Emmys

Handmaid's Tale

Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale drama series drops in April, just in time for prime Emmy consideration. How can the series sneak into contention?

On April 26, Hulu will release The Handmaid’s Tale. The drama series hails from the celebrated novel by Margaret Atwood about a handmaid named Offred (as in belonging to “Fred”) stuck in Gilead – a rebranded Cambridge, Massachusetts, following a successful overthrow of the American government. Religious fanatics dominate this society, one that stripped all women of their basic rights. They cannot own property or possess currency or hold a paying job. Women are merely wives or servants or whores or, perhaps worst of all, vessels for semen and procreation. Reduced to biology. Atwood published the original novel back in 1985 during the height of the Reagan era, and the material remains incredibly relevant today.

This year, Donald Trump took office on January 20. On January 21, millions of women and those who supported them marched in cities across the world. They donned their “pussy hats” and proudly carried protest signs. The news looked like nothing we’d seen since the Civil Rights era in the late 60s. People protested in The Handmaid’s Tale too. Until they were shot down. Then, shit got bad. Real bad.

The recent trailer offer this voice-over from Offred (Elisabeth Moss): “I was asleep before, that’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists and suspended the constitution, we didn’t wake up then either. Now I’m awake.”

In the face of such political resonance (more on that later), how can the Television Academy ignore the power of The Handmaid’s Tale? My head tells me too many shows sit in front of it, but my gut, my heart, tells another story. On last week’s Water Cooler Podcast, fellow Emmy watcher and friend Erik Anderson inferred that I’m banking too heavily on the show. Maybe. My heart leads me astray as often as it rewards me.

So, will The Handmaid’s Tale win major Emmy nominations in July? That’s a difficult question to answer since the property is largely sight unseen, although Hulu has scheduled multiple high-profile screenings in support. Traditionally, Emmy doesn’t respond well to freshman upstarts, but somehow this feels different. I’m convinced a path forward exists for a Drama Series Emmy nomination.

A wide-open field for Drama Series

This year, Emmy-winner Game of Thrones and perennial nominee Downton Abbey won’t factor into the major races. The Abbey closed its doors, and Game of Thrones premieres in the summer outside of the 2017 Emmy eligibility window. That frees two slots of last year’s nominees from the available seven Drama Series nominees. If we talk political resonance, The Americans seems destined to repeat last year’s series-first Drama nomination, if not outright win. Trump and his Russian connections dominate current political events, giving FX’s critically acclaimed series resonance that other series simply can’t match. Plus, it’s just a really great show.

Next, AMC’s Better Call Saul feels like a repeat contender after a favorable guild reaction this winter and a Emmy-friendly April Season 3 premiere date. House of Cards is a bit riskier. Already accused of elaborate soapiness, it competes with political reality, and who the hell can complete with that? Plus, it drops the day before the nomination window closes. People will binge the hell out of it, of course. It needs to be smarter/bigger/better than the headlines to make that fifth Drama Series nomination. I think that’s likely, but it’s not a slam dunk.

Assuming that gives us three, we have to assess Mr. Robot. Season 2’s early reviews quickly became raves as creator Sam Esmail took the director’s reigns for the entire season. Still, the wild story and sense of sophomore slump turned viewers off. Need proof? Season 2 saw a 50 percent drop in average viewers. Of the returning Drama Series nominees, Mr. Robot appears the most vulnerable, and NBC Universal feels it. The cast and creative are out like never before, beating the pavement to push the series back into the top seven. Right now, Mr. Robot teeters on the edge of Emmy.

So, let’s say we have three confirmed: The AmericansBetter Call Saul, and House of Cards. The Handmaid’s Tale has to be seen as better than Mr. RobotStranger ThingsThis Is UsThe Crown, and Westworld to break in. Stranger Things and This Is Us both appear to be massive culture phenoms. It’s in their favor that literally no one saw them coming as viable Emmy contenders. Netflix’s Emmy campaigning gets nominations, if not wins, so Stranger Things feels like a likely entry. That’s four confirmed.

This Is Us is the emotional wildcard coming from a network that hasn’t had a Drama Series nomination since Heroes. It wins the social media battle (don’t get on Twitter when This Is Us is on), but does that translate into Emmy votes? I’d be 100 percent behind it if had received that SAG nomination for the cast. Who else would push this actor-driven, large cast series forward? Still, the show will become the rallying cry for those working in network television tired of cable and streaming series dominating the Emmys. That plus the massive fan base pushes it forward.

That gives us five. Two slots for The CrownWestworld, and The Handmaid’s TaleThe Crown hails from Emmy-hungry Netflix, receives the backing of critics and guilds, and fills that British drama slot. It’s in. So, it’s down to two dystopian (tired of that word yet?) shows with similarly negative views of women and the future. How can The Handmaid’s Tale beat Westworld to the top seven?

A political powerhouse

Is The Handmaid’s Tale just a book or a television drama? Or is there more to it?

