Monday, December 18, 2006

Golden Globe Nominations: Part Four

We've reached the end, at last--Part Four of my four-part blog on the Golden Globe nominations, which were announced on Thursday. For nominations in the film categories, see Parts One and Two; for the television comedy and drama categories, see Part Three. Part Four consists of the nominations for miniseries and for supporting actor/actress. Enjoy!

Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Bleak House
Broken Trail
Elizabeth I
Mrs. Harris
Prime Suspect: The Final Act

If you needed more proof of Helen Mirren's dominance over all things award-related, here it is. Not only has she received three nominations this year, but just about every project with which she was connected has been recognized by the HFPA. I won't even pretend that my personal favorite in this category, Bleak House, has a fighting chance. Elizabeth I basically swept the Emmys earlier this year, and I have every reason to expect a repeat. It's the Mirren Factor, baby.

Best Actress - Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Gillian Anderson, Bleak House
Annette Bening, Mrs. Harris
Helen Mirren, Elizabeth I
Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect: The Final Act
Sophie Okonedo, Tsunami, The Aftermath

This is such an impressive group of actresses, you have to wonder what went wrong in the Best Comedic Actress (TV) category. There are certainly plenty of talented women on television, so why is Marcia Cross nominated exactly? I'd count Annette Bening out right away, since she's nominated in another category and because Mrs. Harris has been mostly ignored at awards shows. Gillian Anderson was wonderful in Bleak House, but hers was a supporting role; I would have liked to see the series' lead actress, Anna Maxwell Martin, nominated this year. Having just finished Part One of Tsunami, The Aftermath, I must say that Sophie Okonedo would be my hands-down favorite in any other year. She gives a heartbreaking, understated performance as a mother who goes mad with grief and takes another person's child after her own daughter goes missing and is presumed dead in a tsunami. Many actresses would overplay this role in a Lifetime-movie fashion, but Okonedo gives the character dignity. This is Helen Mirren's year, however, and there's no stopping her transition into the Galactic Emperor of Dramatic Acting. Coincidentally, Ian McDarmid appeared in Elizabeth I with Helen Mirren. This woman is the new Kevin Bacon. Normally I'd predict that Mirren would split her own vote, but in this case, the HFPA will probably just declare a tie between her performances and give her two awards. Just watch and see if I'm wrong.

Best Actor - Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television
Andre Braugher, Thief
Robert Duvall, Broken Trail
Michael Ealy, Sleeper Cell: American Terror
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tsunami, The Aftermath
Ben Kingsley, Mrs. Harris
Bill Nighy, Gideon's Daughter
Matthew Perry, The Ron Clark Story

Is there some reason that seven actors made it into this category, but only three non-Mirren actresses made it into the Best Actress category? I call BS. With so many nominees, it's hard to predict how this one will go. Andre Braugher, one of my all-time faves, justly won the Emmy this year for his performance in Thief, and he has a fighting chance for the Golden Globe. I've heard that Sleeper Cell is insanely awesome, though, so Michael Ealy could pop up and take the award. After watching the first part of Tsunami, The Aftermath, I owe Chiwetel Ejiofor a huge apology. The man is a tremendous actor, and I'm a lamewad for not knowing who he was. He plays Sophie Okonedo's husband in the miniseries, and he has an impeccable scene when he realizes that his wife has gone batshit crazy and has replaced his possibly dead daughter with another little girl. He doesn't say a word, but the expression on his face is deserving of several awards right there, apart from the rest of his amazing performance. If Chandler from Friends beats him, I will swear off the Globes forever. By the way, I frequently make idle threats.

Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Emily Blunt, Gideon's Daughter
Toni Collette, Tsunami, The Aftermath
Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy
Sarah Paulson, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds

The HFPA needs to divide this category up, if only to give it a shorter name. It's difficult to say if the nominees even give comparable performances, which doesn't mean they aren't great at what they do. How do you choose between a charity worker from a super-serious tsunami miniseries and a suburban mom from a TV show about pot-dealing? To use the same criteria to evaluate performances on completely different planes is well, silly. I'll be rooting for either Emily Blunt or Toni Collette, since neither actress is going to win in the film categories in which they are also nominated. Try diagramming that sentence.

Best Supporting Actor - Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Thomas Haden Church, Broken Trail
Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth I
Justin Kirk, Weeds
Masi Oka, Heroes
Jeremy Piven, Entourage

Yata!! Hiro did it! I'm thrilled that my favorite part of Heroes (besides Adrian Pasdar's chest, teeth, and voice) got some love from the HFPA. I'd be floored if Masi Oka won, but the nomination is a nice acknowledgment of his work. This category is another weird grab bag of performances, and it's a tough call. Jeremy Irons, due to his proximity to Helen Mirren, won the Emmy for Elizabeth I earlier this year, and I'd say he's the front runner. Jeremy Piven's coming off of his own Emmy win, however, and he's been nominated for a Golden Globe for the previous two years, so this might be his turn. I'm just curious to see what sort of bizarre cravat he wears this time.

See you on January 15th, suckas!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Golden Globe Nominations: Part Three

Now we come to Part Three of my ginormous four-part blog about the Golden Globe nominations, which were announced yesterday. Check out Parts One and Two for the film nominations. Today's blogs are all about the nominations for Television, which I was more than happy with (for the most part, Housewives excluded). Let's start things off with the drama and comedy awards, shall we?

Best Drama Series
Big Love
Grey's Anatomy

While it's fantastic that my new favorite drama, Heroes, got a nod, I'm less than thrilled about the other nominees. A bunch of doctors freaking out about how many people they've slept with at work isn't so much dramatic as it is pathetic. Every time I catch a snippet of Grey's Anatomy, someone is looking mopey or oversharing with a co-worker. Not compelling television. Big Love is a well-made and well-acted show, but I can think of several HBO shows that deserved the nomination more. The Wire and Deadwood are complex, gutwrenching dramas that are in a class apart from just about every show on this list. Show Omar some love, you feel me? I'm betting that the HFPA will either reward the novelty of Heroes or the old mainstay, 24.

Best Actress, Drama
Patricia Arquette, Medium
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Evangeline Lilly, Lost
Ellen Pompeo, Grey's Anatomy
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

Awards shows do not know how to spot the truly kickass actresses on TV, and this category proves it. Instead of picking actresses like Deadwood's Robin Weigert, who add new layers to their characters with each episode, the Globes acknowledged the work of Evangeline Lilly and Ellen Pompeo, two actresses who can barely master the pouty extressions that their characters require. Both Lilly and Pompeo's characters provide only the most superficial of conflicts to their shows: which hot guy do I want to sleep with? Kate and Meredith Grey aren't exactly Lady Macbeth and Blanche DuBois, if you know what I mean. Patricia Arquette's consistent nominations still confuse me--when is her show even on? The two real contenders are Edie Falco and Kyra Sedgwick. As I was watching the second and third episodes of The Sopranos' most recent season, I knew Edie Falco would be nominated. She's had the best scenes in an otherwise lackluster season. The award will likely go to fresher face Kyra Sedgwick, however, and I don't mind one bit. I want to see the cutaway shots to her adorable husband, Kevin Bacon, when she makes her acceptance speech.

Best Actor, Drama
Patrick Dempsey, Grey's Anatomy
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House, M.D.
Bill Paxton, Big Love
Kiefer Sutherland, 24

Michael C. Hall's nomination notwithstanding, meh. How hard can it be to play McDreamy, honestly? Ditto Bill Paxton's polygamist character in Big Love. The brilliant Hugh Laurie won last year, but he's stuck with a character that says and does the exact same things in every episode: belittle everyone, make snarky comments, and occasionally depict a weakness for pain medication. Laurie does a wonderful job with his character, but there isn't much for him to add to Gregory House in each episode. Past winner Keifer Sutherland is the front runner, but I'm hoping that Michael C. Hall stages an upset. I can't describe how awesome Dexter is, and how perfectly Hall plays Dexter Morgan. How many actors could make a serial killer sympathetic, funny, and relatable? Start watching this show ASAP.

Best Comedy Series
Desperate Housewives
The Office
Ugly Betty

It's never a good sign when I both groan and cheer at the announcement of a category. Entourage is one of those comedies that is funny in the moment, but doesn't hold up to repeat viewing. Perhaps I don't find it funny because I'm not a spoiled, lazy young man with a bogus sense of entitlement--you know, like the characters on the show? Word has it that Weeds is very deserving, but Desperate Housewives has never belonged on this list of nominees. Call me crazy, but the frozen, plastic faces of Marcia Cross and Teri Hatcher don't inspire laughter, at least not in a comedic sense. Choosing between The Office and Ugly Betty is like choosing between Chips Ahoy and Oreos, and I can't bear to do it. I'll be ecstatic if either one wins.

Best Actress, Comedy
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

I can't believe that we haven't moved on from this Desperate Housewives trend already. The first person who can give me a decent explanation why these women are funny will get a million dollars'...worth of free blogging advice. Mary-Louise Parker gives off this huffy "too cool for school" vibe, which looks even worse next to the humility and gratitude of Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Find me one actress who's more thankful to have steady work, seriously. That said, America Ferrera has to win. The sweet, slightly goofy tone of Ugly Betty is totally dependent on Ferrera's performance, and she delivers like Domino's.

