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Thesp races open to a new mix of noms

Globes more likely to react to TV buzz

Predicting which stars will make the cut in the annual Golden Globes TV races is far from easy — and that’s a good thing. Unlike the stuffy, cliquey Emmy crowd, Globe voters love to mix things up and invite new faces to the party.

“They tend to react to the buzzometer in a way that the Emmys are sometimes too stubborn to do,” says TV Guide critic Matt Roush.

Making noise this season are Geena Davis, as the first woman president on ABC’s “Commander in Chief,” and Jason Lee as the white-trash-with-a-guilty-conscience protagonist of NBC’s “My Name Is Earl.”

Also looking like prime Globes contenders are ABC’s breakout hospital soap “Grey’s Anatomy,” and its attractive cast toplined by Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey and Emmy nominee Sandra Oh.

Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that all the elements are in place for Golden Globes attention. “For ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ this is their bust-out year. There’s a hipness to it: It’s soapy with a good soundtrack and a lot of sex,” he notes.

It’s a recipe that recalls last year’s Globe winner for drama series, FX’s “Nip/Tuck.”

Davis and Pompeo are just two of the numerous contenders for lead actress in a drama series, which is shaping up to be one of this year’s toughest, and freshest, competitions. Other first-timers include surprise Emmy winner (and likely Globe nom) Patricia Arquette of NBC’s “Medium,” Glenn Close for her seasonlong stint on FX’s “The Shield,” Kyra Sedgwick as the tough cop on TNT’s “The Closer” and Kristen Bell from UPN’s cult fave “Veronica Mars.”

“Alias’ ” Jennifer Garner, “Nip/Tuck’s” Joely Richardson and last year’s winner, “Law & Order: SVU’s” Mariska Hargitay, are hoping for repeat noms, but annual invitations are hardly a given. Two years ago Frances Conroy and Anthony LaPaglia took home the drama honors for HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and CBS’ “Without a Trace,” respectively. Last year neither was nominated.

Once you’re out it’s hard to break back in, likely leaving Conroy’s acclaimed work on the final season of the HBO skein down for the count.

Other newbies poised to benefit from buzzworthy series in various categories are Hugh Laurie, the grumpy doc on Fox’s “House”; the escape-minded Wentworth Miller of Fox’s “Prison Break”; suburban moms Mary-Louise Parker and Elizabeth Perkins on Showtime’s “Weeds”; UPN’s “Everybody Hates Chris” family members Tichina Arnold and Tyler James Williams; and Steve Carell, the boss from hell on NBC’s “The Office.”

Uncharacteristically muted in this year’s award chatter are the latest offerings from cool cablers HBO and FX. HBO/BBC co-production “Rome,” with its stellar production values and massive cast, is viewed as a wild card. It has yet to strike a pop culture chord the way HBO’s “The Sopranos” or “Deadwood” have, but then Globes attention could change that. Cast members most often singled out for praise are the brutish Ray Stevenson (“He makes Russell Crowe look like a sissy,” notes Roush) and gloriously bitchy Polly Walker.

Another HBO/BBC series, “Extras,” is in the hunt for a comedy actor nom for star Ricky Gervais, who won a Globe for his work in the U.K. “The Office.”

Last year, FX shows secured three of the five drama actor slots with stars of “Nip/Tuck,” “Rescue Me” and “The Shield.” The cabler will have to hope for repeat noms as its latest offering, the little seen Iraq war drama “Over There,” is viewed as a long shot in the acting races.

The net’s comedies, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Starved,” suffer from even lower profiles than “Over There.”

But every year there are the inevitable “snubs,” and even starring on a hot show doesn’t guarantee a Globe nom. Just ask “Lost” star Matthew Fox (and any of his fellow cast members) or “Desperate Housewives” sexpot Eva Longoria. Despite the copious media attention their skeins received last season, both thesps are seeking their first noms this time around.

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