After two appearances as Donald Trump so far this season on “Saturday Night Live” and likely a third this weekend, Alec Baldwin could be close to graduating out of “guest star” status with Emmy Awards voters and into the race for Best Comedy Supporting Actor, thanks to a rule that Peter MacNicol (“Veep”) knows all too well.
This season Baldwin took over the duty of impersonating the presidential candidate from former cast member Darrell Hammond. “SNL” executive producer Lorne Michaels announced that it was Baldwin’s “30 Rock” co-star Tina Fey who suggested Baldwin take on the role. No reason was given as to why Hammond was removed from the role (he did appear as Bill Clinton in the season opener and continues as the show’s announcer).
It might be that “SNL” is trying to recreate their success story of 2008 where they brought in Fey to play then-Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. That impersonation led to highly quoted catch phrases (“I can see Russia from my house”) and an Emmy Award for Fey. Whether or not Baldwin follows Fey’s Emmy path will not only come down to how popular his performance is, but also how many times he appears.
Two years ago the TV academy implemented a new rule requiring that performers who appeared in 50% or more of a show’s episode count would be submitted for Emmy consideration in the supporting categories rather than the guest races. Controversy had risen in past years when performers such as John Lithgow (“Dexter”) appeared in entire seasons but were still allowed to compete as guest performers.
The new rule was invoked in dramatic fashion this year when MacNicol was nominated for Best Comedy Guest Actor for “Veep.” Gold Derby noticed that MacNicol had appeared in one too many episodes to be considered a guest star, so under the new rule MacNicol’s nomination was revoked and given to Peter Scolari for “Girls.” In a shocking turn of events, Scolari went on to win the award as Lena Dunham’s father on the HBO sitcom after initially not even being nominated.
Baldwin looks like he could potentially be involved in the same type of situation, considering how popular his Trump impression has been with fans and the media. Last year “SNL” produced 21 episodes, so if they do the same number for this current season, Baldwin can only appear in 10 maximum and still be able to retain his guest star status. Should Baldwin appear in 11 or more episodes, he’ll have to compete in the supporting race where “Saturday Night Live” has had bad luck winning Emmys; only Kate McKinnon has managed to win as a supporting star.
Baldwin won two Best Comedy Actor Emmys for his role in “30 Rock” in 2008 and 2009. In addition to his appearances on “SNL” this season, Baldwin could also be looking to compete for Best Reality Host for his role on this summer’s popular “Match Game” reboot on ABC.
Whether or not Baldwin’s role as Trump continues past Election Day (Nov. 8 )is probably more in the hands of voters than it is “SNL” producers, but only time and the polls will answer that question.
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