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No joke: Emmys place Tracey Ullman in race for best comedy actress

May 18, 2010 |  3:59 pm

Even though Tracey Ullman's Showtime variety program "State of the Union" doesn't compete for best comedy series, its star might nonetheless be nominated for, and win, best comedy actress at the upcoming Emmys.

Tracey Ullman State of the union news-1

It's one of the quirky results of the TV academy tinkering with categories. Last year, when the Emmys squashed a category that Tracey Ullman had won twice (1990, '94) — best performance in the variety program — its contenders were pushed into either the guest or supporting races for comedy acting. Ullman was defined as a supporting comedy star. That's a laugh, of course, since she doesn't support anyone on "State of the Union," so now she's been reclassified as a contender for lead comedy actress this year.

Since the Emmys have six nominees per category instead of five, that increases Ullman's chance to get in, which isn't a far-fetched possibility. She's a longtime Emmy darling. She's been nominated 24 times for producing, writing and performing in her variety TV shows at Fox and HBO before arriving at Showtime, plus acting in guest roles on sitcoms. She's won guest comedy actress twice ("Ally McBeal" in 1999, "Love and War" in 1993) and variety program twice (1989, 1997). Add an Emmy for writing (1990) plus the two aforementioned trophies for variety performances, and her tally of Emmy victories comes to an impressive seven.

If Ullman breaks into the race for comedy actress, she could be battling many network rivals. It's possible that Showtime could have four of the six nominations. The other three: Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Mary-Louise Parker ("Weeds") and last year's winner, Toni Collette ("United States of Tara").

"It's really an embarrassment of comedic riches having these four women vying for the same statuette," Showtime PR chief Richard Licata tells Gold Derby. "Each of them brings something very unique and wonderful to the category. Edie’s acerbic, captivating Jackie, master of the double life, Toni Collette's five-character tour-de-force, Mary Louise Parker's turn of ballsy humor and confrontation, and Tracey's take-no-prisoners look at America."

Photo: Showtime

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