DAVID BIANCULLI

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More Relaunch News, Radio and Newspaper Stuff, and Thoughts on Early Emmy Winners
August 24, 2010  | By David Bianculli
 

Lots to cover, so let's dive right in, beginning with more relaunch news.

Your reaction to our Extreme Makeover (TV WORTH WATCHING as The Swan?) has been warm, thoughtful and encouraging. I expected nothing less, but thanks just the same.

And in that same welcoming spirit, please get in the habit of visiting, and commenting on, our new Contributors blog -- where, today, we top off three new columns written yesterday with an even newer one, a personal essay on TV and race, written by good friend Gerald Jordan...

Not to mention today's new FOR BETTER OR WERTS column by Diane Werts, in which she reviews the new Lost complete box set, and starts out by complaining about the size of the box...

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Then there are two thoughtful articles on the state of TV comedy, and the resurgence of what might be called "retro TV" (i.e., TV Land's Hot in Cleveland), written by Cleveland Plain Dealer TV critic Mark Dawidziak. He's a guy I'd love to have writing for this site, but he's not cooperating, because he stubbornly remains employed by his newspaper. (Hey, SOMEBODY has to.)

But here are links to his two just-published stories, which I pass along not only because they're good, but because -- Vanity Alert! -- they both quote me, extensively and accurately, and credit TV WORTH WATCHING as well. It's part of my glacial plan for TVWW global domination. Today, Cleveland.... tomorrow, Akron!

Read his story on the state of the modern sitcom HERE, and his story on TV "comfort food" HERE.

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And I was too frazzled to mention it yesterday (Monday), when it happened, but NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross aired my report on this week's fifth-anniversary Hurricane Katrina stories. Even if you missed, or don't want to see, some of the programs discussed, you might want to check out the audio clips, which I featured extensively.

You can read, and hear, the story by clicking HERE (I highly recommend listening to, not just reading, this one; it's the clips that make it). Or you can also get there by clicking FRESH AIR on our TVWW orange navigation bar, which takes you straight to NPR's archive of my Fresh Air reports. If you're too tired to scroll up, you can also click HERE.

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And finally, there are the Creative Arts Emmys, which are handed out a week in advance of Sunday's actual prime-time Emmy Awards. So we already know, for example, the results to some of my favorite Emmy races each year, the ones where actors compete for best guest performances in drama and comedy series.

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The winners for comedy, this year, were Betty White, for her turn at hosting NBC's Saturday Night Live, and Neil Patrick Harris, for his spectacular performance as Will's former glee-group role model on Fox's Glee.

Harris also won in a "special class" program category, winning an Emmy for his hosting chores at the Tony Awards. He deserves both, so that's pretty cool. And White, winning her fifth Emmy at age 88 -- that's even cooler.

In drama, the guest actor winners were John Lithgow for his creepy serial killer on Showtime's Dexter (yes!) and Ann-Margret, winning for a guest role on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

But reflect, for a moment, on just how deeply competitive these categories are -- and, by inference, how good TV has gotten at luring excellent actors and actresses for meaty but short-term roles.

No question, Lithgow deserves his statuette for best guest actor in a drama series. But in so doing, he beat out, among others, Ted Danson as the arrogant Arthur Frobisher in FX's Damages, Alan Cumming's smarmy Eli Gold in CBS's The Good Wife, and Robert Morse's Bertram Cooper in AMC's Mad Men.

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In the guest actress category for drama, Ann-Marget beat out several nominees who, in my opinion, were more deserving of a win.

Specifically, think of Elizabeth Mitchell as the lovable Juliet on ABC's Lost, Lily Tomlin as the despicable Marilyn Tobin on Damages, and both Mary Kay Place and Sissy Spacek of HBO's Big Love.

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On the comedy side, the riches are just as pronounced.

Betty White, 2010's TV "It Girl," beat out such powerhouse women as Elaine Stritch -- at age 85, a relative ingenue -- for her recurring role as Jack's overbearing mom on NBC's 30 Rock. And Kristin Chenoweth, whose guest-star turn on Glee was just as electrifying as male winner Harris'. And Christine Baranski, who was a riot as Beverly, Leonard's mom, on CBS's The Big Bang Theory.

As for the men, Harris triumphed over Fred Willard as Frank on ABC's Modern Family, and, among others, Mad Men star Jon Hamm for his delightful moonlighting role as Drew, Liz Lemon's neighbor and potential boyfriend, on 30 Rock.

Good stuff. Which, after all, is precisely what the Emmys are supposed to be about: reminding us of how good TV can be. So why wasn't this part of the ceremony televised?

Turns out it will be: the E! Entertainment network is televising a taped version of the Creative Arts awards show on Friday, Aug. 27, two days before the prime-time Emmys are presented live by NBC. But if you're looking for it, look hard: E! is showing that ceremony at 1 p.m. ET.

After all, if E! would televise some of TV's best actors, actresses and offerings in prime time on Friday, it'd have to bump... Jerseylicious.

 

1 Comments

 

Eileen said:

I'm glad you mentioned Elaine Stritch. Is there any medium this woman hasn't conquered in her amazing career? Casting her as Jack's mother was an absolutely brilliant move; their chemistry is just fantastic.

Jon Hamm is delightful as Liz' clueless suitor. I'm happy to see he is not just terrific as the serious and dark Don Draper, but wonderful in comedy.

Have to applaud Ann Margaret, no matter. She is really a sensational actress when given the opportunity. And, she's been around a long time without much recognition. I think she suffers from "Farrah Fawcett Syndrome"; Farrah was a great actress when given the right part and allowed to bloom. So personally, I'm very pleased for Ann Margaret.

Comment posted on August 24, 2010 11:14 AM
 
 
 
 
 
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