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Category: Edie Falco

Laura Linney is Emmy front-runner for best comedy actress

Laura Linney in "The Big C"

There are several reasons why most pundits predict Laura Linney ("The Big C") will win the Emmy for best comedy actress. For starters, the three-time past champ has never lost. Her first victory was for best guest comedy actress in "Frasier" (2004); her other two were in the contest for best actress in a movie/miniseries ( "Wild Iris" in 2002, "John Adams" in 2008). This year she competes for best comedy actress for her new TV series on Showtime, which has owned the category for the last two years with victories by Toni Collette for "United States of Tara" (2009) and Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie") in 2010.

Linney gave Emmy judges the pilot episode, a potent mix of defiant comedy and high drama in which she battles her neighbor, students, husband and son while hiding the secret that she's got cancer. It's loaded with so much emotional impact, range and sympathy that she'll be hard to beat.

However, four of the other five nominees submitted episodes that give them a strong fighting chance. "Saturday Night Live" alums Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") and Tina Fey ("30 Rock") both submitted strong material.

Poehler entered "Flu Season," in which her character -- small-town civil servant Leslie Knope -- comes down with the flu but insists on making an important presentation to the chamber of commerce anyway. The hilarity of her performance builds as, first, she battles flu symptoms, then the mind-altering effects of her medication. Poehler doesn't display Linney's gravitas, but she's a lot funnier. Her only problem may be that "Flu Season" is an ensemble-driven episode, which means she has far less screen time than Linney.

Fey might have the same problem in her "30 Rock" episode, "Double Edged Sword," in which she battles her boyfriend, airline pilot Carol (guest-acting nominee Matt Damon), during a lengthy flight delay. She's terrific while battling on the behalf of her fellow passengers, but she shares the episode with two major subplots -– one involving Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) winning an Oscar, and the other following Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and his wife in Canada –- so she might also be at a disadvantage.

Ironically, screen time is not a problem for Martha Plimpton, who many thought would have been better off competing in the supporting category for "Raising Hope." But entering the lead race proved to be a shrewd move. She earned a nomination and submitted "Say Cheese," one of her best episodes of the season, in which she is shown in flashbacks trying to corral her family for the perfect family portrait photo. She's arguably more of a lead actress in this episode than Poehler and Fey are in theirs. Plimpton was a surprise nominee, but if she wins, don't say I didn't warn you.

Melissa McCarthy is also a potential spoiler. She came out of nowhere to secure a nomination for CBS' "Mike & Molly," undoubtedly helped by her increased notoriety from this summer's blockbuster comedy "Bridesmaids." She stands a fair chance thanks to her episode, "First Date," in which she, like Poehler, reacts strongly to a heavy dose of cold medicine. She wouldn't be the first star to upset at the Emmys with the help of a hit movie; Katherine Heigl won best supporting drama actress for "Grey's Anatomy" in 2007, the same year she starred in Judd Apatow's "Knocked Up."

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Can anyone beat Steve Carell at the Emmys?

Steve carell the office emmy news

Most Emmy watchers put Steve Carell out front to win best comedy actor for "The Office." This is his sixth nomination for playing hapless boss Michael Scott on the hit NBC sitcom, in addition to four noms for producing, but he's never won. (The series won best comedy in 2006, but that was before Carell received a producing credit.) He left the show this year, and now he's hoping the Emmys will give him a farewell hug the way it did to Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex and the City") and Michael J. Fox ("Spin City"), who both won for their last years in contention.

But Emmy voters are not always a sentimental bunch. John Goodman never won for "Roseanne" despite seven nominations, though he finally won his first prize for guest-starring on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" in 2007. And more recently, Martin Sheen was sent away empty-handed after seven unsuccessful bids for "The West Wing."

This year Carell submitted a dynamic episode to Emmy judges: "Goodbye, Michael," in which he struggles to say farewell to his employees, leading to a teary moment with Jim Halpert (John Krasinski). Will that episode in addition to overdue sentiment be enough to propel him to victory?

