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While a person probably would not want to spend much time with a real-life version of Olive Kitteridge, a woman who sums up the state of her supposedly golden years by declaring that she’s just waiting for her dog to die so she can shoot herself, visiting her over the course of four hours in HBO’s superb miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” is a moving, unforgettable experience. This is particularly true if you’re in the habit of keeping track of award contenders; it’s nearly a guarantee that the dour and plainspoken Olive will have a heavy presence in upcoming awards shows.

Olive Kitteridge (Frances McDormand) is a stubborn woman, intolerant of impoliteness and bad behavior in children. She observes the goings-on in her New England town with the air of self-imposed exile; at times, she appears to be downright spiteful. But her husband Henry (Richard Jenkins) balances out his wife’s moodiness by overflowing with patience and a generosity that, in turn, magnifies the truth of Olive. She is, in fact, a deeply sensitive and caring soul masking her shriveled aspirations and broken heart with a permanent scowl.

Elizabeth Strout’s stunning Pulitzer Prize winning novel spun thirteen different narratives into one story, an ambitious feat by itself. But she also wove these tales through an initially unlikable character’s life, raising our estimation of Olive in the process. That’s a level of storytelling mastery that tough to replicate on the screen. Fortunately HBO and McDormand, who optioned the novel for the screen, made a terrific choice in director Lisa Cholodenko .

Cholodenko specializes in bringing uniquely complex character studies to life, as if opening tight shutter slats to allow the audience a peek into the minds and hearts of difficult souls. Her rendering of Strout’s creation is spare and unblinking, and as perfect as McDormand’s nuanced, tender portrayal of Olive. An eleventh-hour storyline featuring Bill Murray gives him the chance to flex his singular ability infuse deep pathos with light comedy, but watching McDormand and Jenkins together will break your heart, and mend it, over and over again.

Olive Kitteridge  airs over two nights, 9pm Sunday, November 2 and 9pm Monday, November 3, on HBO.

One of my all-time favorite films is Tod Browning’s Freaks.  I watched it for the first time when I was around 15 or 16 years old, and it has remained part of my annual Halloween movie viewing menu ever since. My love affair for the 1932 classic was born out of equal parts pubescent artsy pretentiousness and a burgeoning fascination with outsiders. But I also loved the soul of its simple story, in which a vain trapeze artist schemes to marry a rich little person only to get at his fortune. In a kingdom full of characters whose appearance made them oddities, the real monster was the beauty queen. What nerdy kid wouldn’t cherish such a validating tale?

That theme seems to be woven into FX’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” based on what the cast is revealing about the series in an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette shared with IMDb. We can also glean that from Jessica Lange’s presence; the actress is starring in “American Horror Story” one last time as the woman running the show. And once again, Lange sports the best wardrobe. (Has she ever played the nice lady in this anthology series? Nope.)  This being “American Horror Story,” the politics of the side show, set in 1950s-era Jupiter, Fla.,  is likely but a sliver of the plot. As castmember Denis O’Hare explains in the video, “The 1950s were such a period of behind-the-stage and in-front-of-the-stage, what people thought was normal behavior, and what was actually happening. And so, to have that be the period really is great with possibilities.”

So many reasons to get excited about “Freak Show”! There’s the wonderful Michael Chiklis has joined the cast as the strong man — and apparently, all he wants to do is love Angela Bassett‘s three-breasted woman — socially unacceptable, and not because she has extra assets.

The return of O’Hare, as well as Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Gabourey Sidibe, Jamie Brewer, and Emma Roberts means the band is pretty much back together, and that’s a very good thing. In terms of continuity and story structure, the “Coven” season was a mess — but this is a cast that works so well together that one couldn’t help but return each week just to enjoy the sparky dialogue. My highest level of expectation leans on the shoulders Sarah Paulson, playing the dual roles of Bette Tattler and Dot Tattler, two distinct women with separate heads but sharing one body. If she can pull off this performance, she had better get an Emmy nomination. Honestly, what does that woman have to do to take home some hardware?

