The proliferation of stunt casting has turned the typically mundane guest-acting races into major Emmy spectacles. To wit, for the first time in history I’m handicapping all four of the categories! (Note: The winners will be announced this weekend at the increasingly scrumptious Emmy appetizer known as the Schmemmys.)
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives)
Kristin Chenoweth (Glee)
Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live)
Elaine Stritch (30 Rock)
Jane Lynch (Two and a Half Men)
Betty White (Saturday Night Live)
The Front-runner: White. The indefatigable Golden Girl is a virtual lock.
The Dark Horse: Chenoweth. No one expected her to win last year for Pushing Daisies. Maybe she’s got another trick up her sleeve?
The Most Egregious Snub: Elizabeth Banks (30 Rock and/or Modern Family). Take your pick. She was hilarious in both.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Mary Kay Place (Big Love)
Sissy Spacek (Big Love)
Shirley Jones (The Cleaner)
Lily Tomlin (Damages)
Ann-Margret (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost)
The Front-runner: Tomlin. Her Damages widow was ruthless, desperate, and—here’s the amazing part—wholly sympathetic.
The Dark Horse: Spacek. Her role as Bill Paxton’s nemesis was one of the only bright spots in Big Love‘s disappointing fourth season.
The Most Egregious Snub: Sara Gilbert (Grey’s Anatomy). The Roseanne star displayed surprising dramatic chops as a terminal-cancer patient.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Mike O’Malley (Glee)
Neil Patrick Harris (Glee)
Fred Willard (Modern Family)
Eli Wallach (Nurse Jackie)
Jon Hamm (30 Rock)
Will Arnett (30 Rock)
The Front-runner: O’Malley. He loves his gay son. ‘Nuff said.
The Dark Horse: Arnett. Should voters deem O’Malley’s work too dramatic for a comedy category, Arnett could pull off an upset.
The Most Egregious Snub: Michael Sheen (30 Rock). He played Liz’s imperfect boyfriend perfectly. Voters will likely get a shot to right this wrong, since he’s expected back this season.
OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Beau Bridges (The Closer)
Ted Danson (Damages)
John Lithgow (Dexter)
Alan Cumming (The Good Wife)
Dylan Baker (The Good Wife)
Robert Morse (Mad Men)
Gregory Itzin (24)
The Front-runner: Lithgow. I don’t believe an explanation is necessary here.
The Dark Horse: It seems silly to name a dark horse when I know for a fact that Lithgow will win, but if I have to pick someone, I guess I’ll go with Danson. His Arthur Frobisher was almost as creepy as Trinity.
The Most Egregious Snub: Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights). Emmy voters are going to feel really stupid when they finally get around to watching “The Son.”