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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Emmy Awards

Gold Derby nuggets: IDA nominees announced | Lesley Manville: Lead or supporting? | 'Driving Miss Daisy' debuts on Broadway

October 28, 2010 |  2:38 pm

• Nominees for the International Documentary Assn. Awards were announced Wednesday. Contending for the top prize of best feature documentary are: "Exit Through the Gift Shop," "The Oath," "Steam of Life," "Sweetgrass" and "Waste Land." In making the announcement, IDA executive director Michael Lumpkin said, "This has been another banner year for documentary films, and that is reflected in our list of nominees. Entries to the awards increased by nearly 20% this year, and the quality of the films vying for recognition is unprecedented." The awards will be handed out in a Dec. 3 ceremony at the Directors Guild Theater in Los Angeles, hosted by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. IDA

• And Peter Knegt wonders whether the feature documentary "Waiting for Superman" can make it into this year's best picture race. INDIE WIRE

• As S.T. Van Airsdale notes: "All is mostly calm as the second month of Movieline's Oscar Index commences; mostly, that is, unless you're at the top of three of the four acting categories and/or trying to get your embattled African-American ensemble drama through stolid barriers of critical mass. Otherwise, it's just hunches, gossip and word-of-mouth business as usual." MOVIELINE

• Following Tuesday's release of the satirical "Mr. Men" illustrated book comes news of another tome spun from the gold that is "Mad Men." As David Itzkoff reports: "The Grove Press imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc. said it would release 'Sterling’s Gold: The Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man,' a memoir the publisher attributes to the 'advertising pioneer and visionary Roger Sterling Jr.'" ARTSBEAT

Lesley ManvilleBrad Brevet conducts a fascinating online round-table debate about whether "Another Year" player Lesley Manville should go lead or supporting. As per Brad: "I've had her listed as a Supporting Actress contender since seeing the film back in May at Cannes only to learn today that's just not the way it is ... at least not right now. Before going any further with my predictions I felt it was finally time to get a clear answer from Sony Classics and find out exactly how they were going to promote Manville's 'Another Year' performance. For the record, I was the only one that had her listed for Best Supporting Actor among Oscar pundits and as it turns out, I was the only one that was wrong. In a phone call this morning with Sony Classics co-president Michael Barker I was told Sony Classics is currently pushing her as a lead actress. The argument is she has the largest amount of screen time in the film and Barker has said he's asked around and lead is the general consensus based on whom he's spoken with. However, it seems as if the door is far from closed." ROPE OF SILICON

Jeff Wells is "vaguely bummed out" about the news that James Cameron is to direct back-to-back sequels to 2009 best picture nominee "Avatar." As he explains" "It's a downer because it's basically a corporate cash-grab move. (Rothman and Gianopulos: 'They'll pay to see this again ... twice! Revenues! Hah-hah-hah!') Because it's a creatively lazy enterprise for Cameron as it'll be no great feat to come up with a prequel and a sequel. Because 'Avatar' was a great four-course meal, and I'm not feeling a need to go there again. Because the ending of Avatar was perfect (i.e., the opening of the transformed Jake Sully's eyes), and I'm thinking 'leave it there.' And because a guy like Cameron committing to a two-movie, four-year rehash project that is primarily about making money (i.e., certainly on 20th Century Fox's end) is a kind of capitulation to the golden-calf mentality." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

• Nominees Marc Anthony, Aida Cuevas, Jenni Rivera, Gilberto Santa Rosa Aleks Syntek, and Johnny Ventura will perform at the 11th annual Latin Grammy Awards, which are to air on Univision live from Las Vegas on Nov. 11. LATIN GRAMMYS

• The first rialto production of "Driving Miss Daisy" opened this week to strong reviews for stars Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, prompting David Ng to ask, "How will Tony organizers treat 'Miss Daisy'?" As he explains: "According to recent Tony rules, a production can qualify as a 'revival' if the committee deems the work a 'classic' or part of 'the popular or historical repertoire,' which is to say that it's a subjective call." CULTURE MONSTER

• College students will get another chance to cover the Oscars as the academy and MTVU announced the return of a contest to pick three roving correspondents. Entrants have until Dec. 6 to submit an audition tape with voting on the top-10 being held online from Jan. 10 to Jan. 28. Three finalists will be flown to town to cover lead-up events, with the winner getting a spot on the red carpet. AMPAS

• The upcoming fifth season of "Big Love" will be the last, as per the announcement Thursday by paycaster HBO. The series about polygamy contended for best drama series at the 2009 Emmys and likewise at the Golden Globes for the last three years.

