Can Donald Glover really win for directing himself on ‘Atlanta’? It hasn’t happened in 40 years!

Are Emmy voters in the directing branch territorial about actors invading their space? It’s been 40 years since an actor — Alan Alda for “M*A*S*H” — directed himself to a win. So why are so many people predicting Donald Glover to prevail for Best Comedy Directing of his FX show “Atlanta” this weekend?

Glover has overwhelming 1/3 odds at Gold Derby to win for the episode “B.A.N.” on Sunday. He has the support of 16 out of 20 Experts, six of seven Editors, 18 out of 20 for the Top 24 Users, and 76% of all Users picking him for the trophy. His competition stands as follows: “Groundbreaking” for “Veep” (11/2 odds), “Justice” for “Veep” (28/1 odds), “Blurb” for “Veep” (50/1 odds), “Intellectual Property” for “Silicon Valley” (66/1 odds), and “Server Error” for “Silicon Valley” (66/1 odds).

In addition to the acclaim for “Atlanta,” many people are probably choosing Glover because of possible vote-splitting for “Veep” and “Silicon Valley.” His comedy “Atlanta” has no fear of that situation since it only has the one bid in the directing category.

But do directing branch members hold it against actors that also helm their own shows? Looking back over recent years, there can certainly be a case made for that. The following stars have directed their programs but failed to win:

Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”) lost to Jill Soloway for “Transparent” (2016).

Louis C.K. (“Louie”) lost to Jill Soloway for “Transparent” (2015).

Louis C.K. (“Louie”) lost to Gail Mancuso for “Modern Family” (2014).

Louis C.K. (“Louie”) and Lena Dunham (“Girls”) lost to Gail Mancuso for “Modern Family” (2013).

Louis C.K. (“Louie”) and Lena Dunham (“Girls”) lost to Steven Levitan for “Modern Family” (2012).

There have also been a large number of actors (many actors-turned-directors) who have also competed and lost for comedy directing since Alda’s victory in 1977. That list includes Alda himself (1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983), Harry Morgan (“M*A*S*H,” 1980), Eric Laneuville (“Dream On,” 1993), Peter Bonerz (“Murphy Brown,” 1993), Stephen Merchant (“Extras,” 2007), and Jodie Foster (“Orange is the New Black,” 2014).

On the positive side, Betty Thomas (“Hill Street Blues”) had left behind her acting career when she won for “Dream On” in 1993. It was the same situation for Michael Lembeck (“One Day at a Time”) when he prevailed for “Friends in 1996.

If you are considering someone other than Glover for a directing win, you might want to look towards a showrunner. They have won far more often in this race that actors. Assuming that is the case for 2017, the champ could be David Mandel for “Groundbreaking” or Mike Judge for “Server Error.” Showrunner winners in recent decades include James Burrows (“Cheers,” 1991), David Lee (“Frasier,” 1997), Michael Patrick King (“Sex and the City,” 2002), Ryan Murphy (“Glee,” 2010), Levitan, and Soloway (twice).

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