As part of the Envelope Emmy Week and Screening Series, The Envelope gathered a group of actors to participate in an Alternative Families panel earlier this week — Jennifer Carpenter of "Dexter," Peter Krause of "Parenthood," Cloris Leachman of "Raising Hope," Denis O'Hare of "True Blood," Emmy Rossum of "Shameless" and Katey Sagal of "Sons of Anarchy" — to talk about how each of their shows, in their own weird way, involve the bonds of family, and the intimate relationships those bonds can bring.
In the hourlong conversation moderated by Times television critic Mary McNamara, the panel, in the clip below, discusses how actors must find a way to justify playing characters who sometimes do horrible things. Check back later for more clips.
Our devilishly clever forums moderator Matt Noble takes on the killer persona of TV's Dexter Morgan to give us a new (and very bloody) perspective on Emmy's top drama races. For the past three years, "Dexter" has lost best series to "Mad Men" and Michael C. Hall has lost lead actor to Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad"). Noble imagines that Hall's character -- a secret serial killer -- can't stand the outrages any more and so now he picks up a kitchen blade to deal with it.
"It's the third time they both killed 'Dexter's' chances and they keep on getting away with it," he fumes in this video spoof. "Not this time. This time I take things into my own hands. 'Mad Men' is too big a target. People would notice its absence and ask too many questions. But 'Breaking Bad' -- I can do something about that."
Technically, "Breaking Bad" isn't Emmy eligible this year because no new episodes aired during the eligibilty period, but, hey, why ruin a good joke? Let's go with this narrative and assume "Breaking Bad" isn't around because, well, Dexter took care of business.
With the Emmy race poised to shift into high gear, the Los Angeles Times will kick things off with Envelope Emmy Week -- five days of television series screenings, cast Q&As and roundtable panels beginning June 1.
Matt Weiner's "Mad Men" will launch the screening series programming as stars Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks and Kiernan Shipka join creator and executive producer Weiner for a lively discussion about the turns the AMC series took last season -- the new agency's in trouble, Don Draper's remarrying(!), Joan is pregnant and Sally, well Sally's growing up awfully fast.
On June 2, William H. Macy and the cast of Showtime's "Shameless" will screen the series and talk about what could be television's most dysfunctional family ever, or maybe just its worst father ever.
Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins and the rest of the "Justified" gang gather on June 6 to take us behind the scenes of the highly acclaimed show about the U.S. marshal.
Emmy week continues on June 7 and 8 with two roundtables. Up first is Alternative Families in which an eclectic mix of actors will look at what "family" means on TV these days -- from biker gangs to vampire kingdoms -- and how their on-screen relationships help them and challenge them as actors.
The Geek TV roundtable on June 8 will look at the pop culture impact of shows that target the fanboy audience, as well as characters who embrace their geek status as a badge of honor.
After each panel, check back on Awards Tracker for video highlights of the night's discussions.
Matthew Cormier and Marcus Dixon back "Boardwalk Empire," which won best drama series at the Golden Globes and best ensemble drama series at the SAG Awards earlier this year. Chris Beachum, Darrin Dortch, Rob Licuria and Matt Noble pick "Mad Men" to win for a fourth year in a row.
Curiously, all six moderators rank "Boardwalk Empire" and "Mad Men" in their top two positions — and they all rank "The Good Wife" in third place.
"The Good Wife" has several strong pluses. For starters, it's a hit legal-eagle show in the tradition of past winners "The Practice" and "L.A. Law." It airs on a broadcast TV channel (CBS). Broadcast channels employ the vast majority of the 14,000 members of the TV academy, and they haven't won best drama series since 2006 ("24"). Futhermore, it's airing new episodes right now, so it's fresh in the minds of Emmy voters. "Mad Men" and "Boardwalk Empire" are old news, having aired in late 2010.
Nominations will be unveiled July 14, winners Sept. 18.
After winning the Emmy for TV drama actor three years in a row, Bryan Cranston is now out of the derby because "Breaking Bad" wasn't televised during the award's eligibility period (June 1, 2010 - May 31, 2011). That's good news for three repeat contenders who are always nominated and never win: Michael C. Hall (who won a Golden Globe and SAG Award for "Dexter"), "House M.D.'s" Hugh Laurie (two Globes and two SAG trophies) and Jon Hamm (one Globe but no solo laurels from SAG for "Mad Men").
Most pundits believe Laurie probably never will win because of the Emmy's voting method. Winners are decided by a jury of actors who watch sample episodes submitted by each nominee. Laurie gives a fireworks performance, yes, but it's of an arrogant, unhuggable character. Maybe we shouldn't discount his chances too much, however, considering James Gandolfini won three times for portraying a murderous thug on "The Sopranos."