• To qualify in the animated feature film category for the upcoming Oscars, entry forms and supporting materials are due at the academy by 5 p.m. PDT on Nov. 1. The deadline to submit accompanying film prints is Nov. 12. AMPAS

Photo: Lesley Manville in "Another Year." Credit: Focus Features

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Everybody's sick of Jon Stewart winning the Emmy

October 25, 2010 |  4:33 pm

Especially David Letterman.


Jane Lynch with her Emmy: 'Shoving it in people's faces'

October 11, 2010 |  9:21 am

Looks like Jane Lynch has the same steely nerve as her character on "Glee." When she appeared on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" last week, she playfully confessed that she behaved rather haughtily toward colleagues after winning her Emmy Award. Jane and Jimmy also dished on how nervous they were before doing that big dance number that kicked off the Emmy ceremony.

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Tuesday night's 'Glee' may be Chris Colfer's next Emmy submission

October 5, 2010 | 12:14 pm

Attention, Chris Colfer fans: Tune in to "Glee" Tuesday night to see "Grilled Cheesus" because Fancast's Matt Webb Mitovich says, "this episode belongs to Chris Colfer, who likely has staked his claim to a second Emmy nod."

Glee Chris Colfer TV news

Colfer recently lost the supporting comedy actor Emmy for the "Laryngitis" episode of "Glee" in which he belts out "Rose's Turn." Very dramatic submission in the comedy category. Often that's a good strategy, believe it or not, but he lost to Eric Stonestreet's comedic turn as a clown in the "Fizbo" episode of "Modern Family."

Tonight we see more of Colfer's drama chops. Mitovich tells Gold Derby about the "Glee" eppy: "Kurt's dad has a heart attack, is in bad condition. The episode as a whole takes a look at the question of God's existence. Kurt, being gay, is a non-believer, but the others compel him to find faith in something during this difficult time. There are also great moments with non-believer Sue Sylvester and her impaired sister."

Photo: Recent Emmy champ Jane Lynch and recent Emmy loser Chris Colfer appear together in a scene in tonight's episode of "Glee." (Fox)

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Helena Bonham Carter and Bob Hoskins compete for International Emmys

October 4, 2010 |  3:48 pm

International emmys

Thirty-nine nominees from 15 nations will compete in 10 categories for International Emmys, which will be bestowed Nov. 22 at a ceremony in New York City hosted by actor Jason Priestley.

"The Street" is among double nominees announced today — a BBC production about working-class folks living along a road in northwest England. It's up for best drama series (which it won in 2007) as well as lead actor for Bob Hoskins' performance as a pub owner who stands up to a local mob bully. "The Street" won BAFTA Awards as best drama in 2007 and 2008.

Also contending for best drama and lead actor at the International Emmys is Argentine crime drama "Epitafios" starring Leonardo Sbaraglia as an assassin who copies famous gruesome murders. The series debuted in 2005 as HBO Latin America's first original production and has been a hit ever since.

As usual, British shows led with the most nominations (nine), including a lead actress bid for Helena Bonham Carter as Enid Blyton, a British author of best-selling adventure and fantasy stories for children who live a troubled life.

Brazilian programs reaped five nominations, including a lead actress nom for Lilial Cabral as an ex-fashion model enduring a painful divorce in "Seize the Day."

See the full list of nominees here.

Continue reading »

Can 'Confessions' make Liza Minnelli a grand slam awards champ?

