Cultural Learnings’ 2008 60th Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

Last year, during this important period of the pre-Emmy festivities, I had a bit more time to really delve into some key issues. This year, things are busier, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to make some prognostications about the end results. I’m going to be discussing more themes and the like tomorrow in my Emmy Preview, but for now let’s get to what we really care about: predicting who is actually going to walk home with Emmy Awards.

Outstanding Drama Series

  • Boston Legal (ABC)
  • Damages (FX)
  • Dexter (Showtime)
  • House (FOX)
  • Lost (ABC)
  • Mad Men (AMC)

There is some wiggle room here, as each some has something (Pedigree, viewership, buzz, etc.) that makes it stand out, but there is nothing on this list quite as emphatically received and, more importantly, different from your standard fare than Mad Men. I’ll discuss more of this tomorrow, but its combination of a small network, a small fanbase, fresh-faced actors and its attention to detail will be unstoppable.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • James Spader (Boston Legal)
  • Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
  • Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
  • Hugh Laurie (House)
  • Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
  • Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment)

This is a category where only one thing is important: that James Spader finally loses. Either Hamm, C. Hall or Laurie are in a position to usurp last year’s winner, and I’ve got my money on Michael C. Hall. After getting snubbed here last year, and with his show in the big race, voters might choose to recognize his brave and fantastic performance even when the show itself loses them with its dark atmosphere. But, this is maybe the night’s most up in the air race.

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Sally Field (Brothers & Sisters)
  • Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
  • Holly Hunter (Saving Grace)
  • Glenn Close (Damages)
  • Mariska Hargitay (Law and Order: SVU)

This race, however, is not up in the air at all. Its highly serialized nature and red herring use might keep it from being the best drama series on television, but there is no way that Emmy Voters can ignore Close’s pedigree with such a richly portrayed character (even if I’d argue that character isn’t nearly as important as voters might think it is to the show’s success).

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Michael Emerson (Lost)
  • Ted Danson (Damages)
  • William Shatner (Boston Legal)
  • Zeljko Ivanek (Damages)
  • John Slattery (Mad Men)

This is one of those categories where I’ve got to go with my gut – sure it might not be possible to stop Ted Danson’s career resurgence playing so far against type as Arthur Frobisher, but Michael Emerson was such an acting highlight this season on Lost, and he and Ivanek have amazing material that shouldn’t be allowed to go unnoticed. In the end, Emerson deserves this award.

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Dianne Wiest (In Treatment)
  • Candice Bergen (Boston Legal)
  • Rachel Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters)
  • Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy)

Yawn. This category is just very boring, there’s nothing more to it than that. I’d argue that there’s two major wrongs that need to be righted here: Sandra Oh’s lack of an Emmy for her earlier work on Grey’s, and Rachel Griffiths’ lack of an Emmy for her earlier work on Six Feet Under. But, since the Emmys don’t listen to me very often, I’ll say that Candice Bergen pulls a Blythe Danner/Tyne Daly and waltzes away with the award.

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • 30 Rock (NBC)
  • The Office (NBC)
  • Entourage (HBO)
  • Two and a Half Men (CBS)
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

30 Rock was the best comedy on television last season. It has the most critical buzz, the most high profile guest stars, the most clout amongst Television Elite, and after their surprise win last year have won almost everything under the sun (Except for the SAG, which The Office took home). With a bit of a weak 4th year from that show, though, Tina Fey should waltz off with at least one Emmy.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
  • Steve Carell (The Office)
  • Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
  • Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies)
  • Tony Shahloub (Monk)

It’s the epic battle we expected to see put to rest last year until Ricky Gervais took home a stunning win, which means that it’ll be at least two years before both Alec Baldwin and Steve Carell have their rightful Emmys. This year belongs to Baldwin, however: the oft-quoted and mentioned therapy scene really is as funny as people make it out to be, and when people are calling it “Alec Baldwin’s Emmy Tape” the second it airs I don’t think anyone can beat that level of hype.

Leading Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?)
  • America Ferrera (Ugly Betty)
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock)
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus (New Adventures…Old Christine)
  • Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)

This is a tough category to call, but let’s not get too caught up in it. It’s really a race between Applegate and Fey, two people that Television really likes and who they enjoy seeing succeed. In this instance, I’d have to say that Samantha Who just wasn’t on people’s cultural radars enough to draw the type of support Applegate needed to get the win, while Fey just had a much higher profile. Tina Fey takes home the Emmy to match her SAG and Golden Globe Awards.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Rainn Wilson (The Office)
  • Kevin Dillon (Entourage)
  • Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
  • Jeremy Piven (Entourage)

I love Jeremy Piven, I really do, but he cannot win this award. Really, this should be a battle between Wilson, who continues to do amazing work as Dwight on The Office, and Neil Patrick Harris, who continues to be insanely funny. NPH got robbed last year for his amazing performance in Showdown, but even with a weaker tape this year I think that there has to be some sort of justice. I apparently have a thing about totally reckless supporting actor picks, but NPH it is.

