Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato
Highlight: In possibly the year’s most compelling talking-heads segment, Chaz Bono’s girlfriend Elia tries to explain her struggle to accept Chaz as a man after years as a lesbian.
Why they might win: Bono’s recent publicity tour won him a ton of support in the industry, impressing observers with smarts and charisma and presenting the most compelling face of a sex-changed man to Middle America. The Academy may want to acknowledge this with a kind of message Emmy.
Maybe not: Voters might be skittish of sending messages, especially one they fear may inflame cultural conservatives looking for a fresh issue and target.
Highlight: The sight of a man lighting his kitchen water faucet aflame is possibly the most indelible image in any recent American documentary. It’s enough to make you turn off your gas and hide under your covers.
Why he might win: The Emmys love a great story and an underdog, and Fox offers both, having made this film purely as a private project that erupted into a cause celebre.
Maybe not: Not made for TV, so the smallscreen industry might deem it too outside the norm.
Martin Scorsese & Kent Jones
“American Masters: A Letter to Elia/Reflecting on Kazan”
Highlight: The sound of Scorsese’s scatter-shot voice, thinking aloud yet giving emotion to Jones’ beautiful writing about an intensely complex and contradictory film and theater artist.
Why they might win: Voters may feel that PBS — and PBS docs in particular — need some love these days. Plus, they might be more prone to honor Scorsese in this category rather than the hotly competitive drama one.
Maybe not: Hollywood still bears a serious grudge against Kazan, and his act of “naming names” during the 1950s communist witchhunt era.
Highlight: Foodies love this show in general, but this high-intensity, emotional episode contained a few doozies that had kitchen mavens searching for fresh adjectives. One could argue that struggling contestant Carla’s successful stab at deploying the exotic technique of liquid nitrogen — what’s next, molecular cuisine? — marked a new high in cooking adventurousness.
Why he might win: With the show finally winning reality competition program last year after several noms, but with no love going to the show’s directors, there’s a sense of it being overdue.
Maybe not: No matter how well a reality show may be helmed, it’s small potatoes against this competition.
“The Amazing Race”
Highlight: Fans declared nominated episode “You Don’t Get Paid Unless You Win” to be the most exciting of the show in recent seasons.
Why he might win: Face it, as many times as the Academy has given love to this highly durable CBS reality show, there might be no limit.
Maybe not: Or, maybe there is.
Film directors reign at Emmys
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