Today, as women’s health services – Planned Parenthood chief among them – face extinction thanks to federal defunding, women continue the fight for basic control of their own bodies. Health care access. Equal pay for equal work. The right to be President of the United States. It becomes increasingly difficult to surf headlines or watch reports on television and not equate modern politics to the supposed fictional world of The Handmaid’s Tale. The parallels between the novel and reality remain impossible to ignore.

We live in an era where Hillary Clinton almost shattered the glass ceiling for women in politics. Did you hear that sound? That tinkling of shattered glass falling to the ground? That’s not the sound of that shattered ceiling. That’s the sound of the millions of hearts broken as the more qualified, female candidate lost to… well, you know the story. It’s a story many are unwilling to relive because, frankly, they’re still living it. The wounds from Bernie v. Hillary v. The Donald have yet to heal. We’re not ready for that movie yet. At least, I’m not.

handmaid's Tale
(Photo: Hulu)

However, there is a certain sense of gratification or morbid attraction to a piece of dystopian fiction like The Handmaid’s Tale in an era such as ours. There’s a reason everybody all of a sudden rediscovered George Orwell’s 1984. It’s the same reason that people will gravitate toward The Handmaid’s Tale bleak sense of future trauma. We want to wallow in the misery. Need to point to something that illustrates our sense of outrage, of indignation that THIS happened. Need warning signs and evidence of What Could Happen if we’re not paying attention. Many will tell you we’re there already.

For others, The Handmaid’s Tale provides a classic political horror story to galvanize the opposition to the status quo. People need to remain focused on making progress and maintaining rights for all. The Handmaid’s Tale becomes a shining beacon as to how quickly we could go wrong.

You think I’m reaching? Read the book. Watch the series. The steps are there, folks. Margaret Atwood saw it back in 1985. We’ve forgotten or ignored the past, and where we’re headed is dark indeed.

Those criminally overlooked actresses

Hollywood struggles with diversity. Not just ethnicity but also in terms of gender diversity. 2016 provided a thirst-quenching oasis when a film like Arrival – a brilliant story entirely told from a woman’s perspective – received 8 Oscar nominations. The Handmaid’s Tale was once a film, but critics and audiences ignored it. Television, however, adores women. It adores women of all ages and ethnicities. Television gives women roles of lifetimes, characters so rich and powerful as to elevate even the weakest of material.

How To Get Away With MurderGrey’s AnatomyEmpireThe ExpanseThe Good FightBig Little LiesWestworldAmerican CrimeShots FiredFeud: Bette and JoanAmerican Horror Story: RoanokeThe CrownBlack MirrorThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

These shows range in quality, obviously, but they all give us female characters for the ages played by actresses often doing career-best work. The Handmaid’s Tale likely rises to the top of that bunch because it features three great actresses. Great actresses who, by the way, built up extensive good will with voters in previous Emmy-worthy series.

Star Elisabeth Moss never won an award for her work on Mad Men. Never. Won. A. Single. Award. We watched as her Peggy Olson rose up the advertising corporate ladder to become an incredibly complex and (shock) not particularly likable character. And that’s fantastic. Toss in some awards attention for her performance in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake, and you have a case for an underrated actress overdue for Emmy attention.

Samira Wiley broke onto the scene in Orange Is the New Black and became an unexpected fan favorite. After a buzzy Season 4 arc (no spoilers), she needs to prove she can deliver more than the tough prison lesbian with a poet’s heart. What better way to jump start that career than a role as a tough lesbian forced into heterosexual relations? Type-casting? Maybe but I bet it works, particularly since it’s a nice example of colorblind casting in a role that easily could have gone to a bigger name white or straight actress. No one would consider Wiley “overdue” for awards attention, but her immense good will from Orange Season 4 adds to Handmaid’s cache.

Ann Dowd. Is there another actress so criminally underrated as the great Ann Dowd? Enormously fun and brilliantly acted character work peppers her resume. Masters of SexThe LeftoversTrue DetectiveQuarry. Those shows provide her best roles of the past few years. Her role as “Aunt Lydia” in The Handmaid’s Tale tops them all. Hers is a role in which she will sink every last tooth. Easily a candidate for Supporting Actress in a Drama, Ann Dowd provides that go-to cache for quality. She’s always great, and she lends The Handmaid’s Tale even more gravitas given her reputation and conviction.

The Handmaid’s Tale may strip women of their rights as human beings, but these three actresses propel the story forward into heavy awards consideration. They give the audience a better entry point than the similarly themed but nearly impenetrable The Man in the High Castle. Still, an Emmy play won’t materialize if the overall property isn’t of high quality, so…

It has to be great

I’ve seen a small portion of the premiere episode. Not enough to judge the overall quality, of course, but enough to know the series will be in contention. Yet, in this continued Golden Era of Great Television, a television show must be more than buzzy. It must be bigger than its cast or creative. The direction must be 100 percent on-point. The writing must be stellar. All elements must come together without flaw. The competition for Drama Series remains a gladiator fight to the death thanks to the overwhelming array of great television laid out for the Television Academy to choose.

