How awesome does this look? David Fincher, bitches. Thanks, Mikhail.

As I was reading this story it occurred to me that the Republicans will try to use ye aulde false equivalency to try to say that the airing of this film, Seal Team Six two days before the election is as bad as a cable company in Ohio showing the propaganda fakumentary, Obama’s America 2016. It isn’t. One is based on a true story. The other is political propaganda. Here is how it’s going down right now on Page One of the NY Times:

In a joint interview on Tuesday Mr. Weinstein; the film’s director, John Stockwell; and others said the changes to the film were not politically motivated but were meant to give the film a stronger sense of realism. Some of the Obama moments were added at the suggestion of Mr. Weinstein, they said, using material gathered by Meghan O’Hara, a producer who worked closely with the documentarian Michael Moore on politically charged projects like “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Sicko.”

But Mr. Stockwell said he had included Mr. Obama as a character in his film from the beginning, and had actually shrunk his screen time somewhat. And Howard T. Owens, the chief executive of the National Geographic Channel, who joined the call, said his company had insisted on removing a scene that showed Mitt Romney appearing to oppose the raid.

“We wouldn’t air this if it were propaganda,” he said.

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If you’re watching The Girl on HBO you’ll have seen the screen test where Hitch directs Tippi Hedren. Hedren appears here far more flirtatious and sexy than Siena Miller plays her, however Miller’s performance is touching and vulnerable. Both she and Toby Jones make an interesting Hitch and Tippi – not quite exactly how the two were but serving this story well nonetheless. I suspect there is more to the story than we get from this film. You’ll also want to read the New Yorker’s Richard Brody’s piece on the film.

I watched The Girl with great interest, being that The Birds is one of my favorites of all of Hitchcock’s incomparable body of work. The Girl is an interesting snapshot of Hitchcock’s sexual and psychological obsession with Tippi Hedren. I don’t think the film quite gets to the real reason for this obsession.  Maybe part of it is that she exists almost entirely as a Hitchcock creation. She is plucked from obscurity – gets  a makeover into a classic Hitchcock blonde and then has her career ruined because she won’t accept his sexual advances.

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Wilshire and Washington points us to this great piece by Ken Burns, arguably one of the giants on PBS who makes, it should be said, non-partisan, much beloved documentaries like War, The Civil War, and the upcoming Dust Bowl.  I don’t want to live in a country that doesn’t value such a thing. Leave it up to the private sector only and it morphs into Keeping up with the Kardashians in minutes.  Burns writes a great defense of PBS by citing the conservative icon President Reagan:

In the middle of filming The Civil War in the late 1980s, I had the good fortune to meet with President Reagan in the White House. When I told him I was a PBS producer working on a series about the Civil War, his eyes lit up. He told me stories of seeing the old Union veterans marching down the center of Dixon, Ill., on the Fourth of July when he was a boy.

Then he asked me how it was funded. I said I received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (something else Romney has vowed to eliminate) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes this funding. Those funds had, in turn, brought in corporate and foundation monies.

Reagan put both hands on my shoulder and said, “That’s it! We need public-private partnerships. The government primes the pump, and then the private sector has the motivation to get involved. Good work! I can’t wait to see the finished film.”

He later wrote me a kind note about how much the series meant to him.


Bet Mitt Romney wishes he could cut off funding to National Geographic — and eliminate every other channel where Red State viewers might accidentally learn something.   6 weeks before Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty premieres, and — hey! — coincidentally two days before the presidential election, the National Geographic Channel plans to televise a feature film about the killing of Osama bin Laden. (NYT)  The film,  Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden, will stream on Netflix starting on Nov. 5.

“Seal Team Six” is a re-creation of the May 2011 killing of the terrorism mastermind, which was arguably the crowning national security achievement of President Obama’s term in office. Scheduling the premiere shortly before the election may turn the film into a political object, though a National Geographic Channel executive said Thursday night that politics was not a factor in the timing.

Instead, said Howard T. Owens, the channel’s president, said Nov. 4 was selected “to take advantage of our fall schedule” of shows, which will have their premieres in the days and weeks after “Seal Team Six.”

“Other than being commercially opportunistic, we weren’t considering the election,” Mr. Owens said.

