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Emmys: '30 Rock' may be the spoiler in comedy direction race

August 23, 2011 |  4:33 pm

"30 Rock" live episode

At the Oscars, the directing award usually lines up with the best picture prize, but that's not true at the Emmys. Take the Emmys' TV comedy categories. Over the last 10 years, only once has the winner for comedy series also claimed the director's award — back in 2004, when Joe and Anthony Russo prevailed for directing the pilot episode of Fox's cult hit "Arrested Development," which famously won for comedy series despite having very sad Nielsen ratings. Happily, the Emmy victories helped to keep "Arrested Development" on the air for at least another season.

So if the apparent pattern holds in the directing category, this year things might be looking up for Beth McCarthy Miller, who helmed the live episode of "30 Rock." It competes against three "Modern Family" segments and one from  "How I Met Your Mother."

The logic goes, if "Modern Family" is far and away the overwhelming favorite to clinch the trophy for comedy series, then its odds for collecting the directing prize are looking slim. Also, some pundits believe that the three "Modern Family" nominations might split the vote — for the episodes "Halloween" (directed by Michael Allan Spiller), "Slow Down Your Neighbors" (directed by show runner Steve Levitan) and "See You Next Fall" (directed by Gail Mancuso).

"How I Met Your Mother" was generally ignored by Emmy voters this year, racking up only a few technical nominations, including one for often-nominated Pamela Fryman for the episode "Subway Wars." With even perennial nominee Neil Patrick Harris snubbed by voters, things aren't looking too good for "Mother" in the directing derby.

This leaves Emmy favorite "30 Rock" a potential spoiler with McCarthy Miller, who juggled not only the tricky aspects of live television but also brought two versions of the show to viewers — one feed for the East Coast and another feed for the West Coast. If the theory holds true this year, then McCarthy Miller, who has been nominated seven times, including two for "30 Rock" and four for "Saturday Night Live," and has never won, might want to make sure her Emmy speech is good to go.

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— Tom O'Neil

Photo: Live episode of "30 Rock." Credit: NBC.

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