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FRANCES CONROY

Series: “Six Feet Under”

Seasons on show: 3

Emmy pedigree: Nominated last year

Episode submitted: “Nobody Sleeps”

2002-03 shining moment: :During difficult times for the Fishers, Ruth not only served as the family’s emotional center but found time to have romances with Arthur and George.

Pro: The least flashy of the “SFU” cast, she provides a rock-solid foundation every week.

Con: The season was dominated by Nate’s woes and Ruth may not have had enough to do to impress voters.

Quotable: “I have all the information from what I’ve learned about Ruth previously to know how she responds to each moment. It’s like real life: We don’t get a preview of what’s coming up, thank God, and we don’t build our own character from what we’re going to be informed with in the future.”

EDIE FALCO

Series: “The Sopranos”

Seasons on show: 4

Emmy pedigree: Three previous noms; she won in 1999 and 2001.

Episode submitted: “Whitecaps”

2002-03 shining moment: :Women everywhere surely felt a degree of satisfaction when Carmela took a stand and threw Tony out in the season finale.

Pro: She won the Golden Globe besting three of her four rivals here and she continues to garner critical kudos.

Con: Having won twice before, voters may want to spread the wealth in this rich category.

Quotable: “I have no idea how this acting thing works, at all, but I know the conditions under which to make it happen: I show up on the set and there’s the crew, my ‘husband,’ ‘kids’ and my oven. Then I’m as alive and three-dimensional a person as I am in my real life.”

JENNIFER GARNER

Series: “Alias”

Seasons on show: 2

Emmy pedigree: Nominated last year

Episode submitted: “Phase One”

2002-03 shining moment: :In the post-Super Bowl episode, Sydney posed as a call girl aboard a 747, in both black then red lingerie and whip intact, knocks out a baddie, kicks the ass of everyone else aboard, dodges a bullet and safely parachutes to safety.

Pro: Her turn opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in “Catch Me If You Can” raised her profile as a serious actress.

Con: While her work is top notch, she has to overcome being thought of merely as a butt-kicking action hero.

Quotable: “We’re both (she and her character, Sydney Bristow) able to just grit our teeth and do what needs to be done and not mince about it. She’s a lot braver than I am, better at martial arts and her hair’s definitely always nicer.”

MARG HELGENBERGER

Series: “CSI”

Seasons on show: 3

Emmy pedigree: Four previous noms, three for “China Beach”

Episode submitted: “Lady Heather’s Box”

2002-03 shining moment: :Catherine had issues to work out in episodes dealing with putting a possibly innocent man on death row, and another in which her ex-husband and daughter were involved in a car accident.

Pro: The show continues to get both numbers and critical respect, and Helgenberger has banked a great deal of respect dating back to her “China Beach” days.

Con: The investigations and procedures may overshadow any individual acting performances.

Quotable: “People ask me all the time if I get squeamish, but I think it’s more about having compassion for the victim in the last few moments of their life. How do you not sympathize with that?”

ALLISON JANNEY

Series: “The West Wing”

Years on show: 4

Emmy pedigree: She won in 2000 and 2001 in the supporting category and last year as lead actress.

Episode submitted: “The Long Goodbye”

2002-03 shining moment: :“The Long Goodbye” episode featured C.J. dealing with the emotional overload of connecting with a male classmate at her high school reunion and finding out her father is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Pro: Aaron Sorkin’s departure could translate into a fond tribute to Janney.

Con: Some voters might quibble with her flopping categories, originally supporting and now lead.

Quotable: “I should be more in the vein of wanting to be challenged and doing things I’m afraid of, but I usually go for things where I think, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ But the truth is, I’ve always done my best work in parts where I think, ‘I can’t believe they hired me. This is not me.’ “