The same questions were asked last year when a competing bin Laden film with a much bigger budget, “Zero Dark Thirty,” was tentatively scheduled for release in theaters shortly before Election Day, Nov. 6. Amid a partisan debate about whether the film would help Mr. Obama’s chances at the polls, Sony Pictures, the distributor, moved the premiere date to Dec. 19.

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Exciting news for me starving Fincher fans. As we eagerly await whether the genius director will take on the sequel to Dragon Tattoo (I really hope he does) we have House of Cards to look forward to. Here is the new poster and news from the NY Times:

“David Fincher, the director of “The Social Network,” “Zodiac” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” and an executive producer for “House of Cards,” directed its first two episodes, which are written by Beau Willimon (“The Ides of March”). Directors of subsequent episodes include James Foley (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), Joel Schumacher (“Falling Down”), Carl Franklin (“Devil in a Blue Dress”), Alan Coulter and Charles McDougall. The series is produced by the independent studio Media Rights Capital.”

“’House of Cards,’ for which Netflix has already committed to a second season, is the centerpiece in its growing slate of original programming, which also includes a new season of “Arrested Development”; “Hemlock Grove,” a murder mystery series from Eli Roth; and “Orange is the New Black,” a comedy whose creators include Jenji Kohan (“Weeds”). Netflix did not immediately say what time of day on Feb. 1 it will release “House of Cards,” but keep your finger near the refresh button.”

I am finding myself watching more Netflix and Amazon streaming — Netflix is working on is original programming and this should go a long way to move that along. Network TV is like a wasteland of reality programming.

That’s the reason this story’s lead is what Netflix plans to do; this might indeed greatly alter the landscape of TV. Movies will also start heading directly to Netflix for individual purchase.

drama 2

Outstanding Drama Series: Homeland
Outstanding Director for a Drama Series: Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire
Outstanding Writer for a Drama Series: Alex Ganza, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff, Homeland
Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series: Damian Lewis, Homeland
Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series: Clair Danes, Homeland
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Outstanding Comedy Series: Modern Family
Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series: Steve Levitan, Modern Family
Outstanding Writer for a Comedy Series: Louis C.K. for Louis
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series: Jon Cryer
Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Julie Bowen, Modern Family

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Well, just so you know, creating this contest form was not the most fun thing in the world. Too many categories, fairly exhausting. But one thing I will note — you can tell what they really really really REALLY like by how many nominations the thing gets in all categories, much like the Oscars. So that would mean Mad Men breaks an Emmy record and takes home the gold for best drama series and Modern Family wins again for comedy series. Downton Abbey is all over the place, too.

The only thing I’m personally rooting for is for Louis to win something. Louis CK getting Best Actor in a comedy series, or writing or directing. Beyond that, it would be nice to see Christina Hendricks get some Emmy love for Mad Men, Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson for Game Change.

Please enter our contest! The winner(s) will receive an Amazon gift card. Contest after the cut.

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Damian Lewis after the cut.

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The story that the writers for HBO’s The Newsroom had been fired, first reported on The Daily, was soon refuted by Aaron Sorkin facing the TV critics Association:

“A couple of weeks ago an unsourced and untrue story appeared in the Internet that then got picked up: The writing staff was not fired. Just seeing that in print is scaring the hell out of the writing staff,” he said. “They’re acting very strange — they’re coming to work early. … I love the writing staff — I thought that we did great this year, and it’s a fantastic group to work with. We had a ball. A couple of staffing changes were made that included promoting our two writers assistants to story editors, but the writing staff hasn’t been fired; I’m looking forward to coming back to work with them soon.” As for reports concerning Corinne Kingsbury, a staff writer on the show, Sorkin said: “She was identified as my ex-girlfriend — she is not.”

The Daily’s Soo Youn stands by her story, saying two different sources told her what went down and HBO confirmed:

The story was tossed around like soft dough before it hardened, seeming to validate Sorkin’s fear about the way news is shaped and bandied about on the fly these days.  But who is lying?  Soo Youn stands firmly behind her story and other sources have also investigated.

