Road to the Emmys 2012: The Guest Star Nominees

GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY

Will Arnett
“30 Rock”
Highlight: In his fourth nom for playing Jack Donaghy’s arch nemesis Devon Banks, Arnett shows again his skill with pampered jerks. After telling Jack (Alec Baldwin) that his latest scheme is the tip of the iceberg, and NBC is the Titanic, Jack fires back with “The highest grossing movie of all time?” Arnett hilariously goes into metaphor damage control mode with “The boat. Not the movie, the boat!”

 

Bobby Cannavale
“Nurse Jackie”
Highlight: Cannavale’s Mike Cruz is an instant villain to the nursing staff at All-Saints Hospital because he’s the epitome of cold corporate oversight, but in the episode “Are Those Feathers?” his veneer begins to crack on a viciously busy day when his bosses are scheduled to show. Cannavale expertly shifts from tough-love boss to bewildered general in charge of a mutinous army, his Cruz eventually devolving into a wheezing panic attack.

 

Jimmy Fallon
“Saturday Night Live”
Highlight: Fallon’s triumphant return as host to his old latenight stomping grounds reached its meta peak with a sketch in which Fallon pumps himself up in front of his dressing room mirror, talking to his younger “SNL” self played by Andy Samberg. In true good-sport fashion, Fallon meets Samberg’s Fallon impersonation with his own heightened, silly take on his familiarly enthusiastic verbal and facial tics.

 

Michael J. Fox
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Highlight: Fox’s open experiences battling Parkinson’s Disease formed the basis for a typically taboo-busting bit of Larry David comedy. Playing himself, Fox gamely spars with downstairs Gotham neighbor David over the comedian’s interpretation of Fox’s neurologically unintentional gestures — including whether Fox knew in handing him a soda can, that its shaken contents would spray in David’s face when he opened it.

 

Jon Hamm
“30 Rock”
Highlight: In a daring bit of pop-culture comedy for the show’s latestlive ep, reference is made to a fake 1950s NBC series featuring two black characters, Alfie and Abner (read: “Amos and Andy”), even though one was played by a Caucasian. Hamm, his face smudged to look more like a mechanic than a blackface entertainer, parodies the notorious minstrel perfs of the day with comic vigor.

 

Greg Kinnear
“Modern Family”
Highlight: Kinnear brought his trademarked comically suave entitlement to the role of Tad, a wealthy globetrotter whose house listing Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) would like to land. Tad’s overly friendly way with Claire (Julie Bowen), however, skirts the edge of appropriate behavior, but is just humorously ambiguous enough for Phil to miss seeing it for what it is.

 

GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY

Elizabeth Banks
“30 Rock”
Highlight: Kidnapped by North Korea, Avery is brainwashed into anchoring the Pyongyang Evening News: “Earlier today, America’s credit rating was lowered to ‘Triple Fart Minus.’ … I have voluntarily taken several floggings for being an arrogant American … and in food news: You’ve had enough to eat today already.”

 

Kathy Bates
“Two and a Half Men”
Highlight: Morphine-addled Alan (Jon Cryer) can’t believe the large-breasted, cigar-smoking lout in the black-and-white bowling shirt is his brother back from hell. Alan: “What are your five favorite words from a woman?” Bates, perfectly nailing Charlie Sheen’s flat-A intonation: “I can’t stay the night.” Alan (horrified): “Charlie!!!!”

 

Margaret Cho
“30 Rock”
Highlight: A grim, gutsy “Dear Leader” co-stars with Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) in a clip from a buddy cop pic based on “Glengarry Glen Ross”: “Put that coffee down. Coffee is for closers only. … The leads are weak? You’re weak! Luke, I am your father! Ghostbusters! Let’s go, black partner.”

 

Dot-Marie Jones
“Glee”
Highlight: The coach finally stands up to abusive husband Cooter (Eric Bruskotter), who sneers, “Who’s gonna love you now?” “Me!” she exclaims, tossing her ring onto the table. She walks into a poignant duet on Taylor Swift’s “Mean” with bullied teen Puck (Mark Salling) and affirms, “You are loved, punkin. You are not alone.”

 

Melissa McCarthy
“Saturday Night Live”
Highlight: McCarthy shines in Turner Classic Movies’ career profile of accident-prone “Lulu Diamonds,” RKO’s answer to Mae West. She can’t lure men to the boudoir with her catchphrase — “Why don’t you come upstairs and see me up there sometimes?” — because she keeps falling face first down a long flight of steps.

 

Maya Rudolph
“Saturday Night Live”
Highlight: Pitch-perfect as Beyonce greeting celebrity guests in her newborn’s nursery. About the birth: “It was perfect. We were in the hospital, just me, my husband Jay and Kanye. First my water broke, and I was like … (long, soulful moan) … I asked my doctor, ‘Did I have a boy?’ And he said, ‘No, you had a single lady.'”

 

Road to the Emmys 2012: The Guest Star Nominees
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