Alec Baldwin‘s guest stint as Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” last fall turned into an extended stay after Trump unexpectedly won the presidential election in November. As a result, Baldwin logged in too many “SNL” episodes to compete as a guest star at the Emmys. No matter — our experts think he’ll win anyway, only in the supporting race instead of the guest contest.
As of this writing we’ve polled 15 TV journalists from top media outlets for their early Emmy picks, and 12 of them predict a victory for Baldwin as Best Comedy Supporting Actor: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Eric Deggans (NPR), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Ken Tucker (Yahoo), Adnan Virk (ESPN) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed).
Baldwin is an industry darling with 16 past Emmy nominations, including two wins for Best Comedy Actor for “30 Rock” (2008-2009). His track record at the SAG Awards is even better: he won Best Comedy Actor seven years in a row (2007-2013). That’s important to note because the Emmys changed their procedure last year from ranked ballots to a simple plurality vote of all eligible members of the TV academy’s acting branch. That more closely resembles SAG voting, so if he was capable of dominating those awards, he might be able to dominate these as well.
But three of our experts disagree. Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times) predicts that Louie Anderson (“Baskets”) will win for the second year in a row. Since Anderson already won under this voting system, that may be a smart bet. Plus he has a pair of Daytime Emmys to his name for his voice-over performance in the animated series “Life with Louie.”
Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post) is betting that Tituss Burgess will win for the first time for his scene-stealing role in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” He’s been nominated for the last two years in a row, but this year “Kimmy Schmidt” is premiering later in the spring than usual (May 19), so it may be fresher in the minds of voters this time around.
Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine) thinks the TV academy will return to a previous favorite. He’s predicting Tony Hale will win his third Emmy for “Veep.” He’s been nominated every year for the last four years, winning in 2013 and 2015. And “Veep” is the two-time defending champ for Best Comedy Series, so if the series maintains its momentum he could certainly go along for the ride. But he’ll have to watch out if he’s nominated against another “Veep” cast member. The plurality vote means there’s a greater risk of splitting the vote.
None of our experts are currently predicting a win for any other Comedy Supporting Actor hopefuls, but 11 out of 15 predict a nomination for “Atlanta” breakout Brian Tyree Henry. This would be his first Emmy nomination. How he fares will depend on how fully the academy embraces “Atlanta,” which was a hit at the Golden Globes, Producers Guild Awards and Writers Guild Awards earlier this year.
Ty Burrell has been nominated seven years in a row for “Modern Family,” winning in 2011 and 2014, so like Hale he’s hoping to three-peat. Unlike Hale, however, his show seems to be waning in support at the Emmys. Last year it had its lowest nominations total (four), so this year only five experts are predicting another nomination for Burrell.
Five experts are also predicting Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He’s been nominated in this category for the last three years, and in his career he has accumulated 10 Emmy bids and two wins, both for dramatic performances: Best Drama Actor for “Homicide: Life on the Street” (1998) and Best Movie/Mini Actor for “Thief” (2006). The TV academy seems to like Braugher more than they like his show as a whole — its only other nominations have been for Best Stunt Coordination, which it won in 2015 — so he may be vulnerable in a year with strong new contenders.
Four actors are predicted to earn nominations by two experts apiece: Laurence Fishburne (“Black-ish”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Timothy Simons (“Veep”) and Lakeith Stanfield (“Atlanta”). Fishburne has won two Primetime Emmys out of seven nominations. Walsh was nominated for the first time in this category last year. And Simons and Stanfield hope to pick up their first nominations.
Five more dark horse contenders will be nominated according to one expert each: Adam Driver (“Girls”), William Jackson Harper (“The Good Place”), Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), Micah Fowler (“Speechless”) and Andrew Rannells (“Girls”). Driver was previously nominated for three years in a row (2013-2015), while Harper, Thompson, Fowler and Rannells are eyeing their first Emmy bids.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our Emmy odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on July 13. And join in the fierce debate over the 2017 Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our TV forums.