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Gold Derby

Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Ugly Betty

Inside track: Emmy race for best TV comedy actress

April 25, 2009 | 11:14 am

Here's a snapshot of what we see on the Derby track right now.

* = Top 10 semifinalist in 2008

** = Nominee in 2008

Tina Fey Emmy Award 30 Rock

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
(Front-runners)

Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?" **
Toni Collette, "United States of Tara"
Marcia Cross, "Desperate Housewives" *
America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty" **
Tina Fey, "30 Rock" ** (WINNER IN 2008)
Teri Hatcher, "Desperate Housewives"
Felicity Huffman, "Desperate Housewives" *
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "New Adventures of Old Christine" **
Eva Longoria-Parker, "Desperate Housewives" *
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds" **
Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"
Nicollette Sheridan, "Desperate Housewives"
Sarah Silverman, "The Sarah Silverman Program" *

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Gold Derby's official racetrack odds: Who will win the Emmys

September 19, 2008 | 10:50 am

OK, you've seen who all of the experts predict will win the Emmys (CLICK HERE), including me, but you haven't yet seen my careful breakdown of all contenders in each top category. Below: Gold Derby's racetrack odds. Please note: they're issued for entertainment purposes only and should not be used for gambling. Missing are the two reality races, but soon I'll add those odds too. Right now I haven't finished watching all of the episodes each nominee submitted to Emmy judges as samples of their best work.

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My evaluations rely heavily on episode submissions. For example, note that I think "Saturday Night Live" is a real threat to "The Daily Show," which has won best variety series five years in a row. Granted, "SNL" hasn't won since 1993 and I still put "Daily Show" out front, but "SNL" submitted the same blockbuster episode that's likely to pay off with a win for Amy Poehler as best supporting actress: Tina Fey's return as host. Jon Stewart's episode is fantastic too — it's 20 minutes of ranting against the White House (of course) followed by a brief, fun chat with Judd Apatow.

But I don't think, like many of my peers, that Tina Fey will win best comedy actress. Three of her opponents submitted episodes that involved some element of split personality and that usually pays off with a victory. (Never again wonder how Lindsay Wagner won best drama actress for "The Bionic Woman" in 1977 — that's when she suddenly discovered her evil twin, remember?) In this year's derby, America Ferrera goes bonkers when sprayed with a poisoned perfume, Christina Applegate goes psycho when she hears the song "We've Got the Beat" on the radio and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, pumped up on testosterone, threatens to kick the "sorry, tanned, bleach-blonde, Botoxed" butts of rival school moms. The reason I give the best odds to Ferrera is because she stars in a one-hour program. The longest shows usually win — as Ferrera proved last year.

To see a full list of all episode submissions, CLICK HERE. Click through the subsequent pages of that forum to read the predix of our posters based upon what they think of those episodes. If you're curious to see what episodes were entered at past Emmy derbies, CLICK HERE. Remember: actors submit one sample episode; ditto for contenders for best variety and reality series. Nominees for best comedy and drama submit six that are paired off into three groupings that are randomly submitted to voters. Actors vote on actors, writers on writers, everybody gets to vote in the program categories. Roughly 250 to 300 voters volunteer to judge submissions in the races for best comedy and drama series. The typical acting category has about 50 to 75 judges.

BEST DRAMA SERIES
"Mad Men" - 5/4
"Damages" - 7/5
"Lost" - 8/1
"House" - 9/1
"Dexter" - 10/1
"Boston Legal" - 50/1

BEST COMEDY SERIES
"30 Rock" - 1/3
"The Office" - 8/5
"Entourage" - 20/1
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" - 30/1
"Two and a Half Men" - 40/1

BEST DRAMA ACTOR
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" - 2/1
James Spader, "Boston Legal" - 11/5
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" - 13/5
Hugh Laurie, "House" - 8/1
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" - 8/1
Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment" - 35/1
(NOTE: I changed this prediction from James Spader to Bryan Cranston on Sept. 19.)