During the panel discussion, Sorkin was also asked repeatedly whether he thought the female characters on the show were given short shrift. He gave his answer:

 “I completely respect that opinion,” Sorkin said.  But I 100 percent disagree with it. I think the female characters are every bit the equals of the men.” He added he worked hard to establish that the women have qualities showing that they “care about others, reach high, are thoughtful, curious. …” Because “once you have those things down, you can have them slip on as many banana peels as you want.”

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There is probably nothing more frustrating than seeing a voice and a talent like Lena Dunham’s — maybe the coolest thing to happen to storytelling in a long while — being relegated to stories about how these girls’ lives are shaped and defined by the men they pursue. So you might be thinking, first it’s the racism thing, now it’s the sexism thing — why can’t Lena Dunham just be Lena Dunham? Why does she have to be “the voice of a generation”? Can’t she just create good material and leave it at that? And the answer to that, of course, is yes, she can. Her writing is witty enough, and the characters are interesting enough to keep this thing going through a second season and beyond. And who isn’t willing to follow Dunham throughout her growth as an artist? Who’s not curious to see where she’s headed next?

I certainly am. But I don’t know how long I can keep looking forward to Girls if every episode is going to revolve around this guy, that guy, this guy, that guy. In fact, I already know the answer: not long.

Why? Because this is the same story we women have been handed for decades now, especially BY women storytellers. The notion that a man can save you, or that you are incomplete without a man in your life is really the same ol’ same ol’. There are so many interesting voices of women out there whose lives aren’t centered solely around men. Young women, old women — it’s important to note, and to be reminded, that women have worthy narratives beyond their need for and their ability to land a man. If you watched Girls, knowing nothing about the real world, you’d think the purpose of four years at an expensive college and moving to New York is to launch a voyage of discovery narrowly mapped out to seek only one treasure — to find a man at the end of the rainbow. And if you don’t have a man, if you’re properly loved, you’re not worthy.

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The handful of reviews for HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn (premiering tonight) are all over the map. The Wall Street Journal says it’s “rich and impressively ambitious.”

Nothing in this film speaks for its mastery more decisively than its depiction of that war. Given all the time and detail lavished on that depiction, it’s clear that the film’s creators—director Philip Kaufman (“The Right Stuff”) and writers Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner—were betting on its power. A very good bet it was, too. Scene after wonderfully crowded scene evokes the color and tone of this bitterly ideological struggle, as do the militant songs—the choruses of “Viva La Quince Brigada” that come rumbling along, irresistible accompaniment to the battle scenes.

The Hollywood Reporter agrees, “the film looks rich and resplendent, perhaps at times even too spiffy and pristine. Geoffrey Kirkland’s production design and Ruth Myers’ costume design are nothing if not resourceful and evocative, with Rogier Stoffers’ cinematography enhancing all their color and atmospheric detail.”

Quite apart from its dramatic and visual qualities, the first thing to be noted about this kaleidoscopic biographical study is the way Kidman looks. The first image you see is of a strikingly beautiful older woman, 70ish, smoking and cementing viewer connection with her brilliant blue eyes as she scorns love and asserts her hunger for “what’s happening on the outside. Action!” She does resemble Kidman but looks too authentically old to actually be her. The question occurs: Did they get someone of the correct age — Julie Christie, Charlotte Rampling, Vanessa Redgrave — to play these interview scenes?

[If you want to see how Kidman looks octogenarianized in the opening shot, check her out.]

There are negative reviews too. Seek them out at Metacritic. Right now the thing itself is on the screen in the room with me, so I’m going to un-pause the DVR and find out for myself.

It’s time once again to write up a piece on a subject of which we here at Awards Daily know nothing about: the Emmys.  The Emmys are one step less lame than the Grammys, in my opinion, and both make the Oscars look like the jury awards at Cannes.

So we head on over to Gold Derby to check out the current Emmy odds. So here is how it’s shaking down and how we think it might go:

Best Drama
Mad Men – Gold Derby
Boardwalk Empire – Sasha Stone, Awards Daily
Friday Night Lights
The Good Wife
Game of Thrones

It’s pretty cool that they nominated Game of Thrones, I suppose.  To give credit where credit is due.  The weird thing about the Emmys is that by the time they roll around it always feels like buzz has shifted.  We have to remember where the buzz was when they voted, not where it is now.  But I feel like Boardwalk Empire has the buzz, though Mad Men is still the best show on TV (along with Breaking Bad).
Should have been there: Treme

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Snapped these shots of Julianne Moore and Ed Harris as Palin and McCain off the screen from an HBO preview tonight. Premieres in 2012. Two more after the cut.

