How Emmy nominations work:
1. You appear on an eligible TV program.
2. You choose an episode, fill out a form, send in that form along with a headshot, DVD of the episode, and $200 [the fee is waived for Academy members] to the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
3. EVERYONE who sends in a form - provided they are not found ineligible somehow - ends up on the ballot. This is the stage that they're in now - the field will be narrowed to ten people per category, then five people, and those five will be the nominees.
What ends up happening: Everyone and their mother decides to enter. The ballot is hugely bloated [1062 entrants this year for 16 categories], and Emmy voters don't have a chance in hell of familiarizing themselves with everyone, so they go with big names and past nominees.
What happened with Katherine Heigl and Lindsay Lohan? The list was released, and they had never taken any action to put themselves on it. When the media asked why, they released statements explaining their reasoning. Neither actress went out of her way to remove herself from consideration - they just never filled out the form. Heigl's a bitch for blaming the writers, but there was nothing wrong with her decision not to enter.
So, since Lindsay and Katherine are taking all this shit because they didn't want an Emmy, let's take a look at all the people who are clogging the ballot and making it harder for Friday Night Lights to ever win anything. Some of them gave horrible performances, some of them are on horrible shows, and some of them are just average:
Lead Actor in a Comedy - 27 entrants.
Legitimate contenders include Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell, and Bret and Jemaine from FOTC.
Craig Bierko - Unhitched
Bill Engvall - The Bill Engvall Show
Lead Actress in a Comedy - 25 entrants.
Legitimate contenders include Tina Fey, Mary-Louise Parker, Anna Friel, Marcia Cross, and America Ferrera.
Miley Cyrus - Hannah Montana
Selena Gomez - Wizards of Waverly Place
Jennifer Westfeldt - Notes from the Underbelly
Supporting Actress in a Comedy - 70 entrants.
Legitimate contenders include Kristin Wiig [SNL actors are now required to run in the Comedy category], Angela Kinsey, Judith Light, Becki Newton, and Elizabeth Perkins.
Rashida Jones - Unhitched [I love her, but what an awful show.]
Jennifer Lawrence - The Bill Engvall Show
Nancy Travis - The Bill Engvall Show
Faith Ford - Carpoolers
Supporting Actor in a Comedy - 113 entrants.
Legitimate contenders include Neil Patrick Harris, Rainn Wilson, John C. McGinley, Justin Kirk, Jack McBrayer, and Jeremy Piven.
Skyler Gisondo - The Bill Engvall Show
Graham Patrick Martin - The Bill Engvall Show
Larry Jo Campbell - According to Jim
The kids who play Lynette's sons - Desperate Housewives
Lead Actress in a Drama - 51 entrants.
Legitimate contenders include the Big Love wives, Mary McDonnell, Holly Hunter, Glenn Close, and Kyra Sedgwick.
Erica Durance - Smallville
Laura Prepon - October Road
Michelle Ryan - Bionic Woman
Lead Actor in a Drama - 58 entrants.
Legitimate contenders include Michael C. Hall, Hugh Laurie, Jon Hamm, and Kyle Chandler.
Anthony Anderson - K-Ville
Josh Malina - Big Shots
Matt Dallas - Kyle XY
Chad Michael Murray - One Tree Hill
Supporting Actor in a Drama - 179 entrants.
Legitimate contenders include John Slattery, Michael Emerson, Robert Sean Leonard, and Donald Sutherland.
Miguel Ferrer - Bionic Woman
Will Yun Lee - Bionic Woman
Noah Gray-Cabey - Heroes
Chris Lowell - Private Practice
Supporting Actress in a Drama - 130 entrants.
Legitimate contenders include Connie Britton, Sandra Oh, Tricia Helfer, Rose Byrne, and January Jones.
Odette Yustman - October Road
Lucy Kate Hale - Bionic Woman
Dania Ramirez - Heroes
Kristen Bell - Heroes
Various guest actors - 269 entrants in four categories.
Legitimate contenders include Steve Buscemi, Victor Garber, David Schwimmer, Peter Facinelli, Peter O'Toole, Edie Falco, Amy Ryan, Elaine Stritch, Ellen Burstyn, and Anne Dudek.
FOURTEEN PEOPLE from Grey's Anatomy
James van der Beek - Ugly Betty
Mo'Nique - Ugly Betty
Frankie Muniz - Criminal Minds
Anna Faris - Entourage [she played herself]
Mary-Kate Olsen - Weeds
Britney Spears - HIMYM
Michelle Trachtenberg - Gossip Girl
Melissa Joan Hart - SVU
Miniseries, Movies, Specials - 160 entrants in four categories.
Legitimate contenders include Laura Linney, Judi Dench, Mary-Louise Parker, Ed Begley Jr, James Caan, and Val Kilmer.
Zac Efron - HSM2
Vanessa Hudgens - HSM2
Corbin Bleu - HSM2
Melissa Joan Hart - Holiday in Handcuffs
Emily Osment - some R.L. Stine thing
Mario Lopez - Husband for Hire
Shows where pretty much everyone decided to go for it:
Gossip Girl - From what I can tell, everyone except for Jenny.
Desperate Housewives - Pretty much everyone, young and old.
Grey's Anatomy - Everyone except, obviously, Katherine Heigl.
The Office - Everyone but Oscar. I'm not saying they don't all deserve recognition, but the sheer volume of submissions is a little ridiculous even if I don't know who I'd cut.
Source: Emmy Rules, Emmy Entry Form
Full list of potential acting nominees - giant PDF alert!
On the off chance that someone on this list actually DOES deserve an Emmy, then trust me: There are at least half a dozen more people in their category who really, really don't.