BEST DRAMA ACTRESS
Glenn Close, "Damages" - 2/1
Mariska Hargitay, "Law and Order: S.V.U." - 3/1
Sally Field, "Brothers and Sisters" - 7/2
Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace" - 4/1
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" - 9/2

BEST COMEDY ACTOR
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" - Even
Steve Carell, "The Office" - 5/2
Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies" - 7/2
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" - 6/1
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" - 50/1

BEST COMEDY ACTRESS
America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty" - 2/1
Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?" - 7/3
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "New Adventures of Old Christine" - 5/2
Tina Fey, "30 Rock" - 3/1
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds" - 50/1

BEST MINISERIES
"John Adams" - 1/2
"Cranford" - 7/5
"Tin Man" - 30/1
"The Andromeda Strain" - 40/1

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Up close: Emmy judges' DVDs for best comedy actress

August 26, 2008 | 10:34 am

Right now, about 50 to 75 actors who belong to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences are judging the Emmy race for best comedy actress. They're viewing a sample episode submitted by each nominee: Christina Applegate ("The Restraining Order" from "Samantha Who?"), America Ferrera ("Odor in the Court" from "Ugly Betty"), Tina Fey ("Sandwich Day" from "30 Rock"), Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("One and a Half Men" from "The New Adventures of Old Christine"), Mary-Louise Parker, ("Bill Sussman" from "Weeds"). To see what sample episodes are being viewed in other Emmy races, CLICK HERE.

Below are photos of the actual discs used to judge outstanding lead actress in a comedy series, plus their plastic case. I made a goof while setting up these pix, all of which you can view if you click on the "Continue Reading" link underneath the two pix below. Can you spot the mistake? I'm too lazy to fix it by shooting a new photo (gimme a break -– I'm battling a nasty flu), so I'm turning this into a quiz for fun. Hint: The goof is located in the third photo down, which can be viewed –- along with the answer to this quiz -– after the jump.

After viewing these disks, voters must sign an affadavit attesting that they watched all of the sample DVDs. Then they must return the affadavits and their ballots to the TV academy by Friday.

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ALMA Awards honor America Ferrera, Charlie Sheen

August 18, 2008 | 12:45 pm

The ALMA Awards celebrating Latino achievements in film, TV and music were held last night in LA. And unlike previous years we won't have to wait till the awardfest, emceed by "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria Parker, airs on ABC on Sept. 12 to find out most of the winners. Alma_awards While the ALMA Awards website has no winners posted and the AP report on the awardsfest is surprisingly spotty, the wire service  also ran a complete list of winners.

"Ugly Betty" was feted with a special achievement award as was show star America Ferrera. Edward James Olmos won best actor in a drama series for "Battlestar Galactica" while Charlie Sheen took the comedy award for "Two and a Half Men." Roselyn Sanchez of "Without a Trace" and Judy Reyes from "Scrubs" won the TV actress prizes.

For the full list of nominees - CLICK HERE


'Ugly Betty's' Vanessa Williams is lookin' good in Emmy race for supporting comedy actress

July 16, 2008 |  3:25 pm

As last year's champ Jaime Pressly ("My Name Is Earl") did not make the Top 10, the race for funniest featured woman is wide open. Our Emmy gurus Robert "Rob L" Licuria and Chris "Boomer" Beachum agree on three of the five nominees –- Vanessa Williams ("Ugly Betty") and Jenna Fischer ("The Office"), who both picked up nods last year, as well as newcomer Kristen Chenoweth ("Pushing Daisies").

To fill out the final five, Rob opts for two-time nominee Holland Taylor of "Two and a Half Men" and Tony award winner Jane Krakowski ("30 Rock"). Boomer believes two-time guest comedy actress winner Jean Smart will score her first comedy series nom for "Samantha Who?" and Amy Poehler will land her first nod after seven seasons on "Saturday Night Live."

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Our Emmy gurus agree that two-time nominees Conchata Ferrell ("Two and a Half Men") and Elizabeth Perkins ("Weeds") will finish out of the running as will Judith Light of "Ugly Betty," who picked up a guest nod for that show last year.

To find the final five nominees, Boomer and Rob follow the actual voting process. First, they predict the order of the semifinalists as determined by the popular vote by the TV academy's actors' branch.

