Wednesday, July 29, 2015

THE WORST THING ABOUT HAVING AN AUTISTIC BROTHER: A Personal Essay (Sorry for this anomaly blogpost, but trying something different)



You don't know. That's the worst thing. It's bad enough that, you're screwed and your whole life is based around...-. (Voice trails off, pause) I'm reading an article in the Las Vegas Seven, I don't normally read these alternative local mags anymore, I know I should but, there's this piece in there about this girl, Brittany Bronson, she's an English Composition Professor at UNLV and also works as a cocktail server to earn more money. She wrote an essay about it and sent it to the New York Times and amazingly they published it in an op-ed and now she's a regular contributor to them, and, you know, dammit! Why didn't I do that?! Send something I write to X or Y place or whatever, why can't I? I can, pretty easily, especially with the amount of stuff I write. But, I don't do that.

Well, that's not entirely true but...- (Annoyed sigh) Eh, just bare with for a bit here, I've got a few scattered thought going on at once and I'm trying to organize them in a cohesive way here, but I might be jumping around here, so just bare with me, please. (Pause) I don't talk/write about my brother much, or my day-to-day life or my family, etc., (Well, not directly anyway, and definitely never on this blog) Some of you know that my brother's autistic, severely autistic, and many, if not most of my days are me, watching over him. I don't write about it, 'cause it's-, you know, it, sucks. It's my life, you know, it's not this new aspect or experience, it just, is. And I don't want to put you guys through what I go through. Do you guys want to hear how he just started attacking me, literally in the middle of me writing that last sentence and I how I had to fight him off and force him into his room and how I'm now sitting outside his door making sure he doesn't get out until he won't attach again, hopefully? Yeah, I know you don't, and I don't want to talk or write about it either. That's life to me, and I'm trying to escape that, metaphorically through film, television, the internet, any entertainment really, and literally through my own writings and work. If somebody wants to change lives with me so they can write about it, be my guest, it'll probably be better than anything I could write on it.

My brother's five years younger than me; I remember distinctly thinking that he'll start talking when he's three. I don't know why, I guess because that's as far back as I remember, at least in my consciousness but that never happened. Either way, that's not a lot of years that I have without the ever-present fact of my life, that my brother is autistic. It's very easy for me to say that that is the single-most important, effective, and defining, moment, incident, whatever thing, that's has shaped or determined in some way, every aspect one could define about me. Very easy.

Except, maybe it isn't?

(Long pause)

What? no, it isn't easy. I mean, yeah five years, but plus, 2,3,4 years, more maybe, before I realized exactly what that really meant, having an autistic brother, maybe longer So, that's, what's nine years, ten years of my life? Might be a little longer, hypothetically.

(Long pause, shrugs)

I'm not really extrovertive, at al. Maybe that's the wrong word, extrovert, but there's definitely some basic human interactions, skills, experiences that I don't have. Um,...- (Long thinking pause) I-eh, hmm, I tell this as a joke usually, like I do a lot of things about myself, but this does happen to me more often than I'd like to admit, but every-so-often I'll run into somebody who will mention how she or somebody she knows apparently had a crush on me, that I didn't know about, but, the way the event would transfold, that person would've thought that I either wasn't interested or possibly, I rejected their advances, outright, and I am usually completely unaware that this has happened until it's brought up years later. This has happened like six or seven times over the years, already to me, at least, and depending on which story/person, some worst than others, I realize later just how many obvious, obvious, obbb-vious, signs I missed. That said, um, it's like I did anything when on those, apparently rare occasions when I did realize it either.

I've always been rather solitairy, I've always been anti-social, I've always been, and that's not, something that happened to me because of my brother, they date back before, you know, analyzing your behavior patterns...-  Um,..-, (Pause) I know that, this is a personal essay and I'm trying very hard to keep this a personal essay and not turn this into a therapy session. Things aren't going too well for me right now though. I don't want to get into all of...-, but things aren't great right now for me and my family, some you guys have probably figured that out from this blogs FB posts and other things I've written, said, done, etc. I'm actually looking for work right now, and I'm trying, I've got resumes everywhere and I can't get an interview at all. It's hard to write why I'm 30-years and never worked before because I had to stay at home... (Ugh, sigh).

This is me screaming, you know, me writing on this blog. I know it doesn't seem like much and you know, as I've doing this, by any real standard of my or anybody's else's... this blog is a failure. I don't have the hits or readers that I want to have, or have had even. I've gotten a lot of readers but that's...,- every-so-often I submit to Salon.com or somebody else, a big name, usually for film criticism (Which I'm not even doing at the moment) but I haven't in a while. I was so tired of, nothing, trying and trying to be noticed for my work or talents... That's why I started this stupid blog up frankly, I was so tired of writing script after script after script... or whatever I was writing and have it not go anywhere 'cause I couldn't film it or have the time or money, or couldn't get a group of friends together, couldn't send copies to agencies or producers, or anything, so I started a blog, and got a Facebook account, so somebody would hear me for once. I have to, I have to write, it's what I do and writing's only writing if somebody reads it. But I don't submit to the New York Times or anything.... (Voice trails off)

I know that seems petty or jealous or whatever, but trust me, this is a pattern of my behavior, one of many. Many that I struggle to overcome, knowing, about these other paths, and still not willing/able to, do, 'cause I-  I just can't with...- Am I saying no, 'cause I can't or because I won't?

That's the worst part. It's one, two in the morning, alone in bed, watching television, again, not getting invited to nights out with friends, saying "no", when I am invited, even on those rare occasions when I could go out. I know, consciously, it's nothing more than nature vs. nature, and I know it's an impossible thing to determine, but there are many, many times when it's all I think about.

My brother is autistic, would I, my life,-, would I be different if that wasn't the case? If he wasn't autistic, would I be different? I know, basically, you're all reading this and saying, "Of course you would!", but you don't know that for sure, and I don't know, and-, (Uncomfortable chuckle) and here's the real kicker, the true fear, it's not that I would be different, but that I wouldn't be, and that in fact, it didn't effect me at all. That's-, that's really fucked up, you know? But, I really can't say for sure. It's possible that this major piece of my existence, the most major, had truly, very little to do with me. It clearly effected me, but it doesn't mean that I would still be like this and doing the same shit that I'm doing now, anyway.

I don't know, and I never will. Either way, however my lesser nature and instincts were formed, I know I have to fight against them to survive but when it's so hard, truly hard to make and keep those connections to the outside wor- to the world, hmm, so many ways I don't connect.... I know I'm not the only one,  but so often all I can think and wish and prey even, "Why can't I be different than I am?!!!" "Why?" The more I think about it some days, the less and less likely it seems that I'm like this because my brother is autistic, I guess that's all I'm really trying to say, you know? Well, I guess if you're like me, than you probably don't know.


Link to the Las Vegas Seven Article
http://vegasseven.com/best-of-the-city-2015/people/best-new-voice-las-vegas/

Saturday, July 25, 2015

CANON OF FILM: CHARLIE CHAPLIN'S MUTUAL FILMS

CHARLIE CHAPLIN’S MUTUAL FILMS (1916-1917)

Director: Charlie Chaplin
Films Included (Alphabetical order) 
"The Floorwalker" (1916)
"The Fireman (1916)
"The Vagabond" (1916)
"One A.M." (1916)
"The Count" (1916)
"The Pawnshop" (1916)
"Behind the Screen" (1916)
"The Rink" (1916)
"Easy Street" (1917)
"The Cure" (1917)
"The Immigrant" (1917)
"The Adventurer" (1917)




One thing that we forget is that feature length films that we are used to now were at one point exceptionally rare. The medium was young, and shorter films were produced sometimes at a rapid pace. Mack Sennett directed films for the Keystone Corporation, and his films involved quick slapstick scenes, which usually ended in cop chases. He sometimes made 2-3 a week. (Hence the term, “Keystone Cops.”) Chaplin’s earliest films were made by Sennett, he then moved on to a company called Essanay, which gave him more control over his films, including casting and directorial work. He didn’t have complete control of his work until his contract with Mutual, where he made what maybe 12 of his greatest shorts ever. They are just magical.  In these films, the fully developed character of “The Tramp,” as more than just a comic foil is exposed. The Tramp becomes an image of poverty, an ultimate chameleon who can make fun of the rich by traveling up and down the social ladder, and a character who feel both sadness and pain. “The Immigrant,” for instance is one of the most touching pieces of film ever made. He and Edna Purviance, (who often played the female love interest in his films, who was also one of his wives) are immigrants arriving to America on boat, and then they’re struggle to survive in America, told simply through a chance meeting later at a restaurant. Even though most of these films have Chaplin in his Tramp persona, occasionally he steps out of it. In both “The Cure,” and “One A.M.” he plays a rich, aristocratic drunk, who revels in his struggles with drunkeness. In “One A.M.” in particular is ingenious because the entire short consists of Chaplin playing a drunk who arrives home very inebriated and tries to go upstairs and get to bed. And that’s it. Chaplin’s brilliant improvising and use of props make this special not just because he’s outside his Tramp character, but also because the entire with the exception of a small part by Eric Campbell as a cab driver, is entirely Chaplin.

What distinguishes Chaplin from most filmmakers even today is the amount of control he had over all of his projects. By the end of his career, he acted, directed, wrote the screenplay, produced, edited, and even wrote the musical score for all his films. (The only competitive Oscar Chaplin ever won was for best Best Dramatic Score for “Limelight.”, although he won 2 honorary/special Oscars.) Only Stanley Kubrick could even be compared to the amount of power one person had in order to make their own works. These twelve Mutual Films are the first examples of the man who would become to the film world as the first true “auteur” of cinema. Even he will slyly play with the power he has. In “The Pawnshop,” he take ten minutes to slowly, hilariously, and methodically tries to fix a broken clock, until finally after using every tool he can think of gives up. It’s a sly commentary on how the production company heads complain about him using too much time to finish his films. He pokes fun at numerous institutions, sometimes obviously, sometimes not-so-obvious. He didn’t just make us laugh, he also made us feel, helping to keep film as the most beloved art form for the last hundred years. More than that, the reason the Mutual Films should be brought together is that they essentially show the growth of Chaplin as a filmmaker, as well as all his amazing storytelling and entertaining talents. 


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

E/I PROGRAMMING: IS IT REALLY EDUCATIONAL & INFORMATIONAL? (Uh, I know what you're thinking, but why is "Biz Kids" and "Animal Rescue" on the old TV show channel I can only get when I hook my digital antenna to my toaster oven?)



Meanwhile, in computer, no internet world...

(David flips channels in the early, early morning. Every so often, and on a strange channels, he runs into a programs that have an E/I logo in the corner. Most of these are strange kids documentary shows and some are on weird digital channels, like the old movie and classic TV channels. David scratches top of head)

Alright, what- (Frustrated sigh) what the hell's with this "E/I" thing?

(TV COMMERCIAL comes on which says "E/I lets you know that this program is both Education and Informational")

Uh-um, okay, uh, yeah I guessed that's what it meant, but...- seriously though what the hell's with the E/I? I mean, I'm by no means against education and informational programming, but have you guys seen some of these shows that have this 'E/I' label in the corner of the TV screens? Actually, you probably have, five or ten years ago when they were made and they looked like they were made 15 years ago back then, some of them. And why are they on all these strange channels? The old movie channels on the '50s TV channel that keeps replaying the same eight episodes of "Dragnet" has them. I've seen them on the religious channels! (Actually they improve those channels most of the time) I haven't seen them on the shopping and/or paid programming channels, which makes me wonder if they get a pass or if I just missed them on those channels.