American Horror Story: Freak Show” premieres 10pm Wednesday, October 8. Click here to view the latest featurette.

 

Taking Aim on “Arrow’s” Third Season

September 29th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in IMDbPicks | The CW - (Comments Off)

All successful genre series are build on a strong foundation of deep character development and credible mythology. When a show does those things well and manages to survive its first two years, then everyone involved in making it can relax — theoretically — into a more adventurous third season.

The wise ones only relax a little, though. While a third season renewal usually indicates a certain level of confidence on the network’s part, it also means that the creative stakes are higher than ever. One imagines a sort of freedom in that; writers can swing for the fences by expanding into ever more complex storylines and stickier moral challenges. Consider that the third season of “Buffy” gave us Faith, the dark side of the Slayer personified. The third season of “Battlestar Galactica” explored humanity’s occupation on New Caprica. Season three of “The Walking Dead” introduced us to the prison, Woodbury and The Governor.

All signs point to The CW’s “Arrow” following a similar trajectory, thanks to the thoughtful stewardship of the Green Arrow’s origin story by executive producers Greg Berlanti,  Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg. They, and the rest of “Arrow’s” writers, have molded Oliver Queen into a believably human figure, albeit one with outstanding aim, near-superhuman fighting abilities and the kind of athleticism extreme sport champions would sell their souls to have. That’s all wonderful, and Heaven knows many a viewer drools during scenes that require star Stephen Amell (and his similarly sculpted co-stars David Ramsey, Manu Bennett and Colton Haynes) to go shirtless. But if “Arrow” relied on the eye candy of this world, allowing its characters to be rendered in the 2-D heightened emotional style of a comic book, we would be talking about what it might have been as opposed to musing upon what it is becoming.

Oliver is a tortured man — no shortage of those in the world of superheroes. He bleeds, he sweats, he is fallible. But he also learns from his mistakes in a way that the average soul watching at home can relate to.  That bears pointing out in a fall television season that will have three comic book-related titles on the schedule before Christmas (“Gotham” has already premiered, with “The Flash” and “Constantine” making their debuts during October) and another, “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” due in midseason. So many great options for superhero fans, and so many opportunities for the TV renderings of these characters to go wrong. Already I’m noticing evidence of directors nudging their actors to color their performances like the fantastical characters inked onto pages, tinging their dialogue with campy lilts that belong in quote bubbles.

Wrong.  Stop.

Take a page from “Arrow’s” playbook instead. Amell’s Oliver plays the arrogant rich boy as his mask, but there was an arrogance to his vigilante mission as well… until that quality lost him almost everything, Starling City included. Amell played out that struggle superbly in season two, which wouldn’t matter a bit if his co-stars Ramsey, Katie Cassidy, Emily Bett Rickards and Paul Blackthorne did match his even-keeled performance with their own. They make a world where villains in masks and thugs hopped up on a mystical drug from an island can terrorize the streets seem absolutely plausible. Why? Because although they’re in fictional Starling City, everyone acts as if they’re in any other real world urban environment… as if Starling City were just a short train ride away from, say, Boston.

Again, this is the foundation and the ground floor. In the story Guggenheim and Berlanti have been constructing, Oliver is still navigating the fallout from his failure to stop Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in season one, and the near destruction of his city in season two at the hands of his former ally Slade Wilson (Bennett). Without spoiling the story for viewers who still haven’t watched “Arrow”, circumstances have forced Oliver to grow up and accept his family’s mantle as the head of Queen Consolidated, while his alter ego The Hood has established himself as the force of good holding Starling City together.

Oliver also may be looking to ditch his playboy image, if what Amell told reporters in July is true. “Oliver has one woman this year. That woman is Felicity,” he said, giving hope to ‘shippers everywhere who are rooting for the rich boy to finally give his heart to the very able but meek, bespectacled tech nerd on his team. Don’t get your hopes up too much — our understanding is most of what happens involves tying up loose ends from the season two finale. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll end up being together. “We talk about some pretty important stuff in the premiere, and if Oliver were to have a fling, it would undermine some of that,” Amell explained to reporters. “So I think that the cavalcade of women is going to slow down, or stop.”

