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Monday, September 22, 2008

Emmys show failed for a host of reasons.


September222008
From USA Today
By Robert Bianco

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If you're not careful, Emmy can drive you mad.

The awards themselves ricochet from the inspired to the insane, with no regard for office betting pools. It's almost enough to make you grateful for the broadcast's unshakeable consistency: It was hideously awful from start to harried finish, dragged down by five amateurish reality anchors who would have been unwelcome as guests, let alone hosts.

Emmy awards winners fashions
The lesson ABC's Sunday slog seemed to be striving to impart is that the Emmys are a joke — and a bad one at that. From Josh Groban's musical montage to that monumentally terrible, time-wasting quintet — Ryan Seacrest, Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Jeff Probst and, in particular, a dithering Howie Mandel — the show seemed designed to convince us that we shouldn't be watching. Not just the Emmys, mind you, but television itself.

Why, in a year when so much good work was done by writers and actors, would Emmy turn itself over to five performers from unscripted TV — and reward them for their incompetence by devoting extra time to their unnecessary category? I'd say they drove the show to a new low, but after last year's Seacrest-solo, in-the-round debacle, that would be giving them too much credit for originality.

Actually, the "we have nothing" opening was so unbearable and the show so slow, it's possible many viewers never made it to the major categories, which came in an undignified rush at the end. And that's a shame, because this year's series awards were more deserved and varied than has often been the case.

Those seeking signs of basic cable's increasing series prominence should look no further than the historic, well-earned win by AMC's Mad Men. It capped an unprecedented sweep by the non-premium networks in the major drama categories, with Glenn Close's victory for FX's Damages (a sign, as well, of TV's wise embrace of mature actresses) and Bryan Cranston's shocking triumph for AMC's Breaking Bad.

But it's not over for broadcast yet, as witness the big three sweep by 30 Rock and stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin — who gave the year's funniest turn in the year's funniest episode as a would-be therapist.

As for the movies and miniseries, nothing but the television academy's intense, no-longer-merited devotion to HBO — and the Emmys' habit of embracing big projects with undue fervor — can explain the company's continued dominance. Not that there was ever any doubt that John Adams was going to win as best miniseries, but making it the most honored miniseries in history is excessive, even for Emmy.

Of all the Adams wins, Laura Linney's was the most acceptable. But fine as her performance was, it didn't compare to Judi Dench's in Cranford or Phylicia Rashad's in Raisin in the Sun, which is bound to make some wonder whether the voters did the watching required for an honest comparison.

Once Rashad lost, it seemed clear that her movie would, too. And it did, to Recount, a film that was embraced as much for its politics as for its artistic merits.

Even in the worst awards show, and this one qualified, there are some bright spots. Two of Sunday night's rare shining moments came from Ricky Gervais, unnervingly funny as ever pretending to reclaim his Emmy, and Kathy Griffin, who forced the crowd to stand for Don Rickles (who later gave a fabulously Ricklesian acceptance speech). And surely even people who resent it when Hollywood types parade their political allegiances at awards shows had to admire the cleverness of Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart's prune vs. plum electoral metaphor.

Unless it just drove you crazy. In which case, join the Emmy club.


OFFICIAL ABC EMMY's SITE FULL OF PHOTOS & VIDEO

THE EMMY WINNERS & PHOTOS (IMDB)

THE EMMY FASHIONS ARRIVAL GALLERY (IMDB)

THE 2008 EMMYs HIGHS AND LOWS (BUZZ SUGAR)

THE LADIES POP AND SHINE ON THE EMMYs RED CARPET (POP SUGAR)

THE BOYS BAND TOGETHER ON THE EMMY RED CARPET (POP SUGAR)


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