to every character.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY PROGRAMme
Nominees: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Portlandia, Real Time with Bill Maher and Saturday Night Live.
Firm favourite: Saturday Night Live.
Why: Decades later, the show still maintains its sterling reputation for its rib-tickling satires. And, when it comes to the content, there are no sacred cows.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SPECIAL
Nominees: 65th Annual Tony Awards, 84th Annual Academy Awards, Betty White’s 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America’s Golden Girl, The Kennedy Center Honours and Live at the Beacon Theatre.
Firm favourite: Betty White’s 90th Birthday: A Tribute to America’s Golden Girl.
Why: It was bloody entertaining with the crème da la crème of Hollywood’s comedy fraternity in attendance.
OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR NONFICTION PROGRAMMING
Nominees: Prohibition: A Nation of Hypocrites, American Experience: Clinton, American Masters, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Sesame Street: Growing Hope Against Hunger.
Firm favourite: Prohibition: A Nation of Hypocrites.
Why: Every now and again society is shocked into reality. This documentary does just that. It could even be accused of hitting a little too close to home with the subject matter.
• The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards takes place at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday. It will air on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 8.30pm on Monday.