September 30, 2010 | 11:49 am

Liza Minnelli Confessions After sitting on third base since 1973, Liza Minnelli could finally become the 11th artist to complete the awards grand slam if she wins a Grammy Award for "Confessions," her first studio album in almost 15 years. The disc dropped Tuesday to good reviews and Dan Aquilante of the New York Post pegs it as a potential contender in the traditional pop album category: "Liza is more Algonquin than Kit Kat Club on this record of cabaret standards and torch burners. Minnelli, in strong voice, sings as if she's lived every world-weary lyric."

Liza Minnelli won the first of her four Tony Awards in 1965 for "Flora the Red Menace." That tuner was by her lifelong pals John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wanted her to star in their next stage show, "Cabaret." While she was passed over for that, Minnelli landed the plum role of Sally Bowles for the 1972 film version and won the lead actress Academy Award. Weeks after picking up that Oscar, she took home an Emmy Award for her TV special "Liza with a Z."

Minnelli has had two Grammy bids in the relatively new traditional pop album category. In 1997, she lost for her last studio album "Gently" to Tony Bennett, who won the fourth of 10 times in this race for "Here's to the Ladies." Last year, she lost for "Liza at the Palace" to Michael Buble, who prevailed for the second time in three years for "Michael Buble Meets Madison Square Garden."

While Minnelli has yet to win a competitive Grammy, she has received accolades from the music academy. In 1990, she was given the Living Legend award, and in 2008 the soundtrack from "Cabaret" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Also missing a Grammy from their awards collections are Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino and Maggie Smith. They may seem unlikely candidates to win this award, but remember that the Grammys have categories for best spoken word and children’s recordings. Spoken word got grand slammers John Gielgud and Helen Hayes their Grammys, while children’s recordings worked for Rita Moreno and Audrey Hepburn.

Photo: "Confessions" cover. Credit: Decca Records

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Gold Derby nuggets: EW covers 'The Social Network' | 'Tangled' unfurled | Anderson Cooper to daytime

September 30, 2010 | 11:46 am

Social-network-entertainment-weekly-coverDave Karger chats with the cast of "The Social Network" including this week's EW cover boys Justin Timberlake, Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield as well as screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. In the print interview, Timberlake talks about his dormant music career, admitting, "Does a painter make a painting because he has to make it by December 21st? No, he doesn't. It happens when it pours out of him. That’s how music is for me." And when pushed about future projects, Timberlake responds, "All I'm saying is, in very simple terms, I'll know when I know. And until I know, I don't know." EW

• In a provocative article, Gregg Kilday and Matthew Belloni ask, "Will white be the only color on the red carpet at the 83rd Academy Awards?" Their answer: "Although Oscar contenders are just lining up at the starting gate for the annual run for the gold, there's a real possibility that for the first time since the 73rd Oscars 10 years ago, there will be no black nominees in any of the acting categories at the February ceremony. In fact, there are virtually no minorities in any of the major categories among the early lists of awards hopefuls." THR

Paul Bond writes that the marketing of "Secretariat" has taken a page from "The Blind Side" playbook by targeting Christian audiences. As he notes, the film "even opens with a lengthy quote from the Bible, a portion of God's speech to Job. A trailer that includes those lines is on Christian websites all over the Internet, and some of those sites contain the earliest reviews of the film and offer users a chance to see advanced screenings." Director Randall Wallace told THR that the Bible quote is "transcendent" explaining, "I wanted to capture that timelessness and majesty. The idea that courage prevails." THR

• Friday at 5 p.m. PDT is the deadline for submitting entries in three of the 24 competitive categories at the Oscars: foreign-language film, animated short and live-action short. Each country can enter only one foreign-language film. Last year, 65 nations competed for the five slots. AMPAS

• The Santa Barbara filmfest is celebrating the career of Harrison Ford on Nov. 19 with a gala where he will receive the 5th annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film. In a statement, the 93-year-old screen legend for whom the prize is named said, "I'm delighted to give this award to Harrison Ford. It's always a pleasure to honor these young actors who do so well." SBIFF