Best Actor, Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Zach Braff, Scrubs
Steve Carell, The Office
Jason Lee, My Name is Earl
Tony Shalhoub, Monk

That's what I'm talkin' about!! 4 out of 5 nominees actually belong here. I'm still a little miffed about Tony Shalhoub beating Steve Carell at last year's Emmys, so he's out. If Best Comedy was like choosing a cookie, this category is more like choosing between different types of chocolate. I don't think Zach Braff's ever won an award for his portrayal of J.D., and it would be nice if Scrubs got the teensiest bit of kudos. Jason Lee brings a lot to the dopey role of Earl Hickey, but I don't see it happening. 30 Rock lacks the popularity or exposure of The Office, and Steve Carell's just too hilarious to pass up. Perhaps Carell will celebrate his win Michael Scott-style, with dinner at Chili's and drinks at Hooters.

Part Four--coming soon!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Golden Globe Nominations: Part Two

This blog entry is Part Two of a four-part series on the Golden Globe nominations, which were announced early this morning. Part One, containing the nominees for film directing and acting, can be found here. Parts Three and Four concerning television will follow. Now we get to the second batch of film nominees: those recognized for Best Original Song, Best Original Score, Screenplay, and Best Picture. Here we go!

Best Original Song
"A Father's Way," from The Pursuit of Happyness, Seal & Christopher Bruce
"Listen," from Dreamgirls, Henry Krieger, Anne Preven, Scott Cutler, & Beyonce Knowles
"Never Gonna Break My Faith," from Bobby, Bryan Adams, Eliot Kennedy & Andrew Remanda
"The Song of the Heart," from Happy Feet, Prince
"Try Not to Remember," from The Painted Veil, Sheryl Crow

I didn't realize that Bryan Adams had resurfaced! Good for him. He's been nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his soundtrack work, but never won. I think he could use the career boost, but it's a competitive category. This award often goes to a celebrity nominee, but there are several this year. Of all the nominated songs, I've only heard Prince's contribution to Happy Feet, and it's nothing to sing home about. Dreamgirls has popularity on its side, so I'm choosing Beyonce and company over Seal and Cheryl Crow. Not that I would mind seeing Seal for an extended period of time...

Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, The Painted Veil
Carlo Siliotto, Nomad
Clint Mansell, The Fountain
Gustavo Santaolalla, Babel
Hans Zimmer, The Da Vinci Code

Rather than pretend I'm familiar with a majority of the nominees, I'll come right out and pick Gustavo Santaolalla for Babel. He won last year in the same category, and won an Oscar for Best Original Score for Brokeback Mountain. The man knows how to set the mood, and setting the mood for a Ledger-Gyllenhaal love scene is a precarious task. Seriously, the man is talented, and deserves to beat Hans Zimmer's Ron Howard-loving ass. Loyal readers will recall my intense hatred of all things Da Vinci.

Best Screenplay
Guillermo Arriaga, Babel
Patrick Marber, Notes on a Scandal
William Monahan, The Departed
Peter Morgan, The Queen
Todd Field & Tom Perotta, Little Children

I'm ashamed that I haven't seen any of these movies, all of which have great reputations. Movies like The Departed seem especially reliant on building suspense and believable plot twists, which a good screenwriter would have to provide. Previous winners indicate that the HFPA likes emotional, dialogue-centered films, which means that The Queen and Babel are strong contenders. I'll go with Babel, if only for the way Guillermo Arriaga skillfully handled four overlapping international storylines.

Best Animated Feature Film
Happy Feet
Monster House

If I've learned anything from my two-year-old nephew, it's that Cars was the best animated movie of the year. There's no arguing with a two-year-old. Besides, penguins are so 2005.

Best Foreign Language Film
Letters From Iwo Jima
Pan's Labyrinth
The Lives of Others

This is a very interesting category. Volver was a Golden Palm nominee at the Cannes Film Festival, and Letters From Iwo Jima has gotten lots of critical recognition. The third big name, Apocalypto, is doing well at the moment, but the HFPA may not have completely forgotten about Mel Gibson's drunken ramblings. Part of me wants Mel Gibson's movie to win, but it's the part of me that picked Apocalypto in my Fantasy Moguls league. I'm going with Volver, since the gifted Pedro Almodovar got snubbed for Best Director. Maybe the Hollywood Foreign Press will throw him a bone.

Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Little Miss Sunshine
Thank You For Smoking
The Devil Wears Prada

I don't think enough people over the age of 18 liked Borat enough to give it the Golden Globe. The Devil Wears Prada was entirely owned by Meryl Streep, and the movie will be recognized via her win. Hopefully TomKat's reach won't extend to the awards circuit (Thank You for Smoking), because I don't think I could take it if Katie Holmes continued to get everything she wants. Little Miss Sunshine would be a fitting choice, since it 1) was hilarious, 2) had an incredible ensemble cast, and 3) had a family striptease number. Classic.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Little Children
The Departed
The Queen

Bobby and Little Children are in over their heads. I'm sorry, but there's no way an Emilio Estevez picture wins anything. Did you see Men At Work? Case. Rested. The Departed and The Queen will probably get more acting awards than anything else, so look for Babel to be the winner.

Parts Three and Four Coming Soon!

Golden Globe Nominations: Part One

The nominations for the Golden Globe awards were announced early this morning, and I couldn't be more excited about this year's show. The Golden Globes are often seen as a warm-up for the Oscars, but I happen to like this awards show more. Presenters and acceptance speeches are way funnier, and you get the movie and TV folks together in one place, like when two of your favorite TV shows do a crossover episode. Surreal, but nice. There were a lot of pleasant surprises this year, especially in the TV categories. After hearing the film nominees, it became clear to me that I've become a total homebody, unable to roll off the couch to even go to movies. I haven't seen a lot of the nominated films yet, but I will do my best to provide some decent criticism. Part One of this megablog is reserved for the film acting and directing awards, with Parts Two, Three, and Four to come later. Enjoy!

Best Director:
Clint Eastwood, Flags of Our Fathers
Clint Eastwood, Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel
Martin Scorsese, The Departed

It's very likely that Clint Eastwood will split his own vote, although Clint is to major awards what Larry Hagman is to livers--just try not to give him one. Flags of Our Fathers isn't nominated in any other categories, so I'd count it out. Letters From Iwo Jima has already won several awards, but it may win for Best Foreign Film instead. Babel has the most nominations of any of the other films, but my bet is on Stephen Frears for The Queen. Martin Scorsese is doomed as far as major awards are concerned; he's been nominated for six Golden Globes and won only once. And the Oscars? Don't ask.

Best Supporting Actor:
Ben Affleck, Hollywoodland
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson, The Departed
Brad Pitt, Babel
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

It's hard to understand why the Hollywood Foreign Press Association combines the supporting actor and actress categories. I've always thought it was a little unfair to treat the lead and supporting roles differently. So-called supporting roles are often more memorable than the leads. There's no way that I'm ready to live in world where Marky Mark or Butt Affleck beats out Jack Nicholson for a major award. Brad Pitt is a movie star, but he's not in the same league with the great dramatic actors of our time. I'd root for Eddie Murphy, but he's been a total cad to Scary Spice lately. Jack it is.

Best Supporting Actress:
Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Emily Blunt, The Devil Wears Prada
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

I think it would be hilarious if American Idol reject Jennifer Hudson won this award. From what I hear, she should have been nominated for Lead Actress, but she has a better chance here. I haven't heard much about Notes on a Scandal yet, so I can't really go with Cate Blanchett (although I can't wait to see what she wears). Emily Blunt is nominated in the TV Miniseries Supporting Actress category, and that seems more like her weight class at the moment. Between the two Babel actresses, I've heard more raving about Rinko Kikuchi, so I'm picking her to win.

Best Actor, Comedy or Musical:
Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Aaron Eckhart, Thank You for Smoking
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kinky Boots
Will Ferrell, Stranger Than Fiction

Any other year I would have gone with Aaron Eckhart's slick performance in Thank You for Smoking, but this category has Borat written all over it. Cohen is the only actor whose portrayal was so convincing as to deceive real people. Hopefully the crude parts of the film don't overshadow the genius of Cohen's character. The buzz around Will Ferrell ended quickly, and Captain Jack Sparrow is already a faint memory. Poor Chiwetel Ejiofor, I have absolutely no idea who you are.

Best Actress, Comedy or Musical:
Annette Bening, Running With Scissors
Toni Collette, Little Miss Sunshine
Beyonce Knowles, Dreamgirls
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Renee Zellweger, Miss Potter

If I'm not ready for Marky Mark to win an award, then I'm 100% not prepared to see Beyonce "bootylicious" Knowles beat out Meryl Streep. Knowles will look gorgeous on awards night, but the nomination is her award. Toni Collete is fabulous, but she was the least interesting character in the equally great Little Miss Sunshine. If Zellweger was going through one of her preying mantis phases during her film, she has no shot. This race is between Annette Bening and Meryl Streep. I'll root for Meryl Streep, who is guaranteed to give a better acceptance speech than the one Bening gave for her role in Being Julia. Plus it's Warren Beatty's time to shine (he's getting a lifetime achievement award), so Bening shouldn't steal his thunder.

Best Actor, Drama:
Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

There may be another instance of vote-splitting in this category, which is unfortunate for the hardworking Leonardo DiCaprio. He's not my favorite actor, but he makes an effort to be involved in great projects. Peter O'Toole hasn't gotten much buzz, and Will Smith simply does not belong. I prefer reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to any of his movies, and that show was effing obnoxious. Forest Whitaker is far too talented not to get this award. He is consistently brilliant in everything he does, and will likely give a sincere, humble acceptance speech.