Hamm may have a good shot this year thanks to a strong episode of "Mad Men" titled "The Suitcase," which he'll probably submit. It's a real winner, giving him a showcase to display a wide range of emotions. He even gets drunk and has crying scenes.
Hamm's toughest competition may be Steve Buscemi, who's widely considered to be "an actor's actor" starring in the white-hot new HBO series "Boardwalk Empire."
Below is a breakdown of how the race looks like right now. Expect Buscemi, Hall, Hamm and Laurie to fill up four of the six nominee slots in this category. They'll probably be joined by Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights"), who was nominated last year too. Who'll nab the sixth slot?
TV DRAMA ACTOR (Favorites) Simon Baker, "The Mentalist" Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire" Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment" Billy Campbell, "The Killing" Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights" Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" Jeremy Irons, "The Borgias" Hugh Laurie, "House M.D." Andrew Lincoln, "The Walking Dead" William H. Macy, "Shameless" Timothy Olyphant, "Justified" Ray Romano, "Men of a Certain Age"
This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.
The Emmy battle over best TV drama series is a real drama this year. "Mad Men" has won three years in a row and can prevail again, but that kind of winning streak is rare. "The West Wing" and "Hill Street Blues" pulled off four consecutive victories, but "L.A. Law" was stopped after four wins and great series like "The Sopranos," "Cagney & Lacey" and "The Practice" won only twice. Heck, "ER," "Law & Order," "Lost," "NYPD Blue" and "24" had to settle for a solo triumph each.
Both series are vulnerable because of timing, however: They're old news. "Mad Men's" last episode was telecast in October. "Boardwalk Empire" went off the air in December. What could beat them? "The Good Wife" can pull off an upset because it's a well-crafted legal thriller in the tradition of past champs like "The Practice" and "L.A. Law" –- and it's on CBS. Most members of the TV academy work for programs airing on the broadcast channels, and there's strong pressure on Emmy voters to let their kin win again. The last time a broadcast series won the category was 2006 ("24").
Remember, the Emmys have expanded this category to six nominees. That means three more slots are open. "Dexter" and "True Blood" got in last year and may return. There's a good chance that "Friday Night Lights" will finally break through. Last year its lead stars, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, finally scored nominations. TV critics continue to cheer it vigorously while new episodes are airing on NBC right now –- after their first spin on DirecTV. If nominated, it actually has a shot to win.
* = nominated last year
BEST TV DRAMA SERIES (Favorites) "Boardwalk Empire" "The Borgias" "Dexter" * "Friday Night Lights" "The Good Wife" * "In Treatment" "Justified" "The Killing" "Mad Men" * "Shameless" "Sons of Anarchy" "True Blood" * "The Walking Dead"
(Possible) "Big Love" "Burn Notice" "The Closer" "Game of Thrones" "Harry's Law" "House M.D." "Luther" "Parenthood" "Treme"
After three past losses for his work on "Mad Men," Jon Hamm will finally win best TV drama actor at the Emmys, according to three of the six pundits polled by Awards Tracker. The gurus are our forums' moderators, who monitor the Emmy voting process closely and believe that Hamm can finally prevail because of the emotional impact and range he displays in the Season 4 episode that he will probably submit to Emmy judges: "The Suitcase."
Our other three pundits are betting on Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire," which will certainly be a major Emmy contender. The hot new HBO series recently won best drama series at the Golden Globes, halting beat "Mad Men's" three-year winning streak, and may soon do the same at the Emmys.
For the last three years, the Emmy contest for best TV drama actor was dominated by Bryan Cranston, but he's not eligible now because "Breaking Bad" had no new episodes airing during the Emmy eligibility period that ends May 31. Five-time loser Hugh Laurie ("House M.D.") has never won. Other nominees last year included Hamm, Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights") and Matthew Fox ("Lost"). All may return except Fox.
Other top contenders: Simon Baker ("The Mentalist"), Gabriel Byrne ("In Treatment"), Idris Elba ("Luther"), Charlie Hunnam ("Sons of Anarchy"), Jeremy Irons ("The Borgias"), Andrew Lincoln ("The Walking Dead"), William H. Macy ("Shameless"), Timothy Olyphant ("Justified"), Bill Paxton ("Big Love") and Tom Selleck ("Blue Bloods").
Our participating Emmy pundits: Chris Beachum, Matthew Cormier, Marcus Dixon, Darrin Dortch, Rob Licuria and Matt Noble. Below, they rank their top six predictions for best TV drama actor according to likelihood of winning (1 is most likely). Also, see their rankings for best drama series and comedy series.
