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Inside track: Emmy race for lead actor in a drama

June 30, 2009 | 11:22 am

Since the nominees for TV's top award are a lot like TV reruns, there's a good chance we'll see most of last year's nominees for outstanding lead actor in a drama series return when bids are unveiled on July 16.

Hugh Laurie Dexter Breaking Bad Mad Men

Judging panels will not be used this year to whittle down final nominees after evaluating sample episodes submitted by the top 10 voter-getters determined by a popular vote of members of the TV academy's acting branch. This year, six nominees (instead of the traditional five) will be decided by an outright popular vote, so that makes predicting the outcome much easier.

Sure bets probably include last year's nominees Gabriel Byrne ("In Treatment"), Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Hugh Laurie ("House M.D.) and 2008 winner Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad"). That leaves room for just one more. Serial past winner James Spader ("Boston Legal"), who made last year's rundown? Previous champ Kiefer Sutherland ("24"), who had to sit out the last Emmy derby due to the writers strike? Hot new rookie Simon Baker ("The Mentalist")? Past champ Michael Chiklis ("The Shield")? Overdue past nominee Denis Leary ("Rescue Me")?

* = Top 10 semifinalist in 2008

** = Nominee in 2008

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
(Front-runners)
Simon Baker, "The Mentalist"
Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment" **
Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights" *
Michael Chiklis, "The Shield"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" ** (winner, 2008)
Laurence Fishburne, "CSI"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" **
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" **
Hugh Laurie, "House M.D." **
Denis Leary, "Rescue Me" *
Bill Paxton, "Big Love"
James Spader, "Boston Legal" **
Kiefer Sutherland, "24" 

(Possible)
Benjamin Bratt, "The Cleaner"
Matthew Fox, "Lost"
Dennis Haysbert, "The Unit"
Dennis Hopper, "Crash"
Timothy Hutton, "Leverage"
Joshua Jackson, "Fringe"
Edward James Olmos, "Battlestar Galactica"
Ian McShane, "Kings"
Anthony LaPaglia, "Without a Trace"
Benjamin McKenzie, "Southland"
Christopher Meloni, "Law & Order: SVU"
Stephen Moyer, "True Blood"
Tim Roth, "Lie to Me"
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, "The Tudors"
Patrick Swayze, "The Beast"

Photos: AMC, Fox, Showtime

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