Best Actress, Drama:
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sherrybaby
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Kate Winslet, Little Children

I imagine that this year's showdown between Dames Helen Mirren and Judi Dench will be like that scene in the third Star Wars prequel when Mace Windu and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine battled it out, and Palpatine totally handed Windu's ass to him. In this scenario, Helen Mirren is Palpatine, in case you hadn't figured it out. Helen Mirren is unstoppable. She's dominating the royal biopic genre at the moment, while Dench was relegated to another Bond film. The other nominees should just stay out of this one, lest they go the way of Samuel L. Jackson.

Stay tuned for Part Two!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mid-Season Finales (contains spoilers)

It's early December, which means that most of my favorite shows are already on hiatus for the next couple of months. It's going to be a long winter without my stories. This year there was a lot of emphasis on having winter/midseason finales with some sort of payoff or cliffhanger. Were the networks as good as their word? Let's examine this further.

Lost: This was the earliest finale, and Lost will apparently have the longest hiatus of all the big series. As usual, I was not impressed with this Kate-centric episode. Kate has always been the most disappointing character to me, and she has some decent competition--hello, Locke! With her criminal past, she has the greatest potential for an exciting backstory, but her flasbacks always leave something to be desired. I get it, writers: Kate can't settle down, she likes to run away, and, like virtually every Lost character, has Daddy issues. On a side note, can't some of the blame be shifted to the characters' mothers? A cranky aunt? Anyway, the only interesting thing about the episode was that Jack finally grew a pair and threatened to kill Ben, aka "the artist formerly known as Henry Gale." Of course, he used his leverage for something pointless like saving Kate, but it was still fairly entertaining to watch. The Kate-Sawyer cage sex seemed like more of a ratings ploy than a significant storyline, and made no contribution to the episode. I really wish that the writers would provide a more exciting gimmick, like maybe in every 12th episode they could actually answer some questions! Grade: C-

Jericho: I know, this show is on CBS and it is scientifically inaccurate, but Wednesdays are slow now that Dancing with the Stars has waltzed out of my life. The writers of Jericho have clearly learned a thing or two from Lost's mistakes and give a little bit of payoff when it counts. You'd think a post-nuclear attack show would have a little more death, and it finally came to Jericho's suspiciously wet streets. Two, count 'em, two murders. A crowd of survivors walk into Jericho like backup dancers in the Thriller video, one of whom is Emily's fiance, Roger. Dun. Dun. Dun. I could have done without the nonexistent chemistry between Skeet Ulrich and Ashley Scott during their Sinead O'Connor dance of forbidden love, but that's a minor detail. Plus it was nice to see that Hawkins is in some trouble with his secret apocalypse buddies. That final message on the monitor, "See you soon," was eerie enough to keep me intrigued until after the hiatus. Hawkins definitely needs more screen time, as does Stanley's bare chest. Grade: B+

Veronica Mars: It's been an inconsistent season in terms of quality, but I thought this finale was a good way to wrap up the Hearst rapist mystery. Mercer and Moe as the villains actually made logical sense, and viewers can go back to previous episodes and see that the clues were there all along. Even though I love Veronica and Logan, I had been waiting for their inevitable breakup for some time, and it was tastefully done. Nothing against our girl, but V is kind of a sucky girlfriend. Don't get me wrong--I think she and Logan could make it work if Veronica could learn to trust and appreciate him a bit more. We got to see more of Mac, and she was wearing a hilarious "Ask my about my STD" t-shirt. Hopefully Tina Majorino, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs, and Julie Gonzalo will get more attention after the break, especially now that the Logan-Veronica relationship of doom arc is done for the time being. With such fun actors, ensemble is totally the way to go. Finally, the show featured some of my favorite things: the music of Fatboy Slim, bad dancing, and a guy's leg being stabbed with a toy unicorn horn. Ed Begley, Jr., will be missed, but I look forward to seeing how his murderer gets caught in the next arc. Grade: B+

Ugly Betty: Another outstanding episode from the cast and writers. This holiday special had it all--huge laughs, tender romantic voiceovers, and a little bit of soapy drama. Betty and Henry could not be cuter, and I was devastated when it turned out that whinypants Walter, not Henry, gave Betty those thoughtful gifts. When it's not right, it's not right, and more than one character learned that lesson the hard way. Amanda's discovery of the engagement rings let her know that she and Daniel were not to be. I thought the old "ring stuck on the finger" bit had been done to death, but that's my only nitpick for this episode. Daniel is finally able to commit to one woman, but I still don't trust this relationship. It seems like Sofia is doing a Down With Love-style exposé on taming playboys or something. There's no way this ends well, especially since Sofia is taking Betty away, thus eliminating the whole concept of the show. Evil Marc had too many perfectly hilarious lines to mention, and I loved the music. "Mambo Santa Mambo" by the Enchanters is now on my iPod for the long haul, even after Christmas is over. Fake snow for everyone! Grade: A

Heroes: The much-hyped finale of Heroes aired, and the big death was not quite as shocking as I expected. Eden was never that compelling, although she's still a step up from the Niki/Jessica snoozefest. Did Sylar's powers work because Silent Haitian hottie wasn't present? If so, isn't that kind of dangerous? I love how the writers keep making HRG Bennet more complex. After last week, I thought he was just a nice teddy bear of a Dad, but he went back to being bastardish after erasing the memories of Claire's brother and her only friend in the world. At least the Silent Haitian guy screwed him over and let Claire keep her memory. By the way--I laughed when the Haitian told Claire that he'd wiped Mrs. Bennet's memory many times, because...well, it explains a lot. You have to wonder how he handled the dog, though. As always, the episode needed more Hiro and Ando. Those guys should have their own late-night talk show where they talk about sci-fi and other geeky stuff. That future-painting of Hiro and the T-Rex is very promising, as was Peter's dream that he was the exploding man. How is that going to happen? What is making Peter so sick? Since this isn't Lost, there is actually a chance in hell that these questions will be answered. I look forward to next year's episodes. Grade: A

The Wire: This is a season finale that I saw early on HBO OnDemand, but The Wire's "Final Grades" episode was heartbreaking in a way that I've never seen on television. It hasn't aired yet, so I won't give too much away, but wow. David Simon has to be the biggest pessimist of all time. Out of the 4 schoolkids, only a couple of them turned out the way I thought, and only one ended up with a decent future. It was incredibly difficult to watch these children take on the same bleak existences that the adult characters have. The final montage set to music was a little mainstream for this show, as was the "don't miss the first five minutes" moment in the opener, but as a whole the episode was beautiful and brutally real. If you have HBO, try to watch it this Sunday night. Grade: A+

Monday, November 27, 2006

The All My Children Transgender Character Stunt

It's all over the entertainment websites that soap opera All My Children is pulling a "groundbreaking" move: adding a transgender character. You'll forgive me if I don't bat an eyelash.

As a former soap viewer, I have to say that this is sort of a non-story. The media hype, on the other hand, is a rather humorous story. AMC's Executive Producer Julie Hanan Carruthers has been quoted as saying "After 36 years, you start rehashing. It's inevitable." So, am I to understand that up to this point, All My Children has been producing completely original storylines? I'd say most soaps run out of "fresh" material after about 3-5 seasons. The characters may look different or have ambiguous genitalia, but the game is the same. Someone steals someone's significant other, someone else is a bitch and a catfight ensues, and someone has amnesia/comes back from the dead/plots a nefarious scheme.

AMC is also getting way too much press for doing something "different" when outlandish shows like Passions have been making viewers suspend their disbelief and knowledge of history, science, and human behavior for years. At one time or another, Passions has had witches, zombies, talking dolls, and a mermaid. My favorite plot point has to be when an elderly character, Edna, had a live-in nurse named Precious. Precious was no ordinary nurse--she was an orangutan. Who wore a nurse's uniform. And fell in love with one of the human male characters. Check out this Wikipedia entry if you don't believe me. There was the standard girl-loves-guy-who-may-be-her-brother plot, but that just distracted from the orangutans.

I'm not criticizing, mind you. I used to enjoy a good man-stealing yarn with the best of them. However, I believe that this silly emphasis on originality is pointless in the soap opera genre. The predictability is comforting, like that one relative at family get-togethers who never fails to say something creepy, dumb, or otherwise bitchy. You don't always pay attention to him or her, but it's nice to know that the person is there.

AMC does get originality points for the transgender character's name, however. Zarf is easily one of the weirdest names ever, and those soap writers get awful imaginative when it comes to names. This guy/gal sounds like something out of the most recent Star Wars movies. Perhaps one of Jar-Jar Binks' friends?

I look forward to hearing more about our friend, Zarf, and all the transgender adventures that s/he's sure to have.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dancing With The Stars Finale--Emmitt Wins!!

When O.J. Simpson does his disgusting Fox interview, when the Oscars once again embody predictability, and when Lost returns to tease and confuse in February, I will always look back on last night's Dancing With the Stars finale and remember when the entertainment world made sense.

Things weren't looking good for Emmitt on Tuesday's final episode of competition, so last night's results show as a true nail-biter for me. As always, he wasn't the most technically polished dancer out there, but his infectious smile and charm made up for it. Mario's tired use of the "relationship" card during his training segments really had me worried for a while--that is, if you call a partners-with-benefits setup that ends as soon as Mario leaves to do Saved by the Bell: The Minivan Years a relationship. Unfortunately, phony romances have been known to generate a lot of buzz. I should never have doubted Emmitt's fans, however.

