Veterans take first shots at Emmy gold

The helmers of two Westerns, two dramas featuring main characters named Jane and a fictionalized look at the aftermath of a natural disaster are competing for Emmy gold for best director of a miniseries, movie or dramatic special.

The lineup features a previous directing winner — Walter Hill, who was honored in 2004 for directing the “Deadwood” pilot for HBO.

He also captured the Directors Guild kudo that year and has already won the DGA honor this year for AMC’s “Broken Trail,” which he produced as well.

Yves Simoneau, nommed this year for directing HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” directed and produced the Emmy-nominated mini “The 4400″ in 2004.

Simoneau’s other credits include 2002′s “Napoleon,” which earned nine Emmy noms, and 2000′s “Nuremberg,” which earned three.

“Broken Trail,” AMC’s first original longform, and “Wounded Knee” were both well received by critics and auds. “Trail,” in fact, set a record for basic-cable viewership when its June 2006 bow attracted nearly 10 million viewers.

Both entries from PBS’ “Masterpiece Theatre” — romancer “Jane Eyre” and “Prime Suspect: The Final Act,” starring Helen Mirren as detective Jane Tennison — were helmed by veterans who are enjoying their first brushes with Emmy.

While “Masterpiece Theatre” has been well represented at the Emmys (61 nominations including this year’s 13, and 35 total wins), this has been a tough category for the PBS skein. The last “MT” directing Emmy came in 1975 — back when Gerald R. Ford was president — for an episode of “Upstairs, Downstairs.”

The skein’s most recent win in any category came last year, for cinematography and makeup for “Bleak House.”

This is one of nine categories with “Broken Trail,” “Jane Eyre” and “Wounded Knee” going head-to-head-to-head.

The others are art direction, casting, cinematography, costumes, single-camera editing, hairstyling, sound mixing and writing.

Bharat Nalluri, who directed HBO’s “Tsunami, the Aftermath,” also picked up his first Emmy nomination this year.

Walter Hill
Show: “Broken Trail” (AMC)
Logline: Two cowboys drive 500 horses from Oregon to Wyoming to sell, and along the way they fight Indians, fend off horse thieves and rescue five Chinese girls from prostitution.
Emmy pedigree: One win
Why he may win: Hill has the DGA kudo in his saddlebag for this one.
Maybe not: It could split the oater vote with “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”

Philip Martin
Show: “Prime Suspect: The Final Act (Masterpiece Theatre)” (PBS)
Logline: Helen Mirren returns to her Emmy-winning role as hard-working Det. Superintendent Jane Tennison in the seventh and final installment of the British crime series/
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Why he may win: Martin captures the decline of a veteran cop as she solves one last homicide and continues a slide, which started during “PS6,” into the sunset of her career.
Maybe not: Voters may figure that Martin came to one of the finest police procedurals, starring a brilliant actress, and all he needed to do was get out of the way. Phil Jackson gets a similar rap after having coached superstars to nine NBA titles.

Bharat Nalluri
Show: “Tsunami, the Aftermath” (HBO)
Logline: Two-part miniseries follows the lives of fictional characters who survived one of recorded history’s deadliest natural disasters, which killed nearly 230,000 people on Dec. 26, 2004.
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Why he may win: Nalluri revisits a horrific story everyone knows from the news and goes beyond cliched disaster pic by using a dozen characters to examine the tsunami’s effects on the survivors once the deadly wave subsided.
Maybe not: “Tsunami” received three nominations (supporting actress and editing besides this one), but failed to capture one for best miniseries.

Yves Simoneau
Show: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” (HBO)
Logline: Adaptation of Dee Alexander Brown’s 1971 book about the final years of conflict between the U.S. Army and native Americans after the Sioux victory over Gen. Custer at Little Big Horn.
Emmy pedigree: One nom
Why he may win: Simoneau has Dick Wolf in his corner.
Maybe not: Last year’s epic Western, TNT’s “Into the West,” corralled 16 nominations but could only muster two Emmys in technical categories (music composition and sound mixing) when the votes were counted.

Susanna White
Show: “Jane Eyre (Masterpiece Theatre” (PBS)
Logline: Adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s gothic love story, starring Ruth Wilson in the title role of a spirited but plain woman who escapes a sadistic orphanage to find true romance.
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Why she may win: It rises to the level of and even exceeds, according to some critics, White’s acclaimed work on 2005′s “Bleak House.”
Maybe not: The “Masterpiece Theatre” two-parter didn’t make the cut for best miniseries.

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