Here's how Rob thinks the popular vote tallied — 1.) Vanessa Williams 2.) Holland Taylor 3.) Jenna Fischer 4.) Jane Krakowski 5.) Elizabeth Perkins 6.) Conchata Ferrell 7.) Kristin Chenoweth 8.) Judith Light 9.) Jean Smart 10.) Amy Poehler

How Boomer ranks the popular vote outcome — 1.) Vanessa Williams 2.) Jenna Fischer 3.) Kristin Chenoweth 4.) Elizabeth Perkins 5.) Holland Taylor 6.) Jean Smart 7.) Amy Poehler 8.) Conchata Ferrell 9.) Judith Light 10.) Jane Krakowski

Then they predict how the panel judges scored the sample episode entries.

Here's how Rob ranks the judges' views of the episodes — 1.) Vanessa Williams 2.) Holland Taylor 3.) Amy Poehler 4.) Kristin Chenoweth 5.) Jean Smart 6.) Judith Light 7.) Jenna Fischer 8.) Jane Krakowski 9.) Elizabeth Perkins 10.) Conchata Ferrell

How Boomer thinks the judges ranked episode entries — 1.) Jean Smart 2.) Vanessa Williams 3.) Amy Poehler 4.) Kristin Chenoweth 5.) Jane Krakowski 6.) Jenna Fischer 7.) Holland Taylor 8.) Judith Light 9.) Elizabeth Perkins 10.) Conchata Ferrell

They combine these two results on a 50-50 basis, just like the accountants do, to determine the final ranking of the nominees. The lower the score the higher the chance of being nominated.

BEST COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS: ROB'S PREDIX
(Top five = nominees)
1.) Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty" ("Bananas for Betty") — 3 points
2.) Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men" ("Media Room Slash Dungeon") — 4 points
3.) Jenna Fischer, "The Office" ("Fun Run") — 10 points
4.) Kristin Chenoweth, "Pushing Daisies" ("Girth") — 11 points
5.) Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock" ("The Collection") — 12 points
6.) Amy Poehler, "Saturday Night Live" ("Tina Fey") — 13 points
7.) Judith Light, "Ugly Betty" ("I See Me, ICU") — 14 points
7.) Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds" ("Risk") — 14 points
7.) Jean Smart, "Samantha Who?" ("The Girlfriend") — 14 points
10.) Conchata Ferrell, "Two & a Half Men" ("Fish in a Drawer") — 16 points

Rob's commentary: This is one of very few categories this year where a very good argument could easily be made that any one of the 10 contenders in the list will be nominated. Perkins and Ferrell are past nominees on a number of occasions, and so have proved to be very popular with voters. Smart is an Emmy favorite and veteran, and Light is almost a TV legend, and was nominated last year in the Guest category. I suspect Poehler sneaked in to the top 10 popular list, but her episode really showcases a great range of her comic abilities and puts her in a very good position to make history as the first "SNL" cast member to be nominated in this category. I would not discount or underrate Krakowski or Taylor, both of whom have great episodes. Fischer will do well on the popular ballot, and Williams and Chenoweth should have nothing to worry about either.

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The nominees for best comedy series will be . . . '30 Rock,' 'The Office,' 'Two and a Half Men,' Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'Pushing Daisies'

July 15, 2008 | 12:40 pm

Unlike their discord over drama series, our top-notch Emmy gurus — Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Robert "Rob L" Licuria — agree on the comedy series that will be in the running when nominations are announced on Thursday morning. As per the boys, the final five should be: last year's winner "30 Rock;" 2006 champ "The Office;" perennial nominee "Curb Your Enthusiasm;" top-rated "Two and a Half Men;" and newcomer "Pushing Daisies."

To determine the nominees, Rob and Boomer follow the actual voting process. First, they predict the order of the top 10 semifinalists as determined by the popular vote of the entire TV academy.

30_rock_emmys

How Rob ranks the popular vote outcome — 1.) "30 Rock" 2.) "The Office" 3.) "Two and a Half Men" 4.) "Curb Your Enthusiasm" 5.) "Pushing Daisies" 6.) "Entourage" 7.) "Ugly Betty" 8.) "Weeds" 9.) "Flight of the Conchords 10.) "Family Guy"

Here's how Boomer thinks the popular vote tallied — 1.) "The Office" 2.) "30 Rock" 3.) "Curb Your Enthusiasm"4.) "Ugly Betty" 5.) "Entourage" 6.) "Pushing Daisies" 7.) "Two and a Half Men" 8.) "Weeds" 9.) "Flight of the Conchords" 10.) "Family Guy"

Then, they calculate how the panel judges scored the sample episode entries.