-- Tom O'Neil
Steve Buscemi, "Boardwalk Empire"
Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment"
Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Jeremy Irons, "The Borgias"
Hugh Laurie, "House M.D."
William H. Macy, "Shameless"
Photos, from left: Jon Hamm in "Mad Men"; Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire. Credits: AMC, HBO
As usual, Showtime is the first major contender to send its campaign mailer to members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences during Emmy season. Copies began to reach voters on Monday. Below is a list of the episodes contained on the DVDs inside. For information on the episodes, look up each TV series at Epguides.
"The Big C" – 101, 110 "The Borgias" – 101, 102 "Californication" – 401, 402 "Dexter" -- 508, 509 "Episodes" -- 106, 107 "The Green Room with Paul Provenza" – 101, 102 "Nurse Jackie" – 301, 302 "Penn & Teller: …!" – 801, 802 "The Real L Word" – 101 "Shameless" -- 101, 106 "United States of Tara" – 302, 303 "Weeds" – 6003, 6013
The mailer includes a code that gives voters private access to a "For Your Consideration" website where they can view many more episodes online. To see larger views of the mailer, click on each photo below. Compare this mailer to the ones shipped by Showtime in 2010, 2009 and 2008.
"Mad Men" has reigned undefeated over this Emmy category for three years in a row. It continues to reap strong ratings from viewers and ace reviews from TV critics, but Emmy voters may be bored and want a change. That's what happened in the past when "The Defenders" (1962-1964) and "L.A. Law" (1989-1991) lost after three consecutive victories. However, two shows managed to continue their romps for a fourth year: "Hill Street Blues" (1981-1984) and "The West Wing" (2000-2003).
Our forum moderators believe "Mad Men's" most serious rival is "Boardwalk Empire," probably because Emmy voters are nuts for HBO programs and the pay channel's new series about Atlantic City bootleggers recently won best drama series at the Golden Globes. HBO also has "Big Love" (nominated once) and "Treme" and "In Treatment" (never nominated), but they're not considered to be serious threats now. Debuting April 17: "Game of Thrones." Yeah, yeah, fantasy fare usually doesn't do well at Hollywood peer-group industry awards, but that's what they said about "Lord of the Rings" before its historic Oscar sweep. Last year, HBO stunned Emmy watchers by nabbing a nom for "True Blood," which could rise again.
Don't give up on "Dexter" or "The Good Wife," which have lost in the past ("Dexter" three times; "Good Wife" once). When "Law & Order" won in 1997, the victory followed five previous defeats. Both shows will probably be nominated again.
If TV critics' darling "Friday Night Lights" finally gets its first nomination, it could garner widespread support from the industry. "Sons of Anarchy" is overdue -- and beloved -- too.
Among new shows, AMC's "The Walking Dead" is red-hot, and the network will soon debut "The Killing." Also to be unveiled during the tail end of the Emmy eligibility period will be Showtime's "The Borgias." The network's previous historical pageant, "The Tudors," failed to rule at the Emmys, but this time God is on its side.
Showtime will enter its new show, "Shameless," as a drama series, which is a bit of a surprise considering that it has recently been classifying its many dramadies as comedies because competition is less fierce in those slots.
Looks like "Mad Men" finally has serious competition in the Emmy battle over best TV drama series. While the hit AMC series has gone undefeated for three consecutive years, our forums' moderators are divided over whether it can prevail again. Four of our six pundits believe it will. Two foresee it losing to recent Golden Globes champ "Boardwalk Empire."
The following gurus offer their predictions ranked by likelihood of winning: Chris Beachum, Matthew Cormier, Marcus Dixon, Darrin Dortch, Rob Licuria, Matt Noble. All of them forecast nominations for "Boardwalk Empire," "Dexter," "The Good Wife" and "Mad Men." That's no surprise, considering one of those shows just won the Globe and the other three were nominated last year. However, our pundits are split over the following choices for the other two slots in the category: "The Borgias," "Friday Night Lights," "In Treatment," "The Killing," "Sons of Anarchy," "True Blood" and "The Walking Dead."
Last year, those two slots went to the now-canceled "Lost" and "Breaking Bad," which isn't eligible this year, but will be back in competition at next year's Emmy derby.
Missing from their predictions are past nominees "House, M.D." and "Big Love." Since "Treme" was snubbed last year, none of them is betting on it now. Nor are they backing "Harry's Law" from past Emmy magnet David E. Kelley or Showtime's new drama series about the ultimate dysfuntional family, "Shameless."