O.J. Simpson drama set to sweep Emmys in big year for TV diversity
The dramatization of O.J. Simpson's sensational 1995 double murder trial looks set to sweep Sunday's Emmy Awards, crowning an extraordinary year for American television and actors of multiple ethnic hues.
As television enjoys a golden era, with more than 400 scripted series on offer, people of color were nominated this year in every leading actor category for the first time in the 68-year history of the Primetime Emmys, the highest honors in television.
How many of them will go home with an Emmy on Sunday depends on whether members of the Television Academy will reward new talent, or go for sentimental favorites at the ceremony in Los Angeles.
Leading the charge is FX's behind-the-scenes "The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," which won 22 nominations on the wave of a true crime trend in television coupled with a contemporary backdrop of racial tension.
"'The People v O.J. Simpson' is going to sweep the Emmys. It is guaranteed to win best limited series and for Sarah Paulson to win for playing prosecutor Marcia Clark," said Tom O'Neil, editor of awards prediction site Goldderby.com.
Elsewhere, Rami Malek, 35, who is of Egyptian descent, is a front-runner for his first Emmy for his lead role as a socially awkward computer hacker in USA Network's "Mr. Robot."
Awards pundits say the Golden Globe-winning show, beloved by critics despite an audience of only about one million, could also cause an upset in the drama series race where it is competing against HBO's medieval fantasy "Game of Thrones," which dominates with 23 nominations.
"Rami has a very strong shot. He anchored the first season for a new show and helped create a character that is entirely unique and interesting," said James Hibberd, editor at large for Entertainment Weekly.
Malek is also up against Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, who has never won an Emmy, in his role as manipulative President Frank Underwood in the Netflix Washington drama "House of Cards."
The comedy acting race includes Anthony Anderson of ABC's modern black family series 'black-ish,' which tackles issues ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement to fallen African-American comedian Bill Cosby, who is awaiting trial for sexual assault. Indian-American Aziz Ansari also is nominated for his new Netflix comedy "Master of None."
However awards watchers say the best comedy actor Emmy is more likely to go once again to veteran Jeffrey Tambor for his role as a father who transitions to a woman in Amazon's ground-breaking "Transparent."
Emmy darling Julia Louis-Dreyfus is favorite for best comedy actress for a fifth time for playing the vainglorious Selina Meyer in HBO's White House satire "Veep."
As Americans prepare to vote in November for a new president after an extraordinary election campaign, "Veep" is also expected to win the comedy series category on Sunday.
The Emmy ceremony will be hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel and broadcast live on ABC television. (Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Mary Milliken)