Alan Ball Six Feet Under
Episode: “Everyone’s Waiting”
Network: HBO
Kudos pedigree in this category: Won in 2002 for “Six Feet Under”
On the resume: “American Beauty”
Executive producers: Ball, Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari, Alan Poul, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Rick Cleveland
Memorable scene from nominated Episode: This critically acclaimed finale, which toned down the histrionics and embraced empathy for all its characters, included a much-talked-about ending montage in which the circumstances of every character’s death is revealed as Claire heads to New York.
Why he may win: Few series figure out how to bring the kind of closure that reminds everyone why they loved the show, and this one did.
Maybe not: Ball has won this before, for the pilot of the series. There’s a nice sense of bookending from Emmy voters, though, with this nomination.
Quote: “I knew that final sequence was a really emotional one,” says Ball. “Because every character leaving their lives, leaving their existence, was tied to Claire’s leaving home and striking out on her own. We don’t really know what happens, if anything, after we die. It is sort of like a big journey into the unknown, just like what she was doing in going to New York even though she knew she didn’t have a job. It was a big leap of faith, and I wanted to sort of capture that kind of fear and excitement you feel when you’re striking out in a new venture in your life.”

Jack Bender Lost
Episode: “Live Together, Die Alone”
Network: ABC
Kudos pedigree in this category: Nominated in 1992 for “Northern Exposure”
On the resume: “Alias,” “Boston Public”
Executive producers: J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk, Bender, Carlton Cuse
Memorable scene from nominated Episode: This two-hour season finale had it all: just enough new info to answer questions, incredible suspense, character development, and a hint at the dramas and enigmas to explore next year.
Why he may win: Voters may want to recognize this oft-puzzled-over ratings juggernaut since it didn’t get a nomination for drama series.
Maybe not: Abrams won in this category last year for the slam-bang pilot.
Quote: “No man is a ‘Lost’ island. Our show is a true team effort,” says Bender.

Jon Cassar 24
Episode: “7:00 a.m.- 8:00 a.m.”
Network: Fox
Kudos pedigree in this category: First Emmy nomination
On the resume: “The Dead Zone,” “La Femme Nikita”
Executive producers: Joel Surnow, Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer, Evan Katz, Robert Cochran
Memorable scene from nominated Episode: Nothing was quite as startling as this fifth season debut, when the beloved President Palmer was assassinated.
Why he may win: Season openers aren’t often as exciting as this one was, even for a show that had been nothing but action for four seasons prior. And “24” has yet to win an Emmy in this category.
Maybe not: Rollicking action may not be voters’ idea of what this award means.
Quote: “Historically, for the show, the fact that we assassinated David Palmer — one of our main characters — made it a huge episode. And it was fun for me as a director, because you’re dealing with new characters: the new president, and his wife. That’s probably why it was exciting, because it’s like doing a pilot every year with a whole bunch of new characters,” says Cassar.

Rodrigo Garcia Big Love
Episode: “Pilot”
Network: HBO
Kudos pedigree in this category: First Emmy nomination
On the resume: “Six Feet Under,” “Nine Lives,” “Boomtown”
Executive producers: Mark V. Olsen, Will Scheffer, Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks
Memorable scene from nominated Episode: Helping to set up the premise of the show, Bill walks through three different house and kisses his three different wives.
Why he may win: All the emotional tendrils of this polygamous household are set up with plenty of humor and emotion, thanks to Garcia’s sturdy but light touch with the material.
Maybe not: The show didn’t become an instant hit in the zeitgeist, and may have fallen off the radar with Emmy voters.
Quote: “I am delighted to be nominated for ‘Big Love.’ Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer created something unique, and it’s great to be a part of it,” says Garcia.

Mimi Leder The West Wing
Episode: “Election Day”
Network: NBC
Kudos pedigree in this category: Nominated in 1996 for “ER” and in 1991 and 1992 for “China Beach,” won in 1995 for “ER”
On the resume: “ER,” “The Peacemaker,” “China Beach”
Executive producers: Lawrence O’Donnell Jr., Peter Noah, Alex Graves, Christopher Misiano, John Wells
Memorable scene from nominated Episode: After flirtations over the entire span of the series, Josh and Donna
finally end up in bed.
Why she may win: As a last hurrah for the series, it could pull out one more win.
Maybe not: This is a category “West Wing” has done well in before — and it’s one that Leder has been triumphant in before, too (for “ER”) — which could mitigate the swan song factor.
Quote: “It was a really well-written script by Lauren Schmidt,” says Leder. “It was an atypical episode in that two characters whom people had fallen in love with for the last seven years finally came together in a very unique way, in that it happened on a day when tensions are at their most high.”

David Nutter The Sopranos
Episode: “Join the Club”
Network: HBO
Kudos pedigree in this category: First Emmy nomination
On the resume: “Nip/Tuck,” “Entourage,” “ER”
Executive producers: David Chase, Brad Grey, Ilene S. Landress, Terence Winter
Memorable scene from nominated Episode: “Join the Club” was a stylistic tour de force in its portrayal of Tony’s unconscious preoccupations, with the Soprano family torn apart in the hospital room and Tony fighting for his life while reeling through his anxieties in the dream sequences.
Why he may win: This show won’t be around much longer, and it hasn’t nabbed a win in this category yet. Maybe not: Not everyone likes “The Sopranos” when it leaves reality behind for dream logic.
Quote: “The unique aspect of David Chase’s script was the left turn it threw in the wake of Tony’s being shot. The episode dove directly into Tony’s consciousness, an actual fugue state that saw his confused sense of identity personified. He was then able to become just a Regular Guy. This bold glimpse into Tony’s tortured and confused self-image was dynamically countered by the concrete concerns of Carmela at the hospital,” says Nutter.

Tim Van Patten The Sopranos
Episode: “Members Only”
Network: HBO
Kudos pedigree in this category: Nommed in 2004 for both “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos”; nominated in 2003 and 2001 for “The Sopranos”
On the resume: “Rome,” “Sex and the City,” “Deadwood”
Executive producers: David Chase, Brad Grey, Ilene S. Landress, Terence Winter
Memorable scene from nominated Episode: The most talked-about storyline was the trials and tribulations of gay mafioso Vito Spatafore, but Dominic Chianese’s perf as as mentally ill Uncle Junior led to the biggest plot twist of all.
Why he may win: Often nominated, but never a winner for this category, this may be the year for one of the show’s directors to pull through, and voters know there will only be one more cluster of episodes left before it’s bye-bye Bada Bing.
Maybe not: There are other formidable shows nominated for their actual final seasons — “The West Wing” and “Six Feet Under.”
Quote: Series showrunner Chase is not always on the set, but “he generally comes around for the Melfi scenes,” vet series helmer Van Patten told Variety in 2004. “Those are the trickiest to shoot. But all the discussions about them are done beforehand. Everything’s planned in great detail.”

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