How Rob thinks the judges ranked episode entries — 1.) "30 Rock" 2.) "Pushing Daisies" 3.) "Two and a Half Men" 4.) "The Office" 5.) "Curb Your Enthusiasm"6.) "Family Guy" 7.) "Entourage" 8.) "Flight of the Conchords 9.) "Weeds" 10.) "Ugly Betty"

Here's how Boomer ranks the judges' views of the episodes — 1.) "Pushing Daisies" 2.) "Two and a Half Men" 3.) "30 Rock"4.) "The Office" 5.) "Family Guy"6.) "Curb Your Enthusiasm" 7.) "Entourage" 8.) "Ugly Betty" 9.) "Weeds" 10.) "Flight of the Conchords"

Combining these results on a 50-50 basis, just like the academy accountants do, they determine the final ranking of the nominees. The lower the final number, the higher the ranking.

BEST COMEDY SERIES: BOOMER'S PREDIX
(Top five = nominees)
1.) "The Office" ("Local Ad") — 5 points
1.) "30 Rock" ("Cooter") — 5 points
3.) "Pushing Daisies" ("Pie-Lette") — 7 points
4.) "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("The Bat Mitzvah") — 9 points
4.) "Two and a Half Men" ("Rough Night in Hump Junction") — 9 points
6.) "Entourage" ("The Day ...") — 12 points
6.) "Ugly Betty" ("Something Wicked This Way Comes") — 12 points
8.) "Family Guy" ("Padre de Famila") — 15 points
9.) "Weeds" ("Go") — 17 points
10.) "Flight of the Conchords" ("Sally Returns") — 19 points

BEST COMEDY SERIES: ROB'S PREDIX
(Top five = nominees)
1.) "30 Rock" ("Cooter") — 3 points
2.) "The Office" ("Local Ad") — 6 points
2.) "Pushing Daisies" ("Pie-lette") — 6 points
2.) "Two and a Half Men" ("Rough Night in Hump Junction") — 6 points
5.) "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("The Bat Mitzvah") — 9 points
6.) "Entourage" ("The Day ...") — 13 points
7.) "Family Guy" ("Padre de Famila") — 16 points
8.) "Flight of the Conchords" ("Sally Returns") — 17 points
8.) "Ugly Betty" ("Something Wicked This Way Comes") — 17 points
8.) "Weeds" ("Go") — 17 points

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Seven Emmy geniuses predict Thursday's award nominations

July 14, 2008 |  3:24 pm

Somehow I've managed to coax six suckers brilliant kudos seers to join me in predicting the Emmy nominations that will be announced this Thursday morning: Michael Ausiello (EW.com), Matt Webb Mitovich (TVGuide.com), Marc Berman (MediaWeek), Ray Richmond (Hollywood Reporter) and our two resident Emmy gurus — our forums moderators Robert "Rob L" Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net) and Chris "Boomer" Beachum. To see how we fared predicting the Emmy top 10 lists, CLICK HERE! Below: how we size up the races for best drama and comedy series. To see our predix for best lead actor and actress, CLICK HERE!

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KEEP READING - CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR PREDIX FOR BEST ACTOR AND ACTRESS IN DRAMA AND COMEDY SERIES!

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Last year's Emmy champ Jaime Pressly snubbed! Amy Poehler pulls off what the 'Saturday Night Live' boys couldn't

July 2, 2008 |  3:22 pm

Jaime_pressly_amy_poehler

While no male stars of "Saturday Night Live" made the Emmy list for supporting comedy actor now that the cast has moved over from the category for variety performers, one female costar made the supporting actress lineup: Amy Poehler.

BIGGEST SNUB: Where is last year's Emmy winner Jaime Pressly ("My Name Is Earl")?

