The bout over best guest drama actor will be won in a knock-out by John Lithgow, according to our Emmy gurus Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Robert "Rob L" Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net). They both think that Lithgow -- who already has won the Golden Globe for his killer role this season on "Dexter" -- will prevail for the part, which earned him his 11th Emmy nomination. He won this race in 1986 for his whimsical portrayal of a simple, lonely man in "The Doll" episode of "Amazing Stories" and also won three (1996, 1997, 1999) of his seven consecutive Emmy bids for lead actor in the comedy series "Third Rock From the Sun."
Two other Emmy veterans are also in the running. Ted Danson earned his 15th Emmy nod for "Damages." He also contended in this category last year while he was a supporting-actor nominee for his first season on this crime drama. Danson won two (1990, 1993) of his 11 consecutive lead-actor bids for "Cheers" and also was nominated for his lead performance in the landmark TV movie "Something About Amelia" in 1984. And Beau Bridges made it an even dozen Emmy bids with his nomination for "The Closer." Last year, he contended for guest actor in the series "Desperate Housewives." Bridges has won three Emmys: lead actor in a movie/mini in 1992 for "Without Warning: The James Brady Story" and two supporting wins in the movie/mini race for "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" (1993) and "The Second Civil War" (1997).
Read the expanded views of our experts below, plus check out their forecasts and mine for best drama series as well as both lead drama series races.
GUEST DRAMA ACTOR: BOOMER'S PREDIX
1. John Lithgow, "Dexter" ("Road Kill")
2. Gregory Itzin, "24" ("Day 8: 1 p.m.-2 p.m.")
3. Ted Danson, "Damages" ("The Next One's Gonna Go in Your Throat")
4. Beau Bridges, "The Closer" ("Make Over")
5. Dylan Baker, "The Good Wife" ("Bad")
6. Alan Cumming, "The Good Wife" ("Fleas")
7. Robert Morse, "Mad Men" ("Shut the Door. Have a Seat")
BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: Over the course of a season, John Lithgow gave one of the most memorable guest performances of anyone in the last 10 years. He chose perfectly with the episode "Road Kill" because it provides an incredible range of anger, humor, confesssions and even attempted suicide. Emmy voters already have loved him several times in the past, so I see no reason why that will not continue.
If not for Lithgow, Gregory Itzin might be picking up his first Emmy Award. He gets a real showcase in his submitted episode and is the very definition of a serpent. Other than these two performances, I wasn't all that impressed with the others. Ted Danson portrays the slimy Arthur Frobisher again and finally gets caught in the season finale.
Beau Bridges, an Emmy favorite many times over, is given some pretty mediocre writing to work through and does an OK job. I am very glad Dylan Baker is recognized for the first time by Emmy voters, but it is a low-key (albeit creepy) performance and has him in the courtroom background through some of his scenes. There is only one short scene toward the end for Alan Cumming to chew some scenery, but the remainder of his episode doesn't provide much. Robert Morse is perfect each week on his show but never gets more than a couple of short scenes and some funny one-liners.
GUEST DRAMA ACTOR: ROB'S PREDIX
1. John Lithgow, "Dexter" ("Road Kill")
2. Dylan Baker, "The Good Wife" ("Bad")
3. Beau Bridges, "The Closer" ("Make Over")
4. Gregory Itzin, "24" ("Day 8: 1 p.m.-2 p.m.")
5. Alan Cumming, "The Good Wife" ("Fleas")
6. Robert Morse, "Mad Men" ("Shut the Door. Have a Seat")
7. Ted Danson, "Damages" ("The Next One's Gonna Go in Your Throat")
ROB'S COMMENTARY: Can we call this category right now? I can't imagine any scenario other than John Lithgow winning an Emmy this year for his brilliant performance in the best season of "Dexter" yet. Based on buzz and hype, Lithgow has this one in the bag. Based on the episode submissions, he is still way ahead, with plenty of screen time, impact and range.
Among the other six contenders, I found it a little difficult to pinpoint the front-runner for runner-up status. Dylan Baker plays a really effective and creepy villain who is also likable. His scenery chewing is just a marvel to watch in his chosen episode. Beau Bridges and Gregory Itzin do dependable work that might score a few votes from those panel members turned off by Lithgow. Alan Cumming isn't given very much to do in his episode, unfortunately, but he does have one great scene to stand by. Morse and Danson are always welcome additions when they appear on their shows, but the scenes they appear in don't give them nearly enough to be serious threats to what is likely to be Lithgow's prize.
Photos, from top: John Lithgow in "Dexter." Credit: Showtime. Lithgow at the 49th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Credit: CBS