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Their Serious Side


June 06, 2007|TOM O'NEIL


Unlike in the series categories, the Emmys don't force voters to view DVDs in the movie and miniseries categories. Nominees are chosen by a popular vote of industry actors, which favors name recognition. It's the same process used in the Academy Awards -- and many names often overlap.

Oscar champ Robert Duvall probably will be nominated for his performance as a heroic cowboy in AMC's hit western miniseries "Broken Trail."

Also probable: Jim Broadbent ("Longford," HBO), who recently won the BAFTA TV award in the role of a British lord duped into fighting to release a devious killer from jail.

Voters could go for William Hurt, as a mercenary battling an army of toy soldiers in TNT's mini "Nightmares & Dreamscapes." Ditto for his costar William H. Macy, as a detective novelist who swaps places with his fictional gumshoe.

TNT also has a high-caliber contender in Matthew Perry as a gutsy teacher who inspires students at an inner-city school in "The Ron Clark Story."

HBO's debut of "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" in the last days of Emmy eligibility puts it at the front of voters' minds, benefiting Adam Beach, who played a Sioux assimilated into Yankee culture.

Given the highbrow appeal of BBC entries, voters may hail Jason Isaacs' role as a British ambassador to the U.S. who is swept up in intrigue and doesn't know whom he can trust in "The State Within."

Other contenders: Robbie Coltrane ("Cracker: A New Terror"), Peter Krause ("The Lost Room"), Harvey Keitel ("The Path to 9/11"), Chiwitel Ejiofor ("Tsunami: The Aftermath").


Awards juggernaut Helen Mirren claimed this category three times in the past, including in 1996 for "Prime Suspect 4." Now she competes in the seventh, and final, installment of PBS' classic and critically acclaimed British detective series.

Two other Oscar champs could be nominated: Mercedes Ruehl as a single mom who campaigns for the rights of transgendered people after her son-turned-daughter is killed by a gang ("A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story," Lifetime), and, with Alec Baldwin a likely nominee for "30 Rock," it'll be interesting to see if his ex, Kim Basinger, shows up with a nomination as an adulterous spouse in "The Mermaid Chair" (Lifetime).

Courageous real-life dramas often dominate this acting category, which bodes well for "Scrubs" star Sarah Chalke as a sassy, young TV producer who strives to keep a positive attitude while battling breast cancer in "Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy" (Lifetime).

Three-time Emmy victor Gena Rowlands battles cancer defiantly too in Lifetime's "What If God Were the Sun?"

In HBO's "Life Support," Queen Latifah's real-life character has already triumphed over crack addiction when she launches a crusade as an AIDS activist.

After proving herself Emmy-worthy in "Will & Grace," Debra Messing tackles the showy role of discarded Hollywood spouse in "The Starter Wife" (USA).

Also: Ruth Wilson ("Jane Eyre"), Sharon Gless ("The State Within"), Sophie Okonedo ("Tsunami: The Aftermath"), Julianna Margulies ("The Lost Room").



EMMY nominees for series and acting are determined by a combination of voting methods. First, a popular vote of TV academy members narrows the field to the Top 10 contenders, with each submitting a sample episode of their best work to judges viewing DVDs at panels (series) or at home (actors).

Judges rank the episodes from 1 to 10. Then accountants combine the judges' scores with results of the original popular vote in equal measure to determine the final five nominees, which will be announced on July 19.

All 12,000 academy members may vote in the series races. Only actors may weigh in on the acting races.

Emmy success is largely decided by how well contestants pick a sample episode. The most common mistake made by actors: opting for an episode with histrionics. Voters want to see a big money scene, yes, but also some emotional range (from tears to cheers) from an empathetic character.

The typical mistake made by program entries: serialized shows not submitting self-contained stories. Kiefer Sutherland's "24" overcame this challenge and won best drama last year, but many Emmy experts believe "Lost" wasn't nominated because of a poor, disjointed episode choice.

-- Tom O'Neil



Gold Derby blogger Tom O'Neil prognosticates the Emmy nominees for the Envelope, today breaking down the acting categories for drama, comedy and movies/miniseries. For ongoing discussion of the Emmy races visit

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