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This isn’t a competitive category so there will be no winner on June 20th. I’m posting for two reasons. (a) It’s interesting to hear reliable advance word about promising series on the horizon, and (b) we’ll soon see for ourselves which of these new programs are genuinely outstanding so, in a sense, this list holds the TV Critics accountable. It’ll either help verify or cast doubt on their reliability. I think there’s general agreement that last week’s nominations were solid, with few surprises and no outright groaners.  But there’s already some sniping that today’s list smacks of “Best Newcomer” a la Golden Globes snuggling up to Pia Zadora.  While Pia never lived up to the honor, these series will each have an opportunity to prove worthy in a matter of weeks.

  • Alcatraz – Fox – Warner Bros.
  • Apartment 23 – ABC – 20th Century Fox
  • Awake – NBC – 20th Century Fox
  • Falling Skies – TNT – DreamWorks
  • New Girl – Fox – 20th Century Fox
  • Ringer – CW – Warner Bros
  • Smash – NBC – DreamWorks/Universal Media
  • Terra Nova – Fox – 20th Century Fox

The Critics Choice list is based on the pilots and any other subsequent episodes already available.

Sight unseen, which of these looks the most exciting to you?  We’ll be able to measure their eventual critical success by comparing Metacritic ratings in a couple of months.   Now’s your chance to go on record for bragging rights if you guess correctly which one scores highest.


First look provided by Patrick Heidmann (who sourced it here). Moore plays Palin in the upcoming Game Change.

(Thanks Jon Pace for the insider tip) Coming in May from HBO, Too Big To Fail recounts the catastrophic fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the global aftermath. An all-star cast including William Hurt, James Wood, Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shalhoub, Billy Crudup, Ed Asner, Bill Pullman and Paul Giamatti re-enact the worst financial disaster of our lifetime (thus far, at least.) Directed by Curtis Hansen (LA Confidential) the film is based on NY Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book of the same name.

Having the tome adapted for the premium cable network is an important part of educating the public, says Sorkin… Like the book on which it is based, the film will attempt to take viewers inside the room to see the choices that needed to be made as the economy went into a tailspin fueled by toxic mortgages two-plus years ago. ‚ÄúPeople don‚Äôt really appreciate how close to the edge we really were,‚Äù he says. ‚ÄúI think that this project puts that into perspective.‚Äù

It will also show the complexities of many of the period’s leading men. As Sorkin sees it, none of the crisis’ characters are quite as black and white as they’re often portrayed in the media. “There are moments where you want to take them up by the collar and say, ‘What the heck are you doing? You’re really screwing this up,’” he says. “And there are moments where you actually want to give them a pat on the back in a way probably that you wouldn’t have ever expected.” It is these kind of surprises that Sorkin believes make the 2008 period, as well as his work depicting it, so fascinating.

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This highbrow excerpt from a review at Cineme-Scope.com is adorned with vocabulary Veda Pierce herself might like to affect. Obscure enough to avoid spoilers for those on the West Coast where HBO’s Mildred Pierce is just beginning, but rousing enough to inspire our East Coast readers who’ve already seen tonight’s installments to offer their own impressions.

Claiming to be influenced by the ‚Äúlong-lens naturalism‚Äù of ‚Äò70s films such as The Godfather (1972) and Chinatown (1974), Haynes‚Äô style, augmented by cinematographer Ed Lachman‚Äôs muted colour scheme, is relatively restrained… But Haynes‚Äô talent for balancing intimacy with a distancing mise en sc√®ne in which the actors are viewed through windows, bars, or mirrors is gloriously Fassbinderian. Mildred may be less calculating than Maria Braun, or less of a victim than Martha in the Fassbinder film of the same name. Nevertheless, Mildred Pierce manages to balance operatic intensity with analytical prowess‚Äîit captures our current anxieties without falling prey to a Mad Men-like tendency to treat the past with blithe condescension.

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