Kimye to Wed at Versailles: "Leave it to the self-proclaimed genius to have a gilded ace up his sleeve. Nothing less than France's famed Palace of Versailles will do for his spring vows to Kardashian, 33." This makes so much sense. "Kanye has never been married and wants a big one. It will be over-the-top crazy." But leave the guillotines at home, please. "They are not working with a budget. He says this is his moment, marrying his ideal woman." Can't you already hear Kanye screaming "THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MY SPECIAL DAY" when the wrong rare orchids show up for the table settings? There will also be "fighter jets" flying overhead, as promised by Kanye repeatedly. And fireworks too, of course. I mean they'll still probably make better use of Versailles than Sofia Coppola did.
Being a genitally gifted, A-list Hollywood actor isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Once the well-guarded secrets of your manhood are revealed — whether through the artistic bravery of on-camera exposure or the catty insinuations of a wardrobe stylist frustrated by the challenges of keeping an inseam-boggling talent properly swaddled — there's often a painful and awkward transition involved as your privates become "publics." Your life can change virtually overnight; the paparazzi begin to hound you in search of lucrative bulge-slip pics, every meeting with a director suddenly becomes fraught with the unbearable tension of when the "Can I get a peek? " question will drop, every casual handshake ends in downward-darting eyes as subtle as being handed a salami with a phone number carved in it. There quickly comes a moment when the snake puns grate rather than delight, the pressure too much to bear. And it's at this moment that the frustration bubbles over and the actor, in a moment of weakness, takes the junk-bait and complains to the media about his plight. "Stop talking about my enormous penis!" he bellows into an outstretched recording device before he can think better of it. "My penis is my business!"
You may now stream Arcade Fire's new album, Reflektor, in its entirety days before its official release on October 29. Via SoundCloud, you ask? Or perhaps an iTunes stream? Nay, ye Internet savvy — the tracks you seek may be found within but a humble YouTube clip. Yes, it's an album-length lyric video. Enjoy.
Two lovable comedy icons returned to their mutual hometown of Sitcomland last night, but America acted like Robin Williams was the cool guy who'd flown around the world on a hang glider while Michael J. Fox was the neighborhood dweeb who set a jump-rope record on the corner. An enormous 15.6 million viewers tuned in to see Williams's pilot — the one Andy Greenwald called "a not-great version of a good idea winging its way onto our screens through a combination of momentum, optimism, and Williams's trademark flop sweat" — making The Crazy Ones the most viewed new show this autumn. NBC's The Michael J. Fox Show only reeled in 7.2 million viewers, less than half as many as CBS's new hit. In pure 1985 terms, this is borderline impossible to understand — '85 for MJF: Back to the Future, Teen Wolf; '85 for R-Willy: nada. But when you remember that there's a show called The Big Bang Theory and it has its own cult as big as a medium-size nation (last night: 18.3 million viewers, the show's personal best), and that this mysterious show played lead-in to Robin Williams, it makes sense, kind of.
Since a South Park episode dedicated to reminding us about Alec Baldwin's homosexuality-unfriendly tweet-spree back in June might have felt a little forced, the show instead anchored its Season 17 premiere to a gag that put us in mind of "HUMANCENTiPAD," "Make Love, Not Warcraft," and "Guitar Queer-O" — episodes we're always grateful to reflect on. Throw in Bill Hader impersonating Baldwin and, well, where do we sign up for Shitter?
If you weren't distracted by the always-gruff texture of Alec Baldwin's voice at the Emmys, coupled with him calling his 30 Rock character "Dack Donaghy," you may have noticed an alien tint to Jon Hamm's typically lustrous voice. Well, that was an actual alien. An alien called a polyp, which is not a thing you want to investigate on Wikipedia first thing in the morning, unless you're braced for some high school health class–style imagery you can't unsee.
So it happened. It really happened. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences called AMC's bluff and went through with its awards ceremony last night despite running against the first, Twitter-spoiler-rife airing of Breaking Bad's supersize, penultimate episode, blithely handing out every last one of its statuettes like nothing more important was happening down the programming grid. They did not, as we humbly suggested in a very polite letter addressed to the President of Television, divert the hundreds of limousines carrying the presenters and nominees into the Nokia Theatre parking structure and hold everybody there until Monday night, with full in-car food and beverage service by always-accommodating host Neil Patrick Harris, so that we could have the necessary time to digest the more important show before dealing with the unnecessary distraction of their awards presentation.
