2011 Emmy Predictions

NOTE: Items marked in bold are the ones I got wrong…

Just a quick list. Will have more detailed explanation in my podcast, MBH116, which should be out tomorrow.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The Amazing Race

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce

Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

Edgar Ramirez, Carlos

Mildred Pierce

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Betty White, Hot in Cleveland

Martha Plimpton, Raising Hope

Louis C.K., Louie

Louie, “Poker/Divorce”

Modern Family, “Halloween”

Modern Family

Margo Martindale, Justified

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife

Hugh Laurie, House (Happy to get this one wrong! Kyle Chandler! Swoon!)



The Good Wife Really? Mad Men only wins HAIRSTYLING and DRAMA SERIES? Really?

Congratulations to all the nominees, and all those who didn’t get nominated, but nonetheless turned in great work this year.

FOX: Raising Hope, the gem of Paley Fest

I knew nothing about “Raising Hope” walking into the Paley Fest evening. Didn’t have much hope for it, either. In the end, it was the only show, over many nights, which elicited CHEERS from the crowds at the end.

Of all these shows featuring earnest handsome leads, Lucas Neff as Jimmy is the best of them. Created by the same talents which brought us the charming and quirky “My Name Is Earl” (Greg Garcia), “Raising Hope” is funny. Laugh out loud funny. The funniest of all these comedies paraded to us during Paley Fest.

I’ll let you discover the little gems on your own, but here’s the family you’ll be watching: the always amazing (and I predict an Emmy in her future right here and now) Martha Plimpton as the mom, Garret Dillahunt (whom you know from “Deadwood” and other dramas) is the dad. Cloris Leachman frequently takes her clothes off as the grandmother.

It’s sweet, it’s poignant, it’s damn funny. You must watch it. In fact, if you watch one thing you weren’t otherwise going to watch from the Paley Fest schedule, make it this one. It follows “Glee,” but it’s much funnier.

Did I mention there’s a baby? Normally, I hate babies, but this baby rocks. Watch it.

BOTTOM LINE: “Raising Hope” is the highlight of Paley Fest 2010 fall season.

CBS: Mike and Molly Wins Hearts

So we who are viewing this Paley Center extravaganza are slogging through these selected dramas and comedies. Eh to this one. Eh to that one. I have to admit, the one I was most excited about, of all the shows presented was “Mike & Molly.”

I’ve long admired Melissa McCarthy, who was the devoted friend of Lauren Graham’s character on the many years of “Gilmore Girls.” She was also the devoted friend on the recent Christina Applegate comedy, “Samantha Who?” (Are we seeing a pattern here?)

BOY, and I mean, BOY, am I excited to see her finally headlining her own show. She’s long been an underrated talent. Billy Gardell, primarily known from the standup world, seems to be her match. A strong supporting cast includes Swoozie Kurtz.

The fat jokes may get tiresome after a while, but the pilot (with Chuck Lorre’s influence) was a sparkling gem.

BOTTOM LINE: This is the one show I rushed home to program into my TiVo.

CBS: Still Churning Out What Works

First up, the comedy that used to be called “Shit My Dad Says” when it was on the Internet; now, it’s written as “$@#% My Dad Says,” but pronounced as “BLEEP My Dad Says.” *eyeroll*

You really almost can’t go wrong with Shatner. Everyone loves Shatner. If there’s a male to rival Betty White in popularity and longevity, it’s Shatner. (However, her series, “Hot in Cleveland” on TV Land, is much funnier.)

In any case, this is pretty much a standard-issue comedy. Shatner plays irrascible, ornery dad, and Jonathan Sadowski plays the frustrated son. Will Sasso and Nicole Sullivan are in the mix.

BOTTOM LINE: Funny, but don’t go out of your way for it.

NBC Unveils Four Turkeys: First, Outsourced

Every year, we in LA are graced with unveiling of the new fall TV schedule at the Paley Center. Each network gets a night. I’m not going to all of them. Sadly, I’m attending most of them.

First up, NBC.

I admit. I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about NBC. The whole Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien debacle still leaves a smarting feeling when I even hear the word “NBC.” That, and it’s firmly entrenched in fourth place. For good reason. “Outsourced” does nothing to alleviate that bad taste in my mouth.

