Emmys Likely to Honor New Shows Along With the Usual Suspects

PHOTO: Steve Buscemi and Paz de la Huerta are seen in a scene from the HBO show Boardwalk Empire.PlayAbbot Genser
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Get ready for some new blood at the Emmys.

Nominations for TV's highest honors come out Thursday, and freshman and unsung shows are likely to pop up on the ballot along with the usual suspects, especially in the drama categories. The reason: Many old standbys are off-the-air or ineligible for consideration because of late premiere dates and network switches.

"Such is the circle of life that is the Emmys," said Matt Mitovich, editor at large for TVLine.com. "'Lost' and '24' are gone, and 'Breaking Bad' and 'Damages' didn't qualify this year. But kudos fodder like 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Game of Thrones' and 'The Killing' have entered the mix, while sophomore shows like the 'The Good Wife' and 'Justified' are burning hotter."

Then there's "Friday Night Lights." The critically acclaimed drama about a Texas high school football team enduring an epic struggle to stay afloat and went into its final season this year.

"It's the last hurrah, that definitely factors into voters' minds," said Melissa Grego, executive editor at Broadcasting & Cable. "It's a critical favorite and has the Emmy sparkle of lead actors being nominated last year."

Watch the Primetime Emmy nominations LIVE on "Good Morning America" Thursday at 8:35 a.m. ET.

But with a strong freshman class in the drama category, Mitovich predicted "Friday Night Lights" will earn accolades in the acting categories rather than snagging the coveted best series trophy.

"Of course, it would be great -- and on the eve of its broadcast series finale no less -- to see 'Friday Night Lights' finally be handed the ball, but with 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Game of Thrones' and 'The Killing' now in the mix, it still might not tackle the best drama race," he said. "Instead, I'd say that Connie Britton is the acclaimed and beloved drama's best chance for a nod in the lead actress category."

There's a lot of room for upheaval in the dramatic acting categories, with new contenders flooding the best lead and supporting actress races and last year's best actor and best supporting actor winner -- "Breaking Bad's" Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, respectively -- ineligible.

Some of the names that could pop up on these ballots: "Fringe's" Anna Torv, "Boardwalk Empire's" Steve Buscemi, "Game of Thrones'" Peter Dinklage, "Justified's" Margo Martindale, "Shameless'" Emmy Rossum, "Mad Men's" Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks, and "Parenthood's" Monica Potter.

How about those usual suspects?

"You'll see nominations for 'Mad Men,' 'Dexter,' and 'True Blood,' even though last season was a mess," said Maggie Furlong, west coast editor of AOL TV. "The Academy likes to stay the same. Unless a show really misses, they like to give nods to the same folks."

For "Mad Men," a win this year could make history.

"If 'Mad Men' makes this a fourth consecutive win, it will go into the TV elite with shows like 'The West Wing' and 'L.A. Law,'" said Grego. "That would be a humongous achievement. And it would be the only cable drama that's done that."

Emmys Likely to Nominate Same Comedies, but Steve Carell's No Shoe-In

The comedic categories may not see as much change as their dramatic counterparts. No new comedy has burst onto the scene the way that "Glee" and "Modern Family" did last year.

"It's 'Glee,' it's 'Big Bang Theory,' it's '30 Rock,' it's 'Modern Family,' and of course you've got 'The Office,'" said Furlong. "When 'Modern Family' and 'Glee' premiered at the same time, that was the story and we haven't had a story like that this year."

There is some wiggle room. With critical darling "Curb Your Enthusiasm" not in contention, un-heralded actors, actresses and shows could get their moment in the sun.

"There are many supporting players from shows not called 'Modern Family' or 'Glee' that are worthy of nominations," said Mitovich. "Namely, 'Community's' Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs and Danny Pudi, 'Cougar Town's' Busy Philipps and Christa Miller, and 'Parks and Recreation's' Adam Scott and Aubrey Plaza."

Steve Carell will be the man to watch in the lead actor race. He's been nominated five years in a row for playing bumbling boss Michael Scott on "The Office," a role he said goodbye to this spring. While the experts agreed that it's all but certain he'll be nominated, though it's his last chance to win, an Emmy isn't a sure thing.

"Is Steve Carell a shoe-in? I hope not," said Furlong. "I adore that man and it's not his fault but this season was some painful TV to watch. I think 'The Office' is slipping and I hope Emmy voters realize that it's time for some new people to take over."