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The highs and lows of the Emmy races: The five most predictable categories

June 3, 2011 |  8:00 am

Jon stewart 
It's often difficult to predict which show or performance will win an Emmy. That's what makes the awards ceremony so exciting. But sometimes, in some categories, the results are a gimme. Here's a look at the five most predictable categories.

Best variety series: Last year, “The Daily Show” won best variety series for an eighth consecutive year even though it submitted a ho-hum episode to Emmy jurors. Surprisingly, it beat such fierce competition as Conan O’Brien’s farewell on the “Tonight” show and “The Colbert Report’s” visit to a U.S. Army base in Iraq where President Obama appeared via satellite. Forget it. “Daily Show” can’t lose.

Guest drama actress: Speaking of unstoppable winning streaks, “Law & Order: SVU” seems to have a lock on the guest drama actress category. It has won for the last four years (Leslie Caron, Cynthia Nixon, Ellyn Burstyn, Ann-Margret) and offers a lot of top candidates this go around: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Maria Bello, Joan Cusack, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Christine Lahti, Debra Messing and Rita Wilson.

Best reality host: Jeff Probst (“Survivor”) has never lost the Emmy contest for best reality host. The three-time champ has a key advantage over rivals. He’s an active participant in the action on his TV show compared to Ryan Seacrest and Tom Bergeron, who are cast merely as ringmasters on “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars,” respectively. This year, Probst probably will submit the “Rice Wars” episode that features him arbitrating a fierce racial clash. Expect all nominees but Probst to be voted off the Emmy island … again.

Best choreography: “So You Think You Can Dance” can’t get nominated for best reality-competition show, but it can’t seem to lose best choreography. It has prevailed for the four consecutive years (beating “Dancing With the Stars,” which does get nominated for best show) and is the front-runner again.

Lead actress, comedy: Three-time Emmy champ Laura Linney has never lost an Emmy race and now she’s the clear fave to win lead comedy actress for “The Big C.” Emmy voters are suckers for high drama in the comedy categories, which is why Showtime keeps putting its borderline dramedies in the comedy races. (“Nurse Jackie’s” Edie Falco won last year.) The pilot episode of “Big C” is packed with sky-high drama while Linney’s character battles cancer, a crumbling marriage and city bureaucrats who try to stop her from installing a pool in her front yard.

 -- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Jon Stewart. Credit: Comedy Central