Tangled poster For Steve Pond, Disney's newest film, "Tangled," is "the likeliest Animated Feature nominee this side of 'Toy Story 3' (and perhaps 'How to Train Your Dragon'), and you can probably reserve a Best Song slot for one of the Alan Menken/Glenn Slater songs -– maybe the heroine’s statement-of-purpose anthem that comes early in the film, or the big romantic ballad from later on." Pond attended a preview of the film Wednesday and reports that "Disney rarely shows its work to press and guests before the films are finished but in this case, the product clearly warranted a sneak peek. Even with portions of the movie in storyboards or incomplete form, one thing was clear: 'Tangled' is a vibrant, touching film that feels fresh even as it hearkens back to the classic Disney animation of the early 1990s." THE ODDS

Anthony Breznican reports that the six films in the "Star Wars" saga are being converted into 3-D. The first of the films in chronological order -- "The Phantom Menace" -- will be the guinea pig for this highly technical task and should be re-released sometime in 2012. As Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynne Hale told him, "The process is really extensive, and we want to make sure each of the films gets the attention it needs, so we're not ready to talk about the release patterns of the other films." USA TODAY

• Four-time Oscar champ Katharine Hepburn is the subject of a new exhibition at Ohio's Kent State University. The school bought her extensive collection of costumes that range from stage appearances in the 1930s to TV movies in the 1980s. Designers represented include Adrian, Cecil Beaton, Coco Chanel, Edith Head, Irene and Walter Plunkett. KSU

Scott Feinberg passes along this sad news: "Joe Mantell, one of Hollywood’s most prolific character actors for over half a century, has passed away at the age of 94, his family informed me this evening. Mantell is probably best remembered for 'Marty' -- both the landmark live television version that aired on 'The Philco Television Playhouse' in 1953, with Rod Steiger, and the best picture winning film version in 1955, with Ernest Borgnine -- in which he portrayed the title character’s best friend Angie, who famously asks him over and over again, 'Well, what do you feel like doin’ tonight?' (He was nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for the latter.)" SCOTT FEINBERG

• The 20th annual Gotham Awards will fete Darren Aronofsky, Hilary Swank, Robert Duvall and Focus Features exec James Schamus during the Nov. 29 ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street. Says Oscar sage Sasha Stone, "Robert Duvall is up for the Oscar this year with 'Get Low.' Swank is under consideration for 'Conviction.' And Aronofsky is all the rage this year for 'Black Swan.' James Schamus and Focus Features bring to the table 'The Kids Are All Right,' 'Somewhere,' 'The American' and 'It’s Kind of a Funny Story.' The Gothams can sometimes herald in contenders -- my first pass at this is that it breathes life into Robert Duvall’s campaign, and possibly Hilary Swank. They are the two that benefit most from this." AWARDS DAILY

Cooper.anderson.b • Looking to fill the void when Oprah Winfrey leaves the airwaves, prime-time CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is picking up a day job as well, hosting a weekday talker beginning in the fall of 2011. In the statement making the announcement, Cooper said, "Over the course of the past few years, I've had the opportunity to work on a number of daytime programs. It's fun and interesting to work in daytime television. The format is unique and you can really go in-depth on a wide range of fascinating and compelling stories. With this new program I hope to relay important information and relate to people and the audience in a completely different way. It's an exciting opportunity to show another side of myself and create something worthwhile and special in daytime." DEADLINE

•"Modern Family" mates Cam and Mitchell shared their first kiss on Wednesday's episode. As Willa Paskin observes, "The kiss was both frustratingly and admirably understated. On the one hand, seriously, that's what you call a kiss?! On the other, 'Modern Family's' creators didn't bow to the pressure to make Cam and Mitchell's kiss a huge deal, sacrificing character and story line in the process." VULTURE

