We granted five major TV insiders anonymity if they told us how they would cast their ballots — and cracked a joke or two along the way

By EW Staff
September 07, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Drama Scribe

This prolific writer- producer has won several Emmys and has a hit drama on cable. He also wishes he were related to Maggie Smith.

Outstanding Drama
Homeland

Breaking Bad would be separating from the pack if it weren’t for…Homeland. You can’t beat the stakes of a homegrown terrorist who can shake hands with the president.”

Outstanding Actress, Drama
Claire Danes

”She takes flawed heroine to a new level.”

Outstanding Actor, Drama
Bryan Cranston

”Wasn’t he once the guy who we felt sorry for because he didn’t win Emmys?”

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Maggie Smith

”Seriously, don’t you wish she were your mother-in-law?”

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama
Jim Carter

”Patient, tough, fair, and brings dignity to whisking dandruff off a suit coat.”

The Acclaimed Author

This talented performer who continues to work in film earned an Emmy for his role on a critically adored cable drama. He’s hoping Jon Hamm gets an award — or at least fed.

Outstanding Drama
Boardwalk Empire

”The killing of Jimmy Darmody at the end of the second season was as bold a move as I’ve seen a show take in a very long time.”

Outstanding Actress, Drama
Claire Danes

”For delving into the psyche of those we consider to be our first line of defense in this post-9/11 world.”

Outstanding Actor, Drama
Jon Hamm

”I don’t think you can invite someone to dinner that many times and not eventually feed them.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Maggie Smith

” ‘Cuz she’s Maggie Smith and leaves nothing on the plate.”

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama
Jared Harris

”To step into that world as if he’s always been there with all of those other actor giants…is just confirmation of the caliber of storyteller he is and just recognition for all of his performances that have come before it.”

The Sitcom Vet

This producer has earned multiple Emmys and worked on numerous series. An exec producer on a returning comedy this fall, he has some very kind words for Girls.

Outstanding Comedy
Girls

”I voted for Modern Family the past two years, but I feel it struggled at times this past year with wildly inconsistent writing. At the same time, Girls and Veep both premiered with such fresh and unique voices. I’d be happy with either of these, but would give the nod to Girls.”

Outstanding Actress, Comedy
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

”Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the greatest comedic actress of her generation, and Veep‘s Selina Meyer is the best role of her career. I don’t see how she loses this one.”

Outstanding Actor, Comedy
Alec Baldwin

30 Rock has fallen out of favor with Emmy voters, but what Alec Baldwin does week in and out is masterful. He plays the many layers of Jack Donaghy with such ease that we probably take it for granted. But he’s up there with the likes of Dick Van Dyke and Carroll O’Connor as the best who ever did it.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Kristen Wiig

”Kathryn Joosten [who passed away in June] will get the sympathy vote. And I hope voters have seen the great work Merritt Wever is doing. But I view this category as a coin flip between Kristen Wiig and Sofia Vergara, and I would give the slightest edge to Wiig.”

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Ty Burrell

”While I’d love to see Ed O’Neill win as that show’s anchor, it’s hard to ignore the season Ty Burrell had. I’d vote Ty to repeat.”

The Respected Actress

This actress is an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Emmy nominee. She recurs on a current TV show and has been around long enough to earn the right to name-check Robert Redford.

Outstanding Drama
Boardwalk Empire

”I think the acting and directing and photography are amazing — and the story lines hold me too. It’s not just because it’s so murdersome and violent. It’s got some class and tender moments in it.”

Outstanding Actor, Drama
Steve Buscemi

”The one who stood out for me is Steve. I don’t think I have ever seen Steve do a bad performance. He was amazing.”

Outstanding Actress, Comedy
Tina Fey

”I like her perseverance, her versatility, her intelligence, and I like the fact that a woman like her is producing and acting and kicking up dirt. She’s a great inspiration.”

Outstanding Actor, Comedy
Jon Cryer

”I gotta go with Jon. His timing is phenomenal. He is so talented. Lord, he’s got some of the best timing since Robert Redford.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Kristen Wiig

”Kristen is phenomenal. When the universe was passing out talent, that girl was not hiding under a rock.”

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Bill Hader

”I just have to go with him. Everybody there deserves to win, but oh my God, that man is funny. Laughter is good for you, it gets rid of your gas. Instead of going to the doctor, I just turn on him and Kristen Wiig.”

The Funny Guy

This Emmy-winning producer has a sitcom debuting this fall. He’s also not above making a slightly off-color joke about Maggie Smith.

Outstanding Comedy
Girls

”It’s far and away the most current comedy on TV. The voices sound like what people sound like today.”

Outstanding Actress, Comedy
Lena Dunham

”I believe that the acting is so good that you can’t catch her acting, which I believe is the highest compliment you can pay to an actor.”

Outstanding Actor, Comedy
Louis C.K.

”Louis is in a league all his own. I believe his voice is as important to television as Woody Allen’s was to film when he was doing his best work.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy
Merritt Wever

”She’s far and away the best in the group.”

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy
Max Greenfield

”He is fresh and unique and plays the part like he believes what he’s saying.”

Outstanding Drama
Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is perhaps the best TV show in history. Why people think Mad Men is a good show when Breaking Bad is on the air is beyond me.”

Outstanding Actor, Drama
Bryan Cranston

”Because it’s the best performance on the best TV show possibly ever made.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama
Maggie Smith

”I have to put my vote behind Maggie Smith. It will be the only thing I put behind Maggie Smith.”

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