Part of me wants to know the margin by which Smith beat Lopez, since the judges' scores were completely useless. On a side note, I wish the judges would actually show some backbone and give the finalists different scores. Some might argue that leaving it up to the voters is more entertaining, but I would be curious to see fans call in to "save" a dancer with a lower score. That's what made the earlier rounds so interesting: an adorable dope like Jerry Springer or a blah dancer like Sara Evans got to advance strictly based on audience votes. This isn't the Olympics--why not acknowledge that DWTS is part popularity contest?

Anyway, I thought the results show was pretty good from what I saw. My husband didn't care for the sentimental montages about "the journey" that is Dancing With The Stars, but I enjoyed seeing the eliminated contestants dance one last time. Remember Vivica A. Fox and her open-shirted partner? Remember Tucker Carlson and his blatant non-dancing? I had forgotten how long this show has been on.

My reaction to Emmitt's victory was equal parts relief, excitement, and poor sportsmanship. I totally wanted Emmitt or Cheryl to say something like "in your face, Slater!" They didn't, so I had to step up. Emmitt was classy as usual, praising Mario's toughness as a competitor. My favorite part of the night was watching all the contestants congratulate Emmitt onstage while Mario stood to the side with a sour expression on his face. That's just good TV. Congrats to Emmitt and Cheryl!!!

By the way: aren't you glad that the Taye Diggs Groundhog Day show finally aired, so we can stop seeing those commercials?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Last Night's Iron Chef America

After reading this article about an upcoming episode of Iron Chef America, I was intrigued enough by the contestants to give the show a try. For you non-Food Network types, here's the gist: Rachael Ray, culinary everyman, would be crossing spatulas with Giada De Laurentiis, the pedigreed host of Everyday Italian.

First of all, I think women competing for anything makes for good television: money, fame, Flavor Flav, it matters not. The nature of the matchup was also appealing. According to her Food Network profile, Ray does not have any fancy-schmancy training. She basically markets herself (or is marketed) as the anti-Martha Stewart: practical, frugal, and approachable. She hosts "ordinary gal" shows like 30-Minute Meals and $40 a Day, in which viewers learn how to dine out in their favorite cities for--you guessed it--$40 a day. Giada De Laurentiis, however, has quite a resume, having trained at Le Cordon Bleu and worked at the Ritz Carlton and Spago, in addition to running her own L.A. catering operation. To make matters worse, Giada is a knockout, while Rachael Ray looks as though she does more than sample her own cooking (I know, "meow," but it was worth mentioning). This was set up as a definite David vs. Goliath scenario ("only this time, David's gonna win!").

The show itself was actually pretty entertaining. As a special twist, or more likely as a way to even the playing field, each contestant was paired with a seasoned (get it!) Iron Chef. Giada got paired with Bobby Flay, who I only recognized from a morning show; Rachael got Mario Batali, who I had never heard of. For those not familiar with the show's concept, the chefs have to make 5 courses based around a single random ingredient. This week the ingredient was the cranberry. Yuck. I did not envy those ladies. It was funny watching the competitors scramble around, getting in the way of their respective partners and assistants. While the spotlight should have been on the two lady chefs, I found Mario Batali to be the most entertaining. No flies on that man, to be sure. He even had the time and boldness to serve cranberry-flavored drinks to the three faux-lebrity judges. After doing a little research, I realized that Mario is the chef at a trendy restaurant called Babbo, and both he and the restaurant were mentioned on a recent episode of Ugly Betty. Mario officially rocks, people.

The other folks were less entertaining. Whenever the host tried asking Bobby Flay questions, Flay responded with grumpy gestures and facial expressions. They may tolerate that nonsense on The Early Show, but don't sell that behavior here. Giada was good-natured but dull, and Rachael alternated between sweating and being insecure about her non-chef status.
Don't even get me started on the judges. First up, there was Mo Rocca, occasional panelist and low-level HITG. My brother-in-law Justin once said, after watching the millionth VH1 show involving Henry Rollins, that Rollins must hang out in the VH1 offices begging for work. The same could be said of Rocca and any TV network. There was also a random editor of Entertainment Weekly and David Evangelista, hairdresser "to the stars." Didn't this guy do Rosie O'Donnell's hair when she had her own talk show? Congratulations on a job...done. I'm sure there's some rationale for using so-called entertainment personalities, but do Hollywood types really know about food? I always assumed eating was frowned upon in those circles.

Anyway, the results were creative and, I can only assume, delicious. The best-looking dish was the Zuppa Inglese with cranberries. Like Miss Entertainment Weekly, I normally don't bother with non-chocolate desserts, but this looked incredible. Ultimately, Rachael Ray was declared the winner, and by a significant margin. A blank-faced Giada did not seem to expect this outcome. Not to be uncharitable, but most of the really cool dishes seemed to be Mario's doing, but oh well. Rachael still gets bragging rights. That's Ordinary Gals: 1, Perfect Hotties: 3,457,922.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dancing With The Stars, Week Four

We're down to eight dancers this week. I still can't believe they got rid of Harry Hamlin, but viewers just had to see Jerry Springer do the waltz. This had better be some kind of super-waltz. Did the dancers follow the rules last night? Read on to find out.

Monique Coleman: Charged with the waltz, Monique and Louis work hard to incorporate some signature chest-shaking into their routine. No dice, I'm afraid. Monique traded in her Tina-Turner-nightmare outfit for a feminine, flowing dress that seems well-suited to this dance. The waltz itself is lovely, graceful, and (mercifully) jiggle-free. The couple perform a cool floor-sliding move that is pretty impressive, and Monique ends the dance in tears. Again, I think Monique has this competition confused with some sort of pageant. She should just concentrate on having fun and dancing well. The judges' remarks are average, except Bruno calls Monique "The Little Mermaid" for some reason known only to him. The scores are lower than expected, but that may be the price of going first. Score: 24

Emmitt Smith: In his intro, Emmitt refreshingly admits that "it truly sucked" getting such a low score last week. Finally, some honesty! Watch the Olympics if you want to see a good sport--show me some tantrums, please. Emmitt and Cheryl are trying out the Paso Doble, which sends Emmitt stumbling to the floor during practice. I know that football players are used to falling in public, but wow. Embarrassing! The pair visit an unfortunate State Fair bull to get the tone of their matador-inspired dance. Their live performance is fine, but Emmitt's attitude sells it. I like Emmitt better when he's having fun, but he does angry pretty convincingly, too. Backstage, Samantha Harris calls him "Red Bull"--because he's wearing a red shirt, get it? Shut up, Samantha. Score: 24

Willa Ford: We learn that Willa's grandmother is in the audience, so Willa has chosen to wear clothes that actually leave something to the imagination. The result is stunning. Willa has dramatic hair and an elegant dress that is appropriate to her waltz. Classic beauty works for her, and I wish her grandmother would hang around for a while. Willa and Maksim's dance is romantic and classy; I feel like I'm watching an old movie. The camera shows Shannon Elizabeth (I think?) cheering Willa on in the audience. Stick with nana, Willa; family totally earns you sympathy votes. Ask Jerry. The judges are "swept away," and Len states that Willa was a "gnat's scrotum" away from getting kicked off last week, but is in no danger now. Dude, don't say such disgusting things in front of that gorgeous dress. I found it interesting that the closed captioning folks didn't catch that gem of a phrase. Score: 28

Sara Evans: Sara and Tony attempt the Paso Doble, and the anger that the dance requires is difficult for Sara to channel. Southern women don't understand facial expressions of anger, you see; when provoked, they just display more teeth. Who's idea was it to use music from Phantom of the Opera? They should be fired along with the singers, because the music was completely distracting. A better song selection would have masked the blah-ness of the dance, instead of emphasizing it. The judges once again test Sara's threshold for criticism, and the duo receives a 20.

Jerry Springer: The big payoff is finally here, and it doesn't disappoint. The daddy-daughter subplot is played up to the highest possible degree. Lil' Springer Bride is in the audience, and music in the style of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition plays throughout the intro segment. Even Kym, Jerry's partner, gets choked up during rehearsals. Anyone who didn't have Kleenex on hand during this dance was in serious trouble, because it was sweet. Playing up the father-daughter angle, Kym chose to wear a girlish, yellow party dress. It works. Jerry wisely avoids doing any schtick tonight, bringing his A-game to the technical aspects of his waltz. The "thing de resistance" (Homer Simpson) involves Jerry walking over to his daughter and hugging her after the dance. Tom acknowledges that nobody cares what the judges think, but they give their glowing feedback anyway. Score: a sentimental 22

Vivica A. Fox: After a bunch of nonsense about celebrity showgirls and breast cancer awareness, Vivica tells us that her Paso Doble will be based on Catherine Zeta-Jones' gripping performance in the Zorro movies. God help us. In another questionable song selection, the couple dances to Bon Jovi's "It's My Life." (Shudder). Vivica's costume is clunky, and she's wearing a full skirt that looks big enough to fit Michael Douglas' near-corpse in its folds. The judges inform Vivica that the dance was good, but not great, which is completely fair. Later, Samantha Harris tells Vivica that "Bon Jovi would be proud," and leaves to recharge her fembot batteries. I'm going to include that statement in my next greeting card, and see what kind of reponse I get. Seriously, what does that mean? Score: 24

Joey Lawrence: Joey, whose batteries are always fully charged, inexplicably chooses to do the waltz. His biggest challenge is obviously the lack of rapid-fire movement involved in this type of dance. Joey's intro segment involves a visit with the family. Only one of the forgotten Lawrence brothers showed up, unfortunately. I was hoping for a Brotherly Love reunion! Joey and Edyta's waltz is beautiful, if a bit fast. They do an incredible dip move that completely wows the judges and the audience, although Joey spent most of the dance with a weird smile on his face. Creepy. The judges find Joey's waltz to be elegant, and reward his performance with a 27. Joey's head veins are thrilled.

