Kyle's Career Filmstrip: TV Series and Movies

Aug 3, 2010

Emmy's Actor's Race is (Mostly) a Level Playing Field

This year's actor pool reflects an even mix of stalwarts and newcomers.

Every year during the post- Emmy nomination churn, certain arguments get a lot of play: Broadcast can't beat cable! Newcomers are shut out!

For the first time in a while, those discussions are a bit more muted.

In the ongoing war between cable and broadcast, there was at least one major surprise this year: DirecTV managed to field a lead acting candidate for the first time in Kyle Chandler after his four seasons on "Friday Night Lights." And broadcast made a meaningful resurgence in both lead and supporting categories, thanks to breakout hits "Glee" and "Modern Family."

Those two series alone landed five of the 24 primary acting categories; nonbroadcast acting nominations take up just nine of the acting slots up for grabs in 2010 compared with last year's 10.

Perhaps a detente has been achieved between distribution models, leaving more room to search for the best of the best among new and familiar faces.

... For Chuck Lorre, pitting actors from such shows as "Glee" and "The Office" against his "Big Bang" and "Two and a Half Men" somewhat muddies the actor race waters.

"It's not a level playing field," he says. "The actors on 'Men' and 'Big Bang' are putting on a live performance in front of a studio audience, while other comedies are (essentially) making a movie every week."

That debate aside, voters consistently look for at least one key element in every performance, says the academy's senior vp awards John Leverence: Range.

"With 'Breaking Bad,' you have a lead character who is a mousy high school chemistry teacher and also a ruthless drug dealer," he says. "That kind of range and writing is very appealing to performer/voters."

This is one reason that "Bad's" Bryan Cranston is a heavy favorite for a drama actor three-peat. But he's up against other big-range personalities, including strong contender Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"); the critically beloved Chandler; five-time nominee Hugh Laurie ("House"); first-time nominee Matthew Fox ("Lost"); and Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") who has been nominated every year since the show began (he's also up for a comedy guest actor slot for "30 Rock").

He's beloved by critics for reason. We still think this could be Kyle's year!

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