We waited decades for Harry Shearer to finally win an Emmy for “The Simpsons.” For years, the actor, who voices dozens of characters including Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner, was the only regular cast member not to have won, but the TV academy finally righted that wrong in 2014 – 25 years into the show’s run. This year voters can catch up with another unrewarded actor from the long-running series: Tress MacNeille.
MacNeille isn’t usually cited among the core voice cast of “The Simpsons,” but she has nevertheless played numerous characters on the show since 1990, in addition to her years of work in “Futurama.” This year she contends for playing Laney Fontaine, Shauna and Mrs. Muntz in the episode “My Fare Lady,” in which Marge Simpson begins driving for a transportation app service. Over the years, she has also voiced Agnes Skinner, schoolyard bully Dolph, the Crazy Cat Lady and more, but this is her first-ever nomination.
She faces off against two more stars from “The Simpsons,” both previous champs. Hank Azaria has won four Emmys over the years, three for “The Simpsons” and one for his performance in the live-action film “Tuesdays with Morrie.” This year he’s being considered for voicing Springfield’s luckless barkeep Moe Szyslak and Pedicab Driver in the episode “The Princess Guide,” in which Moe falls for a Nigerian princess.
Dan Castellaneta is also a four-time Emmy-winner, all for his work on “The Simpsons.” He voices Homer Simpson in his nominated episode, “Bart’s New Friend,” in which Homer is hypnotized into believing he is 10-years-old, leading his son Bart to befriend him.
Two more past Emmy champs are vying for the prize. “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane is a two-time winner: once for Best Music and Lyrics (2002) and once for voicing Stewie Griffin on the FOX animated series. But he hasn’t won in over a decade despite having been nominated in various categories every year since 2008. This year, he’s nominated for voicing Stewie, Peter Griffin, Brian Griffin and Dr. Hartman in the episode “Our Idiot Brian,” in which family dog Brian learns he has a brain tumor that has destroyed his intellect.
Seth Green won as a producer of the Adult Swim series “Robot Chicken” when it won Best Short-Format Animated Program in 2010, but he has yet to win for voice-acting despite nominations in six of the last seven years. This time he contends for playing the Nerd, Quarterback, Pirates, Bryan Mills/Liam Neeson, Batman and the Count in the episode “Victoria’s Secret of NIMH,” in which the Count from “Sesame Street” encounters comic book vampire hunter Blade, among other sketches.
Besides MacNeille, the only first-time nominee in this contest is John Roberts, who voices Linda, the matriarch of the Belcher clan, in FOX’s “Bob’s Burgers.” He contends for the episode “Eat, Spray, Linda,” in which a birthday surprise for Linda goes awry when she gets lost and must find her way back home.
Will one of the Emmy rookies prevail, or will one of the past winners add to their collections?
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Photos: “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “Bob’s Burgers.” Credit: FOX