The prime-time Emmy Awards winners are anything but predictable this year as several repeat winners will clash with acclaimed newcomers for their share of the trophies.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the top drama category, where Mad Men -- seeking a record-setting fifth consecutive win -- faces stiff competition from Showtime's buzzy and politically current newcomer Homeland, PBS' Downton Abbey (which won as miniseries last year) and AMC's Breaking Bad, whose star Bryan Cranston is a three-time winner.
In the comedy race, ABC's two-time winner Modern Family has less to worry about. But HBO's new Girls and Veep are contenders along with CBS' surging The Big Bang Theory, whose star Jim Parsons is favored to repeat as lead actor.
Comedy actress is a bit of a tossup, with Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (Veep), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) and Lena Dunham (Girls) all fronting new series and vying for gold against Edie Falco, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and last year's winner Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly).
Homeland's Claire Danes is an overwhelming favorite to win best drama actress, but her co-star Damian Lewis is competing against, among others, Cranston and Mad Men's Jon Hamm, who despite the show's acclaim has never won an acting Emmy.
It's reasonable to assume at least one member of the Modern Family cast will take home an award: All six adult cast members are nominated in supporting categories.
And in other races, questions abound: Will CBS' The Amazing Race continue its run as best reality-competition series (interrupted only once during its long run)? Can Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart win 10 times in a row as TV's top variety series? And can FX's anthology American Horror Story, cannily entered in the movie and miniseries category, upset HBO's Game Change and BBC America's Luther?
The 64th annual Emmys will air live tonight at 8 ET/5 PT on ABC, with that network's late-night star Jimmy Kimmel as first-time host. Come back to this page throughout the evening for the latest news and updates.
by Gary Levin, USA TODAY