But it’s not the heroes, or the ‘shipping, that makes “Arrow” and shows like it such fun to watch — it’s the villains. Already we know that Malcolm Merlyn is back and has taken Ollie’s sullen sister Thea (Willa Holland) off to places unknown to exert his influence over her. At Comic-Con, Amell teased that certain characters we’ve encountered in passing during seasons one and two (along the lines of Amanda Waller, known to DC Comics fans as the head of Project Cadmus) will return. We’ll find out more about the circumstances under which they crossed paths with Oliver.

The main lure for season three, however, is its Big Bad: The Arrow will be tangling with one of DC’s most fearsome characters, Ra’s al Ghul, memorably played in Batman Begins by the Liam Neesons.  Neeson is busy with other projects,  not to mention that he’s probably too expensive to fit The CW’s budget, so in “Arrow,” the role will be filled by Matt Nable. Amell hinted that a few unlikely alliances must be formed to defeat him. The writers obviously kept Merlyn alive for a reason, right?

This is the time of year when viewers get their hopes up for a lot of shows, both new and returning, only to have them dashed by November sweeps. Fortunately “Arrow” is one of the few surer shots on the schedule. Oliver Queen never fails his city, or his fans. We can’t wait to see what the show’s producers have built for us this time.

Arrow” premieres at 8pm Wednesday, October 8 on The CW.


 

People are looking forward to Halloween right now, but for IMDb’s Editorial department, the year’s creepiest holiday arrives a couple of weeks earlier in the form of “American Horror Story’s” season premiere.

The best part of waiting for the drama’s newest incarnation, “Freak Show,” has been watching all the great teasers. FX just released its newest one today, titled “Head to Head”. Fairly self-explanatory, and more fabulous than freaky. Love the dress, love the hair, love the fact that everything is twice as nice.  Check it out for yourself by clicking on the photo above!

American Horror Story: Freak Show” premieres 10pm Wednesday, October 8 on FX.

Valerie Cherish fans, mark Sunday, November 9 on your calendar. That’s the date that HBO has set for “The Comeback‘s” comeback, as well as the premieres of “The Newsroom‘s” swan song season and the sophomore run of “Getting On.”

The final six episode season of “The Newsroom” will begin airing at 9pm that night, followed by the first of eight new episodes of “The Comeback” at 10pm, with the season premiere of “Getting On” at 10:30pm. “Getting On’s” second season consists of six episodes.

“The Comeback’s” last new episode aired in September 2005. Though the series did not receive overwhelming critical praise at the time, it has since been reconsidered as a cult favorite. With its theme of a fading starlet attempting to resurrect her career via a paint-by-numbers sitcom, the mortifying process of which was chronicled in her own  reality television, the comedy also has proven to be a bit prescient in its portrayal of the industry’s fame machine.

“The Comeback” is one of two series featuring Lisa Kudrow  on this fall’s schedule. She also stars in Showtime’s “Web Therapy,” which airs its fourth season premiere at 11pm on Wednesday, October 22.

Patti Lupone Joins “Penny Dreadful”

September 8th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Penny Dreadful | Showtime - (Comments Off)

Patti Lupone is a legend of both stage and screen, although she may be on her way to establishing herself as a horror diva. Lupone has signed on to guest star in season two of Showtime’s gorgeous and addictive “Penny Dreadful,” playing a character described in the official announcement as “mysterious” and “of great importance in Vanessa Ives’s (Eva Green) past.”  Lupone’s most recent TV guest star appearance was on FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven.

Showtime also bumped Helen McCrory and Simon Russell Beale up to series regulars for the 10-episode second season, which will be written by the drama’s creator John Logan. Beale plays Egyptologist Ferdinand Lyle, whose interpretation of an ancient script gave viewers clues about Miss Ives’ powers and her possible role in the darker arcs to come. McCrory appeared briefly in the first season as Madame Kali (real name: Evelyn Poole), and has been announced as the second season’s main antagonist.