• "The Flintstones" began its six-season run on ABC on this date back in 1960. To celebrate the golden anniversary, cablecaster Boomerang is airing the first episode in the 8:30 p.m. time slot, as it originally ran. The show contended for an Emmy in the field of humor for its first season, losing to "The Jack Benny Show." Rich Keller has compiled eight fun facts about the cartoon classic and peppered them with must-see clips. TV SQUAD

Ben Stiller is coming full circle for his return to Broadway by starring in a revival of "The House of Blue Leaves" next spring. He made his only appearance on Broadway in the 1986 Lincoln Center production of John Guare's 1971 dark comedy. Back then, Stiller played the sane son in a family of daydreamers, while John Mahoney and Swoozie Kurtz were his less-than-understanding parents. Now, Stiller takes on the role of the father while Emmy champ Edie Falco will play his wife. Mahoney and Kurtz both won Tonys for their efforts in the featured races. Will Stiller and Falco stay in these races or bump up to lead like Viola Davis did successfully this past season for the revival of "Fences." PLAYBILL

Upper photo: Entertainment Weekly cover. Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Middle photo: "Tangled" poster. Credit: Disney

Lower photo: Anderson Cooper. Credit: CNN

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CBS, NBC dominate News and Documentary Emmys

September 28, 2010 | 10:11 am

Emmy Awards Emmys Flagship programs on CBS and NBC did well at the 31st annual edition of the News and Documentary Emmys. "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams" won both breaking and continuing coverage of a news story, while "Today" took home the feature award. And "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" prevailed for both investigative journalism and business and economic reporting.

The equivalent prizes for the newsmagazine shows were split five ways: "Dateline NBC" (breaking news), "60 Minutes" (continuing coverage), "HDNet World Report" (feature), "Frontline" (investigative) and "Dan Rather Reports" (business and economic reporting).

Overall, CBS won seven Emmys, NBC earned six and PBS prevailed in five races. Six channels — ABC, HDNet, History, National Geographic, Planet Green and Sundance -- each won two apiece. Documentarian Frederick Wiseman was feted for a lifetime of achievement, and "PBS NewsHour" was presented with the Chairman's Award. C-SPAN will broadcast the ceremony at 8 p.m. ET on Oct. 9.

One nominee not attending the festivities at Lincoln Center was Robert Halderman, who made news last year for his attempted extortion of David Letterman. Recently released from jail, he was in the running for a "48 Hours Mystery" report on Amanda Knox but lost.

For the full list of winners, visit the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences website.

Image: Emmy Award statues. Credit: NATAS.

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Social Network' star isn't fan of Facebook | 'The Hobbit' hobbled

September 27, 2010 |  3:58 pm

The Social Network posterJesse Eisenberg, star of "The Social Network," makes a startling confession to Anna David: "Look, I don't have a Facebook page because I have little interest in hearing myself talk about myself any further than I already do in interviews or putting any more about myself online than there already is. But if I wasn't in this position, I'm sure I would use it every day." And he admits he identified with Mark Zuckerberg: "I'm uncomfortable in the same way Mark is. I can't watch myself in interviews. I feel like I look like a wreck. My mom is always calling me and going, 'Stop fidgeting,' and it's like, 'You have no idea what it's like, Mom.'" THE DAILY BEAST

• For Aaron Sorkin, scribe of "The Social Network," the appeal of telling the tale of the founding of Facebook was the various versions. "If the same story was behind the invention of MySpace or Friendster, I would have written that. Two separate lawsuits were brought against Facebook at roughly the same time. Rather than pick one and decide that's the truth, or pick one and say that's the sexiest, I like the idea that there are three conflicting stories." OBSERVER

"Iron Cross," the final film starring two-time Oscar nominee Roy Scheider, was feted by the just-wrapped Boston film fest. Writer-director Joshua Newton received the Visionary Filmmaker award while his son Alexander Newton was awarded the best young actor prize. Scheider was saluted for a lifetime of achievement.

• To celebrate the 45th anniversary of 1965 Oscar champ "The Sound of Music," the cast is reuniting on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on Oct. 29. Stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer will be joined by the seven actors who played the Von Trapp children in this classic musical.  AP

• The fifth season of "Dexter" debuted to the best numbers -- 2.3 million viewers -- for a Showtime series in 15 years.

