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Toni Collette leads large field of Aussie Emmy hopefuls
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September 19, 2009 - 10:39 pm
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September 19, 2009.

THEY are Australia's biggest names on America's small screen - Toni Collette, Simon Baker and Rose Byrne - and on Monday they could taste Emmy glory.

As the stars of some of the most popular programs in the US, their profiles are huge and growing, and a win on television's night of nights is a strong possibility for all three Aussie actors.

Behind the scenes lurk another three creative Australians – director Michael Rymer, producer Eva Orner and Scott Hicks.

But it's not just the nominees who could go home triumphant.

Ten other Australian actors have roles in popular programs that have nominations across the 37 categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards this year, including Julian McMahon, Jesse Spencer and Anna Torv.

"There's no doubt that the Australians have arrived," TV Guide magazine critic Matt Roush said.

Leading the charge is celebrated actress Collette, who is a strong contender in the major category of best lead actress in a comedy.

"I think Toni Collette is sensational in the United States of Tara," Variety's TV critic Brian Lowry said.

Roush agreed: "I don't think there's been a better performance in a comedy this year."

"The role itself is so dramatic and multi-faceted, playing a person with multiple personalities, and it's such a showcase role that if anyone in that category can be a threat to Tina Fey it's Collette," he said.

A major threat looms in Fey, the blockbuster comedian who picked up a Daytime Emmy win this year for her send-up for Alaska's Republican Governor Sarah Palin.

The 30 Rock star, who has won three Emmys for the show, is also a hot favourite again this year.

"The history is that if they're in a show that's popular and it's a character that people like, they can win over and over," Roush said.

The critics are less confident that Baker can bring home the prize.

"It's a very competitive category," Roush said of the best actor in a drama, where Mad Men star John Ham is likely to battle House star Hugh Laurie for the statuette.

Roush said that in winning a nomination for The Mentalist in its first eligible year, Baker already was the star of his network CBS.

"Simon Baker is the most prominent of the nominees this year but I think Toni Collette has the best chance in her category," he said.

As a charming investigator in a cop-style drama, the role is less dramatic that those of his rivals.

When it comes to the award for best supporting actress in a drama, the prognosis is less clear.

"I think that category is anybody's guess because you have two of the most liked people on Grey's Anatomy," Roush said. "There is a lot of talent in that category, but because the character that Rose Byrne plays on Damages is so central to the action she probably has somewhat of a leg up – the role is so prominent, it's almost not a supporting role."

Byrne is now in her third season of Damages, in which she plays a lawyer opposite the formidably talented Glenn Close, who pundits tip as the most likely winner in the best dramatic actress category.

The Primetime Emmys are part of an awards marathon run by the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

But it is the primetime ceremony that attracts an audience organisers tip to be 600 million worldwide.

The other three Australians are Battlestar Galactica director Rymer, for best director of a drama, Hicks' entertainment company Hoodlum for integrated media, and Orner in the separate documentary category.

The three-hour Emmys ceremony starts at 10am on Monday

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