Emmy Awards: Predicting the nominations

This publicity image released by AMC shows Jon This publicity image released by AMC shows Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from the Seaon 5 finale of "Mad Men." Photo Credit: AP/AMC

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Verne Gay Verne Gay

Gay is the television critic. ...

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Remember -- always remember -- that the Emmys like repeats. Always have, always will, because the not unreasonable assumption among voters is that if a show or an actor was good the year before, there's every expectation they will be good again.

This means you'll see a lot of familiar names when the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Award nominations are announced Thursday morning. But it also means your favorite show won't necessarily be among them. There will, however, be surprises. In my list below, some guesses about what those might be:

Outstanding drama

Mad Men (AMC) -- The 1960s drama has won four consecutive years, and there's every expectation the celebration will continue.

Breaking Bad (AMC) -- Also back in contention. The single biggest question of the 64th -- could it upset "Mad Men"?

Game of Thrones (HBO) -- Great series that Emmy voters can't ignore, but will an epic fantasy resonate with enough of them to win? Nah.

Homeland (Showtime) -- Could Showtime score with two best-show nods? "Dexter" might repeat here.

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Smash (NBC) -- A long shot, even though it shouldn't be.

The Good Wife (CBS) -- You need only one great episode to get Emmy voters to cast their vote. "Wife" had more than one.

Outstanding comedy

Modern Family (ABC) -- Easy call and likely an easy repeat winner, too.

30 Rock (NBC) -- No longer a cinch to win -- in fact, a cinch not to -- "30 Rock" at least remains a favorite to get a nod. A surprise if passed over.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) -- Warner Bros. and CBS will again put their marketing muscle behind "BBT," and when those muscles are flexed, you may be assured of a nomination.

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New Girl (Fox) -- Freshman with the best chance of getting in.

Girls (HBO) -- Freshman with the second-best chance of getting in -- though don't be shocked if you see "Glee" here instead.

Parks and Recreation (NBC) -- Emmy sure likes "Parks and Rec" -- more than "Louie" and "Community," which deserve nods, but probably won't get them.

Actress in a drama

Claire Danes ("Homeland") -- Close to certain.

Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife") -- Even closer to certain. (She won last year.)

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Mariska Hargitay ("Law & Order: SVU") -- Remember, Emmy likes repeats. (She's been nominated eight times, winning just once, in 2006.)

Debra Messing ("Smash") -- She was good, but a long shot.

Glenn Close ("Damages") -- Two-time winner back for more.

Kathy Bates ("Harry's Law") -- Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men") had a good season -- not a breakout one -- so Bates gets this pick.

Actor in a drama

Michael C. Hall ("Dexter") -- Five-time nominee.

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Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") -- Some year, he'll even win.

Damian Lewis ("Homeland") -- Honestly, I'm not confident with this choice -- Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire") has a better chance.

Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") -- Three-time winner is an easy call.

Hugh Laurie ("House") -- For old times' sake, but don't expect a victory.

Jason Isaacs ("Awake") -- A very long shot -- but he was terrific in this show and absolutely deserves this nod.

Actress in a comedy

Zooey Deschanel ("New Girl") -- The adorkable one gets a ticket to Nokia Theatre.

Laura Linney ("The Big C") -- Great actress, and Emmy voters know it.

Lena Dunham ("Girls") -- Newbie with plenty of talent, but this is an incredibly tough category -- the toughest -- and she may be edged out by Tina Fey, Edie Falco or Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Martha Plimpton ("Raising Hope") -- Back again. Maybe.

Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation") -- A surprise if she's not on this list.

MELISSA McCARTHY ("Mike and Molly") -- Last year's winner. How could she not be here?

Actor in a comedy

Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory") -- He's won the past two years; he'll be back for more.

Louis C.K. ("Louie") -- He gets the love from Emmy.

Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock") -- No-brainer.

Johnny Galecki ("The Big Bang Theory") -- Castmate Parsons still has the edge.

Don Cheadle ("House of Lies") -- Who knows? Cheadle could even win.

Tim Allen ("Last Man Standing") -- My out-of-leftfield choice, but he may be here, too. (Emmy likes classic TV stars.)

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