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Category: Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Emmys: Will a 'Modern Family' star win best supporting comedy actor?

Modern family 2

The race for best supporting comedy actor at this year's Emmys comes down to which "Modern Family" actor is most helped by his costars' submissions. Four actors from the comedy are nominated this year, more than any other show has ever earned in this category, which means that voters will be watching four submissions in which all four men appear. That's why shows with multiple nominees in a category usually win, instead of splitting the vote.

Last year's winner, Eric Stonestreet, will probably not repeat. When he won, he had submitted the episode "Fizbo," in which he defends his boyfriend's honor while wearing a clown suit. But this year he has entered "Mother's Day," in which he complains about being treated as a woman in his relationship with Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson). He complains in most of the episodes submitted by "Modern Family" actors, which may not play well to voters. But his bigger problem may be that his costars' scenes in his episode may be better than his own: Ty Burrell and Ed O'Neill have touching, funny scenes in which O'Neill is embarrassed about crying over his late mother.

O'Neill submitted "The Kiss," in which his wife (Sofia Vergara) tricks him into performing strange rituals during a dinner preparation. He later expresses regrets over raising a son who is afraid of intimacy. But that episode's main storyline helps Ferguson, who is uncomfortable being kissed by his boyfriend in public.

Ferguson submitted "Halloween," in which he struggles to get out of a Spider-Man getup when he discovers that he's the only one who has come to work in costume. Appearing in costume helped Stonestreet last year, and the physical slapstick stands out against his costars' performances, though Burrell does have a strong subplot in which he fears for the security of his marriage.

Burrell's episode gives him the benefit of playing against type. In "Good Cop, Bad Dog," his happy-go-lucky character must reluctantly play disciplinarian to his disobedient teenage daughters, until he goes overboard by leaping onto their car and taping their computers shut. In O'Neill's subplot, he must deliver tough criticism to an eager entrepreneur, but proves to be a big old softy when he adopts the entrepreneur's dog. And Ferguson must figure out how to leave for a Lady Gaga concert while Stonestreet is sick in bed.

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Emmy contenders: Jane Lynch has a secret advantage

Glee Jane LynchAs the Emmys approach, Jane Lynch may look like the inevitable winner of best supporting comedy actress. Not only did she bag the category last year, but now she's hosting the Emmycast. But beware: She doesn't have the advantage she had last year -– she doesn't have that single powerhouse episode of "Glee" to submit to Emmy judges.

Last year, Lynch won for "The Power of Madonna," which was an impressive showcase for her skills as an actress, comedian, singer and dancer. She may have been competing in the supporting category, but she had so much screen time in that segment she seemed like a lead star.

The episode Lynch submitted this year isn't a blockbuster. "Funeral" is much more quiet and subdued as Lynch's character, Sue, mourns the loss of her sister, who had Down's Syndrome. Lynch shows a sadder and angrier side of her character and she doesn't get a chance to show off comedic skills. And she has much less screen time than she did in "The Power of Madonna."

Lynch does have another advantage this year though. She appears extensively in the episode submitted to Emmy judges by rival nominee Kristen Wiig. For some unknown reason, Wiig entered the episode of "Saturday Night Live" hosted by Lynch last fall. It's a perfect showcase for Lynch to show off her chops as a singer and comedian as she appears in a wide range of skits. It's a great complement to the dramatic performance Lynch gives on her own "Glee" submission, thus showing off her range as a performer.

Often this phenomenon helps a star to win. Felicity Huffman won for comedy actress in 2005 when her "Desperate Housewives" castmates Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher submitted episodes that assisted Huffman in showing off her range. The same crossover aided Eric Stonestreet in 2010 (up against Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"), Cynthia Nixon in 2004 (up against Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis, "Sex and the City"), and all throughout Emmy history ("The West Wing" supporting actors, "The Golden Girls" lead actresses, etc.).

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'Modern Family' stars may help each other to win the Emmy again

Modern Family 1

Emmy contenders nominated against costars have a secret advantage. Since winners are chosen by judges who view one sample episode from each contender in a category, costars are seen on each other's episode submissions in addition to their own. Thus, they get twice as many chances to show off their acting chops. This curious Emmy factor probably helped Felicity Huffman, for example, to win lead comedy actress in 2005. The performance she gave on her "Desperate Housewives" episode wasn't great, but she was so amazing on Marcia Cross' submission that the two taken together put her ahead of the pack. 

Now consider this year's contest for supporting comedy actor in which "Modern Family" has four of the six slots: Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O'Neill and Eric Stonestreet. Last year, when "Modern Family" had three of the six nominations, Stonestreet prevailed. In the contest for supporting comedy actress, Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara are going head to head. Meantime, over in the category of guest actor in a comedy, Nathan Lane is the only "Modern Family" contender. Even though it's unlikely that many judges will overlap, the seven actors up from this series have submitted seven different episodes in the three categories. 

Below is a breakdown of each episode.

Julie Bowen's episode is "Strangers on a Treadmill," in which she tries to help her husband with his Realtor's banquet speech. Who else gets to shine? Burrell, who is seen as sympathetic for much of the episode until he makes the speech and winds up scoring with the crowd.

Ty Burrell, "Good Cop, Bad Dog": Burrell must become the bad parent for a day and force his daughters to do their chores. Who else gets to shine? Ferguson, who desperately wants to go to a Lady Gaga concert, but has to watch after his sick partner instead.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Halloween": Ferguson wears a Spider-Man costume to work only to realize that wearing costumes is not the norm at the office. Who else gets to shine? Vergara, who has a hilarious storyline involving her family trying to correct her thick Colombian accent.

