Will it be more of the same, or a salute to some departing favorites, or a showcase for new blood?
Could Conan O’Brien get some nationally-televised revenge on the network that cut him loose?
And with more than two dozen awards to be handed out over three hours, will host Jimmy Fallon have enough time left over to be funny?
Those are some of the questions facing the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which will take place at the Nokia Theatre on Sunday and be broadcast live on NBC at 5:00 Pacific time, 8:00 Eastern.
The Emmys are often the most predictable of the major awards shows, but this year an unusual combination of circumstances are affecting the races, and possibly changing the complexion of what has been a complacent, dull affair in recent years. Some of the factors that could come into play on Emmy night:
Especially in the comedy category, the Emmys are at a potential crossroads. While the Outstanding Comedy Series award has gone to “30 Rock” for three years in a row, and while Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin have made repeated trips to the podium, there’s new blood out there these days. The pop-culture phenomenon that is “Glee” may be hard to ignore – and if voters decide that a Supporting Actress statuette for Jane Lynch is enough, “Modern Family” has the look of a favorite.
Fresh faces could also dominate some of the acting races, with “Glee” co-stars Chris Colfer and Lea Michelle joining Lynch as strong contenders, and a “Modern Family” trio of Supporting Actor contenders – Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson – likely to produce a winner in that category.
The 2009-2010 television season saw the end of some brilliant television careers, with series finales for “Lost,” “24” and “Law & Order” and the concluding season of “Monk,” for which actor Tony Shalhoub has earned three Emmys and eight nominations.
While the concluding seasons of “24” and “Law & Order” didn’t get much traction with Emmy voters, “Lost” wound up with the most nominations it’s ever received, 12. And while “Mad Men” has the critical plaudits to go with two wins in a row, the “Lost” finale was clearly the television event of the season, which could give it a boost in the eyes of voters.
(It didn’t hurt that a new Emmy rule allowed the show to send voters its entire, highly emotional two-hour final episode, rather than being restricted to a normal-length episode as it would have been in years past.)
As for Shalhoub, he hasn’t won since 2006, but his farewell to a much-loved character could conceivably challenge the presumed frontrunner, Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory.”
Vindication … or Maybe Revenge
You may have heard that NBC gave Conan O’Brien “The Tonight Show,” then took it back and gave it to its previous host, Jay Leno. And that both versions of the show were eligible for the Emmys this year. And that Conan’s “Tonight Show” got four nominations, including Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, while Leno’s “Tonight Show” got a whole lot of nothing.
A win for O’Brien could be particularly sweet because the show, which rotates between ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, is being televised by the peacock network this year – meaning that his coast-to-coast vindication would come on the very network that cut him loose.
Of course, Coco will have to be a bit discrete in his gloating, since the terms of his NBC buyout prohibit him from speaking ill of his former employer until September 1 – conveniently for the network, three days after the Emmys.
Then again, Leno may be spared some more bashing by an unlikely savior: Betty White, whose job hosting “Saturday Night Live” gave that show the kind of momentum in the category that it hasn’t had in years.
Conan or Betty? Tony or Jim? “Mad Men” or “Lost”?
More of the same, or something new?
It’s never smart to bet against Emmy voters saying “I’ll have the usual, please,” but one can always hope.