The Handmaid’s Tale will air 8 episodes by the close of the Emmy voting window on May 31. The first season finale airs during the first week of the Emmy nomination voting period. There will be ample evidence and opportunity for success, but the show has to earn it. Critics have to be behind it. It must become a part of the television lexicon in the early Summer. Political resonance – trading the “pussy hats” for white blinders – gets it halfway there. It just needs to be great television.

Ultimately, that is how The Handmaid’s Tale can enter the final seven nominees for Outstanding Drama Series. Can it do it? Absolutely. It just has to be good enough to earn it.

Will it? We shall see.

Praise be.

(Photo: Hulu)

drama actor race

Jalal looks at the Oscar nominees battling for a drama actor race nomination and the surprise actor on his way to becoming the most popular man on TV.

With Bloodline not returning until the summer, one new name will enter the the Lead Actor in a Drama series race. Without a clear frontrunner, at least four Oscar winners and nominees are battling it out against a surprising new Emmy favorite. In fact, there are so many fresh names in contention this year that it raises the question of what old favorites are most vulnerable in the drama actor race?

Top Contenders

Rami Malek, Mr. Robot Mr. Robot Season 2 received a controversial reaction, but the one element everyone seems to agree on is that Rami Malek’s performance has gotten even better. Thinking of his performance, I immediately replay that horrifying scene of him digging through vomit to find that pill he re-swallows. So, even if Mr. Robot misses out on a second drama series nomination, the acting branch seem certain to carry Malek into frontrunner status again with a performance most actors would kill to have.

Matthew Rhys, The Americans – After breaking into the Emmy race in a big way last year, it’s hard to imagine Emmy voters dropping The Americans in any race, including Matthew Rhys in the lead drama actor race. In fact he might even have a higher profile with Emmy voters this year after a chilling guest spot in the “American Bitch” episode of Girls, which might just be remembered as the single best episode of television in 2017.

(Photo: USA)
Possibilities 

Sterling K Brown, This Is Us – Over the past year, Sterling K. Brown became one of the most beloved actors consistently working in television. After winning an Emmy as well as two SAG nominations, he seemed like an obvious contender for supporting actor for his ensemble work on This Is Us. Recently, though, murmurs persist of him potentially submitting in the lead race. Brown’s Randall quickly became the most endearing new character of the TV season, juggling the perfect family with issues of adoption, long lost parents, and anxiety issues. As a member of a large ensemble, he might have a harder time breaking into a lead acting race, but if voters fall in love with This Is Us he might just become a surprise contender to win. Is Sterling K. Brown the most popular actor on TV?

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan Somehow without anyone ever admitting to religiously watching Ray Donovan, Liev Schreiber has been an awards staple with multiple nominations from the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Critics Choice. Still, the eligible season will be nearly a year old by the time voters fill out their ballot, giving many new actors the chance to gain a bit of buzz while Schreiber and Donovan fade to the background.

Tom Hardy, Taboo – While Taboo originally appeared to be a limited series, Hardy announced earlier this week that the show received a second season renewal. Taboo doesn’t seem like the type of show that will compete at the Emmys, but the dark period thriller was a surprise hit for FX. The popularity of the show mixed with Hardy’s undeniable star power might bring him to a surprise first Emmy nomination.

Jude Law, The Young Pope – Last year, Emmy voters surprised everyone by proving they won’t blindly vote for an HBO show simply because it’s in contention. That might be bad news for The Young Pope, although voters might be swayed by the movie star charm of Jude Law (if even still has it?). As pretentious and surprisingly enexciting as The Young Pope may be, it’s still the best material Law has had to work with in years which might be enough for voters to welcome him back to an awards show.

(Photo: HBO)
Worth Mentioning

Anthony Hopkins, Westworld – Hopkins hasn’t been nominated for an Emmy since before I was born, but if anything is going to push the Oscar winner into awards consideration, it’s an HBO hit like Westworld. Hopkin’s Dr. Robert Ford is the mastermind behind the entire first season, but surprisingly he doesn’t have a lot of awards friendly material. While the rest of the massive ensemble has the robotic physicality as well as the western terrain to play with, Hopkins is consistently cool and collected. He would have been a much surer bet in the supporting race, but if voters really respond to Westworld, he could make it in.

Billy Bob Thornton, Goliath – He may have won the Golden Globe, but that feels like an HFPA anomaly. Amazon streamed Goliath for five months now, and I have yet to interact with someone who can confidently tell me what the show is about (after a quick Google search it appears to be about a once successful lawyer now alcoholic). If the show had any more buzz around it, Thornton might be able to earn an Emmy nom, but there needs to be proof that anyone besides a foreign journalist has tuned in.

Paul Giamatti, Billions Giamatti used to be the type of character actors that Emmy voters adored, even nominating him for small guest spots on shows like Inside Amy Schumer and Downton Abbey. However, for whatever reason, voters ignored him in the first season of Showtime’s Billions. In a year with at least one spot up for grabs, Showtime might be able to sneak Giamatti in, although there likely won’t be any passion behind him.