Also joining “Penny Dreadful” for season two are Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge as Scotland Yard investigator Bartholomew Rusk, who may prove to be problematic for Josh Hartnett‘s Ethan Chandler; Sarah Greene as Evelyn Poole’s daughter Hecate (and if you don’t know why that name is ominous, look it up); and Jonny Beauchamp, whose character is only described as “a young man with a singular past.”

Production on season two of “Penny Dreadful” begins this month in Dublin. New episodes are scheduled to premiere in 2015 debut on Showtime.

Groundhog Night: The 66th Primetime Emmys

August 26th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Emmy Awards | Live Coverage - (Comments Off)

Sons of Anarchy” executive producer and director Paris Barclay once observed, “The Emmys are very, you know, generally monogamous…They fall in love with people, and they stick with them until they die.”

Confession: I opened an old blog post about another awards show with that quote. That’s the height of laziness — I’ll own that.  But in my defense, that statement was proven utterly true yet again on Monday night. How could I not dig it up for another go-round? Besides, I’m just taking cues from the habits of Academy of Television Arts and Sciences voters, whose all-too-familiar selections were revealed during NBC’s live telecast of The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Honestly, why even bother considering that maybe, in a few categories, Emmy would shock us by actually rewarding fresh work and breakout performances? For that matter, why I am even pretending to be upset? Emmy has a longer history of playing it safe and boring than it does in exhibiting boldness. Even Seth Meyers fired right down the middle last night; he wasn’t the worst host, but he wasn’t particularly remarkable.  On the plus side, the show ended with minutes to spare, making Meyers an effective train conductor if not the frontrunner for next year’s Emmy host campaign. But when the funniest moment of the night is a make-out bit planted by nominees Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston, that doesn’t reflect well on one’s writers.

Give credit where it’s due, though: that smooch was priceless.

Considering all of that, when I previously entertained the thought that either “Veep” or “Orange Is the New Black” would take the Outstanding Comedy award this year, that was just silly. Why reward either of those tremendous new shows when one can grant “Modern Family” its fifth win in the category?

Or when my gut told me that  Jim Parsons would take home another statue for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “The Big Bang Theory”, but surmised that maybe Emmy would recognize Ricky Gervais’s stretching in a different direction in Netflix’s “Derek,” I should have heeded that warning. Parsons is easy to vote for. All the voters really need to see is the name, and THUNK! Rubber stamp, he’s back in.

In fact, Emmy, you were on such a roll…why not just shut “Orange,” “House of Cards  and “Derek” out of the Primetime Emmy Awards completely? Who watches Netflix, anyway?

Emmy also renewed its vows with “Modern Family’s” Ty Burrell, “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies  and it popped its cork for multiple Emmy award-winner Allison Janney twice this year — once for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on “Mom”, and once for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”. Of course, a number of those repeat winners turned in worthy performances.

“Breaking Bad” also happens to be an encore winner in Outstanding Drama. Anyone who watched the final episodes would have no quibble with it taking home the Emmy even though nearly a year has passed since those hours first aired. The same argument can be made for the drama’s Emmy wins in individual performance categories: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul were unstoppable on Monday night.

Cranston’s win, actually, was something of a pleasant shock. His victory marks his fifth time taking home an Emmy for his portrayal of Walter White, but more significantly, Cranston bested “True Detective’s” Matthew McConaughey, who was presumed to have had a lock on this category. But old Rust Cohle said it himself: “You see, we all got what I call a life trap, a gene deep certainty that things will be different….” Emmy is nothing if not a trap for the hopeful.

