A funny thing happened when this year's Emmy nominations were announced: The 2010 winner of best drama actress, Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer"), was nowhere to be found. Sedgwick's win came after five consecutive nominations for playing Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on the popular TNT crime drama, so it was disquieting to have to list her among this year's snubs. The final season of "The Closer" is airing, so 2012 will be Sedgwick's final year of eligibility for this character. Can she expect to hear her name called next year or is she simply out of sight, out of mind when it comes to Emmy voters?
Looking at recent Emmy patterns, this isn't the first time something like this happened, and the results bode well for Sedgwick. Patricia Arquette ("Medium") won this race in 2005, then was snubbed the following year. Arquette came back swinging in 2007 with another nomination but lost to Sally Field ("Brothers and Sisters"). If Arquette could reap a nomination after a year's absence, then Sedgwick should have nothing to worry about. After all, Sedgwick will likely get additional sympathy votes next year simply because her show is ending.
If Sedgwick does get a comeback nomination next year, is there precedence for her to win? Based on what happened in the lead drama actor race in the mid-2000s, the answer is an astounding yes. James Spader made a huge mark on the Emmy circuit when he won for "The Practice" in 2004, won for the same role on spin-off "Boston Legal" in 2005 and was then subsequently snubbed in 2006. Did Emmy voters simply forget about the man they'd championed two years in a row, or perhaps they assumed he was golden for another nomination so they voted for someone else instead? Whatever the case, Spader was once again nominated in 2007, and he made it three wins for his Alan Shore character.
Sedgwick's 2010 win came for a powerful episode of "The Closer" called "Maternal Instincts." Emmy gurus all knew that she had the strongest submission in the drama actress race, but many predicted Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") to win anyway because she had already bagged the Golden Globe and SAG Award. Unfortunately for Margulies, her submission wasn't strong enough, and Sedgwick finally prevailed after four consecutive losses.
Had Sedgwick been nominated this year, Emmy experts would have a hard time choosing her to win over the likes of front-runners Margulies (who this year has a much stronger episode) or Elisabeth Moss (whose "Mad Men" episode "The Suitcase" is the talk of the town). In other words, nomination or not, Sedgwick wouldn't be taking the stage for a second time. Depending on how the rest of "The Closer's" final season winds down, there's a great chance for Sedgwick to knock it out of the park with another winning submission, perhaps even with the series finale. Time will tell.
Besides Margulies and Moss, the other four leading ladies in contention are Kathy Bates ("Harry's Law"), Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights"), Mireille Enos ("The Killing") and Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit").
— Tom O'Neil
Photo: Kyra Sedgwick accepts her Emmy for lead actress in a drama series after four previous tries. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.