Oscar champ Morgan Freeman directed and guest-starred on Sunday’s third season premiere of the CBS drama series “Madam Secretary.” Although he has been nominated at the Emmys as executive producer for his series “The Story of God with Morgan Freeman” (2016) and “Through the Wormhole” (2013-14), Freeman has never been nominated for an Emmy as an actor or director. Could his work on “Madam Secretary” finally provide him his first bids in either of those major categories?
“Madam Secretary” follows former CIA analyst and college professor Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni) as she becomes Secretary of State for President Conrad Dalton (Keith Carradine). Freeman, who serves as an executive producer on the series, guested and helmed the episode “Sea Change” on Sunday. It centers on Elizabeth’s attempts to convince President Dalton to acknowledge climate change when a cyclone destroys a U.S. naval base during Dalton’s re-election campaign.
The plot of the episode gave Freeman a wide variety of scenes to shoot, from a technically challenging storm scene, to a large black-tie banquet for Dalton’s donors, to intimate walk-and-talk hallway scenes made famous by “The West Wing.” Freeman’s on-screen appearance as Chief Justice Wilbourne provides him with much less to do, though, consisting of only one short scene opposite Leoni akin to a cameo.
With many of this year’s nominees in the Best Drama Guest Actor and Best Drama Directing categories not returning to the derby next year, Freeman has his best chance for a nomination yet. There will be at least two open slots in the Drama Guest Actor category. Max von Sydow is ineligible to return due to “Game of Thrones” not airing new episodes within this season’s eligibility period. Michael J. Fox can’t be nominated again for his role on “The Good Wife” because the series has ended.
Best Drama Directing will present Freeman even more opportunities to be nominated, with four of last year’s six slots left vacant. In addition to two “Game of Thrones” slots up for grabs, “Downton Abbey” will not retain its nomination because the series has concluded, and “The Knick” has not yet earned a renewal for a third season.
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