Emmy pundits' predix smackdown: Tom vs. Ray
Ray Richmond of the Hollywood Reporter and I don't really hate each other, though I'm sure it might look like that when we get into our frequent slugfests over award predix. In fact, I absolutely love beating up on Ray more than any other journalist — really, and that's saying something. Here we go at it over what will be nominated for Emmys this Thursday morning and, to prove what a noble gent I am, I let Ray have the first word (so that I — ha, ha, ha — could have the last . . . well, at least until nominations come out).
RAY: Yes, "Family Guy" makes the cut -- not necessarily because it deserves to, but because the TV Academy loses its marbles every once in a while. And this is that once. The only other question is whether "Pushing Daisies" gets pushed out by its ABC sister "Ugly Betty," but Betty has so dropped from the radar I'm thinking not. "Weeds"? Only if Woody Harrelson takes over the voting process from those bean counters in suits.
TOM: Obviously, Ray, you were partying with Woody when you made these Emmy predix if you really think that "Family Guy" will get in over "2.5 Men." The latter's been nominated every year that the TV academy has had these panels — that is, the last two years. The last (and ONLY) time a cartoon sneaked into this comedy lineup was "The Flintstones" MORE THAN 45 YEARS AGO — back before computers, cable TV and double Pinkberry scoops — when the Emmy counters were using real beans.
RAY: "Mad Men" and "Damages" are locks. "House" probably is too. I'm thinking "Grey's" gets in over "Lost." "Boston Legal" is in because it is written that David Kelley shall always be in the running in some fashion. "The Wire"? No matter how deserving, it's probably a miracle it made it even this far.
TOM: Uh-oh. Ray and I are in total agreement here. Why does that terrify me so?
BEST DRAMA ACTOR
RAY: Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad"), Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Hugh Laurie ("House"), James Spader ("Boston Legal")
TOM: Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Hugh Laurie ("House"), Denis Leary ("Rescue Me"), James Spader ("Boston Legal")
RAY: Spader's a lock because he talks so slowly and intensely, it seems, but he ain't winning this time. Hamm's the one to beat seemingly. And the AMC momentum with "Mad Men" could — I pray — carry Cranston in. He is SO deserving. But he could get beaten out by Byrne, just because he's Gabriel Byrne. Hall deserves a nom for sure, and Laurie has deserved to win for three years running. He still does. But he won't. But if he doesn't get nominated, I say firebomb the ATAS headquarters and let's just start over.
TOM: Yeah, Hamm, Laurie and Spader are in. Ray (amazingly) is right about those, but he's wrong about Spader not winning again. Come on, Spader's NEVER LOST. He's gone three for three in this race and the reason he won repeatedly in the past was because writer/producer David E. Kelley kept penning him those grandstanding speeches he'd spew to juries at the end of each episode of "Boston Legal" that he submitted to Emmy judges. This year Spader submits his BIGGEST speech doozy ever — in which he chews out the whole U.S. Supreme Court. How can Hollywood lefties NOT vote THAT? READ MORE
As for Ray's deluded hope that Cranston will get in — well, I'd cheer that if it happened, but it won't. Cranston would have to rank in the top seven or so places in the popular vote and I think that's unlikely for a new, lowly rated, cable show about a guy toying with crystal meth and terminal cancer. Denis Leary's been nommed consistently for the past three years, surviving all wacky, radical changes in the voting process. I see no reason why he suddenly gets bumped now.
RAY: This is probably the easiest major category to handicap. It's difficult for me to see it being anyone other than Close, Driver, Field, Hunter and Sedgwick, though Arquette or Moss could pull an upset if enough of their relatives are permitted to vote (and Moss surely would deserve it). Field could also be victimized by backlash to last year's dead-on but controversial acceptance speech ("You gagged me, you really gagged me!"). Close will win, however. End of story.
TOM: Ray and I are in agreement again. Shoot me.
BEST COMEDY ACTOR
RAY: Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), Steve Carell ("The Office"), Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Lee Pace ("Pushing Daisies"), Tony Shalhoub ("Monk")
TOM: Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), Steve Carell ("The Office"), David Duchovny ("Californication"), Lee Pace ("Pushing Daisies"), Charlie Sheen ("Two and a Half Men")
RAY: Baldwin was jobbed last year in favor of "Extras' Ricky Gervais, and everyone knows it. Probably won't happen again. He and Carell are slam dunks, as is Shalhoub. David only seems to generate greater affection for his misanthropic "Curn" role as the years pile up, so he's likely in too along with the charming Pace (who could be edged out by Emmy darling Garrett, but I don't think so).
TOM: Ray may have blundered upon a smart set of predix here and he may even out-score me because — what the heck — I feel like throwing some Emmy dice. Betting against Shalhoub to return may be foolish. He's been nommed for the last five years, winning three times (2003, 2005, 2006), but his episode entry this year is a bit weak ("Mr. Monk and the Naked Man"), which will bring down his typical judges' score. And I think his popular-vote score will be down, too, because he's old news. Sure, Duchovny's old Emmy news too — he used to be nommed routinely for "The X-Files," so we know that voters love him — and now his comeback in new series "Californication" is sexy.
BEST COMEDY ACTRESS
RAY & TOM: Christina Applegate ("Samantha Who?"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock"), Felicity Huffman ("Desperate Housewives"), Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("New Adventures of Old Christine"), Mary-Louise Parker ("Weeds")
RAY: It's probably Tina Fey's race to lose this time, though the other four noms could go a number of ways in the least predictable of the big races. Fey and Parker are probably the only definites, and I don't think 2007 victor Ferrera even makes the cut this time. On the other hand, I could easily see at least four of these five picks landing precisely opposite -- to Silverman, Longoria Parker, Cross, Friel and/or (yes) Ferrera. This would represent the ultimate hedging of my bets, proving that I am, at the end of the day, a gutless weasel. But let's just keep that between us and the Internet.
TOM: Ah, at least our dear weasel is an honest one. And a lucky one in this category — I think Ray's predix are correct here, but not his reasoning. No, last year's winner Ferrera can't be pooh-poohed so easily. Yeah, I'm bidding her bye-bye too, but at least I'm doing so with the wave of a trembling hand. Yeah, I agree that this is Tina's year.