With Sopranos kingpin James Gandolfini ineligible for Emmy consideration this year, we've got just the candidate to fill the best actor race's token creep-with-a-conscience slot: Michael Chiklis, who plays rogue cop Vic Mackey on FX's acclaimed serial thriller The Shield. For his part, Chiklis admits he's more than happy to invade Tony Soprano's turf.

"I've always been a person to honestly say, 'Oh, I never think about that,'" he tells TV Guide Online. "But in this case, it would be great. I would love to see that happen — I'd be a liar if I didn't say that."

However, as a realist, the 38-year-old actor knows the TV Academy is typically slow to recognize new programs — especially ones as controversial as The Shield. The embattled drama — which wraps up its first season tonight (10 pm/ET) — has lost a number of sponsors as a result of its graphic content.

"I would certainly call us the [Emmy] underdog," says the erstwhile Commish, who describes the advertiser boycott as nothing more than "misplaced aggression by well-intended people." Regarding television's highest honor, he adds: "If you look at it from a purist standpoint, Emmy is supposed to [recognize] the best of television. Period. [But] you see the favorites come back year after year."

Luckily, FXecs plan to draw voters' attention to Chiklis and Co. the old-fashioned way: with lots of expensive ads and fancy screener tapes. "I understand they're waging a very sizeable campaign," he reveals. "They feel like they have an Emmy-worthy contender."