But they never answered that letter. And so we, either because we are insane or because we made a cold, hard calculation about how to get through four hours and 15 minutes of total viewing as efficiently as possible, actually watched the Emmys first. Well played, TV Academy. We were weak. We blinked. We hope you feel good about the fact that we waited around to discover who took home your biggest prize before we allowed ourselves to actually watch that very same series demonstrate its current creative dominance. You're the winners today.
Oh, right: winners. We're here to talk about the winners. If you require the list of all the Emmy winners, you can find that right here, from your Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series to your Outstanding Costume Design in a Two-Time Variety Special (if that was a category — maybe it was. It's hard to be sure; they're handing stuff out for three hours). Right now we're more interested in the big winners, the totally unexpected winners. The winners we're still thinking about this morning, in the moments when we're able to catch our breath between the post-traumatic heart palpitations Breaking Bad gave us.
The real winners.
Let's run through them before the shortness of breath kicks in again.
This Sunday night on CBS, the 65th-annual Emmy Awards will celebrate the year in television excellence. Like most meth-addled Americans, I won't be watching — at least not live. Instead, I'll be tuning in to AMC to watch some truly excellent television in real time, a.k.a. the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad.
Still, many, many people will watch an Emmy ceremony that is likely to be among the most unpredictable in recent memory. (And by "many, many people" I primarily mean those of you with ready access to multiple screens, those with a lack of interest in the endgame of certain New Mexican science teachers, and/or those with an unquenchable fondness for Neil Patrick Harris production numbers). And so please consider the following as a guide to the moments to watch for — six potential upsets, shockers, and game-changers, a.k.a. the times you definitely don't want to be getting up for more guacamole. Save that for Best Actress in a Drama — unless you've forgotten the names of Claire Danes's publicist, manager, and husband over the past year. And save some guacamole for me.
Break out your sachet of tannis root, because NBC is doing a "reboot" of Rosemary's Baby, despite that it never actually booted it originally. This weekend at the Television Critics Association press tour, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt announced a slew of new projects for the peacock, including Rodham, a miniseries about Hillary Clinton starring Diane Lane, and an update of NBC's 1993 miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's The Tommyknockers, possibly to try to grab some of the shine from CBS's successful adaptation of King's Under the Dome. Greenblatt doesn't seem too sure that these new projects will revive the oft-flailing network's critical and commercial prospects. He claims that lauded cable dramas "on our platforms with those numbers would be canceled," and it's not fair that "the bastard child is now broadcast television." Or maybe you could support shows that might struggle with audience numbers initially but bring in strong reviews and attract loyal fans? Because by NBC's current logic, Seinfeld wouldn't last two seasons.
Kate Mara was a no-show for the Emmy announcements this morning, broadcast as they have been since time immemorial from the steerage class mess hall on Les Moonves's war yacht. Airplane trouble was to blame — the actress was reporting a story for Slugline in Arizona — but no matter, because the pre-dawn ceremony was about the only place where her House of Cards didn't make an appearance. The doomy Netflix original crashed the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in a big way, garnering nine nominations in major categories ranging from dramatic actor (Kevin Spacey) to dramatic actress (Robin Wright) to dramatic clavicle (also Robin Wright). That means the happiest person in Hollywood this morning isn't actual Emmy host Neil Patrick Harris, whose celebrated podium charm replaced Mara at the last minute. It's Reed Hastings. This was exactly the outcome the Netflix CEO was envisioning when he outbid HBO for 24 episodes of the David Fincher–helmed Cards. Hastings knew his company needed the strong appearance of quality, if not the thing itself, in order to get attention and respect from a dubious industry. Regardless of whether Netflix actually goes home with any awards on September 22 — Jason Bateman was also nominated for Arrested Development; I have a feeling Spacey is taking the trophy — Hastings has successfully evolved his company from red envelopes to the red carpet.
