'Sopranos' & 'Betty': Who Will Emmy Love Most?

“Ugly Betty” is expected to gather multiple nominations in the comedy categories, but not for the same reasons as “The Sopranos.” While the show’s quality is apparent, it’s the “breakout factor” as a new hit show that’s sure to attract voters. The fact that “Betty” star America Ferrera is phenomenally talented — and irresistably loveable — adds to the show’s chances. “The Sopranos” and “Ugly Betty” aren’t the only nominee contenders, however. There are other series and performances that caught critics’ and viewers’ eyes this year.In the drama department, competition could come from strong contenders like ABC’s smash hit “Grey’s Anatomy,” NBC’s “Heroes” and critically acclaimed “Friday Night Lights,” and Fox’s “House” and “24.” Although “24” took a beating from fans and critics this year, it will most likely be recognized due to its wins for Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (for star Kiefer Sutherland) last year. ABC’s “Lost” could also receive a nomination, despite its dropoff in viewers this year. In the drama categories for Lead Actor and Actress, “Sopranos” stars James Gandolfini and Edie Falco are virtually locks for nominations. Gandolfini’s competition will most likely come from Sutherland, two-time Emmy winner James Spader (”Boston Legal”), Denis Leary (”Rescue Me”), and Hugh Laurie, who has won two Golden Globes for his “House” work, despite being snubbed in last year’s Emmy nominations. Newcomers to the field this year could be Kyle Chandler and Anthony C. Hall, who both received rave reviews for their work in “Friday Night Lights” and Showtime’s “Dexter,” respectively.Falco will most likely be joined by last year’s winner, Mariska Hargitay (”Law & Order: SVU”), Kyra Sedgwick (”The Closer”), and Patricia Arquette (”Medium”). Sally Field, who has two Emmys under her belt for past performances, may score a nomination for her work in “Brothers & Sisters,” along with co-star Calista Flockhart. Other dark horse contenders may include “The Riches” star Minnie Driver, and “Friday Night Lights” leading lady Connie Britton.As for the comedies: NBC will most likely be recognized in the Oustanding Comedy Series category for last year’s winner, “The Office,” as well as for new comedy “30 Rock.” Perrenial Emmy favorite “Two and a Half Men” is also in the running, along with previous Emmy nominees “Weeds” (from Showtime) and “Entourage” (from HBO). While both “Weeds” and “Entourage” have been nominated in other categories in the past, this could be the year they find a place in the big one. HBO could also grab a nomination for “Extras,” which was created by (and stars) British comedy powerhouse Ricky Gervais. Three-time Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series winner Tony Shalhoub will most likely be nominated again for his performance in “Monk,” as will previous nominee Steve Carrell for “The Office.” Alec Baldwin will most likely provide the strongest “newbie” competition for Shalhoub and Carrell, due to his Golden Globe-winning work in “30 Rock.” Other potential candidates include Charlie Sheen (”Two and a Half Men”), Kevin James (”The King of Queens”) and Zach Braff (”Scrubs”) — all of whom were nominated last year. Ferrera will undoubtedly face Julia-Louis Dreyfus in the Oustanding Lead Actress in a Comedy category, in light of Dreyfus’ win last year for “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” 2005 winner Felicity Huffman may make the cut again this year for her role in “Desperate Housewives,” and 2005 Golden Globe winner Mary-Louise Parker may get some Emmy love for her work on “Weeds.” Freshman series “30 Rock” will most likely have its presence felt in this category with a nomination for series star and co-creator, Tina Fey. As with past Emmy nominations, there are bound to be a few surprises. Will this be the year that critical darling “Battlestar Galactica” finally gets a nod? Will “American Idol” get another chance to best “The Amazing Race” for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program? All will be revealed when the nominees are announced tomorrow at 5:35 AM (PDT)!

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