Try looking at that particular turn of events, and Julia Roberts upset in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, in a positive light. There was a time that any A-list film actor or actress could descend from celebrity Valhalla and star in a worthwhile TV movie (or, nowadays, a series) and Emmy would fall all over itself to reward them for the favor. But both Oscar winners left empty-handed. That novelty has worn off, and the fact that Cranston has become a sought-after movie actor these days lends weight to the idea of TV’s elevated status as a place to do good work.

The true crime of Roberts’s defeat, however, was that it did not come at the hands of  “Fargo’s” Allison Tolman. Rather, Kathy Bates took home the gold for “American Horror Story”. Your guess is as good as mine as to how that happened. (Then again, let’s thank the Powers that Be that Emmy didn’t grant another kneejerk prize to Ellen Burstyn,, nominated time for Flowers in the Attic.)

Similarly unexpected were the multiple upsets provided by “Sherlock: His Last Vow”, including individual performance Emmys for Supporting Actor Martin Freeman and Lead Actor  Benedict Cumberbatch. Neither of them bothered to show up — probably because neither of them expected to best the presumed frontrunners in their categories, specifically Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart and — I’m sorry, but this is pure insanity –  Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Ruffalo. The Cumberbatch is to be adored, and “Sherlock” is still one of the best things on television, but season three was weaker in comparison to the first two and…really, Emmy? You thought The Cumberbatch was better than “Fargo’s” Lorne Malvo?

Thank goodness “Fargo” won Outstanding Miniseries. Yes, there’s that.

Including Steven Moffat’s win for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, “Sherlock” helped PBS’s “Masterpiece” win the most Emmys for any single program this year, raking in a total of seven awards between the Primetime and Creative Arts ceremonies.

On the network side, CBS, FX and AMC tied with five Primetime Emmys apiece. HBO went home with four on Monday night, while ABC got three (thanks to “Modern Family”) and Comedy Central walked away with one, for “The Colbert Report”.

If you missed The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, you can check out our full list of winners as well as see photos from the show, enjoy the glamorous Red Carpet fashion and much more by visiting our Road to the Emmys section. You can also read our recap of the show to experience more highlights from the event.

Or just wait a year…odds are The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will look a lot like this one.

 

Emmy Predictions and Awards Show Logic

August 21st, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Uncategorized - (5 Comments)


Have you entered a betting pool for Monday night’s telecast of The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards? Good for you. I commend your bravery. If you haven’t, and are perhaps perusing this list in the hopes of gaining some sort of insight … good luck with that.

Oh sure, I’ve won a guessing game or two. Well, actually, just that one. But I will say it helps to apply Awards Show Logic to one’s choices. What is Awards Show Logic? It’s simple: Scan the nominees and look not at who deserves to win, but who voters might deem to be a safe choice to win in that particular round of awards. Sometimes those choices happen to be one in the same. In other instances, less so.

In still other cases, Emmy goes bananas and surprises us either pleasantly or… well, let’s just say there’s a reason “The West Wing” won 26 Emmy awards, including during seasons in which it probably would not have ranked among the best shows on television, while “The Wire” won exactly…zero. The point is, Emmy voters are not known for their sense of adventure. They tend get in a habit and stay with it.

Find out whether I’m right about any of this by checking out  The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, August 25th on NBC at 8pm ET/5pm PT, which will be hosted by Seth Meyers. Watch along with IMDb’s Editorial team that night to enjoy the best red carpet glamour in our photo galleries. You also can get real-time updates on winners and highlights from the show by monitoring our homepage, by checking IMDb’s page on Facebook, or following @IMDb on Twitter for live results, and @IMDbMelanie for occasional snark. Until then, visit our Road to the Emmys section for the list of Creative Arts Emmy winners, photos from last year’s telecast and more.

Keep reading to see how Awards Show Logic informed my predictions of this year’s winners.

Outstanding Drama Series

Nominees: “Breaking Bad”, “Downton Abbey”, “Game of Thrones”, “House of Cards”, “Mad Men” , “True Detective”.

