Whose Emmy strategies worked, and whose didn't?

Fri Jul 9, 2010 2:42am EDT
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By Randee Dawn

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Given all the Emmy submission gamesmanship this season, it's worth checking in on which strategies were successful and which failed to deliver that golden nomination.

The most high-profile Emmy strategists this year were the "Modern Family" cast. The ensemble submitted solely in the supporting actor and actress comedy categories. That worked great: They earned five nominations.

Well, it worked great for everyone except Ed O'Neill, arguably the catalyst behind the mass movement. As the biggest star of the bunch, he could have submitted in the lead category without too much political fallout -- but he didn't and now he's out of the running altogether. Some may call it a "Married ... with Children" curse; neither O'Neill nor his former leading lady Katey Sagal ("Sons of Anarchy") got a nod this year, despite heavy tipping in their direction.

"Mad Men" employed a more successful strategy. January Jones was submitted as lead actress, leaving the road clear for Elisabeth Moss to vie for supporting. Both got what they wanted, and Christina Hendricks' addition in the supporting category is a red-headed cherry on top.

Similarly, John Lithgow petitioned for a guest slot from his "Dexter" role (rather than supporting, even though he appeared in most of the episodes) and picked up a nomination. Many believed Terry O'Quinn should have submitted in lead category for "Lost," but he went supporting and both he and Michael Emerson were nominated, leaving a lead spot open for Matthew Fox to sneak in.

On the down side, Chris Noth in "The Good Wife" may have lost out on a nomination by submitting as supporting actor rather than guest actor.

Perhaps strategy works best when mixed with emotional sentiment. Conan O'Brien's "Tonight Show" broke into the comedy, music or variety series category, riding a wave of industry sentiment against NBC's handling of his departure. O'Brien sub'd himself (with help from a funny campaign by his new employer, TBS); while Leno was ignored once again.

Sentiment may also be behind the two acting nods for Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton -- long critical darlings on the highly-praised, rarely-watched, nearly-over "Friday Night Lights."

But sentiment only goes so far. "Law & Order" is ending its 20-year run but failed to score a series or actor nomination -- even for favorite S. Epatha Merkerson. That leaves "L&O" without a single lead or supporting acting win in its 20 seasons.