If all holds to form -- an iffy proposition, to be sure -- things figure to get ugly during Thursday's predawn announcement of nominations for the 59th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences headquarters in North Hollywood.
That's ugly as in the freshman ABC hit comedy (and 2007 Golden Globe winner) Ugly Betty and the mob goombahs of HBO's swan-songing The Sopranos, both of which stand to attract honors in the healthy double digits when the list is released before the awakening of most roosters at 5:35 a.m. PDT.
Ugly Betty is a virtual shoo-in as an outstanding comedy series nominee, as is America Ferrera (another Globe winner) for lead comedy actress. The stiffest category competition is likely to come from the formidable NBC Thursday night duo of The Office and the rookie 30 Rock, whose critical buzz, if not its ratings, built as the season rolled along. Others given solid shots to crack the comedy list include HBO's Entourage and Extras, NBC's Scrubs, Showtime's Weeds and CBS's Two and a Half Men.
Indeed, this year's comedy lineup looks to be more competitive than the drama series group, which, barring a small miracle, will almost certainly be dominated by The Sopranos. The smart money says it will emerge as the most-nominated series this year as well as quite possibly the most-cited single program period, generating Emmy attention across the board, including lead and supporting acting, writing and direction as well as top drama.
It is in fact difficult to imagine any other hourlong series slowing what is poised to be a Sopranos victory parade, given the immense hype that greeted the iconic series' two-pronged final season and of course the unprecedented guessing game surrounding its confounding finale in June. That the biggest explosion of buzz and chatter unfolded just as ballots were being marked probably won't hurt its chances of taking home numerous prizes in September. It should preside as the heaviest of favorites, producing a momentum that could spell victory for leads Edie Falco and James Gandolfini as well.
Of course, if we learned anything last year, it's that sure things are the stuff of fantasy when it comes to the Emmys. Three-time victors Falco and Gandolfini weren't even nominated last year, nor was House star Hugh Laurie (a Globe winner for the role in January) or ABC's acclaimed Lost and Desperate Housewives.
Among the shows challenging Sopranos for drama series supremacy are likely to be ABC's Grey's Anatomy and Lost, the Fox medical drama House (nominated for an Emmy a year ago despite the snub of its star), 2006 winner "24" (widely perceived to have suffered its worst season creatively this past year), NBC's first-year hit Heroes and critical darling Friday Night Lights as well as possibly ABC's Boston Legal
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