Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010


USA Network Presents

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Mary McCormack

To view full episodes of In Plain Sight and other USA Network shows go to

USA Network – Awards Welcome.

Cynopsis Media presents 

Before the Ballots:


2010 Primetime Emmy® Award Pre-Nomination Special Report

by Daisy Whitney

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, June 2, 2010, and this is the second of five special reports focused on the Pre-Nomination phase of the 2010 Primetime Emmy® Awards.

The Emmy® Award for best drama is officially cable’s to lose. And it’s not as if cable networks have had a lock on the award for a long time. The first time a cable show even won the award was a mere six years ago with The Sopranos first victory. That, of course, was followed by another trophy for the HBO hit in 2007 and then back to back Mad Men wins the last two years.

And yet it’s virtually a given that a cable show will nab top honors as well as most of the Emmy® nominations in the drama category this year. To be sure, breaking the stranglehold that broadcaster had on the award helped, but the simple fact remains – cable networks have been producing some of the most acclaimed dramas over the last several years.

When the nominees are announced on July 8, here’s who will likely be in the running.

AMC’s Mad Men is a shoe-in, so go ahead and use pen on your list of potential nominees. The same goes for Showtime’s Dexter, which is having one of its best seasons ever. Experts predict AMC’s Breaking Bad will earn its second best drama nomination, with FX’s Damages also nabbing a nod. The final two slots are likely to go to some combination of Lost, House, Big Love, The Good Wife and possibly True Blood.

Last year, cable shows accounted for two-thirds of the nominees and that sort of mix is likely to happen this year. Cable shows are riskier and less formulaic in most cases. Plus, drama is a category that’s fared well on cable in the last several years as networks have built up their stable of hour-long workhorses.

“There are a lot of amazing dramas being made and drama on broadcast TV isn’t hitting the stride as much as it is on cable,” said Diane Robina, EVP/Development, Acquisitions and Programming Strategy at TV Guide.



“a glorious display of TV storytelling” – Associated Press
“TV’s wildest, most unpredictable series” – Entertainment Weekly
“visually stunning and risk-taking” – Time

ATAS members, watch episodes at

Clear Favorite

Unlike the comedy category, which includes real Emmy competition for 30 Rock this year in the form of Modern Family, the drama trophy is virtually a lock for Mad Men. Many critics have proclaimed this year the show’s best ever.

“Last season was just so good and the season ending was one of the best ever with the takeover and they walk out and start a new agency,” Robina said. “It’s just the kind of show that deserves it.”

It’s at the top of its game, concurred Frank Nicotero, host of Yahoo TV’s Primetime in No Time recap show. Plus, very few shows can even come close to the overall quality of the past season, said Chris Beachum, who prognosticates the awards at and “With as good as the episodes have been, I could see it winning again,” Beachum said


While Mad Men is the heavy favorite, Dexter and The Good Wife are certainly strong contender, experts say. Dexter is a premium cable show on Showtime, while The Good Wife on CBS represents one of the few hopes for a broadcast best drama nod.

“There are three shows that have a real good shot at winning drama series and that is Mad Men, The Good Wife and Dexter,” Beachum said. “On Dexter they had the whole John Lithgow arc which was buzzed about.” He added that the Good Wife has received excellent reviews to complement its strong ratings.

Lost also has a shot at being tapped because it’s the show’s final season. Sure, it’s won once before and has gone downhill by most accounts, but the show is still a ratings grabber and Emmy voters do like their picks to be worthy and popular.     

The Others

Beyond the expected picks, FX’s Damages is likely to earn a nomination as it has the past two years. But it’s not expected to pick up a win. The same goes for Breaking Bad. The buzz is good, but the show’s not quite ready to topple its network mate in Mad Men. House and Big Love are strong perennial contenders, but neither has had a bang-up season. Still, either one could earn a nomination, while True Blood has an outside chance.
The Snub

The Wire showrunner David Simon never won a single Emmy® for that show, which was widely acclaimed. While that show is off the air, Simon is shepherding a new HBO show Treme, which was recently renewed for a second season. “Treme is the best drama of the year,” said Aaron Barnhart, TV critic for the Kansas City Star and But based on Emmy® history with David Simon, he’s not holding his breath that it’ll earn its due. “It will be lucky to be nominated.”

This 5-part series of 2010 Primetime Emmy ® Award Pre-Nomination Special Reports are available to read or download on the Cynopsis website in our Archive section.

Later —
Daisy Whitney for Cynopsis

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