The Hobbit • In a provocative piece, Kyle Buchanan wonders whether Peter Jackson should just give up on "The Hobbit." As he notes, "The attempt to prequelize the 'Lord of the Rings' saga famously lost director Guillermo del Toro in May after troubled MGM couldn't guarantee a green light, and since then, there's been one new problem after another. The two-film production is still without a director and a lead actor, series godfather Peter Jackson remains commitment-phobic about helming 'The Hobbit' himself, intended star Martin Freeman is committed to the BBC show 'Sherlock,' and now several actors guilds have told performers to refuse work on the non-union production." VULTURE

• Three-time Emmy champ Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") sure has a fan in his one-time on-screen sparring partner Jane Kaczmarek. The pair played marrieds on "Malcolm in the Middle" for seven seasons. Jane says, "I loved working with him largely because I knew he had this spectacular ability. He always reminded me of Jack Lemmon. Think of 'Days of Wine and Roses' or 'The Apartment'; [Lemmon] was very funny, but he also was the real thing dramatically. And Bryan is those things, too." ZAP2IT

Phil Keoghan, host of "The Amazing Race," chatted to Louis Virtel in advance of Sunday's premiere episode of the seven-time Emmy champ. Says Phil, "The schedule that we have is so ridiculously brutal — it would be insane to describe to you how it is sometimes. I mean, imagine the most insane schedule you can and then multiply it. The thing that I’m so blessed with is that I get to go on this whirlwind trip around the world, and in 25 days, I see the most extraordinary things and meet the most extraordinary people." MOVIELINE

Top image: "The Social Network" poster. Credit: Columbia

Bottom image: "The Hobbit" book cover. Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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Gold Derby nuggets: Grammys salute John Lennon | 'Caves of Forgotten Dreams' sneak peek | Lady Gaga leftovers

September 23, 2010 |  6:59 am

John Lennon • In celebration of the 70th birthday of John Lennon, the Grammy Museum is paying tribute to the late singer-songwriter with an extensive exhibit opening Oct. 4.  Among the highlights: Lennon's album of the year for "Double Fantasy"; his "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band" costume; the typewriter he used to write lyrics early in his career; handwritten song lyrics, including "Imagine" and "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)"; and a pair of his signature round, wire-framed eyeglasses. Both as part of the Beatles and during his solo career, Lennon won seven Grammys. In a statement, museum Executive Director Robert Santelli said: "We are privileged and honored to open our newest exhibit, 'John Lennon, Songwriter,' in commemoration of one of the most prolific and profound songwriters of our time. Lennon's songs are as insightful and empowering as ever, and they continue to inspire and change the world. We are grateful to Yoko Ono for choosing the Grammy Museum as a temporary home to display some of these memorable and important pieces that illustrate the breadth of her late husband's extraordinary career." GRAMMY MUSEUM

Lou Lumenick makes this wry observation about the Facebook outage Wednesday: "At one point in 'The Social Network,' Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg proclaims that it would be a disaster if the social networking site he co-founded ever went down. Well, today Center Networks and various other tech and news sites are reporting that Facebook is apparently currently down, at least for many users in the United States and other parts of the world. Maybe it's a PR stunt by Sony -- or maybe Facebook is scrubbing status updates quoting my rave review today." Lou concludes, "Apparently the outage lasted somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours." NEW YORK POST

• Looks like a rematch between "Lost" rivals Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn is set to happen. Josef Adalian reports that NBC has committed to a pilot for a comedic drama that has the pair of Emmy champs playing former black-ops agents. "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams and frequent collaborators Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec ('Alias,' 'Mission: Impossible 4') pitched the idea to the peacock. VULTURE

• In anticipation of the December release of the comedy-drama "I Love You, Phillip Morris," Sasha Stone says the following: "One wonders what Jim Carrey will have to finally do to get an Oscar nomination. Comedic actors have a particularly hard time being taken seriously, though many believe Carrey deserved a nod for 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' or 'The Truman Show.'" AWARDS DAILY

