I'm not sure which is more foolhardy -- trying to program a broadcast network or predict the Emmys. Either way, you're bound to make some bad calls.
This year it's particularly difficult to play Emmy prognosticator. Will the usually stodgy Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences get radical and give a handful of trophies to HBO's "The Sopranos"? The unprecedented number of Emmy nominations for a cable series was startling, and perhaps that was enough recognition for a cable show in the minds of Emmy voters.
We'll find out for sure during Sunday's three-hour broadcast, which begins at 8 p.m. on Fox (the pre-show airs at 7:30 p.m. on WPGH). In the meantime, here are my guesses. Just know this: I'm not a betting man for good reason.
The nominees are pretty much status quo this go-around. "ER" doesn't deserve to be nominated, let alone to win. "NYPD Blue" had an emotional season, which might bring it extra votes. "Law & Order" is a reliable standard, but the shows with the most buzz were "The Practice" and "The Sopranos."
I'm betting the Academy will stick to its conservative ways and give the award to "The Practice," but "The Sopranos" shouldn't be counted out.
Admittedly I've only watched episodes from the first season, but it boggles the mind that "Sex and the City" could get a nomination.
It was OK last year, but nothing special.
"Frasier" was not at its best, so count the Seattle radio doc out. The bloom may be off the "Ally McBeal" rose, too. "Everybody Loves Raymond" finally got the nomination it deserves, but "Friends" had a rejuvenated season thanks to the secret Monica-Chandler relationship.
Still, I expect the Emmy Awards to prove once and for all that "Everybody Loves Raymond."
Voting members of the Academy must not have bothered to watch their tapes of NBC's "The '60s." There's no other way to explain its nomination. CBS's "Joan of Arc," NBC's "The Temptations," PBS's "Great Expectations" and A&E's "Horatio Hornblower" are all deserving entries.
But I'm betting on "The Temptations," especially in light of the dust-up over the lack of minority roles in prime-time series. This one should win with the help of liberal white guilt.
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA
Emmy voters may lead with their hearts, giving the award to Jimmy Smits for his role as the dying Bobby Simone on "NYPD Blue." But when it comes to acting, he didn't have to do much besides lie in bed. Dennis Franz, as Andy Sipowicz, had to play a modern-day Job.
Sam Waterston ("Law & Order") and Dylan McDermott ("The Practice") could be relied upon for award-worthy performances throughout the season, but James Gandolfini was the breakout star as lead mafioso on "The Sopranos." Though the show may not win, rewarding Gandolfini's performance is a deal the Emmy voters can't refuse.
LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA
Given the up and down quality of "The X-Files" last season, Gillian Anderson can't count on winning this year. Christine Lahti ("Chicago Hope") and Julianna Margulies ("ER") didn't have quality scripts to work with last season, which usually means less of a challenge for actors.
That leaves dueling divas from "The Sopranos": Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Jennifer Melfi and Edie Falco as mobster's moll Carmela Soprano. Bracco will win because she's a bigger name in Hollywood, but Falco is more deserving for her finely nuanced performance.
LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Paul Reiser ("Mad About You") certainly doesn't deserve to win, and Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") and John Lithgow ("3rd Rock from the Sun") are becoming old hat. Michael J. Fox ("Spin City") could command a sizable vote, but I'm going with Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond").
LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex and the City") and Helen Hunt ("Mad About You") didn't have much to work with, Jenna Elfman ("Dharma & Greg") and Calista Flockhart ("Ally McBeal") continued to shine, but with the Emmy folks finally discovering "Everybody Loves Raymond," it's time Patricia Heaton received kudos for her role as Ray's wife.