(Photo: FX)
Yet to Premiere

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards – Kevin Spacey just lost the SAG award for the first time in three years. However, as the biggest movie star (and two time Oscar winner), he isn’t going anywhere at the Emmys. Netflix is holding off on releasing the fifth season of House of Cards until the end of May, which might keep the show even more so at the forefront of voters’ minds. Depending the Season 5 reception, he might actually become a contender to win his first award.

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul – Season 3 premieres in April. Still, if the guilds provide any indication, Better Call Saul‘s passionate and determined fanbase will likely lead to Odenkirk earning his twelfth career nomination.

Justin Theroux, The Leftovers – HBO had a rough start releasing the first season of The Leftovers. Initially, fans and critics cooled to the show’s bleak premise, and Emmy voters ignored the show. The second season earned a huge boost from critics (15 points on Metacritic) that resulted in a surprise cult following. Now for the third and final season, HBO gave the show the spring slot generally reserved for Game of Thrones hinting at a TV sendoff worthy of awards contention. If his material is anywhere close to crawling out of a bathtub naked again, Theroux might be able to end his time on The Leftovers with the first nomination of his career.

Early Predictions

1. Rami Malek, Mr. Robot
2. Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
3. Matthew Rhys, The Americans
4. Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
5. Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
6. Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

———————
7. Tom Hardy, Taboo
8. Jude Law, The Young Pope
9. Justin Theroux, The Leftovers
10. Anthony Hopkins, Westworld 

2017 Emmy dates

The Television Academy published today the official 2017 Emmy dates including nomination round voting, final round voting, and dates for the ceremonies.

The Television Academy announced final 2017 Emmy dates, today. Everything falls pretty much into expected alignment leading up to September 17’s final broadcast. The Emmy eligibility window ends May 31 with first round voting kicking off June 12. See below for the list of official 2017 Emmy dates.

The Television Academy also announced today category placement for two shows. Granted, these shows most likely won’t be in contention for top awards (with one potential exception). Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, despite being an hour-long show, will enter as a comedy. Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything will enter as a half-hour drama. As a reminder, hour-long series enter into contention automatically as dramas unless the production petitions otherwise. The 9-member Television Academy reviewing panel approved these executions.

The reclassification likely won’t change Z‘s Emmy fortunes other than degrade it further. The series met with a mixed critical reaction when it premiered, and drama entries face an uphill battle due to packed categories. That’s especially true after The Young Pope and The Handmaid’s Tale appeared to move into the drama race. They originally appeared to land in the limited series categories, which wouldn’t have helped there either. Limited series continues to be the toughest category of the Emmys. 

Unfortunate‘s Neil Patrick Harris most directly benefits from the change as he now has a path toward a Comedy Actor Emmy nomination.

Here are the official 2017 Emmy dates as confirmed by the Television Academy:

  • March 20: Online entry process begins (Emmys.com)
  • May 1: Entry deadline
  • June 12: Online voting begins for nomination round
  • June 26: Online voting ends for nomination round
  • July 13: Nominations announcemed
  • August 14: Online voting begins for final round
  • August 28: Online voting ends for final round
  • September 9 & 10: Creative Arts Awards and Ball
  • September 17: 69th Primetime Emmy Awards and Governors Ball

Comedy Series Race

With possibly all seven of last year’s nominees returning, Jalal looks at what might be shaping up to be the most boring comedy series race in recent years.

Unlike this year’s drama series race, the comedy series race at the Emmys doesn’t have many new options for voters to choose from. In fact, the options might be so thin that the only choice voters will have to make is which of last year’s nominees are they going to bump out to make room for Atlanta.

Top Contenders

Atlanta – Just about every awards group from the HFPA to PGA agreed that Atlanta was the best comedy of 2016, turning Donald Glover’s new show into Veep’s biggest competition in just about every major category including comedy series, directing, and writing. Months ago, we questioned whether or not the show was too edgy for older more conservative voters, but guild voters have proven that theory wrong.

black-ish – In the middle of its third season black-ish has finally started to receive the widespread praise it deserves. Tracee Ellis Ross won her first Golden Globe and the cast earned their first SAG ensemble turning the Johnsons into the most popular TV family. Now that voters have started paying attention to black-ish, they’ll continue rewarding it with nominations. The only question is whether or not they’ll celebrate the comedy with even more nominations including recognition in writing and directing.

(Photo: Amazon)
Possibilities

Modern Family – For the past few years, Emmy voters have been slowly dropping Modern Family nomination by nomination to the point where it’s only a matter of time until Emmy voters drop the show altogether. Once again however Modern Family earned some guild support including a SAG ensemble nomination as well as another sound mixing award. These nominations might hint at voters that will mark the show off on their ballots no matter what.

Transparent – In the past, Emmy voters have eventually turned on dramedies in the comedy race and this year Transparent seems to be quickly losing steam. The guild support for the show simply wasn’t there even though it’s still one of the best shows on TV even if it’s not a comedy. The lackluster enthusiasm in the end might simply be because voters haven’t actually watched the third season yet and will get around to it once Amazon sends out screeners.