Who Should Win: “Breaking Bad”

Who Will Win: “Breaking Bad”. Those who have seen the final episodes of AMC’s landmark series know that this prediction needs little explanation. As for “True Detective”, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s a riveting drama that leaned heavily on cinematic style and the ferocious performances of its leads. If Emmy rewards those elements, that’s understandable. But an Outstanding Drama victor should be solid on every level, and “True Detective’s” fabric is a bit too frayed for me to call it for a win here.

Notable snubs: It’s a crime that neither “Masters of Sex” nor “The Good Wife” received nominations. I would trade “Downton Abbey’s” nod for either of these worthy contenders.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Nominees: “Louie”, “Modern Family”, “Orange Is the New Black”, “Silicon Valley”, “Veep”.

Who Should Win: “Orange Is the New Black”. Launched with virtually no fanfare during the summer of 2013, this series was all anyone could talk about in the months following. Emmy takes a while to follow cultural buzz and reach the same conclusions that viewers and critics do, however. While a win wouldn’t be out of the question, it would be a pleasant surprise.

Who Will Win: “Veep”. Helmed by multiple Emmy-nominee and winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus, this series spun out what may be its best season yet, and more viewers have been flocking to it. Plus, the shine may be fading on “Modern Family” in industry award circles…although Emmy does love repeat winners.

Notable snub:Brooklyn Nine-Nine” came up golden at the Globes, but was shut out here. But frankly its Fox counterpart “The Mindy Project” is just as deserving of a nomination. That said, I wouldn’t trade out any of this crop of nominees for either, so this observation is more emotional than practical.

Outstanding Miniseries

Nominees: “American Horror Story”, “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Fargo”, “Luther”, “Treme”, “The White Queen”.

Who Should Win: Don’t get me wrong, I loved “Luther” and “Treme”, and I watched “The White Queen” from start to finish. As for “Bonnie and Clyde”…um… anyhoo, scanning the competition there’s really one choice here.

Who Will Win: “Fargo”. One benefit of “True Detective” characterizing itself as a fully-fledged series opposed to a miniseries/anthology drama is that this excellent FX original isn’t going up against it. But Emmy is notoriously and astoundingly dense sometimes, so if it doesn’t win… there’s always next year.

Outstanding Television Movie

Nominees: Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, The Normal Heart, “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, The Trip to Bountiful, Killing Kennedy.

Who Should Win: The Normal Heart

Who Will Win: The Normal Heart. Because… HBO.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees: Bryan Cranston for “Breaking Bad”, Jeff Daniels for “The Newsroom”, Jon Hamm for “Mad Men”, Woody Harrelson for “True Detective”, Matthew McConaughey for “True Detective”, Kevin Spacey for “House of Cards”

Who Should Win: Bryan Cranston

Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey. Yes, Cranston’s final run on “Breaking Bad” was peerless, but Emmy loves A-listers – and who doesn’t want to see the man gives us a big speech that starts with “awright, awright awright”?

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Don Cheadle for “House of Lies”,,Louis C.K. for “Louie”,,Matt LeBlanc for “Episodes”, William H. Macy for “Shameless”, Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory” , Ricky Gervais for “Derek”

Who Should Win: William H. Macy for “Shameless.” Macy’s Frank Gallagher was even more of a mess this season and, in truth, not really funny. But he also served up remarkable work this season. Besides, in Emmy’s world, you don’t have to be funny to take home a statue in the comedy categories. Just ask Edie Falco.

Who Will Win: Originally I’d have said Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory”, but Ricky Gervais showed a different, more poignant side with his performance in Netflix’s “Derek”. Emmy has a knack for throwing some dark horses into the winners circle. And I’ll admit it – I’m curious to see how naughty Gervais’s acceptable speech will be.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Idris Elba for “Luther”, Chiwetel Ejiofor for “Dancing on the Edge”, Benedict Cumberbatch for “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, Martin Freeman for “Fargo”, Mark Ruffalo for The Normal Heart, Billy Bob Thornton for “Fargo”

Who Should Win: Billy Bob Thornton. In an ordinary season of television, there would be one clear standout in this category. But this year’s crop of actors in this category makes predicting a front runner a bit of an uncertainty…but only a bit. The real race is between Thornton and Mark Ruffalo, and in that match up our Monopoly money is on….

Who Will Win: Billy Bob Thornton.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Lizzy Caplan for “Masters of Sex”, Claire Danes for “Homeland”, Michelle Dockery for “Downton Abbey”, Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife”, Kerry Washington for “Scandal”, Robin Wright for “House of Cards”

Who Should Win: Robin Wright had a wonderful run in season two of “House of Cards.” However…

Who Will Win: Julianna Margulies has been nominated four times for her work on “The Good Wife”, but won only once. I’m betting Emmy voters will make up for snubbing the series in the Drama category by handing her some hardware for her outstanding performance over the most recent season.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Lena Dunham for “Girls”, Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie”, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep”, Melissa McCarthy for “Mike & Molly”, Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation”, Taylor Schilling for “Orange Is the New Black”

Who Should Win: Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation”. She’s been nominated five times in this category. Five! And she deserved everyone one of those nods.

Who Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s been nominated too many times and won too few of those for Emmy not to step up, in my opinion. Not that she doesn’t deserve it; Louis-Dreyfus is the main reason “Veep” evolved from being a very funny comedy to one that’s not to be missed.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Helena Bonham Carter for Burton and Taylor, Minnie Driver for Return to Zero, Jessica Lange for “American Horror Story”, Sarah Paulson for “American Horror Story”, Cicely Tyson for The Trip to Bountiful, Kristen Wiig for “The Spoils of Babylon”

Who Should Win: Helena Bonham Carter. Watching her in Burton and Taylor wasn’t just a delight. In a perverse way, her portrayal served as sort of a public tutorial on How to Play Liz Taylor that came too late to school Lindsay Lohan. I actually imagined HBC watching LiLo in her Lifetime pic while on a fainting couch and cooing, “Adorable. How darling. Now stand back and let mama show you how it’s done.”

Who Will Win: Cicely Tyson, who reprised her Broadway-originated role for The Trip to Bountiful.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Fred Armisen for “Portlandia”, Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, Ty Burrell for “Modern Family”, Adam Driver for “Girls”, Jesse Tyler Ferguson for “Modern Family”, Tony Hale for “Veep”

Who Should Win: Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”. Although Andy Samberg won the Lead Comedy Actor Golden Globe, Braugher’s deadpan Captain Holt is the ingredient that makes “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” so completely enjoyable. Plus, he’s won Emmys twice previously.

Who Will Win: Tony Hale for “Veep”. This is one of those choices that makes sense when you put Emmy’s goggles on. Who doesn’t love Buster Bluth?

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees:  Jim Carter for “Downton Abbey”, Josh Charles for “The Good Wife”, Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones”, Mandy Patinkin for “Homeland”, Aaron Paul for “Breaking Bad”, Jon Voight for “Ray Donovan”

Who Should Win: Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones”

Who Will Win: Aaron Paul for “Breaking Bad”. This is a tough call… Dinklage took us through Tyrion Lannister’s toughest, most emotionally challenging chapter without losing the character’s soul in his performance. But Paul made our hearts bleed for Jesse Pinkman in those final episodes. In the end, this is the last time that Emmy can salute him for that role.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart, Martin Freeman for “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, Colin Hanks for “Fargo”, Alfred Molina for Return to Zero, Jim Parsons for The Normal Heart, Joe Mantello for The Normal Heart (2014) (TV)

Who Should Win: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart

Who Will Win: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart. Because…HBO. Also, he was amazing.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Mayim Bialik for “The Big Bang Theory”, Julie Bowen for “Modern Family”, Anna Chlumsky for “Veep”, Allison Janney for “Mom”, Kate Mulgrew for “Orange Is the New Black”, Kate McKinnon for “Saturday Night Live”

Who Should Win: Kate Mulgrew for “Orange Is the New Black”

