Director: Comedy Series

Swinging singles lead comedies

It’s been a decade since a multicamera sitcom won the Emmy for directing — and it’ll be at least another year before the once-dominant form has a chance of recapturing kudos glory.

That’s because for the second consecutive year — and just the fourth time since 1971 — Emmy voters have opted to nominate only single-camera laffers in the directing category. Even James Burrows, dean of the smallscreen helmers, couldn’t snag a nom this year for his work on the handsomely shot (but short-lived) CBS skein “The Class.”

While the Burrows snub was a bit of a surprise, it’s hardly a shock that single-cam shows would dominate the Emmy noms. Multicam comedies have become an endangered species in primetime, with the few shows left either fading fast (“The Class,” “20 Good Years”), faded from view (“According to Jim,” “George Lopez”) or critically ignored (“Til Death,” the CW’s femme-centric Monday lineup).

Academy voters could have given nods to a couple of mulitcamera laffers with solid ratings and good reviews: “Two and a Half Men” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” They could’ve also nominated the innovative “How I Met Your Mother,” which blends elements of single- and multicamera styles.

But even if a multicamera laffer snuck through, the odds of it winning would’ve been long.

As noted, the directing Emmy hasn’t gone to a traditional laffer since 1997, when David Lee won for “Frasier.” “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Will & Grace,” which otherwise did well at the Emmys, never won for directing. “Friends” won just once, in 1996.

While the glut of multicamera laffers in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in more Emmy wins for the format — including a 10-year multicam win streak that began in 1978 — voters have often viewed single-cam shows as more Emmy worthy, perhaps because the finished product appears more like a feature film.

During the 1970s and ’80s, there were several years in which single-camera classic “MASH” captured three or four of the year’s nominations (winning the award four of its 11 seasons). Even the despised spinoff “afterMASH” managed to snag an Emmy nom — proof positive that, when it comes to directing awards, Emmy likes being single.

Scott Ellis
Show: “30 Rock” (NBC)
Episode: “The Breakup”
Logline: Liz finally breaks up with longtime b.f. Dennis but almost immediately has second thoughts. Jack pines for his long-distance love: Condoleezza Rice.
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Why he may win: Plenty of buzz surrounding this frosh fave. First-year shows have won the last three years (“My Name Is Earl,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Arrested Development”) and five of the last eight years.
Maybe not: Still a cult fave, and “Ugly Betty” is also a first-year show.

Julian Farino
Show: “Entourage” (HBO)
Episode: “One Day in the Valley”
Logline: As they await word on the opening numbers for “Aquaman,” Ari and the boys find themselves mixing with the little people in the San Fernando Valley on a very hot summer’s day plagued by rolling blackouts.
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Why he may win: This seg, shot away from the show’s usual BevHills stomping grounds, proved “Entourage” isn’t all about celeb cameos and glitzy locales.
Maybe not: Some voters may prefer the wish-fulfillment feel of most “Entourage” episodes. And this could be “Ugly Betty’s” year.

Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant
Show: “Extras” (HBO)
Episode: “Orlando Bloom”
Logline: Andy has high hopes for his new BBC sitcom, but soon realizes the show isn’t what he thought. Maggie, meanwhile, rebuffs Orlando Bloom’s advances on the set of his latest movie.
Emmy pedigree: First directing nom for both
Why they may win: Second season of the show was more populist and showbiz-friendly than the first, and voters like to “discover” smaller shows (such as “Arrested Development”).
Maybe not: Even by HBO standards, not a lot of people have actually seen “Extras.” Gervais is also competing against his much bigger property, the U.S. version of “The Office.”

Ken Kwapis
Show: “The Office” (NBC)
Episode: “Gay Witch Hunt”
Logline: First episode of third season follows the emotional aftermath of Jim’s confession to Pam. Meanwhile, Michael inadvertently outs Oscar.
Emmy pedigree: First directing nom
Why he may win: Skein has finally broken through into the mainstream. Nominated episode mixes high drama (Pam’s leaving Roy, Jim’s transfer back to Scranton) with hijinks (Michael and Dwight trying to purchase “gaydar” on the Internet).
Maybe not: Some older voters still might not get the joke.

Will Mackenzie
Show: “Scrubs” (NBC)
Episode: “My Musical”
Logline: A patient hears everything in song, turning the Sacred Heart staffers into Broadway stars.
Emmy pedigree: Five directing noms
Why he may win: It’s hard not to admire how smoothly the “Scrubs” crew pulled off the transition to musical comedy. Songs such as “Guy Love” are now Internet classics.
Maybe not: Emmy has made a habit of ignoring “Scrubs.”

Richard Shepard
Show: “Ugly Betty” (ABC)
Episode: Pilot
Logline: Plain-looking Betty Suarez gets a job at fashion mag Mode, changing her life forever.
Emmy pedigree: First nom
Why he may win: Pilot felt like a feature pic, frosh shows do well with voters, and it’s already won a DGA.
Maybe not: There was a mini-backlash against the show toward the end of its first season, with complaints it had become cartoonish.

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