(Photo: HBO)
Worth Mentioning

Girls – Emmy voters have mostly moved on from Girls, but over the past five seasons the show has earned 15 nominations and two wins, including a surprising win for Peter Scolari last year after he was named as a replacement nominee. If the final season of Girls continues delivering some of the best episodes of the entire series, then enough voters might feel inclined to reward Lena Dunham for six years of work.

Insecure – If critics had their way, the first season of Insecure would be a massive contender. Unfortunately Issa Rae’s debut comedy didn’t seem to make a big impact, especially at the guild awards. HBO has a great track record of selling their new shows to Emmy voters, and if they utilize an underwhelming comedy race Insecure could become a surprising dark horse contender.

Yet to Premiere

Veep – It’s almost impossible imagining any other show usurping Veep in its farewell season unless the show completely jumps the shark now that Selina Meyer is out of the White House. Until Veep comes back for a final time in April the safe bet is just to assume Veep will continue its recent Emmy streak.

Silicon Valley – The odd industry obsession with Silicon Valley is frustrating at times simply because their love for the show doesn’t waiver based on the quality of the season and every group seems to love the show including the Art Directors Guild. Unless the upcoming fourth season somehow upsets voters it will likely return.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – The third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt doesn’t premiere until mid-May but the teaser trailer of Titus destroying his boyfriend’s truck à la Beyoncé’s “Hold Up” at least promises we’ll have another season full of Titus & Mikey. The second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had a bit of a slump at the Emmys but surprisingly had a comeback throughout the guild awards hinting at support for the show throughout the industry. If Tina Fey keeps the show consistent throughout the third season it will likely return and if Netflix becomes more strategic with their episode submissions the show might even earn its first writing and directing nods.

Master of None – Netflix has yet to announce a premiere date for the highly anticipated second season of Master of None but it has been highly reported that it will be eligible for this year’s Emmys. If Netflix waits to release the second season until the eleventh hour they risk Emmy voters not having enough time to watch it and remind themselves how much they love the Emmy winning series. From the little that is known about the second season Lena Waithe’s Denise will likely have a  bigger role and Angela Bassett is even signed on in a guest role as her mom so if voters respond well to the sophomore season the show has the potential to expand its Emmy recognition as well.

 

Early Predictions
1. Veep
2. Atlanta
3. black-ish
4. Silicon Valley
5. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
6. Modern Family
7. Transparent
———————
8. Master of None
9. Girls
10. Insecure
What comedies are you predicting to make the cut this year? Are we underestimating any comedies this year? Could a new streaming show like Fleabag or the third season of Catastrophe earn a nomination out of nowwhere?

NBC Universal

NBC Universal hosted an Emmy lunch featuring their top players in the 2017 Emmy season. AwardsDaily TV’s Jazz Tangcay covered the event.

NBC Universal made a start with their Emmy campaign this week with a luncheon at Ysabel’s in Hollywood. In attendance was a who’s who of TV, Jennifer Lopez sat in on corner representing her NBC show, Shades of Blue. Ben Feldman and America Ferrera sat in another talking about their comedy Superstore. Derek Hough dazzled talking about Hairspray Live. Milo Ventimiglia, Justin Hartley, Chris Sullivan and Ron Cephas Jones from This is Us also attended.

This is Us emerged as the surprise breakout hit of the season and the number one show at NBC. It’s an emotional and compelling drama and a huge hit with viewers as well as critics. Sullivan and Ventimiglia didn’t divulge any spoilers about the show. Both praised fans on social media for keeping silent on the show when it airs, only expressing surprise or grief as reactions to what happens in an episode. Both actors also said they were enjoying their break during filming, joking about how they were looking forward to having tacos and discussed their favorite local taco spots. Ventimiglia’s arm was in a cast and will be back in action when the show starts filming Season 2 later this year.

I caught up with Tituss Burgess from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a favorite of the AwardsDaily TV gang. I also had a chat with Carol Kane who revealed her character will have a new boyfriend when Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns on May 19. She didn’t divulge much more than that, so we’ll just have to wait until the new season premieres.

Writer Michael Schur was at another table with the cast of The Good Place, Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. Schur and all were thrilled that the viewer never quite knows what’s going to happen from one episode to the next. That’s just how he likes it. If you haven’t seen the Season 1 finale, you’re in for quite the surprise with what happens. He is already back writing the next season, due to start shooting in April.

I sat down with Jennifer Lopez, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Jack Orman who were there representing Shades of Blue which premiered Season 2 on Sunday night. It won the time slot for NBC, and that was something everyone was delighted about. Goldsmith-Thomas discussed the tweet party Lopez held at her house on Sunday night to celebrate the new episode airing inviting cast, crew and friends for a viewing and tweeting party. Thomas pointed out how the crew, “Protects each other. They love each other. They shoot two episodes at once. It’s hard.”

Lopez added, “Everyone’s in it to win it. Me and them (Thomas and Orman) set the tone that we’re doing work that is important to us and that we’re proud of. Everybody takes a great sense of pride in the show that we’re making.”

