Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for TV

Jan 15, 2007  •  Post A Comment

By Allison J. Waldman

Special to TelevisionWeek

Among all the award shows, the Golden Globes project what is perhaps the most festive atmosphere. “The Globes are like a party, and they concentrate on the people who are on screen and not the people behind the scenes,” said Orlando Sentinel TV critic Hal Boedeker. “It helps that the people there have been eating and drinking and talking. And it helps that it’s TV and movies. You have all the celebrities packed in one room. That sense of fun is palpable. It’s more fun to watch.”

How then could controversy enter the mix? Well, to hear TV insiders tell it, the best supporting actor and actress categories must be reworked. Blending performers in episodic comedy and drama series with those in miniseries and TV movies, they say, results in a hodgepodge category.

“I would personally like not to even have this category,” said Kathie Skerry, Web master at GiveMeMyRemote.com. “I don’t understand it. This is really an apples and oranges situation. It’s hard to compare.”

Joel Keller, assistant editor of TV Squad, has the same view. “I don’t know how you can compare someone who does a dramatic role in a movie about the tsunami to Elizabeth Perkins in a comedy like `Weeds,”‘ he said.

TV Guide columnist Michael Ausiello believes the category is so bad that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association should correct it immediately. “First off, they have to separate these categories because it’s just a joke to mix movie miniseries with comedy and drama series performers in one category,” he said. “It’s too competitive, for one reason, and it’s just unfair pitting these people up against each other.”

For the 64th Annual Golden Globes, Jeremy Piven of HBO’s “Entourage” received his third consecutive nomination in the best supporting category. His competition includes Thomas Haden Church for the TV Western “Broken Trail” and Jeremy Irons for HBO’s “Elizabeth I,” as well as first-time nominees Justin Kirk of Showtime’s “Weeds” and Masi Oka, the breakout star of NBC’s “Heroes.”

Mr. Piven recently won the Emmy as best supporting actor in a comedy, prompting experts to handicap him as the likely Golden Globe victor. “My prediction is Jeremy Piven for `Entourage,”‘ said Mr. Boedeker. “He has the inside track in Hollywood.”

“It’s such a mixed bag. Thomas Haden Church is in a Western with Robert Duvall. Jeremy Irons is in a Shakespearean situation compared to `Heroes’ and `Entourage.’ If it’s a popularity contest, Jeremy Piven might win,” said Mr. Keller.

Ms. Skerry is more definitive. “This is an easy choice: It’ll go to Jeremy Piven,” she said. “Out of these guys, he’s the one who deserves it. I was more surprised with the people who were left out of this category, specifically one of the two supporting actors from `The Office,’ John Krasinski and Rainn Wilson. I was very surprised they weren’t there. And I’ve been waiting for somebody to recognize Donald Faison from `Scrubs’-he’s never recognized and he’s so brilliant on that show. I think he really defines what a supporting actor in a comedy role is.”

One nominee seems to have emerged as the sentimental favorite-“Heroes”‘ Masi Oka. “His is such an exhilarating performance, and I think that he’s one of the main reasons that show has caught on,” said Mr. Boedeker. “Also keep in mind that with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, they are going to pay more attention to foreign performers.”

The fact that Mr. Oka is Asian may work in his favor with the Golden Globe voters. “I have to feel like the Hollywood Foreign Press would go in that direction,” said Mr. Ausiello. “`Heroes’ is the breakout show of the season and Masi is that show’s biggest star. I predicted he’d be the only one to get nominated, and I predict he’ll win.”

On the distaff side, things are even more clear-cut to the pros. Among the nominees for best supporting actress in a television program, “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Katherine Heigl is the consensus pick. The other nominees include Emily Blunt for “Gideon’s Daughter,” Toni Collette for HBO’s miniseries “Tsunami, The Aftermath,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’s” Sarah Paulson and Elizabeth Perkins for “Weeds.” That makes back-to-back nods for Ms. Perkins, who lost last year to Ms. Heigl’s “Grey’s” co-star Sandra Oh.

“Katherine Heigl has the best shot,” said Mr. Boedeker. “I think that a character that you see every week who has a big, juicy melodramatic part about falling in love with a dying patient, she probably has the best material to show. Also, `Grey’s Anatomy’ is about as hot as any show can get.”

“If there was one nomination I was most happy about it would be Katherine’s,” said Mr. Ausiello. “She seems to get overshadowed by her very talented co-stars on `Grey’s Anatomy.’ I think she’s been overlooked in the past because she’s beautiful, [has] blond hair, and sometimes we don’t give actresses like that enough credit. She really proved herself in a big way.”

It wouldn’t be unprecedented for a film star to win in this category, as Anjelica Huston did for “Iron Jawed Maidens” in 2005 and Vanessa Redgrave did in 2001 for “If These Walls Could Talk 2.” “There are a lot of big movie stars in that category, especially with Toni Collette and Elizabeth Perkins,” said Ms. Skerry. “Still, I’d pick Katherine Heigl.”