Having followed the Emmys for years and years and years, having read all 65 pages of this year's rules and regulations, and having perhaps written an acceptance speech for when I win Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, I felt like I could help set the record straight on how this process works.
The first step is submitting your name for consideration. Actors and actresses do this for themselves; producers do this for their series.
Katherine Heigl made waves last year when she declined to submit herself for consideration.
So far this year, just about all of our faves have submitted themselves; you can find the complete list here: http://goldderbyforums.latimes.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/1106078764/m/358107362
Whether you submit for lead or supporting is up to you. Patrick Dempsey chose to go supporting this year; so did Connie Britton for Friday Night Lights. Presumably, they do this to try and up their chances. The people who really get screwed in these situations are people like Angela Kinsey, who is awesome on The Office but has little hope of getting nominated over Jenna Fischer, who is in the same category. (Then think about how this makes the Office win in the Ensemble category at the Screen Actors Guild Awards that much sweeter.)
It's also interesting because on Lost, only Matthew Fox and Evangeline Lilly submit for Lead Actor and Actress every year. I think Josh Holloway has interesting chances this year, because he had a really strong season for someone in the supporting category. Evangeline, meanwhile, had a strong season, too, but her category's definitely going to be tougher.
At this stage of the game, some categories require that you do episode submissions.
Guest Actor/Actress does submissions at this step. Actors submit only their scenes from one episode.
Most of the technical and creative categories also submit at this step. Writing and directing submissions go in now.
This is how the Emmys are weird. Drama and comedy series submit two episodes at this stage. Upon nomination, they'll submit an additional four. So for instance, last year, Lost submitted "The Constant" and "Ji Yeon." Upon being nominated, they submitted, additionally, "The Beginning of the End," and the three parts of "There's No Place Like Home."
Okay, so now that that's cleared up--
The acting categories.
Actors in lead and supporting categories do not submit episodes until they have been nominated.
This means you get nominated based on your body of work for the season.
This means you have to have buzz.
This is why I'm intrigued by Josh Holloway and Evangeline Lilly's chances. Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory feels like a shoo-in at this point--he's also reading the nominees, and they rarely ask folks to do that if they're not getting a nod. Tina Fey is undoubtedly a good choice. Anna Paquin would be a nice bet. Neil Patrick Harris would be an excellent bet. Toni Collette, Christina Applegate. I'd be interested in the odds on John Noble from Fringe.
So who haven't you heard me talk about?
Let me put it this way: If Bones gets nominated for an Emmy, my jaw will hit the floor.
It is practically impossible for the show or the cast members to get nominated. Not only is it lacking in buzz, but it's also in the wrong category. Bones is in the drama category. You really think this season has been a landmark year for drama on Bones? You think people are going to scan their Emmy ballots, get to David and Emily's names, and think, Oh, yes, what fine dramatic work this actor did this year?
Yeah, me neither.
More on this in an upcoming blog, but basically, don't get your hopes up on Bones.
And for clarification, Fox aired a promo tonight for "Hero in the Hold" tagged with Emmy consideration. It's definitely not been submitted for an acting category, though I wouldn't be surprised if that was David's chosen episode. Ian Toynton submitted "Hero" for his entry in the Directing category; and although this info's not out yet, it's likely that it's one of Bones's two series entries for the first round. (My second suggestion? "Con Man in the Meth Lab.")
So, basically, does it suck that shows without significant buzz or press or hype don't get nominated? Yes. I ache for Friday Night Lights to get the credit it so, so, so deserves.
But it's just how it works. It's built into the system. And shows/performers have to figure out how to navigate that system to the best of their ability.