Thomas mentioned that she came to TV because “the best writing is on TV and we’re making 13 little movies a year.”

The cast of Shades of Blue makes for phenomenal Sunday night viewing and includes Lopez, Ray Liotta, Drea De Matteo as the crooked NYPD cops all working on the anti-corruption Task Force. Warren Kole plays the FBI agent assigned to the task force and challenges their loyalty. I joked that after watching the premiere I wanted to punch him. Lopez replied, “He gets better and better every episode. I loved him from the beginning when he came in to audition and watching him create this character and get so comfortable in it, and really push the envelope, it’s so impressive.” Orman added jokingly, “My son said to me, “You found a new way to make him more creepy.”

Lopez and Thomas both said it’s an exciting time to be at NBC and on TV. “Jennifer is fearless and wanted to dive into it because it’s a great role.” Lopez has already started thinking about Season 3. Aside from Shades of Blue, Lopez is in the second year of her Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood. She’s also developing World of Dance, a dance competition series for NBC, and at the end of the year will star and produce the live TV production of Bye Bye Birdie. I asked if she was up for directing an episode of the show, she said, “We talk about it. Maybe. It might be time. It has to be at a time when I’m not doing anything else.”

I also had a brief sit down with my friends over at Gold Derby, Tom O’Neil and Marcus Dixon, who were with the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cast, joined by Jane Krakowski. O’Neil was explaining how the Oscar and Emmy voting systems work much to everyone’s fascination. Krakowski and Kane had no shortage of questions for O’ Neil.

As much as Clarence would have liked me to, sadly, I didn’t get the opportunity to talk to Kerry Ehrin who was there talking about Bates Motel. So, I couldn’t find anything out about the new and final season.

And so we move forth with Emmy campaigning.

drama series race

In a first look at the Emmys drama series race, Jalal lays out what shows are competing for top drama series and what shows are falling from grace.

Not even a week after the most significant moment of our lifetime (Moonlight, people. Moonlight.),  and we’re jumping right into Emmy season. For the first time in years, the drama series race is wide open with three new shows competing against popular favorites that have been waiting years for the chance at the top award now that Game of Thrones is in hiatus.

Top Contenders

Stranger Things – After winning the top SAG and Producers Guild awards of the year, Stranger Things seems poised to become the most unlikely Emmy winner in the history of the award. Popular genre hits don’t usually get anywhere close to major Emmy awards, but America has gone crazy for the upside down and Millie Bobby Brown to the point where no one can escape. The show’s only major detractor is how early in the year the first season premiered, but Netflix has done a great job at keeping the show relevant with constant appearances by the actors at awards shows and talk shows as well as updates on the second season.

The Crown – As the first major costume drama to premiere post Downton Abbey, it’s automatically assumed that The Crown will be a major contender, but just how popular will it be? The show is clearly a hit with costume designers, art directors, and actors. The big question is whether or not Netflix will campaign the The Crown to the same extent they will push their other major dramas on the other voters?

WestworldWestworld premiered as HBO’s answer to the eventual end of Game of Thrones. It offered a 10-week first season that seemed to be spiraling into a cultural phenomenon and began the season as a potential front runner in a year without any of the voters’ old favorites. After being nominated by every award group without any major wins, it seems that voters are more likely to admire the show than they are to reward it. That’s similar to Game of Thrones first few seasons.

Possibilities

Mr. Robot – It’s crazy to think that, after a breakout first season where some critics hailed the show as the future of television, that Mr. Robot might be forgotten in a classic sophomore slump. The second season premiered last summer to great reviews, but an usually tepid reaction from fans resulted in the show being virtually shutout from just about every major guild as well as the top award at the Golden Globes which it had won just the year before. Voters typically stick with a show for a few years once they bring it into the club, but in a year with so many more accessible new shows Mr. Robot could get left out of the top award.

Homeland – The one time best drama winner has had a fickle relationship with Emmy voters over the past six years. It went from one time favorite to being left out in a truly awful year to sneaking back into the drama series race. Now with Homeland constantly dwindling in terms of nominations this might be the year where it gets booted for good.

This Is Us – No network drama has been nominated for best series since The Good Wife in 2011 (unless you count Downton Abbey). With television quality at an all time high, it would take a pretty special show to standout to voters. Voter snobbery aside, there seems to be a lot of people in 2017 with a need for a sentimental family drama. However, there is a bigger chance the show shows up in other races like supporting actor, writing, and casting, while still missing out on the top award.

Worth Mentioning

Ray Donovan – The focus has been on the plethora of new dramas this year, but there is a chance that an old favorite might sneak in. Over the years voters have shown that they love Ray Donovan, especially last year when in the third season the show earned three acting nominations as well as a directing nod.

