Rookie TV shows have strong shot at Emmy glory

Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:59am EDT
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By Christopher Lisotta

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - If the first time is a charm, then 2010 could be shaping up as a downright charming year for a host of rookie Emmy nominees.

As voting wraps up Tuesday, buzz is building behind freshmen series "The Good Wife," "Glee" and "Modern Family," any of which could wrest key wins from veteran series like "30 Rock" and "Mad Men," which have become the shows to beat.

Don't be too surprised to see some fresh faces on stage at the Nokia Theater on August 29. While the Emmys have a reputation for rewarding favorites ("The Amazing Race," anyone?), the reality is that debut performances often catch the eye of voters.

The TV Academy has had no problem giving away Emmy statuettes to first-time actor nominees, especially "if there is a nice momentum" for their series or their performances, says Wesley Hyatt, a TV historian and the author of "Emmy Award Winning Nighttime Television Shows 1948-2004."

In 1971, Jean Stapleton won the lead actress in a comedy Emmy for CBS' new hit "All in the Family," while fellow rookie sitcom "Mary Tyler Moore" nabbed a supporting actor Emmy for Ed Asner and a supporting actress statuette for Valerie Harper. Besides writing and directing nods that year, "All in the Family" also went on to win a category where most debuting shows come up short: outstanding series.

"MTM" didn't win a comedy series Emmy for five seasons, while seminal genre-definers "M*A*S*H," "Seinfeld," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "The Sopranos" and "ER" failed to make the series win their first season out as well (it took the slower-to-catch-on "Seinfeld" and "Raymond" a couple seasons to even get nominated).

"It's typical to have to wait and win in this category," Hyatt says.

But Hyatt can't deny the current enthusiasm surrounding "Glee" and its genre-bending use of music, wit and drama, and "Modern Family," which he calls a "fresh twist on the family sitcom." He hesitates to handicap both series' chances, particularly in the acting categories, where both shows have multiple nominations. Because actors submit individual episodes of their own choosing for Emmy consideration, Hyatt argues that prognosticating a winner is impossible.   Continued...