Mario Lopez: Mario, in preparation for his Paso Doble, plays the family visit card as well, and he totally Mexes it up. A typical party at the Lopez house is portrayed as a swinging evening of mariachi music, loud displays of emotion, and fattening food. It's like they made a film of my childhood and left out the tequila. Mario and Karina's dance is excellent, and entirely within the rules this time. To their credit, they chose an appropriate song that helped to set the intense tone for their performance. Eva Longoria is in the audience cheering Mario on, and I sincerely hope she didn't leave Tony Parker for him. The dance was fiery and dramatic, just as it should have been. Final score: 29

Will there be another shocking elimination tonight? Wait and see.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dancing With The Stars, Week Three

The hosts are pushing a dramatic theme for this week's show, stating that many of the stars have been "pushed to the edge" this week. I think that The Edge from U2 should start copyrighting phrases that contain his name. He could be even richer than he is now! Anyway, Shanna Moakler is, thankfully, gone. The show has also been trimmed down to a more reasonable 90 minutes. Here's the recap for this week.

Emmitt Smith: This performance produced the first of many judicial bitch-slaps of the night. The practice clip shows a travel-weary Emmitt flying to Virginia to perform in the Miss Virginia pageant, which his wife is hosting. All I could find out about his wife is that she used to be married to Martin Lawrence. Thank God she traded up. Emmitt and Cheryl attempt to dance the Tango, and the results are less than astounding. The couple is good, but not great, and their mediocrity is met with harsh words from the judges. Apparently they broke some stringent no-lifts rule that is normally punishable by death in the ballroom dancing world. The judges give Emmitt the lowest score of the episode, a brutal 19. I agree with the criticism, but there's no way he deserved a lower score than Jerry Springer. Boo.

Monique Coleman: Monique courts the audience by playing the mother card. Incidentally, her mom looks exactly like Aretha Franklin before her second breakfast. Louis and Monique try the Jive out for size, and they take some names: a big catch, fast footwork, and the always popular chest-shaking. For some reason Monique chose an outfit from Big Bird's fall collection, which I found a bit distracting. The judges ignore this and focus on the actual dancing instead. The pair receives a 27, one of the highest scores of the night. Then Monique ruins it all by saying that the show is one of the best things that ever happened to her. Lame.

Harry Hamlin: To prepare for their Tango, Harry and Ashly go to an Argentinian restaurant run by the sweatiest people north of the equator. Harry goes all method actor on Ashly, telling her he's imagining that he's in "a dirty streetcorner in Buenos Aires," and his passion must reflect that setting. The intensity pays off, because the finished product is far less forced than Harry's earlier dances. He also does a funny fake-out with a rose, first pretending to give it to Carrie Ann, then giving it to Bruno. And they say he's too serious. This pisses them both off; only Len gives the couple a decent score. Final score: 22.

Willa Ford: The producers should have titled her practice sequence "Waiting Out The Inevitable," because that's all that Willa is doing. Mario Lopez could flip off the audience during his dance, and Willa would still be sent packing. Willa got a 2-for-1 deal at the store that sold her last week's costume, because tonight she's got some kind of Malt Shoppe Skank thing going on. Am I the only one who still believes that less is more? She and Maksim do a great Jive, and continue to be one of the best performers out there. It won't save them from the judges, though, because they have also violated the No Lifts Commandment of Jive. All this talk about Jive reminds me of the part in Airplane when Barbara Billingsley claims to be fluent in Jive. Memories. Score: 22

Jerry Springer: The train of buffoonery makes its weekly stop. This time, Jerry is imitating James Bond, right down to the dapper tuxedo. Kym does all of the real dancing, as usual, but Jerry throws in some decent footwork to earn his keep. Bruno scores off Jerry by saying that his Tango was more Pink Panther than James Bond. Ha. Backstage, Jerry is feeling guilty about being the Jerry Rice of this season, and begs the audience to "come to its senses." Whatever. The man is smart enough to know that self-deprecation kills. He'll be around for a while. Score: 21.

Sara Evans: Sara incorporates some of her country roots in order to be more at ease with her Jive. The result is half country line dance, half Jive, but I don't hate it. She's definitely a lot less tense, and appears to genuinely have fun on the dance floor. It wasn't all perfect, though. Her skirt either needed to be a few inches longer or on someone a few years younger. I know that dancing allows for more revealing attire, but I don't think a little extra fabric would have gotten in the way. I'm just saying. The judges are far kinder to Sara than in the past, which I'm glad about. Sara's progress combined with her fan votes will keep her in cowboy boots for quite a while. Score: 25.

Mario Lopez: Of all the judicial bitch-slaps, this was the most gratifying. Mario's rule-breaking Tango was met with a brutal scolding by the judges. The man panders to the audience way too much, and the judges want some traditional technique to assess. I'd like to think that Mario was also being scored based on the ridiculous headband that he wore during practices. Score: 22

Vivica A. Fox: At the suggestion of Carrie Ann, Vivica takes ballet lessons, but insists on wearing a tutu "in the right color." I can see the logic behind this. Vivica is very athletic (see Kill Bill, Vol.1 if you don't agree), but not graceful. The jailhouse tats, which are visible no matter what she wears, are also a little scary. Her Tango is very good, and I think the ballet helped. The judges are very generous to Vivica and Nick, and Vivica starts crying. I'm amazed at how seriously some of the contestants take this show. It's almost sweet. Score: 27

Joey Lawrence: Yet another controversial dance! Joey's open-shirt look proves that he can't grow hair on his chest either (or he has a very rich waxer). The Elvis-inspired Jive was a crowd-pleaser, but included a lift and a handstand. Both are apparently not allowed, and Joey faces the wrath of the judges for the first time. I thought the judges were a little harsh this time around. Come on, it's Joey Lawrence--cut him some slack. The guy seems genuinely sorry, and looks like my dog after I've caught him trying to get into the garbage can (again). Score: an unfair 22.

Willa Ford must go home tonight for my faith in humanity to be restored. If Emmitt leaves, I will wash my hands of this show. For real.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dancing With The Stars--Week Two

It's Week Two, and the Dancing With The Stars cast is one Tucker Carlson lighter. It feels right, and I'm not going to mourn Tucker's loss now that I have Emmitt Smith to swoon over. Here's the rundown of last night's performances:

Willa Ford: The footage of Willa getting frustrated and storming out isn't going to help her in the audience votes department, an area in dire need of help. She and Maksim do the mambo, and I can't decide which one of them looks the most like a stripper. Willa looks like Miami Whore Barbie (I'm talking bubble-gum pink lipstick, here) and Maksim's pants look like they are of the tearaway variety. They do a good job, as always, but I find it difficult to root for them. Score: 23

Harry Hamlin: Harry had, by far, one of the funniest "practice" sequences of this episode. His partner, Ashly (apparently professional dancers loathe traditional name spellings), brings in a laughter yogi (translation: overpaid yoga instructor) to loosen him up. The scene is ridiculous, but funny, as Harry acknowledges that, initially, his laughter was forced. His actual dancing seems to have improved, undoubtedly due to the rigorous laughter session. Harry and Ashly do some decent footwork during their Quickstep routine, but the glacier has not entirley melted. I can't figure out why a man with Harry Hamlin's lean body type cannot dance. He looks like he would fit right in with the cast of an old-timey musical. Maybe it's just me. Score: 21

Monique Coleman: She and Louis were told to work on their chemistry, and they certainly delivered the goods. They perform an incredibly hot, flirtatious mambo, including some professional-level moves. I wish I knew more dancing terminology, because my crude descriptions would not do the moves justice. Afterwards, the camera pans to some Billy Corgan-looking guy in the audience, but it turns out he's just one of her fellow High School Musical castmembers. Wait, there's a young bald guy on High School Musical? He'd better be the principal. Or battling cancer. Monique and Louis' torso-jiggling performance is rewarded with a 26, the highest score thus far.

Mario Lopez: The only thing I enjoyed about Mario's training montage was the part where his partner fake-slapped him. That's for Ali Landry, jerk! His Quickstep is fun, but not as impressive as last week's performance. He rightly gets called out for pandering to the crowd, and is punished with a 21. Throughout the dance, they kept showing his "family," and I kept thinking that his dad looked like comedian George Lopez. Apparently it was George Lopez, who is not his dad. It's a shame; that would have been an awesome trivia tidbit.

Shanna Moakler: Something is off about this couple. For starters, Shanna is wearing a dress covered with fringe, and looks like an antique lamp or something. Plus they danced to that ballroom classic, "Jump" by Kriss Kross. The word "huh?" comes to mind. Their mambo is good, but slow, and they receive decent feedback. Score: 22

Jerry Springer: Unfortunately, Jerry's partner, Kym, has a slight injury this week. It gives Jerry a chance to showcase his concerned, paternal side, which will probably carry him into next week. He actually seems genuinely worried for his partner (sweet!). They maintain Jerry's goofy schtick by wearing what look like costumes from Chicago and doing a faux groin kick. Always stylish. Jerry knows how to perform, which is good, since he'll never be the most techincally perfect dancer. I couldn't believe that host Tom Bergeron made a joke about judge Len's age with a Methuselah reference. Was he for real? Do people still get biblical references? Once I finished taking college-level lit courses I erased them from my memory forever. Score: 19

Vivica Fox: Vivica and Nick perform an athletic version of the mambo, including a cartwheel and a roundhouse kick. Someone was channeling Chuck Norris! Unfortunately, Vivica's insane green eye shadow takes her out of the judges' favor. Len uses a pizza metaphor in his critique, and calls her dance "doughy." Ouch. There's no way this guy can be married. He must know that women don't want to be compared to anything high in carbs. Score: 24

Joey Lawrence: In his intro, Joey professes that the Quickstep is so difficult, "it's like math." Whoa, that is pretty hard. For some reason he decided to dress as a leprechaun for his dance. I guess Halloween came early this year at Dancing With The Stars, if the clothes are any indication. Joey and Edyta's footwork is fast and graceful, and they infuse some Joey-brand tap into their performance. I thought it was adorable that Joey gave Edyta a bonus twirl after they got a standing ovation. Twirls are the key to any woman's heart. Score: a whopping 29!!

