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‘Mad Men’ loosens grip on noms

Drama trio take on two-time winner

Matthew Weiner is going for a threepeat in this Emmy category. The “Mad Men” creator co-wrote two of the five nominated shows, both full of trademark “Mad Men” comedy and pathos.

“Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency,” co-written by Robin Veith, turns on a dime when a secretary mows over the foot of Sterling Cooper’s charming new British overseer in a shocking spray of blood. “Shut the Door. Have a Seat,” co-written with Emmy newbie Erin Levy, springs to life on yet more corporate intrigue: Don Draper instigates a group defection after he discovers the agency’s owners are selling it; by the season finale’s end, he also has come to terms with wife Betty’s desire for a divorce.

Weiner and his co-writers are competing against “Lost” showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse (for the series finale), and “The Good Wife’s” husband-and-wife team Robert and Michelle King (for the pilot). Rolin Jones, the single solo nominee, was tapped for “The Son” episode of “Friday Night Lights.”

Lindelof and Cuse’s two-hour episode, fittingly titled “The End,” is rife with mysticism and otherworldly touches that give characters from the island the chance to resolve their issues. The Kings had the opposite task in their pilot: They masterfully set the stage for the courtroom drama inspired by the political wives that stand by their disgraced spouses. Jones, meanwhile, crafted a believable — and emotional — portrait of a teenager coming to terms with the death of the soldier dad he barely knew.

They all have better odds against Weiner than last year, when he co-wrote four of the five Emmy nominees, winning for “Meditations in an Emergency,” an episode co-scripted by Kater Gordon.

Michelle King, Robert King
“The Good Wife” (Pilot)
Emmy pedigree: First nom for both.

Best scene: Julianna Margulies’ Alicia, nervous after years away from the courtroom, proves a security guard copied a surveillance tape that suggested her client faked a carjacking.
Why it’ll win: The episode cleverly plays off recent headlines while establishing emotionally rich characters with identities of their own.
Maybe not: Tough competition — the newbies haven’t yet established the same fanatical following as their “Mad Men” and “Lost” counterparts.

Robin Veith, Matthew Weiner
“Mad Men” (“Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”)
Emmy pedigree: Six wins and 12 noms combined for Weiner and Veith.
Best scene: Hapless secretary mows over the foot of the new prodigy from London in a shower of blood.
Why it’ll win: That shocking moment, and the comic-tinged aftermath, epitomizes what so many fans like about the jazzy retro show. Plus, it set into motion the massive defection from the agency at season’s end.
Maybe not: Emmy voters could get “Lost” in that series’ ambitious finale.

Matthew Weiner, Erin Levy
“Mad Men” (“Shut the Door. Have a Seat”)
Emmy pedigree: Six wins and 10 noms combined for Weiner and Levy.
Best scene: The sudden realization from Draper, Sterling and Cooper that they can start their own firm.
Why it’ll win: The quick-moving episode blends corporate intrigue with marital distress; by its end, Don Draper and the show are headed for a new beginning.
Maybe not: That “Lost” finale, plus voters might prefer the lawnmower dramatics of the show’s other nommed episode.

Rolin Jones
“Friday Night Lights” (“The Son”)
Emmy pedigree: Two noms.
Best scene: Zach Gilford’s Matt delivers a touching eulogy for the soldier dad he barely knew and actively resented.
Why it’ll win: The episode takes viewers through Matt’s complicated grieving process, building to a crescendo for the eulogy.
Maybe not: The underseen series always has an uphill battle when it comes to awards.

Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse
“Lost” (“The End”)
Emmy pedigree: Two wins and 15 noms combined for Lindelof and Cuse.
Best scene: Jack meets his dad in the sideways world.
Why it’ll win: Series finale delivers big messages about the meaning of life.
Maybe not: Mysticism gets overwrought at times.

RELATED STORIES
Miniseries, movies or dramatic special nominees | Drama nominees | Comedy nominees | Variety, music or comedy special nominees

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