Okay, I don't know if other places have an equivalent channel like this, but the 2nd digital channel on our local FOX affiliate, is a 24/7 weather channel. Not, "The Weather Channel", it's a local channel, it has a permanent 7-day forecast, the time, the temperature, rotating ads for the afternoon talk shows like on one of those billboards that switches ads every minute or so, a news crawl on the bottom that, to be honest, needs to be updated more often than it actually is, and in the top, left-corner, between commercials, it repeats the weather forecast from the last newscast. (Unless there's a significant change in the weather, I think.) No shows, no anything, just commercials in the top-left corner, which is about a quarter of the frame and all the commercials lead to the weather. And that's all it is. But, stay up late enough, or wake up early enough on Friday or Saturday or whatever day it was than the weather, and all the other crap is off, and for a moment you think, "Oh, it's a real channel now?", but no, it's showing a few hours of old, forgotten educational kids shows with the E/I logo on the screen. Forget that, generally kids aren't exactly looking for these shows to begin with, but who is sitting around watching, what is barely a channel at all, the time and weather channel basically, waiting for the kid shows in the middle of the night?! And these shows? "Biz Kids", "Animal Rescue", (Amond numerous animal shows? The "Made in Hollywood for Kids" show that's eight years old? (Scratching head) Something's not right here.

Alright, we need to look closer at this, so why is there this "E/I" thing on the screen? Well, this began in 1990 believe it or not, with something called the "Children's Television Act" which was enacted by the FCC, and it was designed originally as a way of putting more education children's programming on network televisions. Or, CLASS A television stations, which, I'm not gonna pretend I'm an expert at these classifications, I'm get confused myself at these, but basically a network channel that's provides actual television to everyone and not on cable. When the law was written this was, NBC, FOX, PBS, ABC and CBS, and the one or two local UHF stations that might've been around, and that was pretty much it. (And actually the classification was something else until digital, but still, the main ones that FCC has control over) And basically, it required these channels to produce three hours a week of educational and informational programming every week.

Not, a bad thing, at first, on the surface. Okay, we'll get to, what the hell is an education/informational children't show later, but in 2005, the FCC expanded this rule to digital broadcast television channels as well, those extra channels we now get for free on our digital televisions. This, is when it started to get strange.....

Okay, so basically, any channel that is a somewhat legitimate broadcast channel on regular television, in order to keep their broadcast licenses, and not that means they're associated digital channels, they also have to provide three hours of educational programming, unless there's enough programming on the network channel to compensate for the other digital channels. Which mean, basically, PBS doesn't have to apply, 'cause they air 40-60hours a week of E/I programming, so, Create can just re-air as many "Joy of Painting" reruns they want. (Which I would've thought would've also been an E/I show, but, we'll get to that other problem with this.)

So, the main network can produce some shows, or what some of them used to do was air some of cable's kid shows, but these other channels, they barely have programming to begin with, so they go and buy, whatever the cheapest thing to air is, and put it on, early Saturday mornings or whenever. Basically, useless, wasteful programming.

And that's  the other thing, this is what happened to Saturday Morning cartoons btw, and for that matter, some network channels used to have kids programming daily, in the mornings and the afternoons! (Yeah, remember when "Afterschool specials" were actually specials that aired after school!) Now, to some of these channels credits, some are trying to find inventive and creative ways to circumvent this, or in some cases, fit these E/I shows into their regular programming, albeit, sometimes suspiciously. MeTV, a classic TV channel, has somehow figured out a way to call "Saved By the Bell" an E/I show, eh, that's a little fishy. Kids' show, okay, educational? Eh....,, but they're not alone. This is also one of the reasons why shows like "Degrassi" and "Edgemont" found cult following in America, through airings as an E/I program. One channel apparently got away with airing reruns of "Little House on the Prairie" claiming that the show taught kids what life was like in the Pioneer days. Hmm...., well, again, we'll get to some of these things in a minute.

There's also this other curious rule that started, because of, and I'm not making this up believe it or not, because of "Pokemon" and Eggo Waffles. Yeah, I couldn't believe this either, but apparently, "Pokemon" includes references to certain real-life products, includes Eggo, Fruit of the Loom, and some of their other more famous affiliated products, and basically, E/I shows can't have product tie-in advertisement, at least, not as blatantly. It's a little sketchy here, but on top of the limited amount of advertising, in general an E/I show's allowed to have, it can't be a show that's sole intention of existing is as an advertising agent for other products. This eliminates more than you'd think. Bye, "Power Rangers", Bye, "...Ninja Turtles", bye,-, oh, c'mon, "The Care Bears" aren't educational now? Oh, they are? Oh-kay, what about "Thomas the Tank Engine"? Oh, it is? Uh, but isn't that? How about "Thomas the Tank Engine"? Oh, he is. How about-, oh nevermind, you get the idea. You're not to be selling to kids, it's teaching to kids, I guess. I think.

So, what does qualify as E/I? Well, (Annoyed sigh) Okay, here's the FCC standard at what is an E/I program:

A. Serves the educational and information needs of children as a significant purpose.
B. Is at least 30 minutes in length
C. Is aired between the hours of 7:00am and 10:00pm.
D. Is a regularly scheduled weekly program
E. Is identified as specifically designed to education and inform children by the display of the symbol, E/I on the television screen throughout the program.

Seven a.m., three in the morning, feels the same to me but other than that, serves the education and informational needs of children as a significant purpose? Well, you can clearly see the loopholes in the "significant purpose" base, but.... (frustrated sigh) here's the-, alright, let's the bullshit here on this, here's what really pissing me off about this E/I thing:

WHAT ISN'T EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ON TV!?!?!?!

I'm serious here, what isn't educational to some degree? Okay, most of these arbitrary shows are terrible and I'm annoyed that they were made or that they're still being aired, but A. The networks that can afford it, it can also find/put out quality E/I programming that isn't just crap. There's gotta be stuff that's insightful and education that's isn't pandering to kids, which is mostly at best, disingenuous, but, forget all that, kids don't just watch kids shows, you know? And you know what else, they shouldn't.

You see, this is the real problem with the E/I logo, because a bunch of idiot parents out there who secretly know that television is the greatest education tool ever invented and are worried that god forbid their kids learn anything other that what you'd learn on "Sesame Street". Well, alright, parents, answer me this, why isn't "Jeopardy!" an E/I show? Or "Wheel of Fortune" for that matter? No, they aren't aimed towards kids, but significant purpose of educating and informing, um, yeah, that's up there. Just because it's not aimed for kids doesn't mean that a show isn't a perfectly good show that's educational and informative for kids.

I mean, you know there's posters and t-shirts that say things like, "Everything I ever needed to know I learned from "Star Trek" or whatever, and then in small text they list all the amazing moral, knowledge and life lessons from these shows. Yeah, it's a cute joke, but dammit they're not wrong, most of those. (I don't believe anyone learned shit from "Pokemon", but whatever) And now that I'm thinking about it, why isn't "Star Trek" E/I? I'm definitely more of a "The Next Generation" guy then the original, but yeah, "Star Trek" is educational and for kids. Everything is, and kids wouldn't learn much if they just watched these supposedly E/I shows. I learned about the Justice system watching "Law & Order", I learned how shows worked watching "Murphy Brown" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", I learned that I shouldn't do things that would make me end up on "The Jerry Springer Show" by watching "The Jerry Springer Show', I learned that Dolores rhymed with a female body part on "Seinfeld", I learne sports by, well, by watching sports.

Hell, I learned about the news by world by watching the news. And that's another thing, why do kids news shows suck! That's essentially what a lot of these E/I shows are, basically stories reported by kids, and that's -eh, do these shows know that kids see the adult versions of news stories? (And there's a long history too of adult shows, just having a kids version. Hell, I saw one show recently that was "The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan: The Family Edition" recently. I don't know what's on the adult version, but I'd be seriously worried about what's happening to those dogs now.) That's not to say that there can't be good versions of kids news shows, I remember when I was young, one of my favorite Saturday morning shows was "Not Just News", which now that I think about it, not only did some decent stories and profiles, but it was kind of a predecessor of "The Daily Show..." the way they made fun of the news every like, like when Dan Quayle misspelled "Potato". But, besides that obscure reference, I grew up with Linda Ellerbee. And yeah, apparently she's still with Nickelodeon and producing top quality news special and shows. It was real news, and it wasn't for kids, but it was, to kids, and it was presented to us, seriously. It was legitimate news and it was a big deal. I remember the smoking special with President Clinton and the AIDS special with Magic Johnson, things were talked about and confronted head-on and not thumbed around. Not everything need to be in a glossy box for kids to see them.

Those are basically the two types these shows come in, not trying at all, even if a network could afford to, or stuff that sorta is educational but treats kids like fucking morons and worse than that, isn't entertaining to everyone, much less kids.

I mean, this is listed as an E/I program:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IbRGg97MxU&index=2&list=PLFhEmTS6aJHlQ3pgs57H6PT7gc7tR38UE

I mean, there's not trying and then there's not trying; what kid's gonna sit down and pay attention to that, and yes, that link, is in fact a show that's listed as E/I.

I mean, the intentions are admirable, but E/I is pretty useless when you get down to it. You can kinda make an argument that it made sense when there was only a few channels, but in this digital age, it's an extra strain on channels that are still being formed, plus, the E/I thing is a ridiculous standard anyway. Some things on TV are more educational than others, sure, but it's what you get out of what you watch firstly, but if you have to have an educational aspect to a kids program, fine, but how about it be good before anything else? Besides, I've never had to be told that something's educational or informational, it already was. Kids are naturally inquisitive, or at least they should be, and they'll soak up a lot more than people realize. Hell, adults soak up a lot more than we realize too.

Look, it's hardly the worst crime the FCC commits, this E/I thing, but it's a meaningless labels. The Shows with the E?I may or may not be good, mostly it's an annoyance that handicaps networks and stations pointlessly. It's part of the reason why they've given up on children's television and let cable take over it, and they don't even need to create/air E/I programming. Trust me, there are talented people out there who are willing to, and want to create good programming for kids that's educational and informational; you don't really need to require that the networks air them although more than that, you don't need to label it, and frankly, whether it's got the E/I or not, doesn't mean it's automatically E/I, and just because something doesn't have it, doesn't mean your kids, or anyone else can't learn stuff from it.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS NOMINATION ANALYSIS! MAJOR CATEGORIES, SECONDARY CHARACTERS and OTHER CATEGORIES THAT SHOULD BE MAJOR CATEGORIES! (Sorry for being late, I'm getting there though.)



Since I don't have too much other opportunity to make a generic reference point, yes, I did see the ESPYs, sorta (Flipping channels as I was watching it), no, I don't think the ESPYs are a major or legitimate enough of an awards show to be on network. (Besides, they're the ESPYs! That'd be like if the BET Awards were on CW or something, the should be on ESPN.) And, as to Caitlin Jenner, she was fine, speech was okay, if anybody's inspired positively from it, fine, I'm a supporter of the LBGT community, blah, blah, blah, but Bob Costas was right, they should've been able to find somebody more closely, immediately associated with the sportsworld to give the Arthur Ashe Award to. I mean, Bruce Jenner hasn't been a decathlete since, when, the seventies? I'm not sure why he was or should've been up there.

