Emmy Spotlight 2007: Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Jun 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

It’s been said that to win big in Hollywood, it doesn’t hurt to look bad. For Hilary Swank, that’s added up to two Oscars (“Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby”). For television’s America Ferrera, star of ABC’s hit comedy “Ugly Betty,” becoming Betty Suarez, the frumpy girl from Queens with red-framed glasses and a mouthful of braces, has made her Hollywood’s darling. Thus far her winning performance has earned her a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.
Come July 19, when the nominations for the 59th annual Primetime Emmy Awards are revealed, Ms. Ferrera will be rewarded again. More than any comic actress on TV this year, she is the odds-on choice for a nomination.
“America Ferrera is a shoo-in,” said TV Guide columnist Michael Ausiello. “If I had to put money down on any one nomination, it would be America Ferrera for best actress, and she’ll probably win as well. I expect ‘Ugly Betty’ to be in the best comedy show category, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of supporting actors get in there, too.”
“I am going with America Ferrera simply because she is a beautiful woman who makes herself look plain, and that is the type of stretch voters love in an actress,” said Wesley Hyatt, author of “Emmy Award-Winning Nighttime Television Shows, 1948-2004.”
Roddy Stayton, “Ugly Betty” hairstylist, told USA Today, “She’s a gorgeous girl with an incredible style sensibility in her personal life. What we do is Bettify her in the morning. It’s in contrast to the rest of the show, where everybody else is glammed up.”
Speaking of glamour, what about the gorgeous ladies who star on ABC’s other hit hourlong comedy, “Desperate Housewives”? Last year, only Alfre Woodard garnered a supporting actress nomination for the show after Felicity Huffman, Teri Hatcher and Marcia Cross all were nominated as lead actress in 2005&mdash:and Ms. Huffman won. Will Emmy shun the women of Wisteria Lane again?
“That show has returned to form this year, so I could definitely see one or two of the actresses grabbing a nomination,” said M.C. Cooper, television editor for Men.com. “Felicity Huffman is an Emmy favorite, but I think Nicollette Sheridan deserves to be recognized for her turn. That last episode was a knock-out.”
“What happens is that all of the women cancel each other out, which is what happened last year,” said Mr. Hyatt. “But I would say the ones considered the best lead actresses, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross, have had less compelling storylines than the show’s other female stars this year, and that includes Nicollette Sheridan.”
While experts agree that Ms. Ferrera can count on a nomination, many are quick to add that last year’s winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, will snag one of the five spots for “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” When she went to the stage to accept her Emmy, Ms. Dreyfus noted that the so-called “Seinfeld Curse” was clearly over, since an actor from that classic NBC comedy had re-emerged in another hit. “I’m not somebody who believes in curses,” she said on stage, “but curse this, baby.”
Louis-Dreyfus is the only actress in this category last year who is eligible again. Normally that would mean an easy win for her, but the Emmys never behave normally, said Mr. Hyatt.
“Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be back, I’m sure, as will Mary-Louise Parker for ‘Weeds,'” said Mr. Ausiello. Like Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, Ms. Parker has been an award winner. For her role as a pot-dealing suburban mom on “Weeds,” Ms. Parker won a 2006 Golden Globe.
Mr. Ausiello has another candidate for actress in a comedy series. “I personally would love to see Tichina Arnold from ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ get nominated. She’s the secret weapon on that show.”
Ms. Arnold’s nomination in this category might be seen as a surprise, as would a few other dark-horse entries. Sarah Silverman, for instance, star of “The Sarah Silverman Program,” has won the hearts of critics, while Tina Fey, star and creator of “30 Rock,” has created a lot of positive buzz as well.
“Tina Fey has a good shot, especially if ’30 Rock’ gets a nomination for comedy series,” said Ms. Cooper. “And there’s one more name I’ll give you. Anne Heche for ‘Men in Trees.’ Even though ABC has given her show the run-around, moving it all over the schedule, Emmy voters could recognize her when they check out her submission reel.”
At a Glance
Leading Contender
America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty” (ABC)
Other Likely Nominees
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (CBS)
Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds” (Showtime)
Nicollette Sheridan, “Desperate Housewives” (ABC)
Felicity Huffman, “Desperate Housewives” (ABC)
Dark Horses
Tina Fey, “30 Rock” (NBC)
Tichina Arnold, “Everybody Hates Chris” (The CW)
Sarah Silverman, “The Sarah Silverman Program” (Comedy Central)
Anne Heche, “Men in Trees” (ABC)

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