Candice Bergen: Boston Legal
Seasons on show: One (as a regular)
Emmy pedigree: Eight noms; five wins (“Murphy Brown,” 1989, ’90, ’92, ’94, ’95)
Episodes submitted: “The Ass Fat Jungle,” “Live Big”
Season highlight: Being held hostage by one of the firm’s lawyers who just learned Shirley would never seriously consider him for partner, only to have her co-worker, Alan Shore, defend the man in court.
Why she could win: “Boston Legal” seems to have some sort of mystical power over voters, with William Shatner and James Spader winning. Could Bergen be next?
Maybe not: “Boston Legal” straddles the gap between comedy and drama more than these other dramas, which could give the competish a slight edge.
Quote: “Shirley could go toe-to-toe with Murphy Brown, who was so in your face and fabulous. They’re both strong and fearless women, tops in their profession. They take no prisoners,” Bergen told AARP magazine.
Blythe Danner: Huff
Seasons on show: Two
Emmy pedigree: Six noms; one win (“Huff,” 2004)
Episodes submitted: “Maps Don’t Talk Part 2,” “So … What Brings You to Armageddon?”
Season highlight: The last episode of the season, in which she goes to see son Teddy in a mental hospital after avoiding seeing him most of his adult life.
Why she could win: With three nominations last year and two more now, is there anyone the Academy loves more at the present moment than Danner?
Maybe not: Also competing in the guest race for her “Will & Grace” stint might take some “Huff” love away.
Quote: “There are some roles you’d like to forget, and others you’re deeply grateful for. Izzy is definitely the latter. I adore her because she’s so complicated and multidimensional,” Danner told Emmy magazine.
Sandra Oh: Grey’s Anatomy
Seasons on show: Two
Emmy pedigree: Two noms
Episodes submitted: “Deny Deny Deny,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”
Season highlight: After her miscarriage, Christina tries to get back to work (while still a patient), suppressing her emotions until they hit her so hard she’s begging her friends to sedate her.
Why she could win: Combines cranky and compassionate well, and her romance with Dr. Burke helps, too.
Maybe not: She and fellow cast member Chandra Wilson could split the vote.
Quote: “One reason I really like playing Cristina is that she’s an example of opposites. I think it’s very interesting to see someone who’s competent and able on one hand and incompetent on another hand — relating to people,” Oh told the Detroit News.
Jean Smart: 24
Seasons on show: One
Emmy pedigree: Four noms, one win (“Frasier,” 2001)
Episodes submitted: “5-6 a.m.,” “6-7 a.m.”
Season highlight: Using her precarious mental state to manipulate people into thinking she’s not a threat, and ultimately bringing down the president.
Why she could win: Martha’s emotional instability really let Smart show her range, and “24” was terrific this season.
Maybe not: Tough to say if voters will be willing to mark their ballots for supporting roles on the same show, as GregoryItzin is running as well.
Quote: “When I read the script where Martha was all dressed up, dumps her head in the bathroom sink, smears her makeup and says, ‘I look like a wedding cake — let’s start over,’ I went, ‘Wow!’ Truly the best introduction to a character that I’ve ever had. That moment spoke volumes. I knew I had to play her,” Smart told Emmy magazine.
Chandra Wilson: Grey’s Anatomy
Seasons on show: Two
Emmy pedigree: One nom
Episodes submitted: “Deny Deny Deny,” “As We Know It”
Season highlight: Refusing to give birth until her husband, who she didn’t know was having emergency brain surgery in the middle of a bomb scare, came to her side.
Why she could win: Not every actor could make Dr. Bailey likable and intimidating at the same time, and Wilson’s deft touch is pitch perfect.
Maybe not: This is Oh’s second nom and Wilson’s first, so there might be some who think Oh is the leading “Grey’s” candidate to win.
Quote: “I took what was there on the page and tried to breathe as much life into it as I could. I never sat down with anyone to discuss it,” says Wilson.