New Picks Among Emmy Award Predictions

The 62nd Annual Emmy Awards air Sunday night from Los Angeles, and a crop of newcomers are among this year's nominees. Host Liane Hansen talks to Jeff Jensen, senior writer for Entertainment Weekly, about who can expect a win and who might beat out the perennial favorites.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Newcomers are making a splash this year at the 62nd annual Emmy Awards, which take place tonight in Los Angeles.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Glee")

CAST: (Singing) Don't stop believing. Hold onto the feeling...

HANSEN: The Fox high school musical hit "Glee" is the television series with the most nominations this year - 19. Another first-year comedy, ABC's "Modern Family," is up for 14 awards. Meanwhile, the CBS law drama, "The Good Wife," has nine nods after its first season.

(Soundbite of TV show, "The Good Wife")

Ms. JULIANNA MARGULIES (Actress): (as Alicia Florrick) Show me the plan.

Mr. CHRIS NOTH (Actor): (as Peter Florrick) The what?

Ms. MARGULIES: The plan. I get the romance. I need a plan. I have two kids that mean the world to me. I have the press. They're just waiting for a whiff of a new scandal. And I have a husband. So, if you want to cut through all that noise then show me a plan.

HANSEN: Here to tell us whether these upstarts will bring some new energy to the Emmys is Jeff Jensen, senior writer at Entertainment Weekly. He joins us from his office in Los Angeles. Welcome back to the program, Jeff.

Mr. JEFF JENSEN (Writer, Entertainment Weekly): Thank you for having me.

HANSEN: So, do you expect the new shows to bring home the gold tonight?

Mr. JENSEN: I definitely think that they're going to stir up some drama, I mean, especially in the comedy category - to be kind of ironic about it. It really is coming down to "Glee" versus "Modern Family." And the inclusion of "Glee" in the comedy category has been kind of controversial. A lot of people don't believe this sort of, like, musical dramedy kind of belongs in the comedy category 'cause it really kind of isn't about delivering pretty conventional, you know, laughter. Whereas, "Modern Family" is sort of a riff on the conventional sitcom with obviously some modern twists. And it's definitely devoted to kind of like generating laughter. I expect "Modern Family" to kind of win out.

HANSEN: Yeah. But what, should "Glee" be classified as a musical or variety show?

Mr. JENSEN: It's difficult. 'Cause, like, where do you put it then? And I kind of don't necessarily see eye to eye with sort of the haters in this category in terms of like, oh, "Glee" doesn't belong because "Glee" is a funny show. Jane Lynch is just a comedy machine. I'm OK with it being in comedy.

HANSEN: You mentioned Jane Lynch, who's nominated for her role in "Glee." It's not fair to call her a new face, because her face has been around for a while. But this is really the first big role she's had in a TV show. And she's one of the new faces, I think, to watch. Are there others?

Mr. JENSEN: Well, definitely Jane Lynch, for me, is a big story. I mean, I think this must be sort of like a huge moment for her. I can't even tell you who else is in her category. I mean, she so dominates it for me.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Glee")

Ms. JANE LYNCH (Actress): (as Sue Sylvester) You're right, Will. I have been trying to destroy your club with a conviction I can only call religious. And you want to know why? Because I don't trust a man with curly hair. I can't help picturing small birds laying sulfurous eggs in there and I find it disgusting.

Mr. JENSEN: I don't think I've seen a breakout character and a breakout performance like this in quite a long time.

HANSEN: On the drama side, we mentioned "The Good Wife"...

Mr. JENSEN: Yeah.

HANSEN: ...which has been nominated. But it's up against "Mad Men," which won for its first and second season. What are the chances for a three-peat, a third consecutive Emmy tonight?

Mr. JENSEN: Yeah, "Mad Men" has that kind of real incumbent hold. Given how these things are voted on - and to be honest with you, I'm not completely certain how they're voted on - but it just seems that the kinds of episodes that "Mad Men" generates - great acting, really solid scripting in every single individual episode.

(Soundbite of TV show, "Mad Men")

Unidentified Man: Who is Don Draper?

Mr. JON HAMM (Actor): (as Don Draper) Excuse me?

Unidentified Man: Knockout wife, two kids, house in Westchester.

Mr. HAMM: Well, as I said before, I'm from the Midwest. We were taught that it's not polite to talk about yourself.

Unidentified Man: Very good then. I think I have all I need.

Mr. JENSEN: I think that "Mad Men" just quality will shine through and it will win the category. That said, I think there are people who would like to see other shows kind of win, you know. There's a big sentimental push, at least in my heart, for "Lost" to win. But to be honest with you, "Dexter" and "Breaking Bad," I think, fielded the most successful creative years than any of the shows in those categories.

HANSEN: What about "Lost"? I mean, its first season it won the Emmy for the Best Outstanding Drama Series and it hasn't won an Emmy since. And it has 12 nominations for the final season, including Outstanding Drama again. A lot of hoopla. Will all that hoopla you think translate into awards?

Mr. JENSEN: I think "Lost" stands a really great chance to win in a few categories, especially in Best Supporting Actor in a Drama. It's Terry O'Quinn as Locke and Michael Emerson as Ben. They've both won in the past. And Terry O'Quinn's performance as this sort of like the chief villain this year in the final season of "Lost" was one of the things that really kind of helped that season. I'd like to really see him win. I think he can win that.

HANSEN: Bound to be an ironic moment, "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" is nominated this year for Outstanding Music Variety or Comedy Series.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #2: From Universal Studios in Hollywood...

HANSEN: Of course, his stint on that show ended dramatically, big dust-up with the network. Does he have a chance?

Mr. JENSEN: Oh, I think he has a great chance. I mean, Conan O'Brien's feud with NBC and that whole sort of controversy was something that really kind of, like, galvanized Hollywood, too. He had a ton of support among producers, among actors. And these are the people that are voting. I can see him just kind of winning it just to really affirm him.

HANSEN: Awards shows are, you know, some time thing for audiences. You're never quite sure if people are going to watch. Last year's rebounded after - the ratings rebounded - after a terrible year before. Will more people be watching tonight?

Mr. JENSEN: I think that there's definitely some reason to believe that we'll see some stronger ratings. I mean, "Glee" brings a kind of very of-the-moment pop culture buzzy energy to the Emmy show. But I don't think it's going to be a huge improvement.

HANSEN: Jeff Jensen is senior writer at Entertainment Weekly and he joined us from his office in Los Angeles. Jeff, thanks a lot.

Mr. JENSEN: Thank you.

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