Ed O'Neill, "The Kiss": O'Neill is made to realize that he's emotionally closed off, resulting in his son not feeling comfortable kissing in public. Who else gets to shine? Ferguson again, who squirms around throughout the episode trying to avoid Stonestreet's kisses.

Eric Stonestreet, "Mother's Day": Stonestreet is made to feel self-conscious when he is seen as Lily's mother figure as opposed to her father. Who else gets to shine? O'Neill, who has an unexpected emotional moment when he remembers his deceased mother's cooking.

Sofia Vergara, "Slow Down Your Neighbors": Vergara is taught to ride a bicycle for the first time, showcasing various scenes of physical comedy. Who else gets to shine? Bowen, who has several memorable tantrums as she deals with a speeding neighbor.

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Which 'Glee' episode should Chris Colfer submit to Emmy judges? [Poll]

When Chris Colfer was nominated for best supporting comedy actor last year, he had one obvious episode of "Glee" to submit to Emmy judges. "Laryngitis" was packed with everything –- angst, humor, tension, suspense and even a rattle-the-rafters musical number. In it, his gay character, Kurt, tried to pass as straight to please his disapproving father but failed and ended by defiantly belting out a variation on "Rose's Turn" from the musical "Gypsy."

Colfer lost to Eric Stonestreet, who submitted the "Fizbo" episode of "Modern Family," but most Emmy pundits believe that it was a close contest. Now that Colfer is back in the race and will soon be exiting "Glee," the pressure is on. The recent Golden Globe champ needs to make a strong new episode submission to the judges if he wants to catch up with Emmy. But which one? Colfer has many good segments to choose from, but not one standout.

He's up against all four adult male cast members from "Modern Family": Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O'Neill, and last year's winner, Stonestreet. Conventional wisdom might suggest the "Modern" men will split the vote, but not so at the Emmys. Every actor submits one episode for consideration, and with four "Modern" actors in the race, each will have the advantage of appearing in four different submissions: their own and those of their co-stars. That's why a show with multiple nominated actors in a category tends to win.

We ask our forum posters for their views. Samples below. See more here.

Glee - Born This Way Kurt Gay Likes Boys

RBurton: I'm on the fence between "Never Been Kissed" and "Born This Way." In the former, he has one explosive dramatic scene and a few genial, subtler ones alongside Darren Criss. There's no telling how that would play to Emmy voters, who'll be viewing this alongside traditional sitcoms.

FEDEclown: DEFINITELY "Duets." I think that is his most competitive one for comedy. The other episodes that he is considering are just not enough ("Grilled Cheesus," "Never Been Kissed," "Born This Way").

Brilliance inmorbid: I don't know why anyone is even considering "Born this Way." He doesn't have much screen time and annoys with the material he does have.

Atypical: Ideally I'd hope that Chris Colfer would submit "Prom Queen" as his tape. It has both great comedic and dramatic moments in it, and I think it best represents what Kurt went through in season 2 (dealing with homophobia and bullying).

LonePirate: He should submit one where he is acting and not whining, provided such a tape exists.

MissyGal: If he wants to go with a tape with the most impact, he needs to go with "Prom Queen." It's not a comedic tape, by any means, but it makes a strong impression.

Jss0058: He isn't going to out-"funny" the other contestants with any tape, so he should go with his best work of the season which is "Grilled Cheesus."

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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Chris Colfer in the "Born This Way" episode of "Glee." Credit: Fox TV


Emmy contenders: Behind the scenes with 'Modern Family's' Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse and Eric 

On occasion, we here at Awards Tracker will check in with a show’s cast members to get their responses to some random questions. Here we spotlight Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet of ABC's Emmy-winning comedy "Modern Family," in which Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara star as Jay and Gloria Pritchett, whose complicated family life includes Jay's son Mitchell (Ferguson), who lives with his partner Cameron (Stonestreet) and their toddler daughter Lily, and Jay's daughter Claire (Julie Bowen), who lives with her husband Phil (Ty Burrell) and their three children.

What was your favorite scene to shoot?

Jesse Tyler Ferguson: “The Spider-Man scene from the Halloween episode was my favorite to shoot thus far for the sheer fact that I was scaling down a wall in a Spider-Man costume. I will never in my life be cast in a movie where I am able to wear a super-hero costume and perform my own stunts. It was like I got to live a dream for a day.”

Eric Stonestreet: “The scene at the table where Cam figures out that Mitch left his name off Lily’s adoption paperwork is a fave.”

What is your favorite off-camera moment on set?

JTF: “I had a great conversation with one of the actresses who plays Lily. We spent about 30 minutes walking around the set finding things that were red. At lunch, she came up to me and brought me a red flower and then walked away. It was a great moment.”

ES: “When Julie and Sofia came into my trailer naked for no reason this one time. (Don’t tell Ty and Ed about this.) (Or Julie and Sofia.) (They probably wouldn’t remember.)”

Tell us something about one of your castmates that most people don’t know.

JTF: “Ty Burrell blinks really fast when he is nervous and Eric Stonestreet refuses to make number 2 in the restroom of his own trailer.”

ES: “As a guy, you can talk to Julie about anything. Anything. And I mean Any. Thing.

What’s your favorite television comedy of all time?

JTF: “I think ‘The Cosby Show.’ They had the right balance of a genius cast, great writing and a lot of heart. I could watch a ‘Cosby Show’ marathon any day."

ES: “ ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ Reason: Don Knotts.”

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-- Elena Howe

Photo: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, left, and Eric Stonestreet in "Modern Family." Credit: Karen Neal / ABC



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