TOP 10 FINALISTS: SUPPORTING COMEDY ACTRESS
Kristin Chenoweth, "Pushing Daisies" ("Girth")
Conchata Ferrell, "Two and a Half Men" ("Fish in a Drawer")
Jenna Fischer, "The Office" ("Fun Run")
Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock" ("The Collection")
Judith Light, "Ugly Betty" ("I See Me, ICU")
Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds" ("Risk")
Amy Poehler, "Saturday Night Live" ("Tina Fey")
Jean Smart, "Samantha Who? ("The Girlfriend")
Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men" ("Media Room Slash Dungeon")
Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty" ("Bananas for Betty")

OTHER SURPRISING OMISSIONS: Dana Delany and Nicollette Sheridan ("Desperate Housewives"), Cheryl Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Wanda Sykes ("New Adventures of Old Christine"), Sarah Chalke ("Scrubs"), Swoosie Kurtz ("Pushing Daisies"), Becki Newton and Ashley Jensen ("Ugly Betty"). Newton, Jensen and Pressley were on the Top 10 list last year.

(Photos: ATAS / NBC)

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Britney Spears and Mary-Kate Olsen snubbed by Emmy, but — oops — Sarah Silverman did it again!

July 2, 2008 | 12:19 pm

Good thing Britney Spears gets to spend more time with her boys these days because she won't be spending any time with TV's Golden Girl soon. Despite the fact that her appearance in the "Ten Sessions" episode of "How I Met Your Mother" was submitted for Emmy consideration, she's not on the Top 11 list of semifinalists for best guest actress in a comedy series.

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Too bad. Britney Spears actually earned a few decent reviews for her performance as a receptionist in a doctor's office, including the New York Daily News, which said — with no intent of snarkiness: "Spears proved she can act every bit as well as she can sing." TV Guide critic Matt Roush said Britney was "harmless and (dare I say) kind of cute" in the role, but "Scrubs" star Sarah Chalke — who portrayed Britney's boss — "walked away with the episode." However, Chalke failed to make this Emmy Top 10 list too.

Also missing from the lineup: Mary-Kate Olsen, who played a pot-pushing Bible-thumper on "Weeds." Apparently, Emmy has no taste for pop tarts this season. Good thing Lindsay Lohan decided not to bother entering her name for her guest turn on "Ugly Betty."

Sarah Silverman — who made a surprise appearance on the Top 10 list for lead comedy actress for "The Sarah Silverman Program" — appears here as well! She's hailed for her guest spot on "Monk" as a psycho fan of a fictional TV detective. It's an ironic role meant to mirror the obsessive-compulsive nature of Tony Shalhoub's character.

Last year's winner in this category Elaine Stritch is back for her outrageous portrayal of Alec Baldwin's cranky mom on "30 Rock." She appears on this list opposite costar Edie Falco, the three-time Emmy winning star of "The Sopranos" who proved so deft on "30 Rock" that Showtime signed her up for her own series, according to TV Squad. (READ MORE)

Another past Emmy darling, Polly Bergen, is on this list, being honored for doing a good job as Lynette's bad mom on "Desperate Housewives." She won an Emmy in 1957 for portraying the title role in "The Helen Morgan Story" on "Playhouse 90." Bergen also produced the critically acclaimed drama about the Hollywood star's battles with liquor and love. It was nominated for best program of the year, but lost to Rod Serling's "Playhouse 90" drama "The Comedian"

Usually these lists have 10 semifinalists, but the rundown extends to 11 when the vote is narrow between the bottom two vote-getters.

TOP 11 SEMIFINALISTS: GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Polly Bergen, "Desperate Housewives" ("Distant Past")
Edie Falco, "30 Rock" ("Episode 210")
Vivica A. Fox, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ("The Rat Dog")
Kathryn Joosten, "Desperate Housewives" ("Welcome to Kanagawa")
Annie Potts, "Ugly Betty" ("Zero Worship")
Carrie Fisher, "30 Rock" ("Rosemary's Baby")
Shirley Knight, "Desperate Housewives" ("If There's Anything I Can't Stand")
Jane Lynch, "Two and a Half Men" ("Rough Night in Hump Junction")
Amy Ryan, "The Office" ("Goodbye Toby")
Sarah Silverman, "Monk" ("Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan")
Elaine Stritch, "30 Rock" ("LudaChristmas")

(Photos: CBS, USA)


Release of the Emmys' top 10 lists: Roundup of pundit reax

June 30, 2008 |  3:24 pm

So what do media gurus think of the contents of the Emmy top 10 lists of semifinalists for best comedy and drama series? Here's a sampling below. Let's lead off with the esteemed Matt Roush!