Sara Evans: Sara was determined to show the judges more of her personality this week, and I think she's succeeding in increments. She was less tense during her mambo, but find it hard to believe that a hugely popular singer can't have more fun than that. I hope she stays around, though, because I'm willing to bet that she has more to show the audience. A distraction made me miss Len's definition of welly, but I'm on the case. Score: 21

Emmitt Smith: He's wearing a tux! With tails! I gasp like I've never gasped before. His practice sequence teaches me that running backs are often required to lean forward, handicapping Emmitt for the stiff-as-a-board posture required in the Quickstep. Dundundun! The problem must have been easy to fix, because Emmitt Smith exhibits some slick moves once again. He earns 24 points and a new nickname from Carrie Ann: Twinkle Toes.

I predict that Shanna or Willa will go home tonight, and that Emmitt will continue to impress.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dancing With The Stars!

The new season of Dancing With The Stars premiered tonight, and it was, as Eric Cartman would say, hella sweet. I had only watched snippets of earlier seasons, so I am basically new to the whole phenomenon. Now I can't believe I missed out on all the fun. Let me give you the rundown, if for some strange reason you opted not to glue yourself to the TV for two straight hours.

Joey Lawrence: Whoa! I admire Joey, first, for re-embracing his friendlier first name, and also for staying in shape when so many faded child stars have become bloated and gross from years of partying and drug use. The Daddy Warbucks head was a little distracting, but his dance moves reclaimed my attention. The man can still dance, people.

Tucker Carlson: I hate to speak ill of my imaginary boyfriend (I like the bow ties, not the political worldview), but Tucker deserved the bottom spot for his phoned-in performance. He spent the first 20 seconds or so of his number sitting in a chair! I'm not buying it. Also, the open-buttoned shirt made him look too much like a guy getting married on the beach in the Caribbean somewhere. He looked careless, not dapper. And dapper is the name of the game.

Sara Evans: A great singer, but a blah dancer. Sara Evans looked gorgeous as usual, but was slow and dull on the floor with her partner, Tony. Another contestant likely to go home early.

Monique Coleman: I was going to call Monique a kid, but apparently she's only a few months younger than I am. So why was she in High School Musical? Were they going for that Luke Perry effect, or did she play a student-teacher or something? Anyway, she won't last long. Her dancing was OK, but I doubt that her younger fanbase wanted to sit through the entire episode tonight.

Willa Ford: Just call her Stacy Keibler, Jr., because Willa is the new resident hottie on the show. I hate to admit it, but she's flawless, and I loved her updo. Her love-hate relationship with partner Maksim will certainly make for a good backstory. Those two would make a dyanmite soap opera couple: they are both hot and into themselves, plus sparks fly between them on the dance floor.

Emmitt Smith: Tucker is officially dumped, and Emmitt Smith is my new crush. The man is very stylish and an incredible dancer. You could tell that he worked hard in practices, but wanted to have fun with his performance. He was very smooth, and he did some sort of hip-hop move (I thought it was The Worm, but apprently it's something else) that was hilarious. When host Tom Bergeron mentioned that a staff member said it was like watching her Teddy Bear dance, I laughed. That's exactly the kind of thing I would say. Smith had better stick around for a while.

Mario Lopez: Let me begin by stating how passionately I hate A.C. Slater. The man is a sleazy cheater. That said, he's a pretty amazing dancer, although I suspect he's a ringer. The tight pants and pelvic thrusts did not help his case, either. Even the slightest hint of pelvic movement in dance makes me really uncomfortable; I would easily trade places with an adolescent girl in Sex Ed class than have to witness another pelvic thrust. It was pretty funny when Judge Bruno called him Super Mario and asked if he had extra batteries in his pants. What a pickup line!!

Shanna Moakler: Her fascinating divorce drama and her Lifetime-esque desire to prove herself were overshadowed by her lame dancing and eye makeup. That's funny: eye shadow literally overshadows something. Ha!

Harry Hamlin: MMMM. Aaron Echolls, as hot as ever. It's too bad he can't talk while dancing, because that voice would make a wolverine purr. Unfortunately, the man is more sex appeal than technical proficiency, and he was ravaged by the judges. Please keep him around, for the sake of eye candy. Joey Lawrence's bald head is just too much.

Vivica A. Fox: I thought it was lame of Samantha Harris to make such of a point of Vivica being the oldest female contestant, but Vivica showed them all. Her performance was fun and sexy, and she seemed truly moved to win the judges' approval.

Jerry Springer: This guy has some kind of Bill Clinton spell over the masses. He hosts a terrible talk show, but is irresistibly charming and funny. I thought it was adorable that he did the show so he could dance at his daughter's wedding, and the banter between Jerry and his partner was disarming. Alas, Jerry is more of a crowd favorite than a Judges' pet. And was he wearing a sash?

Tomorrow--the results show. Not to mention the one and only Tom Jones! I'm so there.

Monday, September 11, 2006

How To Postpone a Marriage Indefinitely, By Brad Pitt

To all the commitment-phobic men in the world, those guys with perpetually cold feet: Brad Pitt just saved your asses. He has concocted an airtight, entirely noble reason to never get married. Too bad it's total BS.

In the recent issue of Esquire magazine, Pitt, otherwise known as the "Br" in Brangelina, declared that he and Angelina Jolie (and Angelina's lips) will never marry unless the U.S. government recognizes all couples equally. Wow. I'm not saying that the average woman would buy that excuse, but it would definitely make us pause and think for a while. At the very least, it's original. It has chutzpah, I'll give it that.

Most of the article is your standard "celebs are better than you even when they're being ordinary" type stuff. One guffaw-inducing example:

"His olive-green T-shirts—two of them, thin and expensive, worn in layers—are wrinkled and slightly askew, the neck holes off-center to expose one heroic clavicle."

I want it to be someone's job to provide flattering adjectives for completely random parts of my body. Seriously, a heroic clavicle? How about an altruistic pinky? A dedicated knee? The worst bit is a quote from Brad, concerning his submission to the magazine of a Top 15 List of Things Everyone Should Know. Feast your eyes:

He waves me off with a french fry, pops it into his mouth. "Are you kidding?" he asks, taking a pull of Coke from the straw. "It's like, enough about me already, you know? Let's talk about something important."

I hate when celebrities try to be humble, especially A-List super-celebrities. Maybe Brad thinks his humility and sense of humor are what got him here, but the rest of us know better. As a general rule, humility is intolerable from people who expect millions of dollars in exchange for anything.

Let's get to that list. If you haven't opened the link and read it, you're in for a treat. Pitt comes off like those college-bound overachievers who are a little too well-rounded to be human; I'm sure you've met the type I mean. When you ask them what kind of music they like, they inhale thoughtfully and say, "A little bit of everything, really. Classical, rock, ska, jazz, world, and (insert hipster band-of-the week here) is seriously overlooked by mainstream listeners." The "Things" that Brad picks range from hair products to The Drug War to pop culture. Gee, he's just a regular Joe who likes Jack White, social justice, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses! I must see that man's next film. A note to family-oriented couples: Brad has given you the green light to adopt! I know how much that endorsement means to all of you.

The "Thing" most frequently noted in the news, however, has been his "stance" on marriage, which isn't so much an opinion as a copout. From a PR perspective, this is genius. I hate it and admire it at the same time. He pretty much never has to answer another question about wedding rumors again, and he gets respect to boot. You just know that unhappily married men all over the nation are kicking themselves for not inventing that excuse.
Look for conservative groups like the Christian Coalition to suddenly recieve a large number of anonymous donations. The man has to cover his bases, doesn't he?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Suri Cruise: The Zapruder Film of Baby Photos

Well, the moment has arrived; Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have successfully purchased a fake baby on the black market, and they have the photos to prove it!! Suri and TomKat are gracing the cover of Vanity Fair's October issue. Since I won't be able to hear Entertainment Tonight's analysis of the picture for a few hours, I'll have to begin scrutinizing it myself.

First of all, the cheesiness factor is seriously high. The longer I look at the cover, the more lactose-intolerant I become--it's that bad. The tagline "Yes, Suri, She's Our Baby!" only compounds the offense. I thought Vanity Fair had a little more class, or, at the very least, a sense of elitism. Dominick Dunne should quit in protest, or at least loan photographer Annie Leibovitz his Coke-bottle specs so she can better see the glorified Christmas card photo she has released into the world.

Let's start with the proud "parents." According to E!, Tom Cruise stole the baby-in-the-jacket pose from a Paul McCartney album. Lame! I hope Tom isn't becoming obsessed with the Beatles now. That's Stage One of Michael Jackson Creepy Syndrome. Next he'll become a vegetarian and start speaking with a British accent. And Katie--where to start. They must have had a team of oxen pulling her face and neck fat out of the frame, because there isn't a loose bit of skin to be found. Are we supposed to believe she just had a baby? Now I'm positive she was wearing a fatty suit all those months. In fact, her neck is so taut, you can almost catch a glimpse of her Adam's apple (wait, I've said too much).

