On Sunday night, former Entourage super-agent Jeremy Piven took to Twitter to thank his fans for checking out the American premiere of Mr. Selfridge on PBS, his new show about the adventures of a fast-talking Yankee department-store magnate set loose in the stuffy world of London retail. In what was perhaps an attempt to assure any skeptical followers that it was, in fact, the Piv himself @-replying to their adoring messages, he provided an Instagram accompaniment to his online chat session, as one does.
But we're interested in only one question: How many of Piven's three Emmys are "accidentally" visible in the frame of the not-at-all-meticulously-composed photo of the social-media-loving star typing with his back to the television, for some reason? The answer after the jump!
Amid all of the secrets and lies being spilled at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour are highly intriguing reports about Behind the Candelabra, the long-in-the-works, “too gay for Hollywood” Liberace biopic that Steven Soderbergh was finally able to get made thanks to HBO. Critics were treated on Friday to “a lengthy first look” at the movie, which is about the scorchingly flamboyant entertainer’s turbulent affair with his much younger assistant Scott Thorson. Vulture reports that Michael Douglas “disappears into his role” as Liberace, whose involvement with Thorson (played by a blond mop-topped Matt Damon) eventually ended in a highly publicized palimony suit. The preview included clips of Douglas and Damon making out by a pool and bickering at home in bed, as well as Douglas consulting his plastic surgeon (played by Rob Lowe, “whose eyebrows were arched to a stunning extreme for the role”) about how to make Thorson appear more Liberace-like.
On today's pod, Andy and I would like to thank Brad and Brad over at WME, the writers' room, our hair and makeup people who make us look beautiful every day, and our long-suffering wives ... oh, sorry, I was having another one of my "episodes." Let's try that again. On today's pod, Andy and I have a discussion about the Emmys. We ask the important questions: Was Homeland's coup of Mad Men expected? Does Modern Family's reign mean network sitcoms are back? Has anyone told NBC that? Is Tom Berenger still, spiritually and sartorially, in Romania? And what year is it there?
Following our acceptance speeches, Andy and I checked the pulse of Parks and Recreation and The Office, the former coming off an episode that saw it in full flight, full of Capra-esque sweetness, Cheers-esque joy, and Roy Hibbert, while the latter ... well, it's the last season of The Office, guys. I somehow get very emotionally worked up about Jim and Pam, by the way; I know you were all waiting for that.
The Wolf and the Bear: When Movie Stars Crash the Emmys
One of the terrible things about the Golden Age of Television that is either upon us or just winding down, or maybe just gearing up, is the culture of nice that pervades. Everyone loves everyone and we’re all doing great work and hahaha TV is the king medium! This is never more apparent than at an awards show like the Emmys, where perfectly decent bros like Aaron Paul melt down over What an Honor It Is to Be in This Category With These Gifted Heroes of Mine. Sometimes, though, if we’re lucky, a real jerk wins something. And I mean “jerk” in the grandest, finest possible way. Last night, Kevin Costner was said jerk, a man out of time, a real movie star stuck among the small people from television. For Costner, who won for his portrayal of Anse “Devil” Hatfield in the highly viewed (by old people), 83-hours-long Hatfields & McCoys miniseries he produced for the History Channel last spring, this was just one more bummy awards shindig. This guy won an Oscar for Best Director, America. He beat Martin Scorsese! Who was nominated for Goodfellas! He followed the colossal and colossally documented failure of Waterworld (directed by Hatfields helmer Kevin Reynolds, incidentally) with the colossal-er failure of The Postman! So he didn’t wear a tie last night. He sat in the front row with his deeply blond, deeply young wife. He smirked that wolfish smirk. He laconically accepted his award and then acted like he didn’t want it. And while it has been many, many years since Costner, who is 57, was a real movie star, he still knows how to act the part.
It’s a neat trick to manage to be predictable even while surprising, but that’s just what the Emmys were able to pull off last night in Los Angeles. Smooth host Jimmy Kimmel attempted to punch up the proceedings — or at least get punched — but not even the prone, non-nunchaku-bearing corpus of Tracy Morgan could trip up the parade of familiar faces and well-telegraphed upsets. But I’m not here to point fingers — that’s best done inside the comfort of a mani-cam, anyway. After last year’sa cappella–induced atrocity, the 64th Emmy Awards were a competent, serviceable affair. Cable may be ascendant, but the three-hour ceremony — on the dot! — was a tribute to old-fashioned network professionalism, eschewing innovation for slick proficiency. And the unscripted moments mostly followed suit: Jon Cryer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus had never won in their respective categories for these roles before, but their victories certainly didn’t feel fresh. The calm competence of director Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire) silenced the nervy genius of Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad). The best comic bits — Louis-Dreyfus swapping speeches with Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon tackling Jon Stewart, the way Kerry Washington said “David Strathairn” — felt DIY and fleeting. And when the diciest moment of a live broadcast is a puffy Tom Berenger scatting about raccoons and garden gnomes while soft jazz attempted to play him off, you’re doing something right behind the scenes, even if we’re fighting to stay awake in front of them. At one point, in a meta-twist the Emmy-less Community might appreciate, ceremony director Glenn Weiss won an Emmy while directing the Emmys. It was an appropriate symbol for a night that was all reward and very little risk.