Herzog-cave-tiffPatrick Goldstein reports on the one-week Oscar qualifying run of the 3-D documentary "Caves of Forgotten Dreams" in L.A. last week. As he admits, "I have no idea why docs have to be released so much earlier for Oscar consideration than feature films. But since most academy members aren't thinking Oscar buzz in August, if you want your documentary to qualify for Oscar consideration -- and you aren't ready to release it commercially at that time -- you end up staging a stealth qualifying run, hoping to stay under the media radar until you're ready to have a real commercial release for your film." THE BIG PICTURE

• With his new film "Darling Companion," Lawrence Kasdan is set to complete the trilogy he began with best picture nominee "The Big Chill" in 1983 and continued with "Grand Canyon" in 1991. The director wrote the script with his wife Meg Kasdan (they shared an Oscar nom for "Grand Canyon") and the cast includes Oscar champs Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline. "The film’s storyline follows a woman (Keaton) who takes in a stray dog as a companion to fill the void left by her distracted husband (Kline), only to see him lose the mutt after a wedding at their vacation home in the Rockies. A search for the animal includes several guests and a mysterious young woman." RISKY BUSINESS

Brad Brevet surveys the playing field and says, "It's surprising the number of major Oscar contenders [that] have been seen and with Oscar pundits picking horses a bit too early in this race I think it gives films such as 'Somewhere,' 'True Grit' and 'The Fighter' a lot to look forward to." However, he allows, "As for my pick, right now, I see Tom Hooper's 'The King's Speech' as the one film that's right up the Academy's alley and not only that, it's a great film. In my mind it's the clear front-runner and it still has until December before the Weinstein Co. releases it to theaters. It has Colin Firth coming off a strong performance in last year's 'A Single Man,' a performance I believe should have earned him an Oscar, and one that finds me placing him as my current front-runner for Best Actor. To go along with that, co-star Geoffrey Rush is my Best Supporting Actor front-runner at the moment and David Speidler's script has a good shot at Best Original Screenplay." ROPE OF SILICON

Rich Keller catches up with the players on four-time Emmy drama series champ "The West Wing." As he observes, "The cast members of the award-winning NBC drama, which premiered 11 years ago on Sept. 22, 1999, can't seem to let each other go -- they've often paired up on other shows since the series ended in 2006. Interestingly, many of these pairings have taken place in shows on the USA network. Maybe it's due to the drama's huge cast of regulars and recurring characters, the stranglehold NBC Universal had on these actors, or the fact that they all liked working with each other." TV SQUAD

Lady Gaga MTV VMAsLady Gaga certainly turned heads at the recent MTV VMAs as she strutted on stage with cuts of beef draped over her frame to accept one of her eight awards. Now, word comes that this fashion and political statement could be turned into a tasty treat. The designer, Franc Fernandez, shared the fate of the meat dress with Leslie Gornstein: "The dress will go through a process where it becomes a sort of 'jerky' and will be archived." E ONLINE

• The Emerging Cinematographers Guild Awards take place Sunday at the Directors Guild Theater and will feature a screening of the short films being honored. Honorees include Tod Campbell ("The Big Bends"), Cameron Duncan ("Mr Marceau"), Stephanie Dufford ("The Fantastic Magnifico"), Patrick Jones ("Android Love"), Rodney Lamborn ("Meridian"), Jacob Pinger ("The Cycle"), John Snedden ("Brite Eyes") and Brian Udoff ("Les Mouches"). ECA

• The Visual Effects Society has named stop-motion model animator Ray Harryhausen ("The 7th Voyage of Sinbad") as the recipient of the lifetime achievement award to be presented at the ninth annual kudos on Jan. 28. Said VES Chair Jeffrey A. Okun, "Ray has long been the light that we have followed into this business. His artistic vision and ability to use the art and science of storytelling of fantastic tales has been done in a manner that has drawn not just the audience into his magical worlds, but all of us into this business. I cannot stress strongly enough the beacon he is to all of us who aspire to tell stories using visual effects to create the world in which the story is told. Ray is simply an amazing individual who is also so giving of his time, secrets and enthusiasm. We are honored to be able to shine that light back on him!" VES

Top photo: John Lennon in 1974. Credit: Tony Barnard / Los Angeles Times.

