By Adam Spunberg

The miniseries genre has not been America’s forte, at least not as long as the BBC continues to churn out quality renditions of classic novels.  The results speak for themselves; BBC productions garner steady international acclaim while showings on TNT, A&E, etc. are lucky to get noticed.  At one time, PBS set the American standard, but now HBO leads the west-of-the-Atlantic field by a wide margin.  Consistently dominant, HBO strikes again with four of the five nominees in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category.

HBO often recruits recognizable actors for its miniseries productions, valuing quality over expense.  Susan Sarandon was precisely that in You Don’t Know Jack, a portrait of euthanasia-endorser Jack Kevorkian.  Sarandon’s work as Janet Good, a key aide to Kevorkian, has gotten favorable reviews, with critics praising her subtlety and nuance.  Not only is she a big name among the nominees, but the positive reception should make her one of the favorites.

Also nominated from You Don’t Know Jack is Brenda Vaccaro, who played Kevorkian’s sister with selfless determination.  Vaccaro will have a difficult time overtaking her celebrity co-star, but general opinion seems to endorse her performance.  It could be argued that her contributions were more vital than Sarandon’s, and a win is certainly within possibility, but the odds have to favor Sarandon, simply based on reputation.

Temple Grandin is the other HBO production to claim two nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress: Julia Ormond and Catherine O’Hara.  Critics adored Temple Grandin, the biopic of an autistic woman (played by Claire Danes) who defied the odds and made advancements in the livestock handling industry.  Ormond once dazzled the big screen in Legends of the Fall and Sabrina, but she has been surprisingly absent of late.  Her limited role as Grandin’s resolute mother could put her back on the map, especially if she wins the Emmy.  General consensus is that she made the most of her screen time and could very well come home with the statuette.

Catherine O’Hara, another well-known actress, plays the aunt who introduces Temple to the livestock industry. Much like Ormond, nobody has anything negative to say about O’Hara.  Both candidates are worthy of their nominations and probably have about an equal chance of winning.  It is worth noting, however, that Temple Grandin was universally loved, whereas You Don’t Know Jack had its fair share of detractors.  That could also play in Ormond and O’Hara’s favor.

Lastly, we have the inexhaustible Kathy Bates in SyFy’s Alice, an unconventional remake of the famous Alice in Wonderland tale.   This is a huge accomplishment for SyFy just to get to the Emmys, just as it was a major steal to lure Kathy Bates.  Bates is compelling in any role she plays, but was she given enough material to deserve a victory?  Some reviewers enjoyed her interpretation, but others wanted to see more complexity.  The Academy Award winner will always stand a chance, but there are a few variables working against her.

My prediction is Sarandon, but Ormond and O’Hara were both excellent in a spectacular miniseries.  Consider this one contest where anyone could win.

Road to the Emmys Series

July 5: Nomination Preview Podcast – Lilit Marcus, Andrew Payne, Rebecca Rose, and Phil Wallace

July 8: Nomination Analysis Podcast – Rebecca Rose, Dantzler Smith, Phil Wallace, and Bryce Van Kooten

July 12: Outstanding Host: Reality Show or Reality Competition – Adam Spunberg

July 14: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie – Adam Spunberg

July 15: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie – Phil Wallace

July 19: Outstanding Actor in a Miniseries or Movie – Phil Wallace

July 21: Outstanding Actress in a Miniseries or Movie – Gene Williams

July 26: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special – Savanna New

July 28: Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series – Dantzler Smith

August 2: Outstanding Reality Program – Gene Williams

August 4: Outstanding Reality Competition Program – Savanna New

August 7: Outstanding Made for TV Movie – Savanna New

August 8: Outstanding Miniseries – Adam Spunberg

August 9: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series – Colin Campbell

August 10: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Kit Bowen

August 11: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Rebecca Rose

August 12: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series – Andrew Payne

August 16: Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series – Phil Wallace

August 17: Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series – Steve Neumann

August 18: Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series – Andrew Payne

August 19: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series – Bryce Van Kooten

August 23: Outstanding Comedy Series – Kit Bowen

August 25: Outstanding Drama Series – Adam Spunberg

August 29: 62nd Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards