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Emmy inside track: The race for TV drama actor

April 20, 2011 | 11:28 am

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").

Jon hamm mad men suitcase newsMost 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?

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"

Sean Bean, "Game of Thrones"
Matt Bomer, "White Collar"
Jeffrey Donovan, "Burn Notice"
Idris Elba, "Luther"
Joseph Fiennes, "Camelot"
Charlie Hunnam, "Sons of Anarchy"
Michael Imperioli, "Detroit 1-8-7"
Peter Krause, "Parenthood"
Denis Leary, "Rescue Me"
Bill Paxton, "Big Love"
Wendell Pierce, "Treme"
Tom Selleck, "Blue Bloods"


Emmy cliffhanger: What'll win best TV drama series?

Poll: Why can't Hugh Laurie or 'House M.D.' win the Emmy?

Poll: Will 'Modern Family' win best comedy series again at the Emmys?

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Jon Hamm in "The Suitcase" episode of "Mad Men." Credit: AMC