Now we come to the baby herself. She could actually be Tom's biological child, but she'd have to sport the deranged Tom Cruise 50-teeth smile for me to be convinced. Does anyone else find it odd that she has a gigantic baby 'fro, but hardly any eyebrows? Then again, I know very little about babies, let alone celebrity imposter babies. I SO want her first word to be "glib." Or "Xenu."

Vanity Fair's website gives a brief excerpt from the article to tease all of us lamewads who don't live in L.A. or New York and can't buy the magazine yet. According to Katie, the controversial in-home sonogram that Tom bought was for the purpose of her doctor's house calls. They tried to avoid going to the doctor's office because they were worried about paparazzi interference. We all know how media-shy that couple can be!

Welcome to the world, Suri Cruise. See you on the next episode of VH1's Fabulous Life of Celebrity Children!

Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP, Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter)

I was completely shocked to wake up this morning and read that Steve Irwin, better known as The Crocodile Hunter, had died after a gruesome encounter with a stingray. What a horrible way to die. This was a man who worked tirelessly to educate people to appreciate and respect wildlife, and now he may be reduced to a cautionary example.

However controversial his past behavior may have been, Steve Irwin was, above all, an educator. Animals are often misunderstood, mistreated, and overlooked, and Steve Irwin did his best to enlighten people about wildlife. I was surprised to read that he was also a dedicated conservationist, and that it was this work, not his fame as a TV personality, in which he took the most pride.

Apparently the circumstances of Irwin's death were unusual, almost freakish. In the case of bizarre accidents such as this, the events surrounding the person's death overshadow that person's life and work. I sincerely hope this does not happen. It would be an insult to the man's memory and to his family. Anyone wishing to honor Steve Irwin's memory should donate to his charity, Wildlife Warriors Worldwide.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Emmy Predictions, Part Five: Lead Actor/Actress

Well, the Emmys are just a few hours away, but I've made it to the end of my five-part series of blogs. Today we've reached the coveted awards for lead actor and actress. Here are my picks:

Outstanding Musical Performance in a Variety or Music Program
Barry Manilow, Barry Manilow: Music and Passion
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
Craig Ferguson, The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson
David Letterman, Late Show With David Letterman
Hugh Jackman, The 59th Annual Tony Awards

This is a weird category. It's as if they didn't have enough nominees for two separate categories, and decided to lump them all together. I have no idea how they are comparing the relative "talents" of each of these men (why no women, by the way?) so I will just make two guesses. If a non-talk show performance wins, the award will go to Hugh Jackman. I'm picking him if only for the eye candy factor. If a late-night host wins, Stephen Colbert will win. It's nice that he doesn't have to compete with Jon Stewart in this cateogory, and he may have a better shot.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Kevin James, The King of Queens
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men

There are some pretty glaring omissions in this list of nominees. Jason Lee and Jason Bateman both deserve a spot in this category. It just needs saying. That said, there is only one other nominee that merits recognition: Steve Carell. Ricky Gervais' version of the boss on the British version of The Office is a tough act to follow. The show could have easily flopped, but Carell made the role his own.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Denis Leary, Rescue Me
Peter Krause, Six Feet Under
Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Martin Sheen, The West Wing

This is a pretty exciting category, since none of the nominees have ever won an Emmy for their respective roles. Ian McShane and Hugh Laurie belonged in this category, but were, unfortunately, overlooked. I would look for Denis Leary to win this award. He would certainly give a memorable acceptance speech! It's possible that Martin Sheen will win for his last season as the President, but I think Leary's fresh turn as Tommy Gavin will earn him an Emmy. I hope he decides to smoke onstage during his speech.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Charles Dance, Bleak House
Donald Sutherland, Human Trafficking
Ben Kingsley, Mrs. Harris
Jon Voight, Pope John Paul II
Andre Braugher, Thief

This is more of a fantasy pick than a realistic one, but I think Andre Braugher will win the Emmy in this category. He doesn't have nearly as many awards as he deserves. Watch Homicide: Life on The Street and tell me I'm wrong. I think Charles Dance was a superb villain in Bleak House, but it's more likely that the film will win best miniseries.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback
Jane Kaczmarek, Malcolm in the Middle
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Stockard Channing, Out of Practice
Debra Messing, Will & Grace

Is this category some sort of brain teaser? None of these women can currently produce anything resembling laughter. This is worse than an all-Housewives group of nominees. I just closed my eyes and pointed to Debra Messing--next!!

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Geena Davis, Commander In Chief
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Frances Conroy, Six Feet Under
Allison Janney, The West Wing

Kyra Sedgwick is all over this thing. I may be biased by my desire to see Kevin Bacon in the audience (don't you love Kevin Bacon?), but I've heard that Sedgwick is pretty amazing as Brenda Johnson. Since three of the nominated roles are from shows that are now over, The Emmy may be one actress' parting gift. I'm still fairly sure that Sedgwick will win this evening, though.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Kathy Bates, Ambulance Girl
Gillian Anderson, Bleak House
Helen Mirren, Elizabeth I
Judy Davis, A Little Thing Called Murder
Annette Bening, Mrs. Harris

Having loved Gillian Anderson's solemn portrayal of Lady Dedlock, it's hard to imagine anyone else winning this award. In the event that she does not win, the award will most likely go to Annette Bening. HBO always gets a few throwaway awards.

Well, I'm definitely excited to watch the show tonight and see how accurate my guesses were. Hope you all enjoy the show, too.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Emmy Predictions, Part Four: Supporting Actor/Actress

We've arrived at Part Four of the five-part series of blogs on the upcoming Emmys. In Part Four, I will make my picks in the Supporting Actor/Actress categories. Here goes:

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Will Arnett, Arrested Development
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Bryan Cranston, Malcolm in the Middle
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Sean Hayes, Will & Grace

I am claiming this award for Will Arnett, hands-down. He deserves it more than all of the nominees combined, especially since he's never been singled out for his hilarious portrayal of G.O.B. Bluth. He also does the funniest chicken impression ever. The other four jokers are all equally unremarkable by comparison, but I would look for Jeremy Piven to ooze onstage to accept the award if Arnett does not win.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
William Shatner, Boston Legal
Oliver Platt, Huff
Michael Imperioli, The Sopranos
Gregory Itzin, 24
Alan Alda, The West Wing

This is a tough category. With the exception of Oliver Platt, I think it's anyone's game. Shatner may use the full force of his personality to take the award, but Alan Alda may finally get his due (did you catch his staged speech-tearing bit at last year's Emmys?). Gregory Itzin was a pretty popular 24 villain, from what I heard, so he could upset all those guys. I'm picking Michael "Christofuh" Imperioli to win, because he deserves it, and because it is The Sopranos' last season. Imperioli's won very few major awards, and he gets some of the most memorable lines on that show.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Denis Lawson, Bleak House
Hugh Dancy, Elizabeth I
Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth I
Robert Carlyle, Human Trafficking
Clifton Collins, Jr., Thief

Hook Wedge Antilles up! I'd like to see Denis Lawson win for his portrayal of Mr. Jarndyce--he made a middle-aged man in love with a woman half his age not seem like a dirty perv! He might not win the battle of stuffy British movies, however, and one of the Elizabeth I actors may win. After Lawson, I'd put Clifton Collins in at a close second. He was pretty amazing in Capote.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Cheryl Hines, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Alfre Woodard, Desperate Housewives
Jaime Pressly, My Name is Earl
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace

Without a doubt, Jaime Pressly should be going home with an Emmy this weekend. Misbehaving middle- and upper-class women are no match for good ol' white trash, and Joy has trashiness in spades. Pressly also deserves to win because she's the actress I would have least expected to be funny. She looks like your typical vapid model/actress type, but she's got some comedic chops, I tell you what.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Candice Bergen, Boston Legal
Sandra Oh, Grey's Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy
Blythe Danner, Huff
Jean Smart, 24

Just so I don't seem completely biased, I'm going to pick Sandra Oh from Grey's Anatomy. The show is up for a lot of awards this year, so it's unrealistic to think that good taste will prevail over sheer numbers. My head picks Sandra Oh, but my heart picks Jean Smart, aka Charlene from Designing Women. She's just charming in every role she plays, even if she's playing an insane First Lady.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Kelly Macdonald, The Girl in the Cafe
Shirley Jones, Hidden Places
Ellen Burstyn, Mrs. Harris
Cloris Leachman, Mrs. Harris
Alfre Woodard, The Water Is Wide

After all the uproar over her nomination, there's no way that Ellen Burstyn will win. I love Kelly Mac--she rules in Gosford Park and State of Play--but this isn't the movie for which she should win an award. Alfre Woodard may win, since she definitely won't (and shouldn't) win for Supporting Actress. I think the whole throwing-awards-at-distinguished-veterans element may come into play, though, so I will randomly pick Shirley Jones to win.

