The primetime Emmy Awards take place on September 20. Here are the nominees for Best Actor in a Drama Series, along with the odds as they are posted at BetUS Sportsbook:


Simon Baker, The Mentalist +200

Jon Hamm, Mad Men +200

Hugh Laurie, House +250

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad +275

Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment +350

Michael C. Hall, Dexter +400

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SIMON BAKER (+200 at BetUS) got his movie break in 1997 when he made "L.A. Confidential" and first became well-known to TV audiences for his lead role in "The Guardian," which ran for 67 episodes and earned him a Golden Globe nomination in 2002. He's already a sensation in the first season of "The Mentalist," which has earned good reviews as well as good ratings, even assuming the #1 spot for one episode. On the negative side, it has been alleged by some that the show is suspiciously like the USA psychic crime drama "Psych" (an opinion that is not shared by everyone, by the way). Both shows feature detective-types who have a keen talent for close observation who make believe they are psychics. I suspect this may hurt Baker in the voting.

JON HAMM (+200 at BetUS) is having a good year, having also been nominated for his Guest Actor spot on "30 Rock." In the critically-acclaimed AMC drama "Mad Men," Hamm is subtle and cool as a slick ad exec who has to balance some demons in his life, including a secret past, a tendency toward infidelity, and a failure to warm up to his spouse. Hamm was nominated in this same category last year, and won last year's Golden Globe for his role as "Don Draper." This year his show captured 16 nominations, so he just may ride that tidal wave to the winner's circle.

HUGH LAURIE (+250 at BetUS) has become a perennial at these awards ceremonies, having been nominated four times for an Emmy in this category. He's also won two Golden Globes for his performance as the crusty, obnoxious Dr. Gregory House on "House M.D..," the Fox show that has otherwise taken home three Emmy statues. I'm wondering whether Emmy voters will not want to leave him empty-handed yet again in this, his fifth year of nomination, and may let him see something for his gargantuan efforts. Here's a tidbit for you sports fans - Laurie's father, Ran Laurie, won an Olympic rowing gold medal for Great Britain in coxless pairs at the 1948 Games.

BRYAN CRANSTON (+275 at BetUS) a former star of "Malcolm in the Middle" who garnered three nods as Supporting Actor in a Comedy and has now been nominated twice for this category. In fact, he is the "defending champion," so to speak, having won the Emmy last year. I don't think we're going to see back-to-back wins, although that is not to say Cranston isn't worthy of it. He's brilliant in "Breaking Bad," an AMC series (paired up with "Made Men") where his character is a chemistry teacher who is afraid of just getting by, so he starts to manufacture and sell his own meth. Cranston's character is smart, for sure, but along the way he's going to screw up a few times, simply because drug dealing is not exactly in his nature.

GABRIEL BYRNE (+350 at BetUS) has made the successful transition to series television as a psychotherapist with some emotional issues of his own in the HBO show "In Treatment," which also received Emmy nominations for Hope Davis and Dianne Wiest in the supporting category (how Alison Pill missed for Guest Actress, I'll never know). Byrne has now garnered back-to-back Emmy nods, and won the Golden Globe in this category, for this role. He's got credentials, and if Hamm doesn't win, I would consider him a real darkhorse in this category.

MICHAEL C. HALL (+400 at BetUS) strikes just the right notes in the title role of "Dexter," the sensational Showtime series that is, I think, under-appreciated. However, this is Hall's third Emmy nomination (he also had one for "Six Feet Under"), and it goes along with three Golden Globe nominations. He has yet to pick up any hardware. I don't know if this is the year for him, but Hall pulls off a very neat trick, because it is very, very difficult to play a sociopath who has to somehow fit into society without finding a way to go over the top, and this guy is deadpan all the way. He'd be my choice, but I don't vote.

The envelope, please -- I would say Hamm should be a favorite, but it would not surprise me on bit of Byrne got to the finish line first. Almost everyone in Hollywood has been to a therapist, so they can certainly relate to the character.