Ducklings Preferred Over Swans at Emmys

Beauty can be a real beast when it comes to winning an Emmy.

It seems that good looks can hurt actresses in TV ensemble casts when voters choose worthy award nominees.

Just ask sexy "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria (search), who heads into Sunday night's Emmy Awards (search) without a nomination after being passed over at the Golden Globes, even as all the other lead actresses on the show received nods.

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Or Courteney Cox Arquette (search), the only of the six “Friends” never to be nominated for an Emmy or a Globe during the hit show’s 10-year run. Or Peri Gilpin (search), the only cast member of “Frasier” who was consistently overlooked for Emmy and Globe nominations in her 11 years as sultry Roz.

Sarah Michelle Gellar (search) also never got an Emmy nod, despite the rave reviews she won for her starring role on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

“We see beauty punished in show business all the time,” said Tom O’Neil, host of the awards-predicting Web site “These people who have everything else — beauty, fame, paycheck gold — are being denied the trophy from their peers because something has to be withheld.”

In other words, those picking nominees for the big awards are sometimes green with envy. "Maybe the voters are a little jealous of their beauty," said Kristin Veitch, a TV columnist at E! Online.

Beauty might also be blinding to those choosing award candidates — but not in a good way.

“’Somebody that pretty can’t be that talented,’ is one thing they’re thinking,” O’Neil said. “Another is, ‘This goddess needs to be knocked off her throne.'”

Kristin Davis (search) almost wound up in the left-off crew while playing Charlotte on “Sex and the City.” But during the show’s final year, her name finally made it on the short list for both the Emmys and the Golden Globes. She didn’t take home either prize.

Prettiness isn’t always a curse — and is often a prerequisite for any job on TV or in Hollywood. In fact, in film it’s often the stunning actresses who are nominated for and win the Oscars.

The big-screen awards don’t necessarily reward beauty in its pure form, however. The Academy seems to favor the lovely swans who transform themselves into ugly ducklings — as in the cases of Nicole Kidman, who won for her role as the prominent-nosed Virginia Woolf in “The Hours”; Charlize Theron, the winner for her role as hardened serial killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster”; and Hilary Swank, who took home the top honor as a gender-confused girl in “Boys Don’t Cry” and then again as a sweaty, big-muscled boxer in "Million Dollar Baby."

“Sometimes it takes a role where they go ugly and have major flaws for voters to become sympathetic to them,” said Veitch. “Eva Longoria should get into some temporarily disfiguring accident, gain a little weight, put on a fat suit. It certainly can’t hurt.”

The attractiveness curse doesn’t seem to plague men on TV as often. The handsome Eric McCormack (search) has been nominated and won awards for playing Will on “Will & Grace.” And hunky Matt LeBlanc (search) was the male “Friend” to receive the most Emmy and Globe nominations, for his role as Joey.

But consider the long list of hot movie studs who have never won an acting Oscar: Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, among others.

"They're hugged and slapped at the same time for what makes them so marketable," O'Neil said. "Hollywood is a sick, hypocritical place."

In some cases, the fairest-of-them-all actress happens to also be the youngest or least seasoned of the bunch — and that's why she's passed over.

"They're more the cute eye candy of the show," Veitch said. "They're younger and so they're seen as endearing. That works against them because they aren't necessarily seen as talented actresses who are a force to be reckoned with."

That's certainly the case with Longoria, who was "the new kid on the block," said Veitch. The only other "housewife" not to be nominated, Nicollette Sheridan (search), is also a bombshell, but isn't one of the four majors in the cast.

Beautiful or not, big-screen or small-screen, the actors to whom the coveted awards are doled out are frequently those who submit the best sample of their work to voters and do the most heavy campaigning for the prize.

"A lot of the awards ceremonies are more political than anything else," said Cristina Barden, a retail planning manager from Queens, N.Y. "[Voters] have their favorites. I don't necessarily think the people who win should win."