Among the year’s most unexpected Emmy nominees was Margaret Cho, who contends for Comedy Guest Actress for playing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il and his son Kim Jong-un on “30 Rock.” The well-known comic is virtually unrecognizable as the father-and-son despots, and if you blink you might miss her entire performance. She submitted the episode “The Return of Avery Jessup” to Emmy judges, and her scenes in the episode add up to only 38 seconds.
Cho returned in the season finale episode, “What Will Happen to the Gang Next Year?,” in which she has another 77 seconds of screentime, bringing her to a grand total of 115 seconds for the year – just under two minutes.
But neither of those performances comes close to matching Ellen Burstyn‘s cameo in 2006’s “Mrs. Harris,” for which she received a Movie/Mini Supporting Actress nomination. Her character, credited only as “Former Tarnower Steady,” appeared on-screen for only 15 seconds, prompting the TV academy to change its eligibility requirements. Now, supporting performers in movies and miniseries must appear in at least 5% of the total running time to be eligible.
Brief performances have also been known to receive nominations at the Oscars, but none shorter than two minutes. To date, the shortest nominated performance at the Academy Awards was Hermione Baddeley in 1959: she was in “A Room at the Top” for 2 minutes, 32 seconds.
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