Who Will Win: Allison Janney for “Mom”. This is a category where Emmy likes to surprise and shock us – remember last year’s Merritt Wever upset? Knowing this gives Mulgrew the edge…except for the fact that Janney is a five-time Emmy winner.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Christine Baranski for “The Good Wife”, Joanne Froggatt for “Downton Abbey”, Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad”, Lena Headey for “Game of Thrones”, Christina Hendricks for “Mad Men”, Maggie Smith for “Downton Abbey”

Who Should Win: Christine Baranski for “The Good Wife”

Who Will Win: Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad”. Both have won Emmys once, although Baranski has been nominated 11 times (including her win) to Gunn’s three. Having said that, this is the last time Gunn can win for this role. Baranski will be back.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Angela Bassett for “American Horror Story”, Kathy Bates for “American Horror Story”, Ellen Burstyn for Flowers in the Attic, Frances Conroy for “American Horror Story”, Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart, Allison Tolman for “Fargo”

Who Should Win: Allison Tolman for “Fargo”. She may be a newcomer, but Tolman’s turn in FX’s anthology series hit all the right notes and announced her arrival as a major talent. It would be quite a coup if she wins, and she’d have a fair chance at doing so if not for…

Who Will Win: Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart. A-lister. Celebrity. HBO branding. Emmy voters love all of those factors. And I hope I’m wrong with this call, because Tolman truly deserves the Emmy here.

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards air at 8pm ET/5pm PT Monday, August 25th on NBC.


The next chapter of the “American Horror Story” anthology has an official premiere date. “American Horror Story: Freak Show” will make its debut at 10pm Wednesday, October 8. As previously announced, Jessica Lange is returning alongside her “Coven” co-stars Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, and Sarah Paulson who, like Lange, has been part of the series since its first season. Currently joining these stars for “Freak Show” is Michael Chiklis (“The Shield“, “Vegas“) and Jyoti Amge, also known as the world’s smallest woman.

Read on FX’s official plot description for the latest installment of the anthology series.

American Horror Story: Freak Show begins its tale in the quiet, sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida. The year is 1952. A troupe of curiosities has just arrived to town, coinciding with the strange emergence of a dark entity that savagely threatens the lives of townsfolk and freaks alike. This is the story of the performers and their desperate journey of survival amidst the dying world of the American carny experience.”

In other news, Showtime has renewed “Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” for third seasons, each consisting of twelve episodes. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2015.

AMC also announced that is has picked up “Halt and Catch Fire” for a second season, set to air in the summer of 2015.

FX Renews The Strain

August 19th, 2014 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in FX | The Strain - (2 Comments)


In what could probably be considered a no-brainer type of decision, FX has picked up “The Strain” for a 13-episode second season.

Based on a series of books co-written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, “The Strain” follows the Center for Disease Control’s New York-based Canary Team, consisting of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll),  Dr. Nora Martinez (Mía Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin), as well as a pawn shop broker, Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), an incredibly badass rat exterminator, Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), and the streetwise Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez), as they battle an epidemic that is quickly threatening to transform the population into parasitic vampires. Executive producer Carlton Cuse (”Lost,”Bates Motel”) serves as the drama’s showrunner.

”The Strain” is the first original that FX scheduled in the highly competitive Sunday primetime slot, and according to the network, that gamble has paid off.  It currently ranks as the year’s #1 new series on cable in the key demographic of adults 18-49. Around 12.7 million Total Viewers tuned in to the premiere, making it the most-watched debut in the network’s history.

FX reports that “The Strain” also is averaging 11 million Total Viewers and 5.2 million in adults 18-49 tuning in each week, which includes stats from video on demand and online viewing. The Live + 7 ratings are much more down-to-earth, with an average of 4.5 million Total Viewers and 2.6 million in adults 18-49.

“The Strain” is not the only cable series that was renewed today. SundanceTV announced that its critically-acclaimed series ”Rectify” will return for a third season in 2015, and MTV has picked up its summertime hit “Finding Carter” for a 12-episode second season.