Anyway, back to the important award news on hand, as always, sorry I'm later than normal on this, but I promise to get everything else in on time, hopefully. Anyway, The Primetime Emmy nominations are out, and as always, I provide the most comprehensive analysis of more categories, up and down the Emmy sheets, and provide comprehensive analysis of, pretty much every genre and all their major categories! Since I'm late already, let's get started! We'll start with Comedy, before hitting, Genre, Variety, Reality, Limited Series/TV Movie and then, the others!

COMEDY SERIES
OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Louie-FX Networks
Modern Family-ABC
Parks and Recreation-NBC
Silicon Valley-HBO
Transparent-Amazon Instant Video
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-Netflix
Veep-HBO

What the fu-! What the- NOW! Are you fucking kiddng me, NOW! NNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW, you nominate "Parks and Recreation"! Really!?!? You bring me it back now after it was the funniest show on television for the last five years and ignoring it! Are you kidding me! (Frustrated Sigh) Well, Amy Poehler's better fucking win now! If she doesn't, I'll scream. I'll live with the show never winning, but what a shock to see "Parks and Rec..." get in. Okay, "Modern Family" did get in, but this will be the year it doesn't win! It better be. "Veep" is the favorite with "Transparent", the first time Amazon nominee getting into the category, and the second streaming site to get in, and Netflix, did also, YES! I'm cheering for "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" deservedly getting for Series, it should win, but I think it's between "Veep" and "Transparent". Also, with "The Big Bang Theory" out, this is the first time ever that no 3-camera sitcom has been nominated in the category.

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson-"black-ish"-ABC
Louis C.K.-"Louie"-FX Networks
Will Forte-"The Last Man on Earth"-FOX
Don Cheadle-"House of Lies"-Showtime
Matt LeBlanc-"Episodes"-Showtime
William H. Macy-"Shameless"-Showtime"
Jeffrey Tambor-"Transparent"-Amazon Instant Video

(Frustrated sigh) Jim Parsons should be in here. I'm sorry, I know some people don't like how he keeps winning, but, I don't care. Yeah, weak year for the show, I'm fine with it not getting in for Series, but Parsons had about six or seven episodes this year that he easily should've won with, he should be in here. Anthony Anderson's a surprise extra nominee for "black-ish", which is, good, not a great show. Will Forte's nomination for "The Last Man on Earth" is a bit of a wild card here, wasn't a fan of the show but he has some interesting one-person episodes that could steal it, even though Jeffrey Tambor is a heavy favorite, longtime television favorite, veteran, has never won, major transgendered role, did win the Golden Globe earlier, he is the favorite and likely win.

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Edie Falco-"Nurse Jackie"-Showtime
Lisa Kudrow-"The Comeback"-HBO
Julia Louis-Dreyfus-"Veep"-Showtime
Amy Poehler-"Parks and
Amy Schumer-"Inside Amy Schumer"-Comedy Central
Lily Tomlin-"Grace and Frankie"-Netflix

Edie Falco's nomination for the last season of "Nurse Jackie" means she's been nominated all six years for that show, which is a bit surprising especially if you didn't know that. (She actually tied the record with Angela Lansbury, who was nominated 12 times in Lead Actress Categories for a Series, when you add Falco's six nominations for "The Sopranos". BTW, Angela Lansbury, has never won an Emmy! Shame, Emmys!) Also, Lisa Kudrow, gets nominated in this category for the second time in nine years for "The Comeback", which is the longest time between years for the same show and character I believe, and well-deserved both times as well; she probably should've won the last time, it was that bizarre year where everyone in the category was up for a canceled series and Julia Louis-Dreyfus won by default for "The New Adventures of Old Christine", and she's won three straight times for "Veep", but, (frustrated) seriously, Amy Poehler has to win. How she hasn't won yet is, just ridiculous, and, WTF they now bring "Parks and Recreation" back for Series, she better win. Schumer however, she does a lot on that show, and it's all good, she's the "It" girl with the Melissa McCarthy movie factor out there. Lily Tomlin, legend, hasn't won for acting, she did for voiceover before, plus she has the-eh the clout within the Academy, but "Grace and Frankie" underperformed across the board, but don't eliminate her yet either. Ellie Kemper should've been nominated, that's bullshit. Emmys need to make these categories go to seven automatically, that's bullshit, even in this crowded field. Lena Dunham should also be here too.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Andre Braugher-"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"-FOX
Tituss Burgess-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Ty Burrell-"Modern Family"-ABC
Adam Driver-"Girls"-HBO
Tony Hale-"Veep"-HBO
Keegan-Michael Key-"Key & Peele"-Comedy Central

Glad to see Adam Driver get something, for "Girls"! WTH is with that, the best comedy on HBO and it can't show up anywhere else and gets pushed aside for "Veep" and "Silicon Valley" of all shows? Somebody needs to explain this. Ty Burrell, the only "Modern Family" guy in, which is ridiculous, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ed O'Neill are far more worthy, but he's returning as last year's winner. I think most are projecting Tony Hale to win, but Tituss Burgess and Andre Braugher are potential spoilers. And the SNL spot, went to Keegan-Michael Key for "Key & Peele" instead, which-, well, forget that there should be another category for Variety performers, but he's in the wrong category, he should've submitted in Lead like Amy Schumer did. I mean, he is, half of the show, right, him and Peele? I don't get that, but congrats to him.  Wow, three African-Americans in the category. I'm looking it up now, but I don't think that's ever happened before and I can't even remember the last time an African-American won this category. My guess would be, what's-his-name, Robert Guillaume for "Soap", other than Braugher last year, I can't even find the last African American to get nominated in this category. No, I was wrong, but it was almost as ancient, prior to Braugher, the last African-American nominated in this category, the late Meshach Taylor in '89, for "Designing Women", and I'm fairly certain that Guillaume was the last to win. Yeah, I was right on Guillaume, and the also, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, was nominated in '86, but Guillaume, won in '79, and no African-American has won since, and there's barely been anyone nominated. Wow.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mayim Bialik-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Julie Bowen-"Modern Family"-ABC
Anna Chlumsky-"Veep"-HBO
Gaby Hoffman-"Transparent"-Amazon Instant Video
Allison Janney-"Mom"-CBS
Jane Krakowski-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Kate McKinnon-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Niecy Nash-"Getting On"-HBO

Holy hell, eight nominees in the category. Okay, for those wondering, the 2% rule is in effect, there's a minimum of six nominees in the acting categories, + anybody who finishes within 2% of 6th place also gets in, and this is a crowded, crowded field. A bit surprised that, of all "The Big Bang Theory" theory snubs, Mayim Bialik still snuck in, while I thought Jim Parsons was just robbed of a nomination, Bialik, I wondered if she even had an episode worth submitting this year, so that's a shock to me. I am happy that Gaby Hoffman got in, over Judith Light for "Transparent", that was the correct choice over Judith Light, (Although Light being nominated would've been fine.) Krakowski, in for "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" that really is the dark horse show here, btw, Kate McKinnon back in, one of the few bright spots on SNL, only Julie Bowen for "Modern Family", expected, Allison Janney, still a favorite even in a crowded field, but Chlumsky and Krakowski could pull an upset. Niecy Nash, the real shocker here for "Getting On", I didn't think anybody even saw that show, and I thought if anybody would've gotten in there, it would've been Laurie Metcalf, although I think she submits in Lead even though she'd be better to put her name in Supporting, but that's one somebody's gonna have to take a closer look at 'cause there's probably an episode there. Glad somebody from "Reno; 911" finally got nominated for something. And where' Zosia Mamet? She should get in here next time.

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Mel Brooks-"The Comedians"-FX Networks
Louis C.K.-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Paul Giamatti-"Inside Amy Schumer"-Comedy Central
Bill Hader-"Saturday Night Live"-NBC
Jon Hamm-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Bradley Whitford-"Transparent"-Amazon Instant Video

No big surprises here, SNL gets their two nominees in, Mel Brooks, the only person from "The Comedians" to get in and he's won this category four years in a row once for "Mad About You", don't count him out. Kudos for remembering to nominate Paul Giamatti for "Inside Amy Schumer", absolutely deserved, glad they got him. Bradley Whitford, in for "Transparent", but Jon Hamm, easy favorite here, I think it's between him and Mel Brooks, they want to give it to him for "Mad Men" already, he's been nominated in this category multiple times as well and he's incredible on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", eh, looks like he might win two.

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Pamela Adlon-"Louie"-FX Networks
Elizabeth Banks-"Modern Family"-ABC
Christine Baranski-"The Big Bang Theory"-CBS
Joan Cusack-"Shameless"-Showtime
Tina Fey-"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-Netflix
Gaby Hoffman-"Girls"-HBO

I thought Tina Fey would get in for Writing and not for Guest Actress, although she is good the show as well as an Indiana District Attorney named Marcia that, you have to see to believe. Baranski can win twice with her nomination for "The Big Bang Theory", bit of a surprise, so can Gaby Hoffman, glad to see her work on "Girls" also getting recognized, she's had a great year. (And she should've won an Oscar last year for the film "Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus & 2012". I know, weird title, but trust me, look it up; she's a superstar in my book.) Also, Pamela Adlon, she's been nominated for writing before on "Louie", now nominated for her acting on the show; she's been around forever, she was Evan Handler's cokehead wife on "Californication" another show that's constantly overlooked, glad to see her. Cusack is due for a win though. So is Banks. Hmm. Tricky category to call. BTW, "SNL" put up six names as Guest Hosts, but they didn't put up a female strangely, so that's why they aren't represented here, oddly. I would've put up Amy Adams, but oh, well.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
Episodes-"Episode 409"-David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik-Showtime
The Last Man on Earth-"Alive in Tucson (Pilot)"-Will Forte-FOX
Louie-"Bobby's House"-Louie C.K.-FX Networks
Silicon Valley-"Two Days of the Condor"-Alec Berg-HBO
Transparent-"Pilot"-Jill Soloway-Amazon Instant Video
Veep-"Election Night"-Teleplay: Story: Armando Ianucci; Story/Teleplay: Simon Blackwell and Tony Roche-HBO

A rare sixth nomination in Writing a la, the 2% rule, and "Episodes" strangely manages to sneak into this category again. Will Forte, takes what I think most thought was Tina Fey's spot with the pilot for "The Last Man on Earth", and that might be a good spot to honor him, if he doesn't win for Acting. Louis. C.K.'s won twice here, but "Transparent" and Jill Soloway's pilot is probably the favorite. This could be a predictor, between "Transparent" and "Veep" though.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES
The Last Man on Earth-"Alive in Tucson (Pilot)-Phil Lord & Christopher Miller-FOX
Louie-"Sleepover"-Louis C.K.-FX Networks
Silicon Valley-"Sand Hill Shuffle"-Mike Judge-HBO
Transparent-"Best New Girl"-Jill Soloway-Amazon Instant Video
Veep-"Testimony"-Armando Ianucci-HBO

Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, the duo behind "The LEGO Movie" and the "...Jump Street" films got in for "The Last Man on Earth" pilot and that's strangely the only episode up for both Writing and Directing. No, "Modern Family", in either category, not a good sign for their chances at a sixth win, Could be a spot for "Transparent" or "Veep", and don't overlook this being the one place they might honor "Silicon Valley", but I think that's a longshot at best.



