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Inside track: Emmy race for lead actress in a drama

June 30, 2009 |  9:20 am

Since the Emmys have ditched the judging panels to determine nominees, letting the lineups be chosen strictly by an outright popular balloting of the TV academy's acting branch, that means the outcome should be more predictable than usual.

Anna Paquin True Blood Holly Hunter news 725841692

Expect last year's champ Glenn Close ("Damages") and 2007 winner, 2008 nominee and double Oscar victor Sally Field ("Brothers & Sisters") to return. Ditto perennial nominees Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: SVU") and Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer").

Voters usually drive a stake through the Emmy hopes of the stars of vampire shows (poor "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star Sarah Michelle Gellar was never nommed despite shrieks of outrage from every TV critic), but Anna Paquin ("True Blood") has two pluses: being on HBO and owning an Oscar ("The Piano"). Past Oscar champ for the same film, Holly Hunter, was nominated last year for "Saving Grace," so she'll probably be back.

That leaves one more slot open, considering the Emmys have expanded the list of nominees to six contenders from the usual five. If an African American actress gets in and wins, it'll be the first time that a black star's ever claimed this category. Three are seriously in the running: Angela Bassett ("ER"), Regina King ("Southland") and Jill Scott ("The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency").

However, given the Emmy popularity of last year's winner of best drama series, "Mad Men," that bid may go to either January Jones or Elisabeth Moss.


* = Top 10 Semi-Finalist in 2008

** = Nominee in 2008

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
(Front-runners)
Patricia Arquette, "Medium" *
Angela Bassett, "ER"
Glenn Close, "Damages" ** (Winner in 2008)
Sally Field, "Brothers & Sisters" **
Calista Flockhart, "Brothers & Sisters"
Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: SVU" **
Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace" **
January Jones, "Mad Men"
Evangeline Lilly, "Lost"
Mary McDonnell, "Battlestar Galactica" *
Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men" *
Anna Paquin, "True Blood"
Jill Scott, "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" **
Jeanne Tripplehorn, "Big Love" *

(Possible)
Eliza Dushku, "Dollhouse"
Calista Flockhart, "Brothers & Sisters"
Marg Helgenberger, "C.S.I."
Jennifer Love Hewitt, "Ghost Whisperer"
Regina King, "Southland"
Ellen Pompeo, "Grey's Anatomy"
Amber Tamblyn, "The Unusuals"
Anna Torv, "Fringe"
Mary McCormack, "In Plain Sight"
Kate Walsh, "Private Practice"

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