Emmy Spotlight: Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jun 5, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Expect some familiar faces to contend again this year, with broad support for last year’s winner, James Spader of ABC’s “Boston Legal,” and for 2005 nominees Kiefer Sutherland, for Fox’s “24,” and Hugh Laurie, star of ABC’s “House.” But the “Sopranos” factor looms large in the lead dramatic actor category, where James Gandolfini’s tour de force as the formerly comatose Tony Soprano made a big impression on the panelists.

Lifetime’s Tim Brooks calls this year’s field of contenders in the category “a bumper crop,” while consultant Ray Solley refers to the lead actor candidates as “the Big Men on Campus. Like jocks, everybody recognizes them. Like star students, they stand at the head of their class.”

Adds Diane Gordon, author of the TV e-mail newsletter The Surf Report, “I admire the bravery of the talent in these shows; it’s the essence of what acting is about.”

TVWeek’s Emmy Panel

  • Matt Roush, senior TV critic for TV Guide

  • Diane Gordon, author of the television e-mail newsletter The Surf Report

  • Tim Brooks, executive VP of research for Lifetime

  • Ray Solley, program development consultant

    Panelists’ predictions

    James Gandolfini, ‘The Sopranos’ (HBO)

    “The ultimate antihero. If ever an actor seems to live and breathe his character, it is he.”

    -Tim Brooks

    “He [has] spent the season wondering, ‘Who am I? Why am I here?’ His midlife crisis was great drama. No one gets material this strong or conveys it with such fearless lack of vanity.”

    -Matt Roush

    Kiefer Sutherland, ’24’ (Fox)

    “Guys want to be him; chicks dig him.”

    -Diane Gordon

    “You don’t always applaud Jack’s brutal heroics, and Kiefer makes you understand that he’s not very happy with himself, either. A terrific, tragic, lone-wolf hero.”

    -Matt Roush

    James Spader, ‘Boston Legal’ (ABC)

    “He made a very twisted character into a believable, oddly lovable man. His friendship with William Shatner’s character, Denny Crane, makes Shore and Crane the best couple on television.”

    -Diane Gordon

    Hugh Laurie, ‘House’ (Fox)

    “Cranky earns Emmy votes. Maybe Emmy voters like to imagine themselves sniping back at life and misfortune the way he does.”

    -Tim Brooks

    “He’s the compelling, oxymoronic antihero of the show: a healer who hates the people he heals.”

    -Diane Gordon

    William L. Petersen, ‘CSI’ (CBS)

    “Nuanced performance in a hit show.”

    -Tim Brooks

    TelevisionWeek staff picks

  • James Gandolfini, ‘The Sopranos”(HBO)

  • Matthew Fox, ‘Lost’ (ABC)

  • Kiefer Sutherland, ’24’ (Fox)

  • Patrick Dempsey, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (ABC)

  • Denis Leary, ‘Rescue Me’ (FX)

    2005 contenders

    Winner: James Spader, ‘Boston Legal’ (ABC)

    Other nominees:

  • Ian McShane, ‘Deadwood'(HBO)

  • Hugh Laurie, ‘House’ (Fox)

  • Hank Azaria, ‘Huff’ (Showtime)

  • Kiefer Sutherland, ’24’ (Fox)