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Emmy voters are known for inviting back a considerable number of those same people and shows that have contended in the past. That can leave only a little room to welcome a few newcomers into the fold.
Can any show knock "Modern Family" from its throne as two-time reigning Best Comedy Series? Hoping to return to the competition are all of last year's nominees: "The Big Bang Theory," "Glee," 2006 winner "The Office," "Parks and Recreation," and three-time champ "30 Rock." Another strong contender could be "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which has been cited for six previous seasons but was not eligible last year. Of the freshman shows, the top candidates include "Enlightened", "House of Lies," "Lifes Too Short," "New Girl," "2 Broke Girls," "Up All Night," and "Veep."
All six of last year's nominees for Best Comedy Actress are eligible to contend again: surprise winner Melissa McCarthy ("Mike and Molly"), previous champs Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie") and Tina Fey ("30 Rock"), and nominees Laura Linney ("The Big C"), Martha Plimpton ("Raising Hope"), and Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"). Actresses from rookie shows include Christina Applegate ("Up All Night"), Kat Dennings ("2 Broke Girls"), Laura Dern ("Enlightened"), Zooey Deschanel ("New Girl"), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Veep").
There are two guaranteed openings in the race for Best Comedy Actor with the departure of Steve Carell ("The Office") and the ineligibility of Matt LeBlanc ("Episodes") as no new episodes aired this season. Of the other four nominees, reigning two-time champ Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") and his co-star Johnny Galecki are expected to possibly return, as are two-time winner Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock") and Louis C.K. ("Louie"). Four-time nominee Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") is eligible once again and should be a strong bet to gain a slot. With new lead billing on his show, it is also very possible that Emmy supporting winner Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men") could move into lead. Rookie shows have Will Arnett ("Up All Night"), Don Cheadle ("House of Lies"), and Warwick Davis ("Life's Too Short").
Emmy Awards history could be made this year when "Mad Men" tries for a record fifth win as Best Drama Series. Things just got more difficult with the announcement that last year's movie/miniseries champ "Downton Abbey" is shifting to this race. With "Friday Night Lights" gone, there is one guaranteed open slot. The other four nominees from 2011 -- "Boardwalk Empire," "Dexter," "Game of Thrones," and "The Good Wife" -- are all looking to return. Previous nominee "Breaking Bad" and Golden Globe winner "Homeland" are also strong contenders, as are "American Horror Story," "Luck," and "Smash."
Last year, Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") finally won an Emmy as Best Drama Actress after several attempts for her current show and "E.R." She should be defending her crown, possibly against four of last year's other nominees: Kathy Bates ("Harry's Law"), Mireille Enos ("The Killing"), Mariska Hargitay ("Law and Order: Special Victims Unit"), and Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"). Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights") is no longer eligible, so there is one open slot for sure. Previous winners Glenn Close ("Damages") and Kyra Sedgwick ("The Closer") would like to make a return, as would past nominee January Jones ("Mad Men"). Elizabeth McGovern ("Downton Abbey") was nodded as a miniseries actress before but is now eligible for this race. From the rookie shows, the top candidates are Golden Globe winner Claire Danes ("Homeland") and Madeleine Stowe ("Revenge").
The Best Drama Actor category is guaranteed to have a different winner this time around since Kyle Chandler ("Friday Night Lights") is no longer eligible. However, prior three-time winner Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") returns to battle again, as do the other five nominees from 2011: Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire"), Michael C. Hall ("Dexter"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Hugh Laurie ("House"), and Timothy Olyphant ("Justified"). Among the more interesting names making a first attempt are five-time Emmy winner and reigning Golden Globe champ Kelsey Grammer ("Boss"), two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman ("Luck"), Globe nominee Damian Lewis ("Homeland'), and two-time Emmy winner Kiefer Sutherland ("Touch").
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