With visions of Morena Baccarin's sternum still dancing in my head, here are my takeaways from a very long, very punctual evening:
As our own Andy Greenwald noted earlier today, fans of Important Television didn't have too much to whine about this morning after the 2012 Primetime Emmy nominations were announced — the lists were surprisingly well-balanced, with popular favorites like Modern Family right up there with critical darlings Girls and Louie, and realistically, that's probably about how things should be, right? (I'm assuming all Community fans have stopped reading by now.) So, huh. This is weird. Is there anything left to get irrationally angry about?
Yes, yes there is! Here are your 2012 Outstanding Reality-Competition Program nominations:
For television's biggest stars, Emmy nominations day begins as either the best or worst of mornings, as the assiduously watched iPhone on the nightstand either lights up with the caller-ID photo of an elated publicist thrilled to rouse a nominee, or remains eerily, mockingly silent, a glassy black slab reflecting back the look of soul-annihilating disappointment on the exhausted face of the snubbed. For those lucky enough to get The Call, the rest of the day involves shuffling through a congratulatory conga line of media outlets eager to get their reactions, inevitably a litany of effusive, grateful sound bites, offered over and over again without any chance for reflection. Or honesty. Below, we attempt to decode what secret messages the nominees are actually trying to communicate through their bland "I'm so happy!"s and hostage-video-quality "It's an honor just to be nominated!"s, as collected by THR.com:
At 5:40 a.m. this morning on the West Coast, Jimmy Kimmel (in pajamas) and Kerry Washington (in need of coffee) made a lot of English people very, very happy. Downton Abbey — freed from the shackles of its bizarre “miniseries” designation — not only was free to play with the big boys in the 64th Emmy Awards, but to now dominate them with 16 nominations (for those reading in London, that’s about nine quid). The rest of the nominations followed recent trends, a smooth mix of populist favorites (Jim Parsons, Melissa McCarthy) and critical validation (Lena Dunham! Louis C.K.! Gus Fring!). For those looking for axes to grind, the usual snubs were apparent (Community, Nick Offerman, the veterinarians of Luck). But the truth is, compared to its geriatric sister award shows, the Emmys continually come the closest to actually recognizing excellence.
As for those merely looking for axes, you can rest easy: Game of Thrones snagged 11 nominations of its own. (A full list of the nominees can be found here.)
If Zooey Deschanel, and by extension, the Fox sitcom New Girl on which she stars, is the epitome of “Adorkable,” then the polar opposite would probably be a room of 20 moth-eaten TV reporters, turned loose in an elite club for an evening of schmoozing and chasing down all the free hors d'oeuvre they can find.
But last Thursday night worlds collided, as the show that brought the A-word to the masses invited a cadre of scribes to the Soho House in West Hollywood for a cocktail reception following a screening of the first-season finale. As Emmy season revs up, the streets and billboards of Los Angeles are filled with reminders of the wonders this year's crop of shows have bestowed. The event was a timely chance to jog the reporters' memory and appreciation of one of the most successful sitcom launches of the year.
You know an awards show is in trouble when Rob Lowe appears and you find yourself wishing he brought Snow White with him. Last night’s 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards were, by turns, mawkish, desperate, cringe-inducing, and dull — and that was before the gang from Entourage heroically reunited after an absence of only one week. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment things tipped into catastrophe during Fox’s broadcast. Was it the decision to emulate the worst of the Oscars via cheesy, context-free montages reminding us just what, exactly, comedy is? (Note to producers: It’s not Nurse Jackie.) Or was it the subdivision of the show by category, thus guaranteeing a final third devoted to America’s enduring love affair with miniseries about British class discomfort? Perhaps it was the audibly flop-sweating voice-over announcer whose job it was to drop joke bombs like “his favorite Marx brother is Richard” while winners approached the podium, thus treating the show’s only unscripted moments like the allies treated Dresden? Or maybe it was an “In Memorium” segment so classless and tone-deaf it managed to forever ruin both “In Memorium” segments and death? Or was it the sad, craven sight of random television B+-listers shackled together in sock-hop burlesque and forced to perform a cappella intros as the Emmytones? You know what? Yep. It was that.
Perhaps the most revealing (and damning?) aspect of the Emmy nominations announcement ceremony — held, as always, just before dawn on the West Coast in order to allow Nikki Finke to watch them live before retreating to her coffin — was the manner in which they were broadcast to the majority of the world: via Ustream, an upstart web-video service that is (a) one of the many threats to traditional broadcast television, and (b) mostly known as the go-to place to watch NFL players distractedly answer fan questions while flying cross country. (Maybe TV was secretly trying to prove a point: The feed conked out midway through the announcements. Luckily, it was when they were talking about miniseries.)
Anyway, much respect to announcers Joshua Jackson and Melissa McCarthy (whose surprise nomination for her work in Mike & Molly wasn’t so much of a surprise when you consider that she’s now a movie celebrity and TV people are nothing if not hung up on movie celebrity — it’s a little like how Chicago is obsessed with New York but the feeling is rarely mutual) who, perhaps in deference to the hour, raced through the categories like Usain Bolt after a visit to Walter White’s Winnebago. Leading this year's nominations are Mad Men with 19, Boardwalk Empire with 18, and Modern Family with 17. Below, our instant, coffee-deprived thoughts.