Don’t get me wrong. There are some good, funny actors on “Outsourced.” But really, 16 million Americans are out of work. Are they really going to find it funny to see a show about those who took their jobs? Really?

I tried. I really tried to see the funny in this show. As the offensive stereotypes and racist insults flew by, I tried to see that, well, at least they were using a more diverse cast than they normally do on network TV. But no. As much as the moderator of tonight’s events tried to put the spin on it as “at its core, it’s just another workplace comedy,” um, no. It isn’t. This is no “The Office.”

It’s insulting to Indians (or as my ethnic-slurring friend calls them, “dot Indians, not feather Indians). It’s insulting to Americans. They even throw in Australians. I’m waiting for the “shrimp on the barbie” jokes. Really, NBC. Haven’t we moved past all this?

BOTTOM LINE: I tried to like “Outsourced.” I still hated “Outsourced.”

It’s Not Complicated: “Complicated” uncomplex, boring

Of all the movies floating around this Oscar season, “It’s Complicated” is one of the least complex. Here’s the plot: Meryl Streep’s character spends the movie deciding whether or not she’s still in love with her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin). She may or may not end up with him in the end.

That’s pretty much it. Oh, sure there are a few wrinkles. He’s married to a younger woman. She’s seeing an architect. There is the extent of the “complications.”

Her sounding board/Greek chorus comes in threes: a couple of times it’s her three children, a couple of times it’s her three women friends. Neither is a device that works effectively.

This is due, in part, to the fact that the writer of the movie, Nancy Meyers, is also the director. In her defense, we do get lavish shots of the California landscape and chocolate cake.

But, as a movie, it’s really slow going. John Krasinski is practically wasted in a lame bit of comedy.

The real downfall, other than the insipid script that goes nowhere, is the casting of Steve Martin, who is like a wet fish opposite Meryl Streep’s luminosity. Mind you, I’d just about pay to see Meryl Streep read the phone book. She is gorgeous and stunning in nearly every scene (and is in nearly every scene).

But like the pastries that they consume after smoking a joint, it leaves you hungry for more afterwards. Plenty of other great movies around right now. Give this one a pass.

A little more Neil and a lot less CBS next year, OK Emmys?

Emmy show recap

With the debacle of the pointless multi-host banter and declining ratings staring them in the face, CBS and producer Don Mischner decided to try something different with this year’s Emmys. To my eyes, it was a breath of fresh air.

New host Neil Patrick Harris kicked the show off with a sprightly song, “Put Down that Remote.” He sang, he danced, it was funny. He was dapper, he was amusing. Throughout the show, various winners stopped mid-acceptance speech to comment publicly on what a great job Harris was doing hosting. And he was.

The set was a marvel of modern technology, from the multi-screen panels, used to various effect throughout, to bringing the band up from their nether regions to visibility onstage.

The biggest change, a quite welcome one, was giving a shape and a form to the proceedings at hand. Usually the awards are grouped by perceived importance, with the heavy-hitters last. But you end up with a mish-mash of comedy, drama and mini-series that really pleases no one.

This year, they had five distinct groupings: Comedy, Reality, Miniseries/Movie, Variety/Music/Comedy and Drama. Made so much more sense. Gave the whole thing a shape and format, which seemed to make it flow better.

The first winner of the night actually followed on the heels of what seemed like hundreds of awards that were given out already at the Creative Arts Emmys the weekend previous. At those, the now-cancelled comedy, Pushing Daisies won a bulk of the tech awards, more than any other show. Best Supporting Actress, Comedy was Kristen Chenowith from that show. A bittersweet moment.

(There were reports of her fainting backstage afterwards as well.)

30 Rock favorites: Alec Baldwin and writing favorite “Reunion” made predictable dents on the comedy palette. The expected winner Tina Fey (for Best Actress) was instead replaced by Toni Collette in her first season on the Showtime show, The United States of Tara. (Multiple personalities always wins awards.)

Even the Comedy Directing award for The Office’s Stress Relief was somewhat predictable.