I have no idea when I'll get to it, but Part Five (Lead Actor/Actress) will be coming soon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Emmy Predictions, Part Three: Series

This is Part Three of a whopping five-part set of blogs about the upcoming Emmys. For now, I will be making my predictions about the awards for Best Series in various categories.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Arrested Development
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The Office
Two And A Half Men

Let's not kid ourselves; Two And A Half Men has no business in this category. Charlie Sheen is only funny in mug shots and tabloids, and the other 1.5 men are not worth mentioning. Curb has gone a little stale, and I doubt that it would hold up against its younger competition. As for the other three nominees, you might as well ask me to choose between my (fictional) children. Scrubs is hilarious, but has never won a major (read: neither technical nor creative) Emmy. In my heart of hearts, though, I know that Arrested Development deserves this boost after being so cruelly cancelled earlier this year. Unfortunately, my experiences as a short brunette in a tall blonde's world have taught me that life isn't fair. The Office is clearly the show to beat.

Outstanding Drama Series
Grey's Anatomy
The Sopranos
The West Wing

Again, with the Grey's Anatomy! I'll be so ashamed if it actually wins, but I doubt that it will. You can't throw around terms like "McDreamy" and expect to be taken seriously. As much as I love House, this show deserves awards for writing and acting (Hugh Laurie), but not for the series itself. The same things happen on every episode--patient gets misdiagnosed two or three times, somebody yells, and random events lead to the proper diagnosis. That said, the show is still better than your average medical drama. Any of the remaining three could reasonably take the prize, but I'm going to bet on 24. VH1's Best Week Ever made the show look pretty exciting, and that show has never steered me wrong. The Sopranos got progressively blah this season, and The West Wing seemed a bit too impressed with itself (Wow! A live episode! My, what groundbreaking television!).

Outstanding Made for Television Movie
Flight 93
The Flight That Fought Back
The Girl in the Cafe
Mrs. Harris

YAWN! We're just blowing through naptime, aren't we? I'm willing to bet that the panelists can't tell the difference between the two 9/11 movies, and that either Yesterday or Mrs. Harris will win.

Outstanding Miniseries
Bleak House
Elizabeth I
Into The West
Sleeper Cell

I'll be very surprised and upset if Bleak House doesn't win in this category. They didn't even have enough nominees to fill the traditional five spots. Elizabeth I was an unnecessary movie (the Cate Blanchett version is awesome), and no one should give Spielberg any more awards until he takes it up a notch (Into The West). Did anyone watch Sleeper Cell? I didn't, and you know I wasn't busy.

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing With The Stars
Project Runway

I didn't realize that The Amazing Race was such a powerhouse! It's won every year for the last three years. Must be the Jerry Bruckheimer factor (he's one of the executive producers). Like Ricky Bobby, that man must piss excellence. I'd say this show is a shoo-in, unless the phenomenon Dancing With The Stars can pull an upset. There's something to be said for the kind of magic that that show generated in a very short amount of time.

Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Late Night With Conan O'Brien
Late Show With David Letterman
Real Time With Bill Maher

There's no arguing with history. The Daily Show is the most likely to win this award, based on its previous record. Then again, I suppose every streak has to end sometime. This may be Colbert's year.

Check back later for the Lead and Supporting Actor predictions!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Emmy Predictions, Part Two: Writers

This is Part Two of a five-part blog about the Emmys, which will air this Sunday. In Part Two, I will make my picks/guesses for the awards for Writing.

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Arrested Development, "Development Arrested"
Entourage, "Exodus"
Extras, "Kate Winslet"
My Name Is Earl, "Pilot"
The Office, "Christmas Party"

In terms of straight-up quality of writing, Entourage and Extras are the underdogs. The "Kate Winslet" episode of Extras was funny, but not terribly memorable. I'm also pretty sure that most teenage boys could write an episode of Entourage--some profanity here, some immature male bravado there, and a healthy dose of stupid nicknames. Don't even get me started on the dialogue that they write for women (the ones that actually get to talk). Earl and The Office are both funny and popular (I love this line from "The Christmas Party": "Happy birthday, Jesus. Sorry your party was lame"), but Arrested Development is in its own league. Alas, AD tends to get overlooked, so expect the writing team from The Office to break out their boring lists of people to thank.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
Grey's Anatomy, "It's The End of The World, As We Know It (Part 1 & 2)"
Grey's Anatomy, "Into You Like A Train"
Lost, "The 23rd Psalm"
Six Feet Under, "Everyone's Waiting"
The Sopranos, "Members Only"

I hope fans of the show will forgive me, but Grey's Anatomy seems like Desperate Housewives in a hospital. I'm sure it has its moments, but steamy medical dramas just aren't of the same caliber as even the lesser HBO dramas. Grey's also runs the risk of splitting its votes. The cheesy, expository dialogue often heard on Lost will likely take the island drama out of the running as well. I have a major soft spot for "Everyone's Waiting," Six Feet Under's tearjerking series finale, but the writing on The Sopranos is irresistible. The mob series may get some sympathy votes, since none of the lead actors received nominations this year.

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special
Bleak House, Andrew Davies
Elizabeth I, Nigel Williams
Flight 93, Nevin Schreiner
The Girl in the Cafe, Richard Curtis
Mrs. Harris, Phyllis Nagy

With one exception, this list is identical to the nominees for Directing for a Miniseries. With High School Musical out of the mix, Bleak House has much better odds at winning in this category. Adapting a miniseries from a novel isn't easy, especially when it's a Dickens novel; try reading Our Mutual Friend sometime--huge!! The Masterpiece Theatre miniseries deserves to win, but look for Phyllis Nagy or Nigel Williams to possibly pick up the award.

Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program
The Colbert Report, Allison Silverman et al.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, David Javerbaum et al.
Late Night With Conan O'Brien, Mike Sweeney et al.
Late Show With David Letterman, Eric & Justin Stangel et al.
Real Time With Bill Maher, Billy Martin et al.

David Letterman and Bill Maher's shows seem to be filler for this category, and Conan only stands a chance because he's hosting the freakin' show. I'd like to see the Colbert team win this award (who doesn't love "Better Know a District"?), but The Daily Show has won this award several times over the past few years. My money is on The Daily Show.

Check back later for predictions in the Series and Acting categories.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Emmy Predictions, Part One: Directors

The Emmys are this Sunday, and I'm really looking forward to watching them this year. Conan O'Brien will be hosting, and the Desperate Housewives are guaranteed not to win any awards. For the rest of the week, I will be (correctly?) predicting the winners in all of the major categories. I'll start with the awards for Directing:

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series:
The Comeback, Michael Patrick King
Curb Your Enthusiasm, Robert B. Weide
Entourage, Dan Attias
Entourage, Julian Farino
My Name Is Earl, Marc Buckland
Weeds, Craig Zisk

I'm eliminating The Comeback and Curb right away, since the former was cancelled, and the latter has not won since 2003. Entourage will likely split the votes for its two directors, giving neither enough panel votes to win. My Name Is Earl definitely deserves to win, but Weeds makes for interesting competition. Both are newer shows and first-time nominees, so it's anyone's award for the taking. Hopefully Earl's karma will beat Weeds' dark humor.

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Big Love, Rodrigo Garcia
Lost, Jack Bender
Six Feet Under, Alan Ball
The Sopranos, Tim Van Patten
The Sopranos, David Nutter
24, Jon Cassar
The West Wing, Mimi Leder

Lost and The West Wing may have the edge as the only nominees returning from last year (Lost won), but Lost was a bit slow this season. Sentimentality may play a role as West Wing and Six Feet Under are both no longer among the living. I'd be shocked if Big Love beat out all of the heavyweights, but it has novelty on its side. 24 has some major nominations this year, but it hasn't had a directing nomination in three years, and has never won; a definite long shot. The award will probably go to one of the Sopranos directors, and I'd cast my vote for the "Members Only" episode directed by Tim Van Patten. As the premiere episode after a long hiatus, "Members Only" delivered violence, humor, and some pretty dramatic shocks.

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special
Bleak House, Justin Chadwick
Elizabeth I, Tom Hooper
Flight 93, Peter Markle
The Girl in the Cafe, David Yates
High School Musical, Kenny Ortega
Mrs. Harris, Phyllis Nagy

As I stated in my blog about the Emmy nominations, Bleak House is a major favorite of mine. In a just world, it would win all of the awards for which it is eligible. The Girl in the Cafe was dry and preachy, so I'm skeptical of its ability to stand out. Award shows sometimes favor obscure cable period pieces that no ordinary viewer has seen, which means that Mrs. Harris and Elizabeth I may have a chance. Emmy may go patriotic and reward anyone "brave" enough to capitalize on the September 11th tragedy, though (Flight 93). But I can't deny that, while never having seen it, High School Musical has some serious game. I've heard a great deal about it, and the series' soundtrack is all over iTunes. Plus, who doesn't love a musical?

Outstanding Directing for Variety, Music, or Comedy Program
78th Annual Academy Awards, Louis J. Horvitz
American Idol, Bruce Gowers
The Colbert Report, Jim Hoskinson
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Chuck O'Neil
Saturday Night Live, Beth McCarthy Miller

My sources at the Internet Movie Database inform me that Saturday Night Live has only won in this category once (in 1976), and it gets nominated about as often as it airs a decent episode. No dice. American Idol is a long shot as well, even with the adorable memory of Kellie Pickler still fresh in our minds. I'll be rooting for The Colbert Report, but it is still a fairly new show, and Jon Stewart's shadow is pretty big at the moment. Looking back on Emmys past, it seems more likely that The Daily Show will win the awards for Writing and Outstanding Program and lose in this category. The front runner is most definitely the Academy Awards broadcast, which wins every few years or so--Horvitz in particular has won many times over. You just know the Emmy folks will jump at the chance to bestow an award on their social betters in the entertainment industry.

Check back for my predictions in the Writing, Series, and Acting categories soon!