TVGUIDE.COM (Matt Roush) — "Emmy Gets Our Hopes Up: The lists are heavy on hip cable fare: four in comedy, and fully half of the 10 drama contenders. Critics' darlings that have survived so far include 'Friday Night Lights,' 'The Wire,' 'Dexter,' 'Mad Men,' Damages,' 'Pushing Daisies' and (with a tip of the cap to my TCA brethren) 'Flight of the Conchords.'

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"Among the headlines here: 'The Wire,' so long neglected, is HBO's only drama contender ....  'Family Guy' breaks the animation jinx to be considered for best comedy — but really, is drama contender 'Boston Legal' any less of a cartoon? — while also double-dipping by submitting its hour-long 'Star Wars' parody in the animated category. First-year series are bringing fresh blood into the process: 'Daisies,' 'Conchords,' 'Damages' and 'Mad Men.'

"So while this isn't a perfect list, it's one that manages to get our hopes up that the blue-ribbon judges will be as impressed as I was by the stunning pilots of 'Daisies,' 'Damages' and 'Mad Men,' the dazzling 'Constant' episode of 'Lost' and the heartbreaking 'Leave No One Behind' episode of 'Friday Night Lights.' The drama category will probably be a real squeaker, given that shows with uneven seasons but strong Emmy track records submitted Emmy-bait stunts, like 'Boston Legal's' Supreme Court spoof and 'House's' Antarctic Super Bowl-night episode."

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (Ray Richmond) — "It's not quite the cable trouncing predicted earlier, but it's also an excellent showing — particularly if you're a comedy on HBO."

NEW YORK POST — "For shows like 'Friday Night Lights,' their inclusion is a major step from critical darling to Emmy darling, which could boost ratings and allow fans (like me!) to continue enjoying the show for seasons to come. After all, back-to-back Emmy wins kept 'Arrested Development' on the air much longer than its pithy ratings should have allowed."

KEEP READING - CLICK HERE!

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Secret Emmys judge No. 2: Thumbs up for 'Pushing Daisies,' 'The Office' & '30 Rock'

June 29, 2008 |  9:42 pm

Our forums moderator Chris "Boomer" Beachum just chatted with secret Emmy judge No. 2 and filed this report — below. Compare this to our reports from secret judge No. 1 (CLICK HERE) and No. 3 (CLICK HERE).

"Today's 10 episodes were viewed in reverse alphabetical order starting with 'Weeds' and ending with 'Curb Your Enthusiasm.' Yesterday's comedy panel was seen in normal alphabetical order.

"This panel had about 30 voters, equally split male and female. Average age appeared to be 40+ (though several men were under age 40).

"One voter had 'Pushing Daisies' as his favorite choice and said voters were 'rapt' throughout.

"Some of the loudest laughs ever during a panel were heard during 'Family Guy.' 'Two and a Half Men' also generated lots of laughs in all the right places.

"'Curb' and 'Conchords' had good audible laughter, but the room was silent sometimes when there should have been laughs.

"'The Office' and '30 Rock' played strongly but didn't have the laugh-out-loud moments of the others. Speculation was that they might just be more funny inside rather than outer. One voter had 'The Office' as his fourth favorite and '30 Rock' as his fifth favorite.

"'Ugly Betty,' 'Entourage' and 'Weeds' didn't seem to go over all that well (just occasional smiles and chuckles). I know that one voter liked 'Weeds' the least overall."


'Family Guy,' '30 Rock,' 'Pushing Daisies' and 'Two and a Half Men' are hits at Sunday's Emmy panels, says secret judge No. 1

June 29, 2008 |  8:04 pm

"Is it possible for HBO not to have a show nominated for best drama and comedy series?" asks our secret Emmy judge No. 1 after attending one of Sunday's panels that screens sample episodes submitted by the Top 10 semifinalists for best comedy series. "It almost seems likely. To the people that will argue that HBO has to pick up at least one nomination in the series categories, I say to them: Know that voters are most likely not making sure that they have one HBO show in their top five."