The only true Comedy shocker was Best Supporting Actor. It was expected that once the 900-lb. gorilla Jeremy Piven got out of the way, that long-overdue nominees Neil Patrick Harris and/or Rainn Wilson would duke it out for that Emmy. Gasps could be hear all over Hollywood when Jon Cryer’s name was called out.

We slid back into more predictable and comfortable territory when previous winners Jeff Probst (Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program) and Amazing Race (Reality-Competition Program) took another statue. Probst gave the most inspirational speech of the night, quoting Joseph Campbell: “The adventure you get is the one you’re ready for. Go for it.”

The Amazing Race has won every year it’s been nominated. So has Probst.

Once we got into the Miniseries/Movie section, the awards were pretty split between Grey Gardens and Little Dorrit. Generation Kill had won some tech awards, but took home nothing at the big show.

One notable win was Shohreh Aghdashloo, Best Supporting Actress, Miniseries/Movie for House of Saddam. In addition to her Oscar nomination, she had turned heads with her memorable turn on 24 on a previous season. She was a gracious winner.

In the Variety Series section, previous winner Daily Show with Jon Stewart again took the major awards. American Idol had won several during the tech ceremony, and won the directing award tonight.

Justin Timberlake’s “Mother Lover” song was expected to follow in the footsteps of his previous win for “Cock in a Box.” It was not to be, with the 81st Annual Academy Awards opening song taking the Music & Lyrics honors.

The highlight of the Creative Arts Emmys (to these eyes at least, and ok, I admit I’m a total Buffy the Vampire Slayer fangirl, and think that Joss Whedon should have many Emmys on his mantlepiece by now) was when the web series Dr. Horrible (starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day) won an Emmy FINALLY for Joss Whedon. So it was hilarious when NPH introduced the accounting guys to discuss the vote tabulation, and instead had the screen “highjacked” by Dr. Horrible. Very funny stuff.

Very sad stuff came in the In Memorium segment, where Sarah McLaughlin sang. Too many wonderful and memorable TV folks passed on this year. The montage ended, fittingly, with Walter Cronkheit, a paragon of CBS News.

This was a good example of CBS patting itself on the back. One of the most annoying things about the show, however, was how gratuitously CBS pimped its own shows in the montage sequences. Most glaringly when they showed a Drama montage which didn’t even mention Mad Men or Breaking Bad, the perceived favorites. It did, however, include long segments of CSI and NCIS, neither of which would be on anyone’s short list for best dramas of the past year.

On the upside, they did also include the wondrous 24, which got slighted in too many categories. But the CBS glad-handing got to the point of nausea.

The Oscars, at least, know how to do this right. For heaven’s sake, if you have SEVEN Best Drama nominees, you should at least START with some footage of each one.

One thing that was good as far as the video clips shown is that at least with the acting nominees (in most cases, not all; CBS’ Jim Parsons’ tape was an exception) they used clips from the tapes the actors submitted for judging. This was a step up from previous years, when tape editors didn’t even seem to be conscious of the process of tape submission.

Now to the Drama segment, arguably the most anticipated.

First with the expected wins. Mad Men won again. Mad Men’s Meditations in an Emergency (the season finale) won for Best Dramatic Writing. Glenn Close again won Best Actress. Bryan Cranston again won Best Actor.

30 Rock, also at the end, was an expected repeat win for Best Comedy Series.

The somewhat surprising other awards included Michael Emerson finally winning for his evil Benjamin Linus on Lost. Sadly, the bravura finale of Battlestar Galactica (which also got roundly dissed at the tech awards, losing VFX to Heroes) lost out to the series finale (after a gazillion years) of ER, “And In the End” in Best Directing.

When filling out my predictions, this one had given me pause because it was quite stunning how after so many years and so many episodes, the last episode of ER had so many echoes of the first one.

But the one win that had the pundits stunned (in fact, on Gold Derby, I was one of only two people who predicted it) was Cherry Jones winning for her role as the president on 24.

So, all in all, it was a good Emmys. Some will never understand why Jon Cryer and Cherry Jones won. But I think that the people who deserved to win, did.

And here’s hoping that they already have Neil Patrick Harris pencilled in for future hosting duties. And that someone talks to the editors and gets them to put in far less CBS crap next year.