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies)
  • Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live)
  • Jean Smart (Samantha Who?)
  • Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men)
  • Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty)

There are two schools of thought in this category: one is that Vanessa Williams’ continued popularity and her loss last year make her the definite favourite. The others, however, point out quite rightly that Amy Poehler’s tape is more varied, longer, and broader than anything else the rest of the category has to offer. It is so fundamentally different, in fact, that it’s really hard to predict what’s going to happen when voters cast thier ballots. So, I’m predicting the delightful Kristin Chenoweth and calling it a day.

Outstanding Reality Competition Program

  • The Amazing Race (CBS)
  • American Idol (FOX)
  • Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
  • Project Runway (Bravo)
  • Top Chef (Bravo)

I’m predicting that it will finally happen: with numerous pop culture references, Heidi Klum’s hosting nomination, and a great deal of public support behind it, I think that voters might finally end the five-year winning streak of The Amazing Race (my favourite reality show) by handing the award to Project Runway, a show for which I have definite appreciation.

Outstanding Reality Host

  • Jeff Probst (Survivor)
  • Howie Mandel (Deal or No Deal)
  • Heidi Klum (Project Runway)
  • Tom Bergeron (Dancing with the Stars)
  • Ryan Seacrest (American Idol)

I feel as if Jeff Probst probably deserves this Emmy in some ways, but I honestly feel like Tom Bergeron has the toughest job in television: being funny on a show that is so cliched and gaudy is not something that just anyone can do, but Bergeron brings to Dancing with the Stars a lightness and, more importantly, a sense of self-deprecation that he is honestly often the show’s redemptive figure.

The Other Awards

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series

Alan Taylor (Mad Men – “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”) – Easy decision on this one, as the pilot’s strength in direction is one of the things that makes it such a knockout when it comes to awards season.

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series

David Simon, Ed Burns (The Wire – “-30-“) – Sure, it’s a bit of a sentimental choice, but with the two Mad Men episodes splitting the vote I think that there’s a chance that it could be Simon and Burns finally winning one of the damn trophies that they’ve deserved for a while now.

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series

Barry Sonnenfeld (Pushing Daisies – “Pie-Lette”) – It’s visually stunning, unique in its setting, and charming in many ways because Sonnenfeld directs it with such life. There’s a lot of tricks to Fuller’s script, and Sonnenfeld really kept them from spiralling into control (if that makes sense) as opposed to the organized chaos that defines the series’ aesthetic.

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series

Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies – “Pie-Lette”) – If history tells us anything (See: My Name is Earl winning in this category), a show doesn’t need to be a big nominee to get love from their own. With the other major shows getting most of their love from performers, it’s Pushing Daisies that will find their appreciation in these categories. Fuller’s script, in particular, was lauded the moment the pilot leaked onto the internet, and the hype hasn’t died down in over a year. At least for me.

Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety Series

Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) – The man has been robbed of this award twice, and Don Rickles remains in the wings as the “Pedigreed Performer who Beats Stephen Colbert,” but I’d like to think that the Emmys will soon realize the level to which Colbert has trumped Jon Stewart from a comic performance perspective. Also watch out for Tina Fey, here with her fourth nomination (Producing, performing and writing 30 Rock, and here for hosting Saturday Night Live).

Outstanding Variety, Comedy or Musical Series

Saturday Night Live – The Daily Show is running a five year streak on this award, and while it’s entirely possible that it will continue that streak I have a feeling based on Fey and Poehler’s nominations that SNL might break through (even if it doesn’t at all deserve it considering that the show isn’t any better than its been in recent years). As always, watch out for Colbert.

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series

The Colbert Report – After Conan O’Brien got his legacy win last year, it’s time to honour the hottest commodity in farcical fake news already.

Outstanding Miniseries

John Adams (HBO) – A total no-brainer, the miniseries has already won something ridiculous like 8 Emmys from the Creative Arts portion, so this award seems like the evening’s biggest lock.

Outstanding Made for Television Movie

Recount (HBO) – I think it’s a bit of a long shot to be honest, but I really enjoyed Recount and feel that its collection of wonderful performances (Laura Dern, Kevin Spacey, Tom Wilkinson, etc.) should be recognized, if not individually, by recognizing the strong production.

Whew. With that out of the way, I’ll be back tomorrow with some general thoughts on the pattern of the awards and what they could mean for the future of television (Preview: Not that much, but maybe more than usual), and then back Sunday night for an epic Emmys LiveBlog.

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3 Comments

Filed under Emmy Awards

3 responses to “Cultural Learnings’ 2008 60th Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

  1. Waterland

    It’s a shame that the sci-fi genre goes largely ignored—Edward James Olmos, James Callas, and Mary McDonnell (of Battlestar Galactica) have been wrongly ignored. These 3 hugely talented people from the best drama on television should have gotten their due.

  2. Couldn’t agree much more, Waterland – the ignorance to BSG in any non-technical categories is a long-standing problem. Perhaps the only consolation to the delay before the show’s fourth season is that they have a chance to maybe gain the nominations they deserve next year.

  3. Pingback: Cultural Learnings’ 2008 60th Primetime Emmys LiveBlog « Cultural Learnings

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