The Young Pope – Oscar winning director Paolo Sorrentino’s first attempt at television is definitely a prestige series starring Jude Law and Diana Keaton about the bizarre inner workings of the Vatican but European pretension doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful Emmy series. My initial impression of the show is that it isn’t provocative enough to excite Emmy voters especially in a drama series race overflowing with pop culture phenomenons and crowd pleasers but if anyone knows how to push a show like The Young Pope it’s HBO. In the end their best bet at a nomination is probably with the show’s cast whether it be Jude Law or Diane Keaton. Note: This show could be submitted in the Limited Series category.

drama series race
(Photo: FX)
Yet to Premiere

Better Call Saul – AMC pushed back the third season of the Breaking Bad spinoff to April, which is probably a good sign for the show’s Emmy chances. Saul has been a constant Emmy player for the past two years and constantly fills up various guild awards including 3/5s of one ACE Eddie category and four WGA nominations.

The Americans – After a breakout year at the Emmys last year, there were some questions on whether or not the Russian spy saga could become a major contender to actually win this year in such a wide open race. Now that the Writers Guild named it the best drama of 2016, there is at least proof that there is enough excitement behind the show. In a year dominated by sci-fi and fantasy shows, The Americans might seem important enough to pull ahead depending on how well-liked the upcoming fifth season is after it premieres next week.

House of Cards – The borderline campy political thriller has had an interesting couple of years at the Emmys, always over-performing in terms of nominations (especially with actors) but almost always failing to actually win an award. Even actors might be moving on from the show after the fourth season was left out of the drama ensemble race at SAG. Netflix isn’t releasing the newest installment of the show until the day before the Emmy eligibility window ends, which might help keep the show at the forefront of Emmy voters minds or not give them enough time to actually watch the show before voting.

Early Predictions

1. Stranger Things
2. The Crown
3. Westworld
4. The Americans
5. Better Call Saul
6. House of Cards
7. Mr. Robot
———————
8. Homeland
9. This Is Us
10. Ray Donovan
11. The Young Pope

The first six seem like obvious Emmy choices. The only unknown is how new seasons of Better Call Saul, The Americans, and House of Cards are received. Underwhelming seasons of Mr. Robot and Homeland will probably be battling it out for the final slot. In the end, even with lukewarm reactions, voters will probably bring Mr. Robot back for the second season simply because the show feels important and voters aren’t so quick to abandon shows they once loved so quickly.

What drama are you predicting to take the top award? Are there any dramas being underestimated right now?

Primetime Emmy

The Television Academy announced two new categories for the Primetime Emmy ceremony in music and reality casting categories.

The Television Academy announced today the addition of two new categories for the Primetime Emmy ceremony. As if they needed more categories… Artists involved with Outstanding Music Supervision and Outstanding Casting in a Reality Series will receive Emmy consideration for the first time. The Television Academy also announced oher 2017 rules and procedure modifications.

Here is the official Television Academy press release detailing the changes.

TELEVISION ACADEMY ANNOUNCES NEW PRIMETIME EMMY® CATEGORIES: OUTSTANDING MUSIC SUPERVISION AND OUTSTANDING CASTING IN A REALITY SERIES

As Emmy season approaches, the Television Academy Board of Governors announced today new rules changes for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards competition.

A new Emmy category, Outstanding Music Supervision, will acknowledge the creative contributions made by the music supervisor to the music of any television program. In addition, Outstanding Casting in a Reality Series has been added to recognize casting directors responsible for identifying and assembling ensemble casts for structured, unstructured or competition programs within the Reality genre.

“In our ever-changing world of television, it’s important to annually evaluate and refine the rules of Emmy competition,” said Hayma Washington, Television Academy Chairman and CEO. “We are keeping pace with industry innovators, and recognizing excellence within new and changing genres and platforms.”

In addition, other approved Primetime Emmy Awards rules and procedures modifications for 2017 include:

  • Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series is now split into Cinematography for One–Hour Series and for Half-Hour Series.
  • Converted, retitled and redefined former juried awards into new interactive media category awards:
    • Outstanding Interactive Program (Existing category award)
    • Outstanding Original Interactive Program (New category award)
    • Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media Within A Scripted Program (New category award)
    • Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media Within An Unscripted Program (New category award)
    • Outstanding Innovation In Interactive Programming (New juried award)

Where does Alec Baldwin stand in the 2017 Emmy race? Can he Trump-up a win?

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live announced that Alec Baldwin would host the upcoming 14th episode of the season after popping up throughout the season to impersonate Donald Trump. This will mark his 11th appearance of the season, and his 17th time hosting overall. Assuming this is another 21-episode season, the move completely changes the Emmy conversation considering the “less than 50% rule” the Television Academy implemented two years ago. Any performer appearing in 50% or more of a season isn’t eligible in the guest races. Alec Baldwin will now compete in the supporting actor race, an unprecedented move for someone who isn’t even member of the SNL cast.

Even while appearing in a single sketch per episode, his presence in popular culture has been stronger than all seven of last year’s nominees combined. Whether through a simple sniff or his pronunciation of “China,” Baldwin became the viral hit of SNL. That coupled with the real-life Twitter jabs between Baldwin and Trump turned the performance into a major talking point on every news program from Fox to MSNBC. Also, Baldwin’s status as an awards industry staple (16 Emmy nominations with 2 wins) probably makes him both a strong threat for a nomination and a strong contender to win.