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Since 1992 HBO has had at least one show in either category. "The Larry Sanders Show" launched its lucky streak in 1993, remaining in the comedy lineup till 1998. The next year "The Sopranos" dawned on the drama side, then many other HBO programs followed in both genres: "Sex and the City," "Deadwood," "Six Feet Under," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Entourage." "Curb" and "Entourage" are eligible to be back this year, but judge No. 1 says that's not a gimme.

"OK, to narrow the top 10 into 5 is tricky, not as clear cut as the dramas," he says. (See his analysis of the drama-series contest HERE.) Compare this report to two others by our secret judges: click HERE and HERE.

"We can start by eliminating 3 shows: 'Weeds,' 'Ugly Betty' and 'Flight of the Conchords.'

"Right now I feel like the comedy series nominees will be 'Family Guy,' 'The Office,' 'Pushing Daisies,' '30 Rock' and 'Two and a Half Men.' 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is on the bubble if 'Family Guy' stumbles for some reason.

" 'Weeds' just doesn't seem to do it for people. If they couldn't get nominated for the pilot then there really isn't a hope of the show making the top 5. I personally love this series and they picked my favorite episode from last season. Unfortunately voters' reaction was lukewarm and therefore it is safe to say that 'Weeds' misses again. Mary-Louise and Elizabeth are hopefully looking at adding nominations to their tally.

" 'Ugly Betty' seems to have gotten stale quite quickly. Think 'Desperate Housewives' Season 2. I don't think the backlash to 'Betty' will be as severe as the Housewives had it during their sophomore season but I think its hope for a comedy-series nomination is close to zero. A smart move for the show would have been using an episode with more Vanessa and less America. Hopefully, Miss Williams will be able to pick up her Emmy this year.

"If 'Friday Night Lights' holds the title for Honor To Make Top 10 Dramas, the show that holds the comedy title would be 'Flight of the Conchords.' I personally enjoy the show and the response was a lot more optimistic than I had expected it to be, but we have to be honest in knowing that it doesn't have much of a prayer.

" 'Pushing Daisies' was by far my favorite episode of the day. Obviously, it isn't the most laugh-out-loud comedy of the bunch, but it really was in a class of its own. Something as special and moving and so immaculately well produced will definitely get nominated. I don't think it will score in the top 3 of the panel voting because so many voters judge by how 'funny' the shows are, but I think the popular vote secures its spot for a nom. All four leads should also be nominated, especially Pace, Friel and McBride.

"Last year's winner ['30 Rock'] submitted wisely once again and it's a no-brainer that the show will land in the nomination circle. The episode was right up the voters' alley. I personally have loved the show since Day 1, and judging by the response it's still in good standing with members. Say what you will about Jane Krakowski but she should have a nomination.

"If I've got to pick the nominations for this category, would I include 'The Office'? No. I was a huge fan of this show, but there came a time when I just had to let it go. It was too much the same. I always felt like it was just going in circles. Most of the laughs come from Steve Carell, but I think he is just as funny on Leno, Conan or 'Unscripted with Anne Hathaway.' I know many people are still on the wagon with this show and for that I am confident in predicting it to land another nomination. The episode submission was fine and had a fairly enthusiastic response from the crowd.

"Name a show that can have many, many decent episodes and then submit one of their better ones and have it go over like a smash for the panel. The show you would be naming is 'Two and a Half Men.' I believe it has done it again. I was sooooo sure that the show wasn't going to be a contender for the top 5 this year. (Note to people who aren't considering this show for their final 5: Reconsider.) Don't underestimate the appeal of this show. It definitely ties for first or places a close second for the show that received the best voter laugh reaction.

" 'Family Guy' was a SMASH!!! It has a very strong shot at the nomination. It was the most laughed at, next to 'Two and a Half Men.' The only thing that would stop the show from scoring at the top of the lists would be a bias over the fact that it is animated. They made the top 10 popular vote and there were so many fans of the show on the panel that I think it could definitely happen. Has anyone considered this show actually winning the Emmy for comedy series? I had to put things into perspective when I voted for this show. I have laughed really hard at episodes of 'The Simpons' and 'King of the Hill.' There is a category for them to compete exclusively and that would be the only thing that hurts it.

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