The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences released the ballots for the 2014 Primetime Emmy nominations on Monday, sparking intense speculation over who will, and should, take home the prestigious awards on Aug. 25. There will be plenty of time to ponder whether “Game of Thrones” will top “True Detective” for Outstanding Drama Series after the nominees are announced on July 10. In the meantime, let’s talk about the submissions that probably don’t have a chance.
Bill Murray for Outstanding Guest Actor in “Alpha House”
Bill Murray is a living legend, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean the man is entitled to an Emmy just for showing up on set. The former Ghostbuster is somehow in the running for an Outstanding Guest Actor award for his appearance on the pilot episode of Amazon Instant Video’s comedy “Alpha House,” which makes sense until you realize that Murray was in the episode for less than a minute. Not only that, but the cameo is mostly enjoyable for the unexpected surprise of seeing Bill Murray, not for any aspect of his performance. Murray has done far better.
Adam Sandler for Outstanding Guest Actor in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”
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Once again, a movie star appearing in a comedy series for less than a minute shows up on the ballot. Adam Sandler was in a “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” episode for all of 20 seconds, presumably as a favor to his “That’s My Boy” co-star Andy Samberg (he did owe Samberg one for getting him into that). Unlike Murray, Sandler doesn’t have decades of goodwill to rely on, either -- quite the contrary. While there’s a slim chance that Murray picks up a nomination on name recognition alone, Sandler has no shot here.
“Bam's Bad Ass Game Show” for Outstanding Nonfiction Directing
More than a decade after the end of “Jackass,” Bam Margera is still holding onto his image as a wild stuntman, to diminishing returns. His latest effort, “Bam’s Bad Ass Game Show” on TBS, both keeps Margera himself out of the stunts and needlessly splits “badass” into two words. Not only is “Bam’s Bad Ass Game Show” a watered-down version of the gimmick that made Margera famous among 13-year-olds, but it’s competing against far more interesting fare, including Neil deGrasse Tyson’s stunning “Cosmos” and the more deserving reality competition “Masterchef Junior.” Don’t expect this one to make it to the nominations or a second season.
“Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” for Outstanding Nonfiction Writing
Faced with competition from “Cosmos” and the well-regarded British documentary “Mad Dog: Inside the Secret World of Muammar Gaddafi,” it seems unlikely that reality host and critically panned restauranter Guy Fieri will pick up an Outstanding Writing nomination for an episode all about finding “funky neighborhood joints.” Still, given that “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” is submitted in the newly created Outstanding Structured Reality Program category, it might just stand a chance. Last year, Fieri’s show secured a nomination in the Outstanding Reality Program category, and now that the reality category has multiplied, “Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives” stands a decent chance. Fierri is also on the ballot for Outstanding Host for a Reality Program.
Mark Strong for Outstanding Lead Actor (Drama) in “Low Winter Sun”
Most television viewers know “Low Winter Sun” as “That show AMC forced us to watch after ‘Breaking Bad’ to see the next episode’s preview.” Even with a lead-in from the final season of “Breaking Bad,” “Low Winter Sun” lasted only a single season, and while Mark Strong isn’t exactly bad as homicide-detective-turned-bad Frank Agnew, he has almost no momentum behind him. Considering that Strong is competing with widely praised performances by Bryan Cranston, Mads Mikkelsen, Jon Hamm and Matthew McConaughey, his uninspiring performance in a resented show would be a very unlikely choice for a nomination. Tom Selleck probably has a better chance at picking up a nod for “Blue Bloods.”
Rob Lowe for Outstanding Lead Actor (Comedy) in “Parks and Recreation”
This isn’t the first time Rob Lowe has made an appearance on the lead actor ballot. He showed up in 2013 alongside “Parks and Recreation” co-star Adam Scott, though neither landed a nomination, which makes sense because neither are really series leads. Lowe’s character in particular was mostly given B-plots (amusing B-plots though they were) on the ensemble comedy, and he was written out of the show earlier this year. Lowe has had some excellent moments during his time on “Parks and Recreation,” but he was always a supporting actor to the series’ true star, Amy Poehler, who secured four Lead Actress nominations for the series.
Don’t count Lowe out yet, though: He’s also on the ballot for his lead role in the miniseries “Killing Kennedy” and his guest appearances in “Californication” and “Franklin & Bash.” He’s a hustler.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” for Outstanding Comedy Writing in “The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award”
Nine seasons into “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” the dark comedy has yet to pick up any Emmy attention outside of a single losing Outstanding Stunt Coordination try in 2013, and “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award” uses its entire runtime to launch a series of not-so-subtle attacks at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences over the show’s recurrent snubs. The meta premise of the episode finds the owners of Paddy’s Pub unsuccessfully attempting to pick up a nomination in a “Best Bar in Philadelphia” contest, ultimately swearing the contest off as shallow and crowd-pleasing. And with a closing musical number that invites the contest’s judges to “go f*ck yourselves,” it’s unlikely that “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award” is going to correct the show’s losing streak. (Still, it would awesome if it did.)