DRAMA SERIES
OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Better Call Saul-AMC
Downton Abbey-PBS
Game of Thrones-HBO
Homeland-Showtime
House of Cards-Netflix
Mad Men-AMC
Orange is the New Black-Netflix

Despite being declared ineligible as a comedy series and forced to submit in Drama, "Orange is the New Black" did manage to get into Outstanding Drama Series, but it's a tough field at the moment. "Better Call Saul" is the new entry, replacing "Breaking Bad", literally. "Homeland", surprising a few people after a disappointing last season, coming back into the category, which is very rare in Drama Series, (And Comedy Series as well, but congrats, "P&R"). "Empire" the big FOX soap opera, snubbed almost across the board, except for Taraji P. Henson and not getting in. "Game of Thrones" set the record this year with 24 nominations, so it's a favorite against "Mad Men", the sentimental favorite in it's final season. "House of Cards" and "Better Call Saul" could play spoiler, but this is pretty much a two-show race, one of the rare categories this year that is not a free-for-all it seems.

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Kyle Chandler-"Bloodline"-Netflix
Jeff Daniels-"The Newsroom"-AMC
Jon Hamm-"Mad Men"-AMC
Bob Odenkirk-"Better Call Saul"-AMC
Liev Schreiber-"Ray Donovan"-Showtime
Kevin Spacey-"House of Cards"-Netflix

Okay, if Kyle Chandler fucking beats Jon Hamm again, I swear to God...! Nothing against the guy, I actually have heard great things about him, but it's ridiculous that "Mad Men" has never won an acting award, especially for Jon Hamm. Granted, he'll win this year finally for Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" but still.... Liev Schreiber's nomination is interesting, who knew they were watching "Ray Donovan" (And they should it is good). Look out for Jeff Daniels though, he did deserve to win two years ago, he's got a great episode this year, it's neck-and-neck with him and Hamm.

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Claire Danes-"Homeland"-Showtime
Viola Davis-"How to Get Away with Murder"-ABC
Taraji P. Henson-"Empire"-FOX
Tatiana Maslany-"Orphan Black"-BBC America
Elisabeth Moss-"Mad Men"-AMC
Robin Wright-"House of Cards"-Netflix

With Davis and Henson getting in, it's the first time two African-American actresses have gotten into the category. Also, a African-Brit, with Tatiana Maslany's shocking nomination for "Orphan Black", which most people had written off after she was snubbed last year. It's also the first time a BBC America show has gotten into a Series category, at all, so people are watching that. No, Julianna Margulies, who won last year for "The Good Wife", after winning last year, many thought "The Good Wife" could get back into the series category, but that went to "Homeland" instead. Elisabeth Moss, also back, hasn't won, like all "Mad Men" actors. No Taylor Schilling for "Orange..." is a bit of a surprise, but there's too many TV shows to begin with, so who the hell knows anymore what's a snub and what's not.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Banks-"Better Call Saul"-AMC
Jim Carter-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Alan Cumming-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Peter Dinklage-"Game of Thrones"-AMC
Michael Kelly-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Ben Mendelsohn-"Bloodline"-Netflix

Peter Dinklage is the only winner from this list, with Jim Carter and Alan Cumming, surprisingly returning for "The Good Wife", it's worth noting that "The Good Wife" has won an Emmy, somewhere in acting every year the show's been on the air, even with snubs and during weak years it's worth looking out for. Netflix got two into the category for the first time, with Kelly from "House of Cards" and for Ben Mendelsohn from "Bloodline", which didn't do too bad despite getting overlooked even on Netflix and snubbed for Series. Also, Jonathan Banks, becomes another new addition to a rare category of people who have been nominated for playing the same role on multiple shows, with his nomination for "Better Call Saul" and he's probably the favorite at the moment.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Uzo Aduba-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix
Christine Baranski-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Emilia Clarke-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Joanne Froggatt-"Downton Abbey"-PBS
Lena Headey-"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Christina Hendricks-"Mad Men"-AMC

The Guest Actor/Supporting Actor Rule Changes this year did have some interesting results, mostly snubs oddly, although Uzo Aduba did crossover as last year's Guest Actress in a Comedy Series winner to Supporting Actress in a Drama Series this year, curious enough, but nobody else from "Orange..." which only got four total nominations, shockingly. Two from "Game of Thonres" is interesting with Clarke coming back and Headey coming in. Christine Baranaski is due for a win on "The Good Wife", but not more than Christina Hendricks is for "Mad Men". BTW, coming into today, "Mad Men", 0 for 34, in acting categories, mind-bogglingly, and Hendricks is deserving as well. It's a tight race, and don't rule out Joanne Froggatt, a lot of people thought that had Anna Gunn not been nominated last year for "Breaking Bad", Froggatt would've easily won the category, this could be a makeup for her. Speaking of "Downton Abbey" though, underperforming in general, but the biggest shock is Maggie Smith, who most had as a favorite to win this year, and a perennial Emmy nominee, no matter what she's in generally, snubbed big time for this category. Not a good sign for "Downton Abbey" in general.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
F. Murray Abraham-"Homeland"-Showtime
Alan Alda-"The Blacklist"-NBC
Beau Bridges-"Masters of Sex"-Showtime
Reg E. Cathay-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Michael J. Fox-"The Good Wife"-CBS
Pablo Schreiber-"Orange is the New Black"-Netflix

Alan Alda's nomination, about the only love "The Blacklist" is getting. Mostly surprises across the board though, Michael J. Fox has been nominated a few times for "The Good Wife" and Reg E. Cathay got a Golden Globe nomination for "House of Cards" for Supporting Actor, he qualified here for Guest Actor. Beau Bridges is back and "Masters of Sex" does strangely well in this category, he's probably the early favorite.

OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Khandi Alexander-"Scandal"-ABC
Rachel Brosnahan-"House of Cards"-Netflix
Allison Janney-"Masters of Sex"-Showtime
Margo Martindale-"The Americans"-FX Networks
Diana Rigg -"Game of Thrones"-HBO
Cicely Tyson-"How to Get Away with Murder"-ABC

It's gonna be a little harder, in both categories this year for Allison Janney to pull off a double win for Guest Actress in a Drama and Supporting Actress Comedy, but it's possible. Her and Margo Martindale are back in this category, Martindale, pretty much the only thing from "The Americans" to get credit; a lot of people thought that could get in after it won the Critics Choice Awards. Also, getting snubbed across the board, "Scandal" with only Khandi Alexander getting in for Guest Actress and that's bit of a surprise nomination. Look out for Rachel Brosnahan, but I think right now, Janney, Rigg and Tyson are in a close tight race for this one.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
The Americans."Do Male Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?"-Joshua Brand-FX Networks
Better Call Saul,"Five-O"-Gordon Smith-AMC
Game of Thrones, "Mother's Mercy"-David Benioff and D.B. Weiss-HBO
Mad Men, "Lost Horizon"-Semi Challas and Matthew Weiner-AMC
Mad Men, "Person to Person"-Matthew Weiner-AMC

Two nominations for "Mad Men", a surprise "Better Call Saul" nomination and an unusual nod for "The Americans" as that writers branch continues to go against the grain. Hey, Writers, 6,7, nominees in every category now, you guys are still doing FIVE! you guys gotta start expanding this category, and soon, this is ridiculous.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES
Boardwalk Empire, "Eldorado"-Tim Van Patten-HBO
Game of Thrones,"Mother's Mercy"-David Nuttier-HBO
Game of Thrones, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"-Jeremy Podeswa-HBO
Homeland-"From A to B and Back Again"-Lesli Linka Glatter-Showtime
The Knick-"Method and Madness"-Steven Soderbergh-Cinemax

Hmm, Cinemax is getting into the game, and Steven Soderbergh is the conspicuous big name here for directing "The Knick", so you can't completely count him out, but two "Game of Thrones" nominations are noteworthy. And hey, DIRECTORS, what I said about Writers, same goes to you, only FIVE NOMINEES? Start moving it up, and soon!

REALITY
OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race-CBS
Dancing with the Stars-ABC
Project Runway-Lifetime
So You Think You Can Dance-FOX
Top Chef-Bravo
The Voice-NBC

Same six it always is, same six five it should be, plus "Dancing with the Stars" for some damn reason. (Shrugs). "Project Runway" had an incredible season by the way, they should win, again, but we'll see.

OUTSTANDING STRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow-PBS
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-Food Network
Mythbusters-Discovery Channel
Property Brothers-HGTV
Shark Tank-ABC
Undercover Boss-CBS

Huh? What the hell is "Property Brothers"? (IMDB Search pause, scratching head) Is this the show that people who actually watched "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" now watch? (Depressed sigh) Oh-kay, whatever the hell that is is up against, the usual five in the Structured-Reality Category, and I miss Kathy Griffin's reality show. (Depressed sigh) I think it's between the unwatchable "Undercover Boss", and the relatively watchable "Shark Tank". "Restaurant Startup" would've been a fun choice added here, but I'm cheering for "Antiques Roadshow". They're way overdo.

OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM
Alaska: The Last Frontier-Discovery Channel
Deadliest Catch-Discovery Channel
Intervention-A&E
Million Dollar Listing-Bravo
Naked and Afraid-Discovery Channel
Wahlburgers-A&E

(Frustrating sigh) Really, I actually have to look up and watch "Naked and Afraid" now?! And where's "Flippin' Out", what the hell?! Wait, did they have a season this year? Okay, maybe they didn't have a season, but "Naked and Afraid", is this really that compelling? Not that, "Wahlburgers" is particularly special, but... Kathy Griffin, where the hell are you? You're seriously missed here in Reality! Kathy?

OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
Tom Bergeron-"Dancing with the Stars"-ABC
Anthony Bourdain-"The Taste"-ABC
Cat Deeley-"So You Think You Can Dance"-FOX
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn-"Project Runway"-Lifetime
Jane Lynch-"Hollywood Game Night"-NBC

Okay, same list as last time, I don't know how/why Anthony Bourdain keeps getting in for the cooking competition show that nobody watches, "The Taste", but something we gotta bring up with Jane Lynch. She won last year for "Hollywood Game Night" and yes, if these are the nominees, I understand her winning, but that's a game show, not a reality show. Look, I know there's no equivalent award for Game Show Host at the Primetime Emmys, but you can submit your name in the Daytime Emmys Game Show Host category. Regis Philbin won a Daytime Emmys for hosting a Primetime Game Show, so there is a precedent. Hey, come to think of it, who won the Emmy this year for Game Show Hosting?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RP8JqwYeaKQ

Yeah, Craig Ferguson won for hosting "Celebrity Name Game". A game show where celebrities play with regular and discuss celebrities the whole show. While, "Hollywood Game Night" is a, eh, reality show, where normal people play games with celebrities that are based around knowing other celebrities and pop culture? Eh, no, it's a game show. There is a difference. I might go into this more when I start talking about game shows on future TV Viewing 101 blogs, (If and when I can ever get a decent working computer again)


VARIETY
OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES
The Colbert Report-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live-ABC
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
Late Show with David Letterman-CBS
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-NBC

"Real Time with Bill Maher" finally gets snubbed, unfortunately, although it's replaced with "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" so HBO doesn't lose it's slot, and let's face it, John Oliver deserves it. Kimmel, I still don't know how he keeps getting in, instead of Craig Ferguson who I wanted to see get in. David Letterman back in for the first time for his finale season, but "The Daily Show..." also in it's last season, plus, Colbert's last season, this category is completely, changing next year. And Letterman's nomination, let's not forget, replaces "SNL", which is now moved to the Variety-Sketch Series category, so this is going to be a very interesting category, next year.

