Emmy diva smackdown: Jane Lynch, Betty White, Cloris Leachman

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The Emmy battle over best supporting comedy actress is turning out to be a dramatic face-off involving some of TV’s top divas.

Jane Lynch (‘Glee') won last year and will surely pose a tough challenge again, but beware: She competes against two of Emmy‘s most beloved stars.

Betty White (‘Hot in Cleveland') is a five-time past champ, whose most recent victory was last year for guesting on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ But that’s a modest tally compared with the trophy stash of Cloris Leachman, who’s won more Emmys in the performance categories than anyone in TV history –- nine, if you count her Daytime Emmy along with her Primetime awards. Now she’s back in the running for ‘Raising Hope,’ competing against last year’s nominees who have a good shot to return: Julie Bowen (‘Modern Family’), Jane Krakowski ('30 Rock’), Holland Taylor (‘Two and a Half Men’), Sofia Vergara (‘Modern Family’) and Kristen Wiig (‘Saturday Night Live’).

Knocking hard on this category door are Allison Janney (‘Mr. Sunshine’), Martha Plimpton (‘Raising Hope’) and Gabourey Sidibe (‘The Big C’).

Below, my breakdown of the category. Also see my handicapping of the races for best supporting comedy actor, lead drama actor and best drama series.

-- Tom O’Neil

Julie Bowen, ‘Modern Family’
Allison Janney, ‘Mr. Sunshine’
Jane Krakowski, ’30 Rock’
Diane Ladd, ‘Enlightened’
Cloris Leachman, ‘Raising Hope’
Jane Lynch, ‘Glee’
Martha Plimpton, ‘Raising Hope’
Gabourey Sidibe, ‘The Big C’
Holland Taylor, ‘Two and a Half Men’
Sofia Vergara, ‘Modern Family’
Betty White, ‘Hot in Cleveland’
Kristen Wiig, ‘Saturday Night Live’

Jane Adams, ‘Hung’
Mayim Bialik, ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Jenna Fischer, ‘The Office’
Judy Greer, ‘Mad Love’
Tamsin Greig, ‘Episodes’
Anne Heche, ‘Hung’
Swoosie Kurtz, ‘Mike & Molly’
Elizabeth Perkins, ‘Weeds’
Debra Jo Rupp, ‘Better with You’
Anna Deavere Smith, ‘Nurse Jackie’
Jessica Walter, ‘Retired at 35'
Merritt Wever, ‘Nurse Jackie’
Vanessa Williams, ‘Desperate Housewives’

(Long Shots)
Alison Brie, ‘Community’
Rosemarie de Witt, ‘United States of Tara’
Alyson Hannigan, ‘How I Met Your Mother’
Rashida Jones, ‘Parks & Recreation’
Christa Miller, ‘Cougar Town’
Busy Phillips, ‘Cougar Town’
Amber Riley, ‘Glee’
Cobie Smulders, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ RELATED


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Emmy inside track: The race for TV drama actor

Emmy cliffhanger: What’ll win best TV drama series?