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Emmy predictions: Steve Carell or Alec Baldwin to win best comedy actor?

August 28, 2008 |  7:57 pm

Again our two top Emmy gurus are clashing over who'll win a top race!

Chris "Boomer" Beachum believes the champ will be Steve Carell ("The Office") and he may be right. Steve Carell is arguably America's biggest comedy star, and it's shocking that he's lost this category twice for a show that won best comedy series (2006).

This year Carell has a secret edge: a special, one-hour episode he submitted to judges ("Goodbye, Toby"). Because the comedy acting categories are usually dominated by half-hour sitcoms, having twice the face time of your rivals often pays off. Over the last eight years, five champs prevailed in one-hour episodes. Curiously, three of the five nominees this year have that advantage: Carell, Lee Pace ("Pushing Daisies") and Tony Shalhoub ("Monk"). To be brutally frank, Shalhoub probably owes a few of his three past victories to the fact that he plays a colorful oddball on a one-hour show.


I totally agree with Boomer's evaluation of Carell's amazing performance in "Toby." "He gets to be over-the-top funny, sentimental, romantic and just about everything else," Boomer notes. "If he doesn't win this time, I don't think he ever will." Read my full examination of Carell's episode HERE.

But Carell has a problem: he portrays a boss from hell who's so creepy that he's hard to embrace — and Emmys are all about TV industry insiders passing out hugs, of course. Yes, Carell has many redeeming, even sympathetic moments here, but he had a doozy of a heart-tugging scene at the end of last year's episode ("Business School") that suddenly redeemed his character, and he still lost — to someone portraying a creep, no less (Ricky Gervais, "Extras")!

I agree completely with the ranking in this category made by our other forums moderator: Robert "Rob L" Licuria ( Alec Baldwin only stars in a half-hour show ("30 Rock"), but his performance in the "Rosemary's Baby" episode has the most powerful impact of all five nominees, even though it's just one scene.

The usual Emmy formula for winning is this: The actor must show off a broad emotional range and have at least one big-impact scene in an empathetic role. Baldwin displays a dazzling array of emotions when he breaks into his outrageous jive riff during the therapy session with Tracy, which has the impact of a nuclear bomb. Empathy? Sure, Baldwin, like Carell, portrays a creepy boss from hell, but admit it — I do — he's so hilariously devilish that you can't help but root for him. Read my full examination of Baldwin's episode HERE.

This race is neck and neck, a total toss-up. Boomer may be right and, if so, Carell would totally deserve the victory. But I have a hunch Rob's correct. However, I don't pick Baldwin with enormous confidence.


What about the others, you ask? Shalhoub's "Naked Man" isn't strong enough this year (READ MORE). Lee Pace is mesmerizing in the pilot episode of "Pushing Daisies," but he doesn't have the big-impact scene (READ MORE). Charlie Sheen gives his best performance ever in "Is There a Mrs. Waffles?" but "Two and a Half Men" doesn't have the depth or snob appeal of, say, "Frasier," which accounts for Kelsey Grammer's four past wins in this category. Read more about Sheen's episode HERE.

1.  Steve Carell, "The Office"
2.  Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
3.  Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men"
4.  Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
5.  Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies"

BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: Carell has the best episode he has ever submitted with "Goodbye, Toby" and has the added benefit of extra time with an hour-long episode.  He gets to be over-the-top funny, sentimental, romantic and just about everything else. If he doesn't win this time, I don't think he ever will. I thoroughly enjoyed the "Rosemary's Baby" episode and especially Alec Baldwin in it.  He gets one incredible scene in the therarpy session with Tracy Morgan, but that's all he's got with more of the episode devoted to the storyline featuring Carrie Fisher.  Sheen's episode is also very impressive and is definitely the best he has ever offered to the Emmy judges.

I hope and think the Emmy voters will be over Shalhoub's tired act, and he helped them out by offering his worst submission yet.  Lee Pace is the charming center of his show, but I don't think he can compete with the genuine laughs delivered by the others.

1. Alec Baldwin
2. Steve Carell
2. Lee Pace
4. Tony Shalhoub
5. Charlie Sheen

ROB'S COMMENTARY: On first view of the five submitted episodes, I think the top three are in with the best chance at a win, with Alec Baldwin and his hilarious performance in "30 Rock's" "Rosemary's Baby" nudging him in front of Carell and Pace, both with fine performances in hour-long episodes and hard to separate at this stage. Shalhoub also has an hour-long episode to boost his chances, but I don't think this episode is enough for him to win again. Sheen's is also quite funny and well-chosen, but he'll probably sit this one out with this tough competition.

(Photos: NBC)