Gallery: The Actor Nominees
Alec Baldwin has dominated this category for the past two years, with his super-slick performance as “30 Rock’s” ultra-narcissistic Jack Donaghy. Prior to that, the category was Tony Shalhoub’s to lose, after the “Monk” star won in 2003, ’05 and ’06.
This year, the category is stocked with old favorites. Baldwin and Shalhoub are joined by “Curb Your Enthusiasm” creative leader and star Larry David, who returned this year with the show’s fictional but satisfying staging of a long-awaited “Seinfeld” reunion, and by “The Office” leader Steve Carell, who has been nominated five years in a row but has never won.
Still, there’s a chance a relative newcomer might take the crown, with both Fox’s “Glee” and CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” coming off of stellar seasons. “Glee” is this year’s most nominated show, while “The Big Bang Theory” is TV’s highest-rated sitcom, and just set revenue records for its offnet sale in syndication.
Broadway star and TV rookie Matthew Morrison was nominated for his portrayal of “Glee” choir coach Will Schuester, while Jim Parsons was once again nominated for his performance as Sheldon, the “Big Bang” supernerd.
Notably missing from the category is “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen, who had been nominated the last four years in a row. He’s not going anywhere, however. Following long negotiations, Sheen went on to extend his “Men” contract for two more years, signing a pact to earn nearly $2 million an episode and making him TV’s highest- paid star ever.
Emmy pedigree: Two wins, plus six previous noms
Best scene: It’s hard to pick a best for Baldwin, since he owns every scene he’s in, but Donaghy’s love triangle with guest stars Julianne Moore and Elizabeth Banks this season turned “30 Rock” into Baldwin’s comedy playground.
Why he might win: Having won the last two years in a row, it’s difficult to make an argument why he shouldn’t be considered tops in his field again.
Maybe not: At what point do voters say that Baldwin has been honored enough and it’s time to give someone else a chance to make a winner’s speech?
Emmy pedigree: Four previous noms.
Best scene: Carell is the master of making the awkward adorable, especially when he’s trying to pick up women. This season, he made a mess of dating Pam’s mom (Linda Purl), and got involved with a married temptress (Amy Pietz).
Why he might win: Carell has made it clear that next season is his last, so Emmy’s chances to fete him are winding down.
Maybe not: Is it something he said? Going 0-for-4 on his lead actor noms (he also was nommed as a producer) may not make him all that confident going into the big night.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Emmy pedigree: Three previous noms (as an actor)
Best scene: What fun it was to watch David act with Jason Alexander, who basically played David for nine seasons of “Seinfeld.” The scene where David lets Alexander borrow a pen at the table read was a hoot.
Why he might win: Though David is clearly one of the best comedy writers in the history of television, his acting shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Maybe not: With those pseudo-improv scenes David writes, he makes it look so easy as an actor, some might not give him the credit he’s due.
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Best scene: Morrison is at his best when all of his talents — acting, singing and dancing — are on display. Two of his duets this year were particularly memorable: a singing duel of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” with Neil Patrick Harris and a karaoke rendition of Heart’s epic ballad “Alone” with Broadway sweetheart Kristin Chenoweth.
Why he might win: Morrison gets to display his arsenal of talents like few TV performers.
Maybe not: Morrison’s character, Will Schuester, is typically the calm in the eye of the high school storm, which doesn’t give him much chance to highlight his comic chops.
“The Big Bang Theory”
Emmy pedigree: One previous nom
Best scene: After Penny (Kaley Cuoco) surrenders her spot on a trip to Switzerland so that Sheldon can go in her place, the socially inept (to say the least) Sheldon spontaneously hugs his adorable neighbor, saying “since I rarely hug, I’m relying on your expertise regarding duration.”
Why he might win: Just memorizing the weekly techspeak should be enough for Parsons to take the crown. But, seriously, the ultimate compliment is that there’s no one else who could do half as good a job as Parsons if he were to leave the show.
Maybe not: For some reason, the show hasn’t resonated with Emmy, and has been overlooked two years running. Will that negativity extend to Parsons’ chances?
Emmy pedigree: Three wins, plus four previous noms
Best scene: Shalhoub solved the greatest “Monk” mystery — who killed his wife, Trudy (Melora Hardin) — playing out some tense scenes with the killer, Judge Rickover (Craig T. Nelson) as well as some touching scenes with his newfound stepdaughter, Molly (Alona Tal).
Why he might win: You should never count out Tony Shalhoub at the Emmys. He’s won the most of this group and could add to his tally as a way of saying goodbye to the venerable USA Network series.
Maybe not: Shalhoub’s wins were early in “Monk’s” run; he’s now lost three years in a row, and the magic may be wearing off.