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Supporting Actress: Comedy

Six pack heavy on 'Men' women

Unable to narrow it down to the usual five slots, Emmy voters opened up the comedy supporting actress race to six nominees, with two women hailing from the same show: Holland Taylor and Conchata Ferrell of CBS’ ratings smash “Two and a Half Men.”

Neither of these veteran actresses is a stranger to Emmy. They faced off in this category in 2005, both losing out to perennial “Everybody Loves Raymond” fave Doris Roberts. Taylor does already, however, have a statue on her mantel with a win in 1999 for her turn as Judge Roberta Kittleson on ABC’s David E. Kelley series “The Practice.”

Taylor and Ferrell aren’t the only returning nominees this time around. “My Name Is Earl’s” Jaime Pressly and Elizabeth Perkins of “Weeds” both competed here last year.

“The Office’s” Jenna Fischer and “Ugly Betty’s” Vanessa Williams are both first-time nominees. “Betty” stands out in this field as a one-hour series, rather than most comedies that clock in at 30 minutes. Whether that helps or hurts Williams’ chances remains to be seen.

Historically, voters have favored actresses from the more typical three-camera, studio-audience sitcom in this category as evidenced by the aforementioned Roberts’ domination in recent years

That said, Cynthia Nixon of “Sex and the City” managed to snag the award in 2004, and Felicity Huffman took top comedy actress prize in the one-hour “Desperate Housewives” in 2005.

Conchata Ferrell
Show: “Two and a Half Men”
Emmy pedigree: Two noms
Best scene: In “Repeated Blows to His Unformed Head,” Berta sits in the bathroom, sobbing because her daughter Naomi is pregnant. When Charlie assures Berta it isn’t her fault, she shoots back, “Who said anything about it being my fault, you nimrod!”
Why she may win: The ultimate sitcom scene stealer, Ferrell doesn’t even need to utter a line to get noticed.
Maybe not: Ferrell’s character is not at the forefront of most of the storylines on the series, whereas other nominees in this category carry more of the load on their respective shows.

Jenna Fischer
Show: “The Office”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: After completing the hot coal walk during the “Beach Games” episode, an exuberant Pam approaches her co-workers, who are gathered around a fire, to confess that she canceled her wedding because of Jim, and she misses him being her best friend.
Why she may win: Pam is a rather complicated, vulnerable young woman who often bottles up her emotions. Fischer’s impressive work to subtly reveal her character’s innermost feelings is noteworthy.
Maybe not: Subtlety doesn’t always make a big impression when going up against humor that’s more physical and slapstick.

Elizabeth Perkins
Show: “Weeds”
Emmy pedigree: One nom
Best scene: Celia becomes agitated in “Mrs. Botwin’s Neighborhood” when Nancy wants to ditch election phone-bank duty, and grab’s Nancy’s hair as she makes her way toward the door.
Why she may win: Perkins takes what could be a stereotypical character — the bitchy, suburban PTA mom — and infuses her with a dark complexity.
Maybe not: The subject matter may offend some.

Jaime Pressly
Show: “My Name Is Earl”
Emmy pedigree: One nom
Best scene: Joy is on “happy pills” to control her anger, but the medication can’t keep her from confronting her neighbors in “South of the Border, Part Uno/Dos” after they bonk one of her kids on the head with a beer.
Why she may win: Pressly is a pro at the over-the-top slapstick required by her role, but she also conveys Joy’s love for her family and friends.
Maybe not: As good as Pressly is, some might consider it a one-note character, and the trashy “Jerry Springer” act may wear thin.

Holland Taylor
Show: “Two and a Half Men”
Emmy pedigree: One win plus three other noms
Best scene: In “The Sea Is a Harsh Mistress,” Evelyn is having a heart-to-heart talk with Charlie, who tells his mom why he never talks with her about his life. Evelyn assures Charlie that she merely wants him to be the best he can be. When Charlie says he is, Evelyn, clearly in disagreement, retorts, “Oh, darling, that just breaks my heart.”
Why she may win: There aren’t many comedic roles for older women, but when they’re nominated, a win is often in the cards. Ask Doris Roberts.
Maybe not: Two women from “Men” in the same race might hurt her chances.

Vanessa Williams
Show: “Ugly Betty”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: In “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Wilhelmina tortures Claire, who is chained to a hospital bed detoxing, by offering her a nice, stiff drink in order to get her to sign over power of attorney so she can run the magazine.
Why she may win: Williams isn’t afraid to look downright silly or plain evil in the role of the beauty-obsessed fashion editor. And her non-TV work — hit albums, appearing on Broadway — make her an extremely well-rounded candidate.
Maybe not: Williams’ alter ego can be so outrageous that she may come off as too broad. Having a bit of nuance to the character might be better off than being so broad and one-dimensional.

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