Tied with no votes are Kevin Dillon of Entourage and Rainn Wilson from The Office. In a tie for second place, with one vote each (20%), are Jon Cryer from Two And A Half Men and Jeremy Priven from Entourage. However, with three votes (60%) is Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Barney on How I Met Your Mother.
Given that I've only seen about one episode of Entourage, I think it's a pretty good result. As virtually everyone who has read this blog during the main TV season knows, I bowl on Monday nights and so I miss a lot of shows. I don't feel deprived by missing Two And A Half Men and I know that there are a lot of people – okay, mainly the people who get their writing on TV into newspapers and magazines – who don't either. If I were being mean-spirited, I'd say that the show received the huge number of Emmy nominations that it has because it gets huge Nielsen ratings. That said, I will admit that Jon Cryer is great as a straight man for Martin Sheen to play off of. As I said, I've only seen one episode of Entourage, but I really enjoyed it. The thing was that I enjoyed it more because of Jeremy Priven as super-agent Ari Gold rather than Kevin Dillon as Drama. I think that Ari is a far flashier role, and one which probably deserves an Outstanding Actor nomination rather than one in the supporting actor category – I think you could build an ordinary sitcom around Ari Gold's character far more easily than around the other characters on the show. One thing that I'm rather surprised about is the lack of love for Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight Schrute on The Office. The character's inherent absurdity and the his straight faced serious manner perfectly realised by Wilson.
Ah, but then there's Neil Patrick Harris. Barney Stinson is a perfect supporting character. You can't imagine his character as the focus of a successful sitcom – if Barney were spun-off into his own show it would be the next Joey not the next Fraser – and yet Barney is a dominant factor in How I Met Your Mother's success. If, as I've always maintained, How I Met Your Mother is the "real" American Coupling then Barney is the show's equivalent of Richard Coyle's character 'Jeff, ' at once absurd and yet kind of lovable. Harris brings a sort of goofy energy to the role too – you get the sense that he really enjoys playing Barney.
How do I think the Academy will vote? I think it may come down to Priven vs. Harris, with Rainn Wilson having an outside chance. Ari Gold is probably the role that is closer to a lead, and Priven has the advantage of having won last year (and was nominated the year before, losing to Brad Garrett in Everybody Love's Raymond's last season). On the other hand, Harris is in a true supporting part even though the show is very much an ensemble show, not unlike Friends or Coupling. Wilson's part in The Office is very much a supporting role, he's rarely the focus of an episode given the attention on Steve Carell's Michael, or on the Jim-Pam relationship. On the whole, I think Harris has a pretty good shot at winning this.
New Poll up shortly.