That was the biggest takeaway from what felt like a transition year for the Emmys. All of the old favorites were nominated — and, in the case of Dame Maggie Smith, I mean that quite literally. 30 Rock received 13 nominations for its phenomenal final half-season and even a wheezing The Office grabbed a writing nomination for series adapter Greg Daniels's tasteful finale. The casts of Modern Family and Downton Abbey once again clogged up the ballots in the comedy and drama categories, leaving little room for fresh blood like New Girl and The Americans. While, speaking of blood, Game of Thrones (16 nominations) and American Horror Story: Asylum (17) treated the technical and miniseries categories the way Walder Frey treated guests at the Red Wedding. Boardwalk Empire was the only formerly major player to fall off the map this year (10 nominations, but mostly for hairstyling and costuming), and it's probably best to think of that not as a snub (although the second half of Season 3 did improve considerably) but as the first sign of big changes to come.
With Chris off on a beach somewhere enjoying a well-deserved vacation, the partners and I had to find someone to run creative in his absence. Luckily, we had an excellent candidate in house: Chuck Klosterman. Chuck was kind enough to hop on the phone and spend an outrageous amount of time discussing Mad Men with me. We covered nearly everything about this polarizing sixth season, from the dreamy premiere to the surprising finale. With a few minutes left at the end, we switched off the television and turned on the stereo, chatting about new albums from Black Sabbath and Superchunk and wondering what it means when bands give their fans exactly what's expected from them. Sterling Cooper may be in limbo, but the Hollywood Prospectus Podcast is doing just fine.
It turns out, the most important line from the Season 6 premiere of Mad Men wasn't a quote from Dante and it wasn't Roger's self-pitying spiel about doorways. It was Don's postcoital admission to Sylvia that he doesn't "want to do this anymore." But all these years on Madison Avenue have taught us that wants and needs are two very different, often contradictory impulses. And so what followed was 10 hours of the once (and future?) Dick Whitman continuing to do the very same destructive things he'd been doing, including boozing, floozing, and detonating professional and personal relationships like he was trying out for the Weathermen (though — Season 7 spoiler alert! — that particular radical organization wouldn’t form until 1969) without a modicum of happiness, joy, or desire. Mercifully, in last night's season finale, Don appeared to get what he claimed he wanted via an express elevator headed straight to the bottom. And, unlike Season 4's drunken nadir, this time there wasn't a quick fix of daily swims and emo journaling to help cushion the fall.
One of the things that makes Matthew Weiner the best writer working in television today is his refusal to sugar the pill and make life easier for his protagonists. I suppose, then, that it's admirable he did the same for his devoted audience this year. Despite some adrenaline-ass-injection highs, Mad Men Season 6 was a tough watch. And while I liked where last night left us — strangely, Don's sudden, precipitous descent hinted at a potential happy ending that I never would have predicted for him even a week ago — the road there was bumpier than a flight in Ted Chaough's Cessna. I've already written at length about my frustrations with Season 6; suffice it to say that last night felt very much of a piece with what had come before. There was history repeating itself (Pete's mother dying in the same sea his father crashed into years before), there was the impossibility of re-creating happiness (California can't be Don and Megan's happy place), there was a sports car stuck in reverse.
[Previously on Mad Men Power Rankings: Don helps out Teddy in a meeting … Peggy sees a monster … Bob Benson shows off his Spanish … Sally goes to school … Harry counts his traveler's checks.]
1. Don Draper (last week: 1)
In an episode — a season-ending episode, no less — where Don Draper may have lost his marriage, lost his job (at least temporarily), lost his booze (at least temporarily), lost his Hershey bar, and lost a free shot at sun-kissed reinvention in California, how can he possibly hold on to the top spot in the Power Rankings? If this isn't a silhouette of a man plummeting out of a skyscraper, taunted all the way down by shades of his creation before becoming a shadow of a puddle on the Madison Avenue pavement below, this is a desperate man clinging to a ledge, his well-manicured fingernails carving furrows into the pigeon-despoiled concrete outside his office window. One could, conceivably, call this rock bottom; one could call this five minutes of jackhammering to a rubble-strewn spot below rock bottom.