2018 Emmy nominations slugfest: Battling it out over our guest acting predictions for comedy and drama [WATCH]

“I don’t know what year ‘Will & Grace’ thinks it is,” says Gold Derby contributor Amanda Spears when chatting about the Emmy race for Best Comedy Guest Actress. The NBC revival submitted eight performers for consideration in the category, including Vanessa Bayer, Blythe Danner, Minnie Driver, Jennifer Lopez, Jane Lynch, and Molly Shannon. “That’s too many people,” she adds. “This is not 1999.” The TV landscape is much more crowded in 2018, so Spears thinks having too many guests submitted “might have cost them a spot” altogether due to vote-splitting. Spears recently joined fellow contributors Riley Chow, Zach Laws, and Tom O’Brien to discuss the guest acting contenders for both comedy and drama. Watch the entire video above.

Currently the Comedy Guest Actress category looks like a battle between “Saturday Night Live” hosts. Tina Fey is in first place on our racetrack with odds of 7/2, and Tiffany Haddish, is in second with 4/1 odds. But O’Brien is betting on Haddish to pull off a victory on what would be a career-first nomination for the breakout comedian. “Tiffany Haddish just went for it,” he explains. “One of the nerviest ‘SNL’ hosting jobs, certainly of the year, and probably in recent memory.”

SEE 2018 Emmy nominations slugfest: What’s out front to win Best Limited Series and Best TV Movie? [WATCH]

The NBC sketch series also dominates our predictions for Comedy Guest Actor, where Bill Hader is expected to go head-to-head with Donald Glover. And among the other men who could compete, Chow is predicting yet another “SNL” host, and like Hader he’s a former cast member: Will Ferrell. “He gave a performance on ‘SNL’ that was acclaimed,” says Chow, “so I think that’s sensible even if it’s not widely predicted.”

Chow also points out that Kyle MacLachlan, who’s expected to compete in Best Movie/Mini Actor for “Twin Peaks: The Return,” could contend in this category for “Portlandia” as well. Much like Becky Ann Baker (“Girls”), Leslie Jordan (“Will & Grace”), or Will Forte (“30 Rock”), MacLachlan could crack through in the guest category for the finale season “even though he’s never been nominated before” for the show, especially with the added buzz from “Twin Peaks.”

SEE 2018 Emmy nominations slugfest: Who will win acting prizes for Limited Series/TV Movie? [WATCH]

On the serious side, the race for Best Drama Guest Actress looks like Diana Rigg‘s to lose with her final performance on “Game of Thrones.” “She had the most buzzed-about performance of the year,” states Spears. Indeed, Rigg currently holds first-place odds of 7/2, ahead of “The Handmaid’s Tale’s” Samira Wiley, who was nominated as a supporting actress last year but is on the ballot this season as a guest since she appeared in fewer than half of the eligible episodes. She has swapped places, in fact, with her co-star Alexis Bledel, who won Drama Guest Actress in 2017 and hopes to pick up a supporting bid this time around since she was promoted to series regular.

But while Rigg is way out front, I’m erring on the side of caution. “Often in this category we have an overwhelming frontrunner for one reason or another, and it just doesn’t happen,” I explain. Just look at another “Game of Thrones” guest contender, Max von Sydow, who was expected to win his career-first Emmy in 2016 only to lose to Hank Azaria (“Ray Donovan”) in a huge upset.

SEE 2018 Emmy nominations slugfest: Gold Derby contributors break down reality and variety predictions [WATCH]

So what about the Drama Guest Actor contenders this year? Last year’s victor Gerald McRaney (“This Is Us”) is back in the hunt for the NBC family drama, and is expected to repeat with 10/3 odds. Yet right behind him in second place is his co-star Ron Cephas Jones, who competed in the supporting race last year and is now on the ballot in guest. “I love what McRaney does on the show,” says O’Brien, “but it’s just not that dissimilar from what he did last year.” So O’Brien is betting on Jones to upset, because he “really shows some new layers” to his character.

Meanwhile, I’m “rooting hardcore for Cameron Britton,” who gave a breakthrough performance as a demented serial killer in Netflix’s “Mindhunter.” Though he’s ranked behind McRaney and Jones in third place with 11/2 odds, I believe “if they actually watch these submissions, he could win.” And the show heavily promoted his performance, featuring Britton at FYC events along with the show’s regular cast members.

PREDICT the Emmy nominees and winners now; change them until July 12

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on July 12. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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