Two Queens face off with 'Bride,' 'Wife,' 'God'
Oh, it’s Helen Mirren time again.The venerable English thesp who only recently made the rounds of the kudos circuit culminating in an Oscar for her role in “The Queen” is now on the Emmy stage. She’s been nominated six times for her role as Det. Jane Tennison in the U.K. “Prime Suspect” series, winning in 1996. The multiple noms means voters certainly are taken with what Mirren has done with the character. HBO, which is often dominant in the miniseries/movie category, only has one nom here in Queen Latifah, for her turn in “Life Support.” Known by many for her musical abilities rather than as a straight-up dramatic actress, “Life” offered Latifah a chance to branch out. Three thesps were nominated for “The Starter Wife,” which Emmy fell for hard. As lead, Debra Messing found the loneliness and wickedness of Hollywood and turned that into her first non-”Will & Grace” nod. Gena Rowlands has had a remarkable career and represents old-school Hollywood, which older voters may appreciate. Her four nominations (including a win) through the past seven years means she’s as vibrant and busy as ever. Pulling off a rare double in receiving acting noms for two different projects, Mary-Louise Parker is a woman with a mysterious past in Oxygen’s “The Robber Bride.” Queen Latifah
Show: “Life Support”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: Ana (Latifah) and her husband Slick (Wendell Pierce) get into an emotional shouting match over who infected whom with the HIV virus.
Why she may win: Her performance is the stirring centerpiece of a powerful drama about the somewhat forgotten epidemic among everyday, monogamous, working-class women.
Maybe not: Although she has gained respect for her work in recent years, most notably with an Oscar nom for “Chicago” in 2003, she is up against two venerated practitioners of the craft in her category, Helen Mirren and Gena Rowlands. Debra Messing
Show: “The Starter Wife”
Emmy pedigree: One win plus four other noms
Best scene: Messing’s Molly, after her separation, encounters nothing but icy stares from other high-powered wives when she shows up at a kid’s birthday party with her gay decorator best friend.
Why she may win: The role of a Hollywood wife thrown aside for a young bimbo might grab some sympathy from a particular segment of voters.
Maybe not: Although Messing’s turn was impressive, the production itself received a lukewarm reception among critics, some of whom thought it was too cliched. Helen Mirren
Show: “Prime Suspect: The Final Act”
Emmy pedigree: Three wins plus five other noms
Best scene: With Jane Tennison’s alcoholism in high gear, she works a police interview room while reeking of booze and dances drunk.
Why she may win: Mirren is retiring a beloved character, and the Acad might want to send her out with praise.
Maybe not: She is coming off an Oscar win for “The Queen” and won an Emmy last year in this category for “Elizabeth I.” The voters may feel she has been recognized enough. Mary-Louise Parker
Show: “The Robber Bride”
Emmy pedigree: One win plus one other nom
Best scene: An insurance investigator and ex-cop looking into the apparent murder of Parker’s Zenia comes across a bloody finger and then sees three of her friends who appear to be celebrating her death.
Why she may win: While the film received a mixed reception, Parker’s work was almost universally lauded.
Maybe not: It’s difficult for an actress to win in two separate categories, and there may be a feeling that her chances in “Weeds” are greater. Gena Rowlands
Show: “What If God Were the Sun”
Emmy pedigree: Three wins plus three other noms
Best scene: When Rowlands’ Mrs. Eisenbloom tries to tell a young nurse that she believes in an afterlife, she gets a cold, unsettling reply: “You’re just saying that because you’re dying and you want it to be true.”
Why she may win: Rowlands has been beloved in the acting community since the days when she made seminal indies with hubby John Cassavetes.
Maybe not: Despite Rowlands’ majestic presence, the film itself was dismissed as an overwrought weepie.