There’s plenty of shake-up compared with last year, as only Holland Taylor and Vanessa Williams have been invited back to the party.
One thing’s for sure: Whoever takes home the crown will earn her first Emmy in the category.
Due to a change in eligibility standards, Amy Poehler’s inclusion brings a fresh look to how the Academy views supporting players. Poehler’s impersonations of Sen. Hillary Clinton on “Saturday Night Live” not only made for wonderful satire, but it absolutely affected how the presidential race was covered. Wonder if there should be a separate Emmy for that?
The formats of the shows these women are nominated for couldn’t be more diverse: “SNL” is sketch comedy, “Ugly Betty” and “Pushing Daisies” are hourlong dramedies, “Two and a Half Men” is a traditional studio-audience sitcom, and “Samantha Who?” is a single-camera laffer.
There’s no defending champ in the race — Jaime Pressly (“My Name Is Earl”) isn’t back — and little consistency when trying to suss out a trend with past winners.
One thing’s for sure: Each of these women has lots of talent that goes way beyond the smallscreen. Both Williams and Kristin Chenoweth have sung on Broadway, while Taylor trained with the Joffrey Ballet in the late ’70s. Jean Smart has now been nominated for four different series, and Poehler has a busy upcoming schedule, including more “SNL” skits and then segueing to a new comedy series on NBC from “The Office” exec producer Greg Daniels.
Show: “Pushing Daisies”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: Chenoweth spent the season deftly delivering pages of smartly written dialogue, and she continued to do so in “Corpsicle,” when Olive pushed aside her romantic jealousy and finally connected with Chuck as she did in earlier episodes with Chuck’s eccentric aunts.
Why she might win: Sweet as pie in the skein, the Tony Award winner played a key character in Bryan Fuller’s colorful ensemble and did so impeccably.
Maybe not: While she revealed a past life as a jockey and sang that she was hopelessly devoted to Ned, her opportunities to charm Emmy voters were limited because there were only nine “Daisies” episodes due to the writers strike.
Show: “Saturday Night Live”
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: Appearing with Sen. Hillary Clinton during an opening sketch — both wearing the same two-button brown jacket and sporting medium-length, layered hairstyles — Poehler complimented the presidential candidate on her outfit. Clinton returned the kind words and added, “But I do want the earrings back.” That prompted a Clintonesque hyperbolic cackle from Poehler.
Why she might win: In her seventh season on the latenight institution, and her third as co-anchor of “Weekend Update,” Poehler has earned plenty of praise. An Emmy would be a tangible way to recognize her talents before she departs from “SNL.”
Maybe not: Voters may consider the nomination a win because, due to changes in eligibility, it’s a first that an “SNL” performer has landed a spot in this category.
Show: “Samantha Who?”
Emmy pedigree: Two wins plus three other noms
Best scene: Sam confronts her mother about having an elicit rendezvous, but Regina stands her ground. “Don’t you judge me for something you’ve done a thousand times,” she says, before adding: “I’ll see you at home for dinner. I made scallop potatoes.”
Why she might win: Smart is an actress who’s equally adept at drama and comedy. This would be her first Emmy outside of a pair of wins for guest performances on “Frasier.”
Maybe not: Smart was unable to cash in a previous supporting actress nomination as an unbalanced first lady in “24.”
Show: “Two and a Half Men”
Emmy pedigree: One win plus four other noms
Best scene: Evelyn orchestrates a meeting between Charlie and a charming woman at a social event. Charlie, of course, makes his moves on the gal, at least until her husband steps in — a sequence of events that Evelyn hopes will help break up their marriage, allowing her to sell the couple’s house.
Why she might win: Taylor’s character survived romantic highs and lows this season, including an engagement and marriage to Teddy (Robert Wagner), who, after the ceremony, is found dead on Charlie’s bed. An Emmy here would pair nicely with the supporting actress in a drama statuette she received for “The Practice” in 1999.
Maybe not: The third time can’t always be the charm.
Show: “Ugly Betty”
Emmy pedigree: One nom
Best scene: Whether it’s sabotaging the latest issue before it goes to press, spoiling Renee’s blossoming relationship or scheming to turn tragic Meade family events to her advantage, Wilhelmina is always at her evil best.
Why she might win: From the old witch in Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” to a hotel-owning vixen in “South Beach” or a conniving magazine editor in “Ugly Betty,” Williams always looks good in over-the-top roles.
Maybe not: Some say the show creatively sputtered a bit last season, and the competition here is especially tough this year.