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Can Britney — egad! — be nominated for an Emmy?

March 25, 2008 |  3:49 pm

Emmy voters love to hail stunt casting in those guest-acting categories. Often when big-name stars condescend to visit the boob tube, they get rewarded with nominations just, so it seems, for showing up — like Brad Pitt did when he accepted an invite for turkey dinner on "Friends." And sometimes music stars get noticed, too — such as Rosemary Clooney ("E.R.") and Cyndi Lauper (who won for "Mad About You").

Now consider all of the people who tuned in to see Britney Spears on "How I Met Your Mother" last night: 10.6 million. That's the highest viewership ever for the CBS sitcom. Audience size matters when you weigh who might get nominated for an Emmy because that first round of voting is determined by a popular vote of TV academy members.


But then, alas, things get tough on Britney's hopes because scrutiny gets closer. The five final nominees are determined by judges examining sample video submitted by finalists.

Can the pop tart who tied Madonna for a Razzie Award five years ago for her film debut in "Crossroads" now rally and impress judges from the academy's acting branch enough to land in the final five? Well . . . you decide.

Critics were mixed about her performance. David Hinckley of the New York Daily News thought: "This bold casting decision worked out. Spears proved she can act every bit as well as she can sing, and with some of the nuances she brought to the character, you'd almost swear she'd been there before. She wore glasses — sometimes — and a miniskirt. She minced when she walked. She spoke in a giggle. Most of the time she sat behind a receptionist's desk at a tattoo-removal parlor, reading 'The Power of Me' and propositioning clients she found attractive."

And Linda Stasi of the New York Post thought: "Britney looked as adorable last night as she did waaay back when. On the show, which she filmed in the last few weeks, Brit looked slim, (OK she was behind a desk), trim and gorgeous. And, more importantly, her acting was nothing short of adorably believable. Good for her. Britney's few minutes on camera made the whole show worth watching."

However, Matt Roush of TV Guide was less impressed. "She was harmless and even (dare I say) kind of cute as an office receptionist with a crush on Ted, who in turn had a crush on her boss ("Scrubs" star Sarah Chalke, who walked away with the episode). Eyes wide and face frozen in an eager-to-please grin, the sitcom Britney was kind of endearing as she desperately tried to endear herself to Ted. The role wasn’t really juicy enough to merit the attention it got as a stunt, but it was probably appropriately suited for her tentative acting chops. At no point did she convey the edge or danger a true actress might have brought to the role, making something actually funny of her obsession. As Simon Cowell might have said if this had been a performance on 'American Idol': 'Forgettable.'"

Perhaps Roush is right, but can Spears still be remembered by Emmy voters come awards time? Probably not, given the stiff competition she faces to make it into the final five vying for guest actress in a comedy series. After all, these guest categories tend to be dominated by veteran TV and movie stars.

Our pal, inveterate forum poster Robert Licuria, has compiled a list of potential contenders for guest actress (comedy series) as well as the other three categories. To read his full rundown, CLICK HERE.

Among those being touted as possible nominees are a slew of older actresses, many of whom already have at least one Emmy on their mantle. Last year's winner Elaine Stritch reprised her Emmy-winning role as Alec Baldwin's monster of a mother on "30 Rock." And Polly Bergen, so good as Lynette's bad mother on "Desperate Housewives," won her Emmy 50 years ago for "Playhouse 90."

Three-time drama series Emmy champ Edie Falco proved so deft doing comedy opposite Baldwin on "30 Rock" that she has signed a deal with Showtime for her own sitcom. Three-time comedy champ Laurie Metcalf appeared opposite former "Roseanne" co-star Johnny Galecki on "The Big Bang Theory." And Betty White, who won the last of her four Emmys skewering her wholesome image on "The John Larroquette Show" in 1996, pulled the same trick this season on "Ugly Betty."