OUTSTANDING VARIETY-SKETCH SERIES
Drunk History-Comedy Central
Inside Amy Schumer-Comedy Central
Key & Peele-Comedy Central
Portlandia-IFC
Saturday Night Live-NBC

Congrats to Comedy Central. No real surprises if you were paying attention over the years nominees-wise but with two major acting nominations for Schumer and Peele and three in this category, with a legitimate chance to defeat a weak "SNL" year, they've proven they're a legitimate Emmy Award contender, across Variety, and, I'll tell you this, "Broad City" not nominated for Comedy Series, but I wouldn't be too shocked if maybe next year, it sneaks in. This category should be on the main show and not at the performing arts, this is just as relevant as Variety-Talk. Look for "Inside Amy Schumer" to pull the upset over "SNL" here.

OUTSTANDING VARIETY SPECIAL
Bill Maher: Live from D.C.-HBO
The Kennedy Center Honors-CBS
Louis C.K.: Live at The Comedy Store-LouisCK.net
Mel Brooks Live at the Geffen-HBO
The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special-NBC
Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek LIVE!-PBS

Hmm, Mel Brooks's AFI Tribute actually won this category last year, and here he is again, this time he's performing. Hmm. Nice to see Bill Maher, and Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga on here, and Louis C.K.'s internet standup special, what-the-hell!  Louis C.K. has his own streaming channel, and it gets in for Variety Special? Wow! But, anyway, when all else fails, The Kennedy Center Honors usually take this for some reason, but I don't know, SNL 40th could take it, might be the best place to honor "SNL" too.

OUTSTANDING SPECIAL CLASS PROGRAM
The 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards-NBC
Beyonce And JAY Z On the Run-HBO
The Oscars-ABC
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Live from Lincoln Center)-PBS
68th Annual Tony Awards-CBS

Some of you may be wondering why Emma Thompson can be nominated for "Sweeney Todd..." in the Limited Series/TV Movie category while it's listed as a Special Class Program here. Um, eh-, yeah, why the hell can that happen; shouldn't that be a TV Movie?! And BTW, why are these Variety specials special class and not Variety Special-, oh, I don't even care that much.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-Head Writer: Opus Moreschi; et. al.-Comedy Central
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart-Head Writer: Elliott Kalan, et. al.-Comedy Central
Inside Amy Schumer-Head Writer: Jessi Klein, et. al-Comedy Central
Key & Peele-Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele-Comedy Central
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver-John Oliver, et. al.-HBO

Comedy Central gets four shows in writing, and two of them are sketch shows. Only "Last Week Tonight..." gets in for HBO, and let me tell you, and I wouldn't be shocked if John Oliver did win. It's a crowded field and with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert leaving their shows, we're it's a who knows in both Variety Talk and for Variety Series Writing.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
The 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards-Barry Adelman,... et. al.-NBC
Key & Peele Super Bowl Special-Brendan Hunt, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Rich Talarico-Comedy Central
Louis C.K.: Live At The Comedy Central-Louis C.K.-LouisCK.net
Mel Brooks Live At the Geffen-Mel Brooks-HBO
The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special-Lorne Michaels,... et. al.-NBC

Okay, Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, Key & Peele, Louis C.K., Mel Brooks, and Tina Fey again. Whew, helluva a pedigree of a category this year. Unfortunately, this year it's not on the main show, as some of these other interesting categories are.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES
The Colbert Report-"Show 11040"-James Hoskinson-Comedy Central
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart-"Show 20103"-Chuck O'Neil-Comedy Central
Inside Amy Schumer-"12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer"-Amy Schumer and Ryan McFaul-Comedy Central
Late Show with David Letterman-"Show 4214"-Jerry Foley-CBS
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-"Show 203"-Dave Diomedi-NBC

Don't think Comedy Central is up while "SNL" is down; Don Roy King has won this category four the last, forever, for directing "SNL" and he's not even nominated this year. Tough category though, the last Colbert, the last Letterman, Jerry Foley could win this again, perennial nominee in this category, and this is also a perfect spot for Amy Schumer to get her Emmy win, for directing the "12 Angry Men..." parody, which was ingenious, and definitely a directing accomplishment.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SPECIAL
Annie Lennox: Nostalgia Live In Concert-Natalie Johns-PBS
The Kennedy Center Honors-Louis J. Horvitz-CBS
The Oscars-Hamish Hamilton-ABC
The Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special-Don Roy King-NBC
68th Annual Tony Awards-Glenn Weiss-CBS

Okay, Don Roy King is here. I guess I can't completely blame him for the Eddie Murphy, shows up and does nothing thing, but still, probably harder to direct the Tony Awards this year.


LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIES
OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES
American Crime-ABC
American Horror Story: Freak Show-FX Networks
The Honorable Woman-SundanceTV
Olive Kitteridge-HBO
Wolf Hall-PBS

I'm probably not gonna be saying too much during these series, I really haven't seen most of them yet and I'm not exactly sure how to handicap them yet, but this is the first year since back in 1985, that the miniseries are now called "Limited Series" so as to distinguish the "True Detective"'s (Which isn't eligible this year ironically) and the "American Horror Story"'s and other shows that seemed to be able to jump around, as these new, one season series creep up. (Hmm, was "Fargo", eligible, 'cause I-, hmm, I guess not.) See, I really don't know much about these.

OUTSTANDING TELEVISION MOVIE
Agatha Christie's Poirot: Curtain, Poirot's Last Case-Acorn TV
Bessie-HBO
Grace of Monaco-Lifetime
Hello Ladies: The Movie-HBO
Killing Jesus-National Geographic Channel
Nightingale-HBO

Acorn TV, getting in, that's a shocker. No, "Derek: Special" surprisingly, but instead, HBO's finale movie for Steven Merchant's, Gervais's writing and performing partner's series, "Hello Ladies", which wasn't terribly well received before it's cancellation, surprises everybody and gets in here. A few shockers here. "Nightingale" and "Bessie" look like the early favorites though.

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOVIE
Timothy Hutton-"American Crime"-ABC
Ricky Gervais-"Derek: Special"-Netflix
Adrien Brody-"Houdini"-HISTORY
David Oyelowo-"Nightingale"-HBO
Richard Jenkins-"Olive Kitteridge"-HBO
Mark Rylance-"Wolf Hall"-PBS

Ricky Gervais got in for "Derek" last year in the Comedy Series category, but it's a bit of a shock that this was the only major nomination for "Derek" for the finale movie. Hard to judge "American Crime", it's been a while since the networks put up a legitimate contender in the category, but I think it's between David Oyelowo for "Nightingale" who many thought was screwed out of an Oscar nomination for "Selma" and Richard Jenkins for "Olive Kitteridge" which I think is probably battling head-to-head with "The Honorable Woman" in most categories, also Richard Jenkins, is a beloved and legendary character actor in film and television, he played Nathaniel Fisher on "Six Feet Under", and got an Oscar nomination for "The Visitor" a few years back; I bet a lot of voters think it would be nice to finally see him get up on stage to collect an Emmy.

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOVIE
Maggie Gyllenhaal-"The Honorable Woman"-SundanceTV
Felicity Huffman-"American Crime"-ABC
Jessica Lange-"American Horror Story: Freak Show"-FX Networks
Queen Latifah-"Bessie"-HBO
Frances McDormand-"Olive Kitteridge"-HBO
Emma Thompson-"Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Live from Lincoln Center)"-PBS

Maggie Gyllenhaal had a surprise Golden Globe win for "The Honorable Woman" earlier this year, not against most of this competition, in a real loaded field. There's 1,2,8,9,12, 16 Oscar nominations and 4 Oscars total in this category, not to mention, three, four, I don't know how many Emmys between everybody here. Hmm,wow, Queen Latifah's never gotten a daytime Emmy nominations. She's had two successful talk shows-, huh, odd.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOVIE
Richard Cabral-"American Crime"-ABC
Damian Lewis-"Wolf Hall"-PBS
Bill Murray-"Olive Kitteridge"-HBO
Denis O'Hare-"American Horror Story: Freak Show"-FX Networks
Michael Kenneth Williams-"Bessie"-HBO
Finn Wittrock-"American Horror Story: Freak Show"-FX Networks

Some of you might remember Damian Lewis as that guy from "Homeland" that took one of the Emmys that Bryan Cranston or Jon Hamm probably should've won. Well, he's a good actor, although I suspect Bill Murray, because he's Bill Murray is a favorite, but don't rule out anybody here yet. Especially from "American Horror Story"; it's a weird rule, but it's true, the more nominations a show has in the category, especially an acting category, with the Emmys anyway, it's more than likely someone from that show will win. I know, it's the exact opposite with the Oscars, usually they split the vote there and you should predict someone, but Emmy history shows it's the exact opposite.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR A MOVIE
Angela Bassett-"American Horror Story: Freak Show"-FX Networks
Kathy Bates-"American Horror Story: Freak Show"-FX Networks
Zoe Kazan-"Olive Kitteridge"-HBO
Regina King-"American Crime"-ABC
Mo'Nique-"Bessie"-HBO
Sarah Paulson-"American Horror Story: Freak Show"-FX Networks

Mo'Nique's nomination for the HBO biopic "Bessie" is an interesting one; for those who don't know, she's been blackballed in Hollywood for a few years since she won her Oscar after she refused to do the obligatory publicity rounds to-eh, campaign to win the Oscar and made a big deal out of it a well of be very against the campaigning system, that blackball, in still on in certain circles but she did get in here. Tough category though with three "AHS..." nods, last year. Kathy Bates took the category last year, in an upset and many think Jessica Lange's win over Sarah Paulsen was a bit ridiculous, and I'm definitely always in favor of giving Sarah Paulsen. an Emmy, she should be the favorite, but Angela Bassett's well-beloved, and I wouldn't rule Regina King either; she's done quite a bit of television over the years, she'll probably get a vote or two.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR A DRAMATIC SPECIAL
American Crime-John Ridley-ABC
Bessie-Story: Dee Rees and Horton Foote; Screenplay:Dee Rees, Christopher Cleveland, Bettina Gilois-HBO
Hello Ladies: The Movie-Stephen Merchant, Gene Stupnitsky, and Lee Eisenberg-HBO
The Honorable Woman-Hugo Blick-SundanceTV
Olive Kitteredge-Jane Anderson-HBO
Wolf Hall-Peter Straughan-PBS

Interesting to see "Hello Ladies: the Movie, doing surprisingly well, all around, especially over "Derek", this is Stephen Merchant getting a rare nomination, outside of his writing partner Ricky Gervais. John Ridley won the Oscar recently for writing "12 Years a Slave" he's a strong possibility, also, Horton Foote, he's the legendary screenwriter for "To Kill a Mockingbird", "The Trip to Bountiful", "Tender Mercies", he's a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, won two Oscars, etc. He passed away five years ago, but he won an Emmy in this category years ago for "Old Man" and got his first nomination when he was a writer for "Playhouse 90", back in '59, he was working on "Bessie" before Dee Rees took over, the sentimental vote would definitely be for him.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A LIMITED SERIES, MOVIE OR A DRAMATIC SPECIAL
American Horror Story: Freak Show, "Monsters Among Us"-Ryan Murphy-FX Networks
Bessie-Dee Rees-HBO
The Honorable Woman-Hugo Blick-SundanceTV
Houdini-Uli Edel-HISTORY
The Missing-Tom Shankland-Starz
Olive Kitteridge-Lisa Cholodenko-HBO
Wolf Hall-Peter Kosminsky-PBS

Not as many overly big names in the category this year. Lisa Cholodenko of "The Kids Are All Right" and "High Art" and Dee Rees of "Pariah", getting in, so a couple major female filmmakers in is cool, and they're probably the favorites. Never count out Ryan Murphy, but no writing nomination for "AHS..." probably makes it unlikely for it to break through here, as per usual for them.


