Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Ricky Gervais, “Extras”
Tony Shalhoub, “Monk”
Charlie Sheen, “Two and a Half Men”
I think Alec Baldwin will and should win for best actor in a comedy. When he appears on the screen as Jack Donaghy, I can’t wait to hear not only what comes out of his mouth but how he’ll deliver the lines. That kind of high anticipation is a sure-fire setup for disappointment with most actors, but Baldwin comes through just about every time. Baldwin is the brightest spot on a show full of them, and it makes me feel truly sorry for people who aren’t watching “30 Rock.”
The real problem with the lead actor in a comedy category is that some of the funniest shows on TV right now, such as “Entourage,” “The Office” and “How I Met Your Mother,” are great ensembles. It’s impossible to single out an individual in comedy beyond Baldwin, Carell and Lee.
Hands down, Baldwin deserves the win for his portrayal of a venal NBC executive who should be despicable and yet comes across as likable in spite, or maybe because, of his eccentricities. But he’ll only win if Emmy voters tune out Baldwin’s real-life troubles (the nasty answering machine message left for his daughter) and give the award for the work and the work alone. I’m not convinced they’ll do that, so previous winners Carell or Shalhoub may take home the trophy.
Both of these look like bandwagon Academy locks — for Alec Baldwin and America Ferrera. But I’d pick Ricky Gervais from “Extras” and Tina Fey of “30 Rock.” Both are the architects as well as the stars of their shows. Gervais remains one of the best pure comedy actors in the business, and Fey was instrumental in making Baldwin look good.
Apologies to Tina Fey — who I think is fantastic — but quite simply, if it wasn’t for Alec Baldwin, there would be no “30 Rock.” He plays Jack Donaghy with a perfect mixture of sleaziness, cockiness and over-the-topness, without going overboard and becoming a total caricature. I revel in Baldwin’s genius when he’s onscreen and pine for him when he’s not.
Critics’ reactions in all categories were collected by TCA member Kathy Tracy.