But can the tube's top thugs muscle lots of Emmy gold as well?
The Envelope gives "The Sopranos" the best odds to take most top categories, including best drama series, actor (James Gandolfini), actress (Edie Falco) and supporting actor (Michael Imperioli).
But those races are all close and the odds, historically speaking, are against any drama program winning best series after it goes off the air.
Only one has -- "Upstairs, Downstairs," which some believed was entered in the wrong category in 1977, being a limited series (or miniseries) featured on "Masterpiece Theater." But forget that quibbling.
No matter what happens on the awards front, the night will belong to the HBO series. Emmy producers will stage a Sopranos family reunion that'll include scores of the show's stars, writers, directors and, as one TV exec put it, "everybody who ever passed by the set during shooting."
The New Jersey wiseguys will be serenaded by the cast of "Jersey Boys," recent winner of four Tonys, including best musical. The Tony Awards telecast on which "Jersey Boys" wins just won an Emmy itself last weekend at the Creative Arts Emmys, for best special class program.
Sunday's ceremony will kick off with a big musical number that host Ryan Seacrest "may or may not be" part of, depending on "how confident I feel," he told the Hollywood Reporter.
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Apparently he may sing, which suggests that he could be judged by forces as harsh as those who critique wannabe crooners on "American Idol." Uh-oh. Will Seacrest and Simon Cowell go at it right at the top of the Emmycast? Their snarky clashes are always a highlight of "Idol."
Whatever happens, "I'm going to try to have a sense of humor about it," Seacrest says, "and I hope the people watching have a sense of humor too."
At last weekend's Creative Arts, "American Idol" finally won its first award, thus staving off the possibility that it could beat the record held by "Newhart" as Emmy's biggest loser (25 nominations, no wins).
But TV's most popular program still hasn't won the Emmy in its top race, best reality-competition program, which has been claimed four years in a row by "The Amazing Race."
This year "Idol" has a good chance of winning, though, since the TV academy permitted producers to submit the high-minded "Idol Gives Back" episode, despite the fact that it contains no element of competition.
Strangely, the decision to classify "Idol Gives Back" as part of a regular series instead of a stand-alone special was contradicted by another academy ruling that permitted the exact same TV footage to compete as a special, which led to its sole Emmy victory last weekend at Creative Arts, for best outstanding technical direction, camerawork, video for a miniseries, movie or a special.
Even if no show ends up beating "Newhart's" streak, one program could tie it this Sunday. If "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" gets shut out again, it will also have a total of 25 defeats.
Meanwhile, another competitor in the variety categories, Bill Maher, may become Emmy's biggest individual loser. So far he's suffered 17 snubs, and he has two more chances this weekend.
If Maher loses both, he'll surpass Angela Lansbury's record. However, since his nominations are for a mix of performance, writing and producing, Lansbury would still hold the record as Emmy's biggest loser (18) among performers.
Perhaps the best thing about this year's races is that they pit long-running quality shows against hot new breakout hits -- like "The Sopranos" and "Grey's Anatomy" versus TV's mighty new "Heroes" for best drama series.
The Envelope's odds favor either "The Sopranos" or "Grey's," but they give the edge to another hip rookie, America Ferrera of "Ugly Betty" to win best comedy actress over veterans Felicity Huffman ("Desperate Housewives") and Sally Field ("Brothers & Sisters"). Granted, the edge is a narrow one. Ferrera gets even odds, Huffman 6 to 5.
One clear favorite in the comedy categories is one of the year's most controversial TV stars: Alec Baldwin. The "30 Rock" thesp gets 1-2 odds to win for best actor. Some Emmy watchers wonder: Since winners often express appreciation to their loved ones at the podium, will he thank his daughter in his acceptance speech?
"30 Rock" is also a serious contender to win best comedy series, locked in a tight race with "Ugly Betty" and last year's champ, "The Office."
Which show gets the last laugh is a serious matter: "30 Rock's" Nielsens are so low that it's in danger of being canceled. Will Emmy voters want to help it, the way they did when they rallied behind "Cheers" and "Hill Street Blues" (successfully) and "Arrested Development" (to no avail)?
"30 Rock" may be especially tempting to voters since it skewers the dark side of their biz, the TV industry. However, "The Office" lampoons the workplace brilliantly too and is still in top form after winning last year.
Meantime, "Betty" could really make things ugly for rivals because it's not merely the year's hottest new comedy series but, being one hour, is twice as long as its competitors. Often screen time plays a big role in Emmy wins. However, "Ugly Betty" has a serious shortcoming. Its strong female, often campy perspective may not connect with academy voters, who tend to be older guys.
One race has a clear front-runner: If Helen Mirren prevails again as best actress in a TV movie or mini, this time for the last installment of her popular British TV detective series, "Prime Suspect," she'll set a record for most wins in the category. Currently she's tied with Patty Duke, at three wins each.