OTHER INTERESTING CATEGORIES (aka, cool Creative Arts Categories)

ANIMATION
OUTSTANDING ANIMATED PROGRAM
Archer, "Pocket Listing"-FX Networks
Bob's Burgers, "Can't Buy Me Math"-FOX
Over the Garden Wall-Cartoon Network
The Simpsons-"Treehouse of Horror XXV"-FOX
South Park-"Freemium Isn't Free"-Comedy Central

Okay, it goes without saying that, this should be on the main show, this category, but I also think it's time that they start treating this category with the same respect and practices as the other categories. Instead of submitting one episode, there should be an Outstanding Animated Series and Outstanding Animated Special category, but even if you discount that and let them compete with each other, series should submit a series of episodes and not just one. This should be a campaign, these shows probably have as much relevance if not moreso than, pretty much all of the Comedy, Drama and Variety programs.

OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORM ANIMATED PROGRAM
Adventure Time, "Jake the Brick"-Cartoon Network
Disney Mickey Mouse-"Mumbai Madness"-Disney Channel
Regular Show-"White Elephant Gift Exchange"-Cartoon Network
Robot Chicken-"Chipotle Miserable"-Adult Swim
Steven Universe-"Lion 3: Straight to Video"-Cartoon Network
Wander Over Yonder-"The Gift 2: The Giftening"-Disney XD

Okay, so I haven't had cable in a while, so somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but Adult Swim and Cartoon Network are now two different channels, and Disney XD is now different than the Disney Channel? I think? Okay, I guess.

OUTSTANDING CHARACTER VOICE-OVER PERFORMANCE
Hank Azaria-"The Simpsons", "The Princess Guide"-FOX
Dan Castellaneta-"The Simpsons", "Bart's New Friend"-FOX
Seth Green-"Robot Chicken", "Victoria's Secret of Nimph"-Adult Swim
Seth MacFarlane-"Family Guy", "Our Idiot Brian"-FOX
Tress MacNeille-"The Simpsons", "My Fare Lady"-FOX
John Roberts-"Bob's Burger's", "Eat, Spray, Linda"-FOX

They separated out this category and Narrator just last year and that's when Harry Shearer, the last regular cast member of "The Simpsons" finally won an Emmy, the first of his career. As you can see, that was probably a career award, especially since "The Simpsons" took up three spots this year and he's not one of them. Not as interesting a category as usual this year, although Tress MacNeille could steal this. First time in a while that Maurice LaMarche is not among the nominee also.

SHORT-FORMAT/INTERACTIVE
OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORMAT LIVE-ACTION ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAM
Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: Brad Pitt-FunnyOrDie.com
Billy On The Street with First Lady Michelle Obama, Big Bird and Elena!!!-FunnyOrDie.com
Children's Hospital, "Just Like Cyrano de Bergerac"-Adult Swim
Key & Peele Presents Van and Mike: The Ascension. "Episode 5"-Comedy Central.com
Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show Starring Katy Perry-NBC

Zach Galifianakis, Billy Eichner, Rob Corddry, Key & Peele and Katy Perry go up against each other in this category. I bet if the Emmys described the Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program that way, more people would know about it, huh? FunnyOrDie.com, btw, doing great at this, two nominations in.

OUTSTANDING SHORT-FORMAT NONFICTION PROGRAM
American Horror Story: Extra-Ordinary Artists-FX Networks
Parks and Recreation: Behind the Final Season-NBC.com
30 for 30 Shorts-ESPN
Transparent: This is Me-EW.com
A Tribute to Mel Brooks-FX Networks

Man, Mel Brooks, shows up everywhere, doesn't he?

OUTSTANDING INTERACTIVE PROGRAM
@midnight with Chris Hardwick-Comedy Central
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver-HBO
Saturday Night Live: SNL 40-NBC
Talking Dead-AMC
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-NBC

(Scratching head) I have no idea what makes these Interactive Programs.

DOCUMENTARY/NONFICTION
OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SPECIAL
The Case Against 8-HBO
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief-HBO
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck-HBO
Sinatra: All or Nothing At All-HBO
Virunga-Netflix

"Virunga" was an Oscar nominee for Netflix earlier this year and now it gets into Documentary or Nonfiction Special, which is basically the Documentary Feature category, and it does look a bit like what the Oscars should've looked like. "Going Clear..." getting in is interesting, the Scientology documentary. BTW, Sheila Nevins, gets three nominations in this category, that increases her total nominations to 71. She's the HBO head of non-fiction programming, so-eh, yeah, she also holds the records with 29 overall wins. She rocks. BTW, Leonardo DiCaprio is a nominee as a producer on "Virunga" btw.

OUTSTANDING DOCUMENTARY OR NONFICTION SERIES
American Masters-PBS
Cancer: The Emperon of All Maladies-PBS
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst-HBO
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History-PBS
The Sixties-CNN

Two for Ken Burns with "Cancer" and "The Roosevelts", Tom Hanks is a producer on CNN's "The Sixties" and HBO's "The Jinx" was that special that caught that longtime escaped prisoner confessing. "American Masters" is just awesome, btw.

OUTSTANDING INFORMATIONAL SERIES OR SPECIAL
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown-CNN
Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways-HBO
Inside the Actors Studio-Bravo
StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson-National Geographic Channel
Vice-HBO

This is where Bill Maher, as a producer of "Vice" finally won an Emmy. He's a favorite again, but a tough categroy. "Anthony Bourdain..." is always strong and Neil deGrasse Tyson as well, and who knows with Foo Fighters. Man, what a category. Bourdain, Dave Grohl, James Lipton, Tyson and Bill Maher.

EXCEPTIONAL MERIT IN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING
Citizenfour-HBO
The Great Invisible-PBS/Pivot
Hot Girls Wanted-Netflix

I'm not sure why this is separate from Documentary or Nonfiction Special, but Oscar winner, "Citizenfour" shows up here as a heavy favorite. I know the Oscar rules about not having aired on television before a certain date means that the film can be eligible for nomination; I'm not sure what the full standard is for Emmy consideration, but with Netflix and HBO getting into the documentary game and challenging the old standards of a movie release, I'm sure this will be looked up later. Rashida Jones gets her first nomination a producer on "Hot Girls Wanted" also.

OUTSTANDING WRITING FOR A NON-FICTION PROGRAMMING
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, "Iran"-Anthony Bourdain-CNN
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief-Alex Gibney-HBO
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck-Brett Morgan-HBO
Last Days in Vietnam (American Experience)-Mark Bailey and Kevin McAlester-PBS
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History-"Episode 5"-Geoffrey C. Ward-PBS

A third, Oscar-nominated documentary from this past year, "Last Days in Vietnam" received an Emmy nomination, this time, care of PBS's "American Experience" of "Last Days in Vietnam", and that makes this category even stranger. A lot of these, on first glance, seem to be between "Going Clear..." and the Kurt Cobain documentary, they led the pack, but this is a strong year overall in the documentary or non-fiction programming categories, but with "Citizenfour," "Last Days...", "Virunga", out there, on top of perennials like Anthony Bourdain and Ken Burns out there, these are very competitive categories, worthy of main show worth if you look at the nominees at least.

OUTSTANDING DIRECTING FOR A NONFICTION PROGRAM
Alex Gibney-"Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief"-HBO
Dave Grohl-"Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways"-HBO
Andrew Jarecki-"The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst", "Episode 2"-HBO
Brett Morgan-"Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck"-HBO
Laura Poitras-"Citizenfour"-HBO

This category's powerful enough, that I think it's worth putting the director's names first. Two Oscar winners, a nominee, a rock'n'roll hall of famer, and the band that he joined the Hall of Fame with. Wow!

RANDOM NOTABLES
OUTSTANDING CHILDREN'S PROGRAM
Alan Alda and the Actor Within You: A YoungArts Masterclass-HBO
Degrassi-Nickelodeon
Dog with a Blog-Disney Channel
Girl Meets World-Disney Channel
Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: Coming Out-Nickelodeon

I was just thinking about Linda Ellerbee, good to know she's still doing great work at Nickelodeon. Um, however, "Girl Meets World", can we,- um, was "Boy Meets World" a "Children's Program", or is just this a children's program? 'Cause now, I'm starting to wonder if like, "Family Matters" and "Full House" were just kids shows now. I mean, I know, they were kids shows, or family shows, or what, but-eh, did they submit as a Children's program, to get the nomination?

OUTSTANDING NARRATOR
Peter Coyote-"The Roosevelts", "Episode 1: Get Action (1858-1901)"-PBS
Anthony Mendez-"Jane the Virgin", "Chapter Fourteen"-CW
Miranda Richardson-"Operation Orangutan"-Nat Geo Wild
Henry Strozier-"Too Cute!"-"Tubby Puppies"-Animal Planet
Neil Degrasse Tyson-"Hubble's Cosmic Journey"-National Geographic Channel

"Jane the Virgin" fans, here's your nomination! Anthony Mendez's getting CW a rare nomination for Outstanding Narrator. Eh, kinda surprised by that. Cool to see Peter Coyote up, although I thought he would've been in for an Alex Gibney film. Neil DeGrasse Tyson's in, and he's awesome. Hey, Henry Strozier's back for "Too Cute!" That show about the cute dogs. Is that on, anywhere. (Looks up on computer) Aw! He's too cute! Oh, awe! Oh, Awe, so cute, Awe! Awe, Oh! Awe!

OUTSTANDING COMMERCIAL
Adobe-"Dream On"
Always-"#LikeAGirl"
Budweiser-"Lost  Dog"
Gatorade-"Made in NY"
Nissan-"With Dad"
Snickers-"Brady Bunch"

Commercials have their own awards, the Clios, so this is the only award that the Emmys give out for it. I'm betting on Snickers winning with the Brady Bunch commercial. TV commercials, with a TV reference, and one that good, that should do it.

OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL MUSIC AND LYRICS
"Come Join This Murder"-Sons of Anarchy-Bob Thiele, Kurt Sutter and Jake Smith-FX Networks
"Girl You Don't Need Makeup"-Inside Amy Schumer-Music & Lyrics: Kyle Dunnigan; Music: Jim Roach-Comedy Central
"Kiss an old Man"-The Comedians-Music: Robert Lopez; Lyrics: Kristen Anderson-Lopez-FX Networks
"Moving Pictures"-The Oscars-Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez-ABC
"This Time"-Glee-Darren Chris-FOX
"You Gotta Believe"-How Murray Saved Christmas-Music: Walter Murphy; Lyrics: Mike Reiss-NBC

Conspicuously absent from the category is anything from "Empire", so, sorry for fans of that show, you basically got Taraji P. Henson, and one or two other things, in like Costume Design I think, but that was it. Also, nothing from the Tony Awards this year, but the opening theme song from "The Oscars," that Neil Patrick Harris sang got in, and that was written by Robert & Kristen Lopez, the husband and wife team behind the songs from "Frozen," in fact, they got two songs in this year, they did the song from "The Comedians" as well; Robert Lopez is already an EGOT winner, his wife, hasn't gotten the Emmy yet, and his Emmy was also a daytime Emmys technically, so some think he needs to win one of these, I'm not as sold. Also, "Sons of Anarchy" fans, this might be where Kurt Sutter could finally win, it's the second straight year that he's got a song nominated. I have no idea what "How Murray Saved Christmas" was.

Whew! Okay, I think that's the main categories most people would be interested the most in. You can check the Emmys website if you're interested in, say, the Editing Categories, (Which are often good prognosticators) or perhaps the Main Titles theme music. The Creative Arts Emmys are September 12th, airing on the 19th and the main Emmys are on the 20th this year, so plenty of time to catch up to most of the main nominations. Okay, little time left at the library..., Hey, are there more of that "Too Cute!" on? Awe, that's just too cute! Awe!.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

CANON OF FILM: "APOLLO 13"

APOLLO 13 (1995)

Director: Ron Howard
Screenplay: William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert based on the book “Lost Moon,” by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger




For some reason, certain films are almost too familiar for me to talk about well. Even great films. "Apollo 13", in America anyway, is I believe one of those films for a lot of people, me included. A few films are like this, that they ingrain so much of the best of Americana that they almost exist outside of their greatness as a film. In fact, when they are so ingrained, the greatness of a film, sometimes gets overshadowed. It's almost impossible to see the amazing technical achievements now, partially because they're hidden in plain sight so brilliantly, recreating images and of 1970 space technology, which amazingly was startlingly primitive compared to the CGI effects of even the mid-90s that recreated them, much less the technology of today.

And it's so simple a story, it's three men trying to find there way home. And the more you watch the movie, the more it feels like that, because the amazing accomplishment of the men in surviving the momentous disaster that was the mission. An oxygen tank exploding and basically everything that could've gone wrong on a mission to Mars does, and we follow intently all the steps (Actually a lot of the steps, like the manual driving the spaceship with the Earth in the window were done multiple times over, the movie simplifies a lot of it) they have to take, in order to get home, each one, capable of failing and leaving the three men dead. It's surprisingly bare elsewise, the only major subplot character is Jim Lovell's (Tom Hanks) wife, Marilyn (Kathleen Quinleen) as she struggles at home dealing with their kids. Everything else, is devoted to the mechanical telling of the story, which is actually more difficult than it sounds. Director Ron Howard is quite good at this technique, and his best films are able to find the emotional pulls through the more technical achievements, like his recent masterpieces, "Frost/Nixon" and "Rush", although neither were the technical achievements that "Apollo 13" was.

The film earned 11 Oscar nominations, winning 2, and Howard won the Director’s Guild Award for Best Director, although stunningly, he didn’t get an Oscar nomination (His Oscar win for “A Beautiful Mind,” might have been the Academy’s way of correcting.) A big deal was made at how the special effects were made to look so realistic, including some amazing shots that weren’t special effects, which is something I sort of miss. Some wonder why show special effects if people aren't gonna notice them, well, as time goes on, this film can be exhibit A as to why. Here, they give the movie a sort of timelessness that most films based on true stories don’t come close to having. The movie, on top of being this amazing story of survival and adventure, while also showcasing the amazing awe-inspiring accomplishments of NASA and space travel in general. The more you know about the actual events of what happened, the more you’ll appreciate the actual film. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

BY POPULAR DEMAND: THE TOP TEN MONOLOGUES!

Okay, still stuck in no-internet, no-computer world and this sucks, but I can still get some word done. I-eh, I, I can do a Top Ten List! People seem to like those, so let's put out a quick poll while I got a few hours at the library.

4 HOURS LATER

Okay, let's take a look. This TOP TEN LIST will be on... (Drumroll, Looking at results) hmm, monologues. (Shrugs) Okay, MONOLOGUES! I actually know quite a bit about monologues. Monologues are a little more specific than you might think. They are simply a character speaking a lot of words. A monologue actually has to be spoken to somebody. That doesn't preclude the possibility that the person they're talking to is themselves, but it can't just be somebody speaking say, inner thoughts or commenting or what's going on, or giving narration, that's probably more accurately a soliloquy. If you're familiar with stage productions of "One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest", the Native American is giving soliloquies, not monologues. A James Bond villain extrapolating on how he's about to kill Bond and take over the world, to James Bond, that's a monologue. Actually this is still pretty wide open, not only can monologues occur in film and television but really any form of literature. Novels, plays of course, most stand-up routines, hell a speech is technically a monologue.

Monologues are hard by the way. Hard to write, but more than that, hard to act. Every legitimate actor has at least one good monologue in their back pocket that they can pull out and perform at a moment's notice for an audition. It is the standard of determining a good actor or not, how they handle a monologue. And it is a bit counterproductive to how actors usually work. Especially film actors, normally with films, less is more and the camera can capture numerous emotions in the face alone, not to mention storytelling through editing,  that you often don't need as much dialogues, and monologues especially can seem awkward. "Dirty Harry" say "Go ahead, make my day." is often more powerful than any speech I can come up with. In theater, you can claim that it's a little different but still it's usually somebody reacting to what's going on as oppose to who's doing the action they're reacting to. This is when monologues can really be powerful. The best actors can convey all this emotion and drama with very little. The greatest actors can find all those emotions in those sea of words they have to spew.

So, how do you determine the best monologues? W-well...- um, I-eh, hmm. I have no real idea, but I'm gonna try anyway. There's definitely a few that I keep coming back and am inspired by, or ones that are for one reason or another really special, but to figure out the best of the best (frustrated sigh) hmm, Well, I'll try, but I'm definitely wishing that I had read/seen more plays at the moment. I also wish I was an actor and would be required to study more of these, more thoroughly, but still, I'm fairly comfortable with this list and I imagine most of you guys will too, but let me know if you think I missed anything.

Alright, enough stalling, let's count down folks!

TOP TEN MONOLOGUES!

10. "GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS"-"Always Be Closing (Brass Balls)"



Amazingly, this most infamous of David Mamet speeches, was not in the original Pulitzer Prize winning play. It was created originally for the feature film and written specifically for Alec Baldwin, but now is apart of nearly every stage production of "Glengarry Glen Ross". His character, comes in, as a favor to, give a motivational speech of sorts to the crew of salesman, all of whom's jobs are on the line. It's the speech that gives the character that much more desperation in a field infamous for desperate characters, especially in literature. It's filled with curse words and coarse language and the infamous use of brass balls as a prop, and it freaks everyone, especially the audience out. He comes in, raises hell and threatens everybody, and we believe every word when he says, first prize is a car, second prize a set of steakknives, and third prize, you're fired. Mamet is a master of language and dialogue and the art of the con, and nothing's a bigger con than salesman. A successful salesman is of course the greatest con man of all. For all we know, this character could just be a physical aberration plotwise, just a manifestation of everybody else's fears of their upper bosses. Yet, it's been mocked and copied ever since by everyone. It's the ultimate speech about business by Capitalism Personified, and I do have to give it extra points for being a rare movie speech that actually enhanced an original play.


9 "GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER"-Spencer Tracy's ending speech. 



For those curious on things that were close to making my list, I came close to putting a few speeches from "To Kill a Mockingbird" on here, and I am a little annoyed that somehow I wasn't able to find a good courtroom scene on here, but I realized pretty quickly that I had to put a Spencer Tracy speech somewhere in here. Not to mention, Stanley Kramer needs to get in here as well, so, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is a great film, but honestly, I generally only like to watch the ending speech in this film and frankly, the movie wouldn't work without it. I couldn't find the speech in it's entirety, but it's a bit of an eleven o'clock speech, which is a theater term form, normally a song, usually a marathon of previous song that sum up and recap everything before, but from his perspective, as the shocking story of a white daughter bringing home a Black husband who for reasons of drama puts a ticking clock on Tracy in order to accept him or he'll leave the daught-, ugh, yeah, the movie doesn't work as well as on repeated viewings, but the speech is magnificent. It was Tracy's last performance, earning him an Oscar nomination, He summizes the situation and everything about his world collapsing up until now, even though the characters are liberals themselves, the reality of the situation has flummoxed them until now, and it's finally being accused of not having love in his heart that finally shocks him back. The fact that the love for his wife Christina he argues about is played by his longtime lover Katharine Hepburn only makes the scene even more emotional. Tracy gave a lot of great speeches, "Judgment at Nuremberg", "Boys Town", "Inherit the Wind" was one that I thought about as well, but this is really the monologue that I think about when I think about how great Tracy was and really, if this goes wrong in any way, this whole really important and seminal film doesn't work. It probably helped earn Screenwriter William Rose a Oscar for the screenplay, few actors would otherwise be able to pull this off.


8. "THE WEST WING": "TWO CATHEDRALS"-"President Bartlet Talking to God"



Aaron Sorkin will show up multiple times on this list, to what should be nobody's surprise, he's easily the best writer today and his plays, films and television shows are renowned for their incredible dialogue. Usually between numerous people, occasionally you can find him giving his characters amazing monologues. "Two Cathedrals" was the name of "The West Wing"'s second season finale episode, and in the middle of the movie, President Jeb Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen, has just attended a funeral service for his secretary who suddenly passed away right as he's about to make a groundbreaking decision on his Presidency and reveal a major secret to the American public that could lead to his impeachment. He's a Boston Irish Catholic, alone in a church and the most powerful man in the universe is literally calling out God. It's stirring a man losing and challenges his faith at the same time, he even goes into Latin at certain points to make it clear to him, just in case he doesn't hear. There's so much going on at this moment and yet, it's still a rage against and to God, that might still, to quote another monologue that somehow didn't make this list, sound and fury signifying nothing. It's beautiful, yet stirring. It's one of the best episodes of one of the best shows of all time, and right in the middle of it, is this startling monologue from a man, literally with the world on his shoulders, knowing it's about to crumble before his eyes, and wondering if it's worth putting back together or not. There's been characters who have called out to God before, but nothing quite like this.


