Martin Sheen is a five-time loser in the race for best actor in a drama. He actually won an Emmy years ago for a guest spot on "Murphy Brown." But now he faces his sixth and final chance to be honored for his performance as President Josiah Bartlet.
Perhaps it's a good thing that Sheen is up once again for Emmy consideration for a guest spot in a comedy ("Two and a Half Men"), because his commander-in-chief might have trouble swaying the Emmy electorate.
Still, at least Sheen got nominated. Three-time winner James Gandolfini didn't make the cut, even though "The Sopranos" is in the running for best drama. "That one's hard to explain," says Berman, "especially when you consider that another HBO star from a show that's off the air -- Peter Krause of 'Six Feet Under' -- is in the running."
Like Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland has cultivated his status as an Emmy also-ran. He's been nominated five times for his cloak-and-dagger work as Jack Bauer, and has yet to win.
"That's a tough role," says Lowry. "It would be nice to give him something to reward him for it, and I think in lieu for the series winning, I think an Emmy for Kiefer Sutherland would be more than appropriate."
The Nominees: Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer," TNT; Geena Davis, "Commander in Chief," ABC; Mariska Hargitay, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," NBC; Frances Conroy, "Six Feet Under," HBO; Allison Janney, "The West Wing," NBC.
Last year Patricia Arquette won in this category for "Medium." She didn't earn a nod this year, but we might need to call on her character's psychic abilities to figure out how three of this year's candidates earned nominations for shows that are dead and gone.
Only Kyra Sedgwick and Mariska Hargitay are competing for performances with shows still on the air. Janney, a three-time winner, could pull off a fourth victory as part of a tearful farewell to "West Wing." But many experts give Sedgwick the edge.
"'The Closer' has a great season. It's fresh and it's new," says Berman.
"I'm not a huge fan of 'The Closer,' " Lowry says. "I think Kyra Sedgwick could very likely win, but given who's in the category, I would probably go back and give it to Allison Janney as a lovely parting gift."