Forest Whitaker's Emmy odds -- The ''Crying Game'' star is a standout on the new season of ''The Shield,'' but will voters remember him this fall?

By Dan Snierson
February 24, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Those overempathetic head bobs. Those piercing stares. Those innuendo-steeped asides. As The Shield‘s Lieut. Jon Kavanaugh of Internal Affairs — who’s hell-bent on bringing down corrupt detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) and his strike team — Forest Whitaker has infused FX’s police drama with a vibe that’s refreshing, dangerous, and more than a tad creepy. Which is why we’re putting out an Emmy APB for the film vet. Far from a hard-boiled lawman stereotype, Kavanaugh appears intense yet awkward, cocksure yet desperate, and sly yet self-defeating (witness his uncomfortable — and ultimately unsuccessful — attempt to befriend Vic’s wife by pretending to be the father of an autistic child). His Mackey mania is so consuming, you can almost taste it — like one of those sticks of Juicy Fruit that he repeatedly dangles in front of people to gauge whether they will crack under pressure. Our concern is that Whitaker’s electric performance will be overlooked, given The Shield‘s ratings dip in its fifth season. We just hope that come Emmy-nomination time, voters will be able to see the Forest through the trees.