If nominated, he would become the sixth Saturday Night Live performer in a supporting category, but he would make Emmy history as the first SNL guest to compete in a bigger race. After eight years of continuous losses, SNL finally won its first supporting award. Opening up the Academy’s voting procedures ushered in Kate McKinnon’s win. That type of popular vote might propel Alec Baldwin into frontrunner status. That’s especially possible if enough voters want to use their ballot as a small form of protest and send a message to the 45th President.

Alec Baldwin
(Photo: NBC)

A Brief History of SNL Politics at the Emmys

Emmy voters have always been partial to SNL political impersonators. The Academy rewarded Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin and rewarded Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton by breaking the cast member Emmy curse. At least ten nominated performers have been recognized parallel to some iconic portrayals over the years, and although it’s debatable whether to credit their nominations solely to their presidential caricatures, one can’t deny the lasting impact they have had. From Chevy Chase’s constantly stumbling Ford to Tina’s signature “I can see Russia from my house,” these Emmy-nominated performances dictated how audiences viewed these figures.

1976 – Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford*

1978 – Dan Ackroyd as Jimmy Carter

1984 – Joe Discopo as Ronald Reagan

1989-1993 – Dana Carvey as George H. W. Bush*

1994 – Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton

2001 – Will Ferrell as George W. Bush

2009 – Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton

2009 – Tina Fey as Sarah Palin*

2016 – Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton*

2016 – Larry David as Bernie Sanders

* Indicates Emmy Winner

 

Which of these Emmy nominated performances is your favorite? Is Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump strong enough to last throughout the Emmy season? Sound off in the comments below!

2017 Emmy Host

2017 Emmy Host Stephen Colbert will lead the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards

Late Show host Stephen Colbert will host the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, according to host network CBS. This marks Colbert’s first major awards show hosting gig. This announcement as 2017 Emmy Host puts Colbert in great company. Fellow late night hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and James Corden all host recent or upcoming awards shows. Colbert’s Emmy haul amassed 27 nominations and nine wins.

“We’re excited to kick off the new season and celebrate the top achievements in television with Stephen Colbert as host of the Primetime Emmys,” said Jack Sussman, CBS Entertainment EVP of specials, music and live events. “Stephen is the ultimate master of ceremonies with award-winning creative talents, and as we’ve seen the past few months, he has a fearless passion for live television. We look forward to honoring television’s best while entertaining audiences with the creative energy and sharp comedy of Stephen Colbert.”

The 69th Primetime Emmy Awards airs Sunday, September 17, on CBS beginning at 8pm ET.

insecure

Megan looks at the Emmy potential for HBO’s critically acclaimed Insecure

One quibble with the show Insecure is its title, the fact that implies that its heroine, Issa Rae (or in the show’s case, Issa Dee), is hesitant or scared, when what we see onscreen is a strong woman, mining her way through relationships and career decisions. But there’s a reason for that.

“There’s this idea [on TV] that black women can’t be as insecure as white women or any other women,” Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny explained in an interview with AwardsDaily TV. And that makes sense. When you think of Viola Davis or Kerry Washington, you don’t think of their characters getting to let their hair down and mess things up. They’re simply not getting the opportunity to rap “Broken Pussy” to themselves in the mirror.

Which is where Rae comes in, arriving at a point in television when voices like hers are need to be heard. The Golden Globes certainly have fallen in love with Rae, giving her a shot at the beloved Ingenue award (aka Best Actress Comedy or Musical). But will the Emmys feel the same?

Maybe. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is probably another guaranteed nomination in this category in 2017, especially when it will be Veep‘s final season. Tracee Ellis Ross will probably get in again for Black-ish, too. While slated for Season 5, Inside Amy Schumer may not be coming back in 2017, which could leave that spot open. Ellie Kemper could get in for Season 3 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but this isn’t a guarantee since she didn’t get in for Season 1. Getting On is over, so Laurie Metcalf won’t be getting in in 2017.  Finally, Lily Tomlin could likely get in for Grace & Frankie, since she’s been nominated for each season of the series so far.

That leaves three available spots. Who will she be competing with? Sarah Jessica Parker for Divorce (who’s a big threat); Rachel Bloom for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend; and Gina Rodriguez for Jane the Virgin.

In the Comedy Series categories, including writing and direction, it’s pretty crowded. Insecure would be competing against VeepBlack-ish, Silicon Valley, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Transparent, Master of None, and Divorce. 

Although what if Insecure got a nod for Outstanding Original Music for “Broken Pussy”? That’d be cool AF.

Final Verdict

Insecure’s best bet for a nomination is Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. Here’s how the Emmy nominations could end up in that category. One thing Insecure has going for it that some other shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend don’t have going for it is that it’s on HBO (the Emmys rarely recognize CW).

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep

Sarah Jessica Parker – Divorce

Issa Rae – Insecure

Lily Tomlin – Grace & Frankie

Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish

 

Breakdown

Most Likely Nominations
Actress – Comedy

Possible Nominations
Comedy Series
Direction
Writing
Original Music

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