The Emmy bout over best guest comedy actor is a toss-up according to our Emmy gurus Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Robert "Rob L" Licuria (Awardsheaven.net). They make brave predictions, but don't seem to stand bravely by them. (Too bad they're not clashing like mad gladiators as usual — what a gyp!) But their insights into this match-up are fascinating, proving that this comedy contest is quite dramatic in terms of suspense. Read their expanded views below, plus check out their forecasts for the following races too: best comedy actor, lead actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, directing, writing.
GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY: BOOMER'S PREDIX
(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1.) Steve Martin, "30 Rock" ("Gavin Volure")
2.) Justin Timberlake, "Saturday Night Live" ("Justin Timberlake")
3.) Beau Bridges, "Desperate Housewives" ("Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened")
4.) Alan Alda, "30 Rock" ("Mamma Mia")
5.) Jon Hamm, "30 Rock" ("The Bubble")
BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: For the most part, this category typically rewards veteran actors and/or comedy legends. Other than Bobby Cannavale for "Will & Grace," the past 10 years have shown that over and over again with wins by Tim Conway, Gene Wilder, Bruce Willis, Stanley Tucci, etc.
Another common trait is over-the-top, truly comedic roles. That is why I just can't predict Beau Bridges (certainly a veteran actor with several Emmy wins). He gives a wonderful, touching, charming performance (probably the best genuine acting job in this group of contenders) in a show that has proven an ability to win guest acting Emmys, but it isn't funny by any measure.
Jon Hamm is likable and dopey — not a winning combination. Alan Alda is understated and mostly playing it straight — not going to attract many votes. Justin Timberlake certainly has tons of screen time and some incredibly funny sketches. Based on the reasons above, I wonder if the voters will go for someone as young as him, plus we still don't know how they will react to a variety performance in this category.
That ultimately leaves me with Steve Martin . . . a veteran actor, Emmy winner, comedy legend, and a character that I found both funny and over-the-top (especially in the closing scene). Honestly, the Emmy could be awarded to anybody in this category and not be a big shocker. I'll just play the odds and go with the "wild and crazy" guy to win his first performance Emmy (to go along with his previous writing win).
GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY: ROB'S PREDIX
(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1.) Beau Bridges, "Desperate Housewives" ("The Best Thing…")
2.) Jon Hamm, "30 Rock" ("The Bubble")
3.) Justin Timberlake, "Saturday Night Live" ("Host: Justin Timberlake")
4.) Steve Martin, "30 Rock" ("Gavin Volure")
5.) Alan Alda, "30 Rock" ("Mamma Mia")
ROB'S COMMENTARY: This category could go any way because, as is the case for all four of the guest acting categories, the winners are sometimes based on other factors such as name recognition and honoring industry veterans. Since 2000, we've seen six winners from traditional sitcoms, two winners from an hour-long show ("Monk") and last year's winner Tim Conway from "30 Rock."
Winners have generally been regarded as the stand-out performance, usually over the top, and usually someone with at least a degree of star power (Bruce Willis, Gene Wilder, John Turturro, Stanley Tucci, Derek Jacobi and Anthony LaPaglia). In addition, we've also seen two veteran comedians win (Leslie Jordan and Tim Conway) and a relative newcomer (Bobby Cannavale).
The recent history of this category suggests that any of the five in this category have a decent shot. Alan Alda is really fantastic in the scenes he shares with Alec Baldwin – his timing is so note perfect. Plus, he is an Emmy God – he wins frequently (and deservingly so). But what is really hurting his chances here is very limited screen time. But it must be said that this didn't hurt Tim Conway last year.
Steve Martin is very good in this episode as well, but many have mentioned that it ended up being a bit of a let down, because expectations are always sky high when Steve Martin is featured in anything. I think the writing in this episode let him down. Still, a win by him is not out of the question.
If it were up to me, Justin Timberlake would win this in a heartbeat. On laughs alone, he wins. Apart from his exceptional musical talents, which are front and center in this episode, his comedic abilities are on display in sketches like "Target Greatland," "New York Harbor 1883," "Mother Lovers," "Barry Gibb Talk Show," "Pirates," and especially "Plasticville," one of the best sketches on "Saturday Night Live" last season. In fact, Timberlake almost features in every single sketch, which speaks volumes for the impact he makes in the show. And yet I am very unsure as to whether voters are prepared to vote for a performer mostly known for his pop music career, not to mention whether voters will have any bias against "Saturday Night Live" players in general. For those two reasons, I have bumped Timberlake down to third in this very close list.
Jon Hamm is very funny in his reel. He really plays up the matinee-idol aspect of his real life persona and that of the character he plays in "Mad Men." He is also helped by the great writing on display in this episode. I also have a tiny suspicion that voters might like the idea of awarding Hamm in this category as a consolation for probably not winning the race for best lead actor in a drama series. It is certainly possible.
Finally, we have Beau Bridges. A 12-time Emmy nominee with three wins (the last one being in 1997), he was also nominated in this very category last year (for his recurring role in "My Name Is Earl"). This episode is regarded as one of the best episodes of the past couple of seasons of "Desperate Housewives," and it is all about how his character Eli Scruggs affected each of the housewives through the years. It is heart-warming, he is very likable, and there are a few lighthearted somewhat funny scenes. But it really isn't the laugh-fest that normally wins this category, and that is what might hurt him most. That being said, screen time is in his favor, and maybe he'll win this award much like Turturro and Tucci did for that other often-nominated dramedy "Monk."
Photos: NBC, ABC