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Melissa McCarthy: Emmy bridesmaid ... or upset winner?

Melissa Mccarthy newsThe single biggest breakout star of the summer has not been a gorgeous ingenue or hunky stud. Longtime TV supporting player Melissa McCarthy can make that claim with her scene-stealing turn in the bawdy film "Bridesmaids." The performance was so buzzed and acclaimed many would say it also led to a somewhat surprising Emmy nomination for comedy lead actress for her CBS laffer "Mike and Molly," a show that was completely off the award radar otherwise.

McCarthy, who turns 41 next week, has been a fan favorite for years in best-friend roles on "Gilmore Girls" and "Samantha Who." In the Judd Apatow-produced "Bridesmaids," she played Megan, an over-the-top, overweight, obnoxious member of the wedding party, and she stole the movie from Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne and Maya Rudolph. It is such a memorable performance that it could lead to an Oscar nomination early next year. This is not totally out of the question considering past Oscar victories for comedic turns given by Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona," 2008), Mira Sorvino ("Mighty Aphrodite," 1995), Dianne Wiest ("Bullets Over Broadway," 1999) and Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny," 1992).

As for McCarthy's Emmy nod, she is part of an extremely competitive field that includes front-runner Laura Linney ("The Big C"), previous winners Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie") and Tina Fey ("30 Rock), Martha Plimpton ("Raising Hope") and Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"). To win, it will most likely take more than just her submitted episode, "First Date," but some extra points from Emmy judges as they remember laughing at her in "Bridesmaids." Her series is produced by Chuck Lorre, who knows how to bring home Emmys for his stars, as evidenced by recent victories for Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men," 2009) and Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory," 2010).

Another sign of McCarthy's rising star: She has been tapped to host the second episode of the new season of "Saturday Night Live" on Oct. 1.

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— Tom O'Neil

Photo: Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell in "Mike and Molly." Credit: CBS.

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