Middle photo: "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" promotional still. Credit: IFC Films.

Bottom photo: Lady Gaga at the MTV VMAs. Credit: MTV.

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Poll: Does 'Modern Family' deserve to win the Emmy again?

September 23, 2010 |  6:47 am

Our forum posters offer mixed reactions to the first episode of the sophomore season of recent Emmy champ "Modern Family." Samples below. See more here. Vote in our poll and tell us what you think of its future Emmy prospects. Check out the L.A. Times' review of "Modern Family's" Season 2 debut.

Modern Family TV news

Bazookka Joe:  Great premiere!

east/west: Disappointing premiere.

Atypical: That was so good. All of the storylines clicked. Now I want Ty Burrell to win an Emmy more than ever.

FNLFan89: Solid premiere. Burrell and Bowen were good, but their story (which seemed to be the longest) was the least funny of the three stories. Vergara, although not part of the main storyline, absoultely killed in her scenes. ... Glad to have this show back. Grade: B+ -- MVP's: Vergara, Ferguson

Hodag129: This episode was ... average. Funny sure. But it was just a basic "Modern Family" episode. It didn't come out of the gate this season with it's best like Glee did. Still a good show. The whole cast is genuinely funny so they make slow episodes better. Grade: B for all TV. C+/B- by "Modern Family's" higher standards.

Brilliance inmorbid: More funny and less awkward than most of season one's latter half episodes. Still, it was middling, and Burrell was hella annoying.

FishBiscuit: A fair to midlin' season premier. They all can't be classics so for now I'll same I'm happy to have Modern Family back.

adamunc: I would like to thank the show for the close-up of Vergara's chest when she was stirring the salted milk. (I've never heard of salting milk. Is that a real thing?)

Of course, it's absurd to conduct this poll so early, but let's do it anyway.

Photo: A scene from "Modern Family." Credit: ABC

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Poll: Can Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler finally win 'American Idol' an Emmy?

September 23, 2010 |  6:37 am

Steve Tyler Jennifer Lopez American Idol

Many Emmy watchers, including this one, expected "American Idol" to be the show that stopped the seven-year winning streak of "The Amazing Race" at the Emmy Awards this year. That it was "Top Chef" that prevailed in the reality-competition category was the biggest jaw-dropper of the night.

On Wednesday, Fox introduced the radical revamping of the judges panel: Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler in, and Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres out. Randy Jackson, who has been with the show since day one, remains as one of the trio who sit in judgment on the singing hopefuls, and Ryan Seacrest will continue to host.

"American Idol" had its best shot at snagging the Emmy crown this year, submitting the two-hour finale as the sample episode to Emmy judges. Not only did the episode showcase the competitive element of the series, but there was a touching tribute to the curmudgeonly Cowell, who was leaving the show to launch the U.S. version of his Brit hit, "The X Factor." Surprisingly, Seacrest submitted a different episode -- one in which he interacts with the nine remaining contestants -- for the reality-show-host race. Jeff Probst ("Survivor"), who has won in both years of this category, prevailed once more.

As part of Aerosmith, Tyler has taken home four Grammys, all for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal: "Janie's Got a Gun" (1990); "Livin' on the Edge" (1993); "Crazy" (1994); "Pink" (1998). The group has contended for 17 Grammys in total. Lopez lost both her Grammy races for best dance recording and her two Latin Grammy bids as well. However, she has a pair of American Music Awards and two MTV VMAs to show for her song styling, such as it is.

Photo: Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson at the Forum in Inglewood on Wednesday. Credit: Genaro Molina /Los Angeles Times

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