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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fresh faces and veteran players in new roles are expected to grab the spotlight when nominations are announced on Thursday for the primetime Emmy Awards -- the highest honors in the television industry.
But potential Emmy newcomers, like "Glee" star Jane Lynch and Sofia Vergara of comedy "Modern Family," along with old hands Julianna Margulies of "The Good Wife" and Edie Falco's pill-popping "Nurse Jackie" will be joined by actors from Emmy favorites like comedy "30 Rock", and dramas "Mad Men" and "House" after a strong TV season.
The winners of the 62nd Emmy Awards, organized by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, will be announced on August 29 in Los Angeles. Jimmy Fallon will host the ceremony.
TV insiders hope the nominations will inject fresh blood and excitement into a field which has been dominated in recent years by the same little-watched contenders. In 2009, "Mad Men" was named best drama for a second year, and "30 Rock" best comedy for a third.
"This year, there are two serious threats in the race for best comedy series -- Fox's 'Glee' and ABC's 'Modern Family' -- which will revitalize the Emmys, and both have an excellent chance of winning," said Tom O'Neil of awards website TheEnvelope.com.
In the best drama category, "Mad Men" on cable channel AMC, is expected to be challenged by law series "The Good Wife" on CBS -- one of the season's biggest new hits with some 13 million regular viewers -- and FX outlaw motorcycle gang series "Sons of Anarchy."
Margulies, the former Nurse Hathaway on hospital drama "ER", is seen as a certain best actress nominee for her role as the stoic spouse of a disgraced district attorney in "The Good Wife" after winning both the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards earlier this year.
Katey Sagal, the former "Married ... with Children" star who plays scheming matriarch Gemma Teller Morrow in "Sons of Anarchy", is seen as overdue for a nomination.
"If Katey Sagal does not get nominated ... there is a serious problem in this industry," Hollywood casting director Cathy Reinking told industry web site Backstage in June.
Sci-fi drama series "Lost" is expected to pick up a nomination for its climactic final season on ABC. Showtime's "Dexter," starring Michael C. Hall as a crime analyst who moonlights as a vigilante serial killer, is seen as having his best shot yet at beating two-time champion Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" to the best dramatic actor Emmy trophy.
One of the biggest dramas, however, could come in the variety show nominations. Both Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien's versions of NBC's "The Tonight Show" have been submitted for consideration, setting the stage for a final showdown in NBC's disastrous late night talk show wars.
Premium cable channel Showtime, which also broadcasts likely nominee "Nurse Jackie" starring ex- "Sopranos" star Falco, and "The United States of Tara", starring Emmy winner Toni Collette as a woman with multiple personalities, could give rival HBO its biggest challenge yet in total Emmy nominations.
HBO is expected to make its mark with TV movies "You Don't Know Jack" with Al Pacino, World War Two mini-series "The Pacific", and post-Hurricane Katrina drama "Treme".
HBO is a unit of Time Warner Inc; ABC is owned by Walt Disney Co; NBC is a division of General Electric Co; Fox and FX are part of News Corp; CBS and Showtime are part of CBS Corp; AMC is owned by Cablevision Systems Corp.
Editing by Dean Goodman