Not many Emmy voters will be roaming the aisles or cramming into the halls and meeting rooms at Comic-Con this week.
But Emmy nominees will certainly be there, lobbying not for votes but for the viewers who can turn their shows into pop-culture phenomena -- and by doing so, just maybe attract the attention of awards voters.
You won’t find, say, “30 Rock” or “The Good Wife” in San Diego, although Tina Fey is attending on behalf of DreamWorks Animation's upcoming film “Megamind.” But you will find a full contingent of Emmy-nominated shows making the trip, starting with “True Blood” and encompassing everything from “Dexter,” “Lost” and “Glee” to “Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil” (Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program) and “Human Target” (Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music).
“Comic-Con is not part of an Emmy campaign, but for a certain kind of show you can’t ignore those fans,” says a network executive who has taken several big shows to the convention over a number of years. “And if the buzz you can get down there comes at the right time for Emmy voting, so much the better.”
Television series like “Lost” (51 nominations and nine wins) and “The Simpsons” (62 nominations, 25 wins) have made regular appearances at Comic-Con for years. Before it even debuted, the NBC series “Heroes” blanketed the San Diego Convention Center with promo merchandise, and debuted in 2006 to great Comic-Con acclaim; that season, it landed eight nominations.
And this year, HBO’s “True Blood,” which made its first Comic-Con appearance before it even debuted, is not missing a trick. Comic-Con’s Thursday lineup includes a spotlight panel on Charlaine Harris, the author of the books on which the series is based, and an appearance by composer Nathan Barr on a music panel.
One of the show’s costume designers will appear on Friday, on a day that culminates with a full “True Blood” panel featuring show creator Alan Ball along with several cast members, including Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Nelsan Ellis and Sam Trammell.
And one of Comic-Con’s signature events, the Saturday night Masquerade Ball, will be sponsored this year by the HBO series.
Among nominees in the marquee Emmy category of Outstanding Drama Series, “True Blood” is one of three shows that have a strong Comic-Con presence.
Showtime’s “Dexter” will be the subject of a Thursday panel, while star (and likely Emmy winner) Michael C. Hall also will appear with the stars of “Californication” and “Weeds” on a panel subtitled “The Anti-Heroes of Showtime.” "Dexter" screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg takes part in a separate panel on Friday.
The third nominee, ABC’s “Lost,” won’t have a panel of its own, but it will be all over the schedule, with appearances by co-creator J.J. Abrams, composer (and current nominee) Michael Giacchino and writer Jesse Alexander, along with a podcast and a discussion with the writers of the forthcoming “Lost Encyclopedia.”
Among the Outstanding Comedy Series nominees, “Glee” is the one contender with a full-scale presence: On Sunday, creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk will offer a look at what’s on the agenda for the 19-time nominee’s second season, and half a dozen of the show’s cast members will take part in a Q&A.
Other current nominees on the Comic-Con agenda include “Burn Notice” (though Supporting Actress contender Sharon Gless will not participate), “The Big Bang Theory” (including acting nominee Jim Parsons), “MythBusters” (an Outstanding Reality Program nominee) and, not surprisingly, several contenders in the Outstanding Visual Effects, Outstanding Stunt Coordination and Outstanding Voice-Over Performance categories, from “Caprica” and “V” and “SGU Stargate Universe” to “Chuck” to “Robot Chicken” creator/actor Seth Green.
Plus, of course, the four-day event will include tributes to several of the shows that helped create the pop-culture universe that Comic-Con mines so successfully: “The Twlight Zone,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Star Trek” in all its manifestations.
For those shows, the Emmy campaigns have long since ended … but Comic-Con endures.