Perhaps, but perhaps not. He faces strong competition from last year's winner, Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), who submitted "The Agreement Dissection," in which he battles Leonard (Johnny Galecki) over a violation of their roommate agreement and then goes dancing with the girls. But Parsons has another weapon in his arsenal: his costar Galecki, who was a surprise nominee in this category and submitted "The Benefactor Factor," in which Leonard is propositioned by a wealthy woman to exchange sex for research funding. But it also gives Parsons a second episode for voters to judge, which could help him pull off an upset against Carell.

Also threatening Carell is another surprise nominee: Louis C.K., whose critically acclaimed FX series, "Louie," is the only program in this category currently airing new episodes, meaning he'll be the freshest in voters' minds. Also, he benefits from the Cool Factor that helped propel another edgy comic to a win in this category in 2007: Ricky Gervais ("Extras"). C.K. submitted the episode "Bully," in which a frightening encounter with a young punk leads him to commiserate privately with the punk's father. It's a sympathetic performance, not loaded with laughter, but dramatic-skewing performances have won comedy performances before — as Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie") demonstrated last year.

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Another fresh Emmy winner of best comedy actress?

Melissa mccarthy

If a recent Emmy voting trend holds, forget Tina Fey ("30 Rock") or Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie") winning the award for lead comedy actress. They've already bagged the category in the past. The champ will be one of the other four nominees: Laura Linney ("The Big C"), Melissa McCarthy ("Mike and Molly"), Martha Plimpton ("Raising Hope") or Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation").

For the last 10 years, a different winner has claimed the category every time. No one has repeated. Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond") began the trend toward solo victors in 2001. Subsequent recipients: Jennifer Aniston ("Friends"), Debra Messing ("Will and Grace"), Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex and the City"), Felicity Huffman ("Desperate Housewives"), Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("The New Adventures of Old Christine"), America Ferrera ("Ugly Betty"), Fey, Toni Collette ("United States of Tara") and Falco.


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-- Tom O'Neil

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

Will Emmy history repeat if James Spader joins 'The Office'?

James spaderThere are whispers across Hollywood that James Spader may be joining the cast of "The Office" following his memorable cameo in the season finale. Rumor has it that he'll replace Kathy Bates, who played a recurring role as the CEO of the fictional Sabre printer company. She's leaving the show to focus on the second season of the legal drama "Harry's Law."

If this scenario doesn't sound familiar, it should. In 2003, Spader joined another long-running show, ABC's drama "The Practice," replacing Dylan McDermott, who had been nominated for drama actor (in 1999, losing to Dennis Franz for "NYPD Blue"). Although "The Practice" had largely gone out of Emmy favor by its eighth and final season, Spader's one-year stint won the series its first and only lead-acting Emmy. The following season, his character was spun off onto a new series, "Boston Legal," for which he won two more Emmys (2005, 2007).

If he joins the cast of "The Office" this fall, will history repeat itself? Steve Carell has been nominated five times for playing bumbling boss Michael Scott and is expected to receive a sixth nomination this year, but he has yet to win. And he's not the only cast member with bad luck at the Emmys. The series, which won as top comedy in 2006, has never won an award for acting, so a win next year for Spader would be the series' first.

Spader could also become the second male actor to win lead acting Emmys for both comedy and drama. The first was Robert Young ("Father Knows Best" in 1958, "Marcus Welby M.D." in 1970). Last year Edie Falco became the first woman to accomplish this feat when she won as comedy actress for "Nurse Jackie." Previously, she was a three-time champ for "The Sopranos" (1999, 2001, 2003).


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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: James Spader with his Emmy for "Boston Legal" in 2005. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Will the Tonys go bananas for Edie Falco? [Video]

Four-time Emmy champ Edie Falco is now nominated for a Tony Award for a role that brought that same Broadway prize to Swoosie Kurtz in 1986: Bananas in "The House of Blue Leaves." Bananas is the heart and soul of that classic, wacky play by John Guare -– she's the spurned, heavily sedated wife of a scheming wannabe songwriter who openly parades his mistress around.

Falco won three Emmys as the no-nonsense wife of a scheming Mafioso in "The Sopranos" (1999, 2001, 2003) and one more as the heavily sedated medical aide and wife in "Nurse Jackie" (2010). She's back in the Emmy derby again, facing tough competition from Laura Linney ("The Big C"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock") and Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation").

-- Tom O'Neil


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