7.  "GEORGE CARLIN: CLASS CLOWN"-"The 7 Words You Can't Say on Television"




Stand-up comedy is in some ways, all monologues. Well, some things in stand-up aren't but still, it's a guy talking to an audience essentially. But he is actually performing and sometimes what they say is powerful. Originally showing up in the public conscious in it's original form on his album "Class Clown", George Carlin's most famous routine, "The 7 Words You Can't Say on Television", actually led to a Supreme Court case that drew the line for indecency on American television that still stands today. It's also just one of the funniest pieces of observational humor ever. Amazingly, this is only the 3rd highest monologue from the field of stand-up on this list, (And clearly you should realize by now that if I'm not obligated to stick to one medium, so I won't) but you can argue that this is certainly the most important stand-up routine of all time. That alone puts it on here, but it's probably also the most influential. Not only, commenting on society's taboos, but Carlin's fascination with language is on play here that he analyzes to death better than anybody, seeking out the reasons and usages of the taboo of the words. From a stand-up comic who, would often go back and repeat and rethink old routines, it would be over twenty years before he stopped regularly updating this routine and making it a prerequisite for his act and HBO specials. At some point, pop culture started to turn around towards Carlin's routine and some of those words are actually somewhat usable on television nowadays, but the power and influence of the routine still reverberates throughout both television and stand-up comedy.


#6: "RICHARD PRYOR: LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP"-"Freebase" and "Hospital"




This and Carlin's "7 Dirty Words..." are pretty much neck-and-neck to me, but what I give a slight edge to Richard Pryor's "Freebase" and "Hospital" routines, is that, this is probably the moment that I think standup comedy turned into an art. Appearing on both the comedy album and his stand-up documentary, "Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip" documents both his experiences with freebasing cocaine, and then documents the infamous incident where he literally blew himself up supposedly freebasing. (Note: I couldn't find a great complete cut of either the album or the performance from the movie on Youtube, so this is a version of the album that's still somewhat edited) Starting with his conversation and friendship with his crackpipe, the voice of the crackpipe, being based on Richard Nixon, and then, going slowly and inevitably into the incident that led to him on fire and running down the street, before getting to the hospital, and then being asked for an autograph. Pryor's work, not only was known for being controversial, but what really separates him from the other greatest comics of his time was how personal he made his material, but here he's confronting infamy and yet, he's still managing to make a greater commentary within his own life and within his own work. Basically everything built up in Pryor's life and career meet up. The film was I believe, recorded during his first or second performance post the freebasing incident and it's that rare moment when reality, infamy and commentary come together in any art form, much less stand-up.


5. "RICHARD III": ACT I, SCENE I-"Now is the Winter of Our Discontent..."




I seriously thought about just writing down ten Shakespeare monologues without any explanations, and leave this blog at that, and frankly I could've. But, I decided to be a little more inventive but it's still pretty impossible to not include Shakespeare on this list. Still though, which ones? Well, truth be told, I'm more partial to "MacBeth" than "Richard III" and yeah, I did think about "Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo..." especially since I'm disappointed in myself for that I couldn't find any space on this list for a monologue that's traditionally spoken by a female; that sucks, but in terms of a Top Ten, I think "Richard III" is a little more relevant and prevalent in literature and culture. This is especially so when you consider that this is really an early occurrence what we think of today as "Breaking the fourth wall." It's the opening speech of the play, and he's telling the audience what he's about to do, and then we see him do it. It might not be the first example, but it's definitely the most influential; hell, just watch an episode of "House of Cards" and you'll see that "Richard III" is alive and well. Essentially, "Richard III" is a guy who's not only performing for all the other characters as he schemes and kills his way to the top, but he's also doing it for us, performing specifically for our enjoyment. "Now is the Winter of Our Discontent..." is a perverse and startling opening, and never moreso in this film version, when Sir Ian McKellan performs it, first as this grand speech to a crowded ballroom, but then finishes it, by talking directly to us, in the john, while he's taking a piss, like it's a speech he's given a million times before, and only he knows he true meanings in his words. It's a great, menacing speech no matter how it's given. It's sardonic, Machiavellian, cynical, and sinsiter all at one and definitely the best opening monologue of any of Shakespeare's plays.


4. "THE NEWSROOM": "PILOT/WE JUST DECIDED TO"-"We're Not the Greatest Country..."




It's been almost four years and I'm still seeing people passing clips of this monologue around on Facebook and whatnot like it's some new prophetic speech about this modern world. I don't know if I'd go that far, but, damn, it's a great monologue. Ever after "The Newsroom", the best TV show this decade was unfairly canceled too soon, "Were Not the Greatest Country"..." is still amazing and I never get sick of hearing it. The opening of the Pilot Episode of Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom", titled, "We Just Decided To" begins with Will McAvoy, the cable news anchor mostly known for being, generic and likeable than a hard-hitting or opinionated anchor is forced into answering a question from a nervous college students at a Q&A with a pair of his more activist media rivals and that's when he suddenly and voluntarily decides to destroy everything and everyone, including and especially his career and his carefully crafted image. In one felt swoop, he says everything you're supposedly not supposed to say especially at his job, and it's actually unbeknownst to him a relieving and freeing experience but mostly in the moment, it's a full-on assault knockout blow to the modern American Dream myth. The monologue is credited with earning Jeff Daniels a well-deserved Emmy and remains a calling card for both American realists and ideals who believe our best years are behind and yet, that it's possible for America to return to their honor prominence in the world. Even from a man who's known for great speeches and monologue, it's clear that this will be the one from Aaron Sorkin that will truly be remembered and echoed for years to come.


3. "25TH HOUR"-"The Fuck Monologue




At first glance, this feels like something that Spike Lee would've come up with on his own, but actually the original version of this was in fact in David Benioff's original novel "The 25th Hour" but this ranks not just as the best cinematic monologue, not only because of what's written, but how Spike Lee finds a new way of shooting a monologue. Not just the news footage and the montage of New York City, but the interesting new approach he takes to having a character talking in the mirror, which, yes, I know some of you are wondering where, "Boogie Nights", "Raging Bull" "Taxi Driver" and even "On the Waterfront" are on this list at this moment and how I can rank this one so far ahead of them, Yeah, I probably could've found room for a few of those, "You Talkin' to Me" does seem a bit missing from this list, but-eh, seriously, how come more actors don't try to memorize this monologue? This is such a perfect monologue! And just on the simplest levels, a man lets out on everything, and everyone, the world practically, or at least the city he lives in, before finally turning the blame on himself, going through all those inner emotions.... Whew! The first major film to take place in New York City after 9/11, Montgomery Brogan, played by Edward norton, has one last day of freedom before going to jail for seven years for drug trafficking and in the literal shadow of two towers, while trying to tie up loose ends, he also comes to terms with his actions and the consequences thereof. In a way, the monologue could be a synecdoche of his entire day's journey, his life's journey, or we could reflect on the time and call it a microcosm of many people's thought at that time, but I prefer to look at it in the moment. There's so much blasts of emotions from him, and then to successfully be able to turn it around back to him, this is an actor's monologue. If I ever think about it, I'd look into staging a theatrical version of this movie, just to see this speech performed in front of an audience; I'm actually a bit shocked nobody's tried that yet. It's one of Spike Lee's very best films and it's an absolutely amazing monologue.


2. ANY BOB NEWHART STAND-UP ROUTINE





Seriously. No, I'm not gonna pick one, you can't pick just one of Bob Newhart's. Bob Newhart is the greatest monologueist around. Not Carson, not Letterman, not Jack Paar, not Leno, not Pryor, not Carlin, no!, Bob Newhart is in a league of his own when it comes to monologue, in every sense of the word. Nobody is better at talking to people who aren't there than he is, nobody has come up with more ingenious monologues than him. I know this, because,-, well, let me tell you a story, some of you know this but I am a produced playwright outside of this blog, but the reason I can say that is because I once had a monologue performed. It's called "Rest, Peacefully", remind me one day and I'll post it here, (Hmm, I should post some of my other writings here sometimes too, hmm.) It's not bad; it's actually unbelievably simple, it's a guy giving a eulogy to somebody he despised. On the surface, it's simple, but this started as a project in a playwrighting class to write a monologue, it was actually my fifth attempt at trying to write a one-page monologue. Because the other four times I tried it, I got halfway through, before I suddenly realized that I was literally re-writing a Bob Newhart routine, each time! That's how good he is at this. A monologue is a person talking to other people, yet, he's alone. You think those routines of him talking on the phone are easy? They're incredibly sophisticated and difficult to perform. I posted his very first recorded routine (Which actually was recorded the very first time he performed stand-up, he worked behind the scenes mostly previously) of his, "Abe Lincoln vs. Madison Avenue" on his groundbreaking album "The Buttoned-Down Mind of Bob Newhart", which along with his follow-up, earned him a Grammy for Best New Artist, (Yes, Best New Artist, look it up; they didn't have a Comedy Album category at the time) but any of his routines, are just masterclasses in how to write a monologues. Seriously, to any writer out there, whether you do comedy or not, study Bob Newhart and you will learn everything you need to know about monologues. Understanding situations of monologues, understanding how to write in dialogue that's not there, understanding how to get the audience to understand who those other people are saying without hearing them, they're entire sketches of people, but all performed by one man. Not all the characters, just one character, that Bob Newhart's performing. Even the dated ones are funny as hell and still are unbelievable monologues. "The Cruise of the U.S.S. Codfish", "Driving Instructor", "Introducing Tobacco to Civilization", "Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball", "Police Lineup", "The Krushchev Landing Rehearsal"... these are spectacular monologues. Seriously, you want to really know about monologues, study Bob Newhart. Then try to write one, and you'll quickly realize why Bob Newhart's entire work gets it's own spot here.


...AND NOW, THE #1 MONOLOGUE OF ALL-TIME!

C'mon? Did you really think anything else would be number one? Anything else could be number one? Please, I mean, alright, fine, arbitrary, the easy pick, Orson Welles is right, it's actually completely unnecessary to the play, but...., c'mon. We all know what it is. Say it with me, (Clears throat). To be, or not to be-, that is the question....
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune....

#1. "HAMLET": ACT III, SCENE I-"To Be or Not To Be...."




Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die- to sleep-.... yada yada yada, you should all know it.

It's amazing how often and how different this one monologue, And yes, it is a monologue, and a silloquoy, one can be both, and that's how great this is, and how great Shakespeare, you can really interpret this in hundred of different ways, play it many different ways and they're always powerful, always successfully. It's unbelievably iconic, we still parody it today, it's still repeated today, hell they're still stealing from the speech to come up with titles for other projects. Including this show, if you don't know that clip above, it's from a Canadian TV show called "Slings & Arrows" about a Shakespeare company trying to put on a show. Worth looking up, and this clips goes over just how much is in this speech and how interpretive is. It shows how actors' tackled a monologue and or any piece of dialogue really, how they shape the written word on the page, and give it meaning, and all the possible approaches to monologues that can be given, and no monologue has as many different approaches than this one. "Hamlet"'s the best play ever written, by the greatest playwright and this is the greatest monologue from the play. Is Hamlet acting, going crazy, actually trying to make a decision, or has he already made up his mind what he's gonna do,... This is easily the greatest monologue of all-time.

So there you have, the Top Ten Monologues. I'm sure you guys will have some thoughts, and I'd like to hear them. I'll write on other things later.