Michele, Falco topline in freshman shows
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“United States of Tara”
Emmy pedigree: One win, plus one previous nom
Best scene: Trapped in a basement while a tornado approaches, Tara’s newest alter ego — therapist Shoshana — materializes and confronts Tara’s sister about a dark family secret.Why she might win: Tara is a perfect character for showcasing Collette’s gift for comic timing and chameleon-like virtuosity.
Maybe not: Having won last year, voters may feel it’s time for new blood. Edie Falco
Emmy pedigree: Three wins, plus four previous noms
Best scene: After telling off an arrogant young doctor, Jackie (Falco) must then tamp down an overfriendly nervous new nursing student: “Quiet and mean. Those are my people.”
Why she might win: Falco’s deftly funny, world-weary and fascinatingly flawed character only enriched this cable icon’s acting stature.
Maybe not: Having once dominated the drama Emmys as Carmela Soprano, she may find resistance to being recognized right off the bat for a new show. Tina Fey
Emmy pedigree: One win, plus two previous noms (acting only)
Best scene: Cracking up over her imminent debut as a talkshow host, Liz Lemon splits into two personalities: her regularly neurotic behind-the-scenes self and a petulant narcissist.
Why she might win: An Acad favorite is sometimes the hardest kind to beat, and Fey had another banner year as a harried showbiz creative balancing work and a struggling social life.
Maybe not: With three new entrants in the category, this Acad favorite isn’t necessarily a frontrunner. Julia Louise-Dreyfus
“The New Adventures of Old Christine”
Emmy pedigree: Two wins, plus nine previous noms
Best scene: After rudely rejecting a marriage proposal from her psychologist boyfriend (Eric McCormack), then having a midlife crisis change of heart, Christine tries to coax the proposal out of him again.
Why she might win: Voters now know this was the last season for “Christine,” which could earn the comically versatile performer a swan-song Emmy for a richly funny character.
Maybe not: Diminished viewership might mean less attention from voters, in which case Louis-Dreyfus’ previous win may feel like prize enough. Lea Michele
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: Tasked with helping the New Directions choir group pull out a sectionals victory, Rachel uncorks a thrilling performance of “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
Why she might win: Michele’s fresh face, bold singing talent and formidable comedy chops have helped make her a new star this season. A “Glee” sweep could easily include her.
Maybe not: With as much drama and heartfelt musical performance as laugh-getting moments, voters could be drawn to more purely comedic turns from other nominees. Amy Poeler
“Parks and Recreation”
Emmy pedigree:Two previous noms
Best scene: Nervous about an upcoming first date, Leslie Knope (Poehler) runs through crazily unrealistic scenarios for potential pitfalls, then tries out a practice date on Ann (Rashida Jones).
Why she might win: Having not won for her hilarious sketch turns on “Saturday Night Live,” her spiritedly funny Leslie showed a keen adjustment to the demands of sitcom storytelling and character building.
Maybe not: If Steve Carell hasn’t won yet for brilliantly playing a clueless team leader, can Poehler?