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Emmys love only a few funny featured fellows

July 14, 2010 |  2:59 pm

Jon Cryer Supporting Actor Emmy Awards Since it was created in 1979, the supporting actor in a comedy series category at the Emmy Awards has been dominated by just a few good men. Indeed, only 18 men have prevailed in the 31 races, including four-time champs John Laroquette ("Night Court") and David Hyde-Pierce ("Frasier"), three-peaters Michael Richards ("Seinfeld"), Brad Garrett ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and Jeremy Piven ("Entourage"), and double winner Christopher Lloyd ("Taxi").

This year, Jon Cryer ("Two and a Half Men") is defending his title while Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother") is looking for his first win with his fourth consecutive nomination. The other four nominees are all first-time Emmy contenders and appear on two of TV's hottest freshman hits — "Glee" (Chris Colfer) and "Modern Family" (Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet).

Before this award was established for featured actors in comedy series, the wider race was even more restrictive with the winners. In the 1950s, Art Carney won three in a row for his work with the Emmy-snubbed Jackie Gleason followed by the first two Emmys of an eventual record nine for Carl Reiner ("Caesar's Hour"). In the 1960s, Don Knotts had a firm grip on the award with five consecutive wins for "The Andy Griffith Show. And in the 1970s "Mary Tyler Moore Show" cast-mates Ed Asner and Ted Knight won three and two apiece while the first of Rob Reiner's two wins for "All in the Family" in 1974 made history as all four of the cast of that classic were now Emmy champs.

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Photo: Jon Cryer at the 61st Annual Emmy Awards. Credit: CBS

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Drama supporting actors prove Emmy winners not always TV reruns

July 13, 2010 |  9:38 am

One of our top Emmy Awards gurus -- forums moderator Chris "Boomer" Beachum -- deftly disproves the notion that the Emmys anoint the same winners year after year. Although the likes of Don Knotts ("The Andy Griffith Show") and John Larroquette ("Night Court") virtually owned the supporting award in the 1960s and 1980s, respectively, both of those talented men featured on comedy series.

Michael Emerson Terry O'Quinn Lost Emmy AwardsSince being created in 1979, the drama supporting actor category has rarely had repeat winners, with 27 different men winning the 31 races. Only four have won this category twice for the same role, and the first two -- Stuart Margolin for "The Rockford Files" (1979, 1980) and Michael Conrad for "Hill Street Blues" (1981, 1982) -- did so in the early days of this award. Larry Drake won for "L.A. Law" (1988, 1989) while Ray Walston was a repeat champ with his two consecutive wins for "Picket Fences" (1995, 1996).

Of this year's nominees, only the men from "Lost" -- Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn -- have prevailed previously in this race. Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad") and John Slattery ("Mad Men") are repeat nominees in this category while Andre Braugher ("Men of a Certain Age") and Martin Short ("Damages") are past Emmy champs in other categories.

In the last 14 years, 14 different men have taken home this award:

1996 Ray Walston ("Picket Fences")
1997 Hector Elizondo ("Chicago Hope")
1998 Gordon Clapp ("NYPD Blue")
1999 Michael Badalucco ("The Practice")
2000 Richard Schiff ("The West Wing")
2001 Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing")
2002 John Spencer ("The West Wing")
2003 Joe Pantoliano ("The Sopranos")
2004 Michael Imperioli ("The Sopranos")
2005 William Shatner ("Boston Legal")
2006 Alan Alda ("The West Wing")
2007 Terry O'Quinn ("Lost")
2008 Zeljko Ivanek ("Damages")
2009 Michael Emerson ("Lost")

Continue reading »

Poll: Will 'So You Think You Can Dance' upstage 'Dancing With the Stars' and the Oscars at the Emmys?

July 12, 2010 |  8:21 am

So_you_think_you_can_dance "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing with the Stars" both earned a pair of Emmy Awards nominations for choreography this year. While "SYTYCD" has won this award for the last three years running, "DWTS" has been an Emmy wallflower for four years in a row. The other entry in the race is the Academy Awards, which was choreographed by co-producer Adam Shankman, who just happens to be a judge on "SYTYCD."

That Fox summer smash about everyday folk vying for a chance to dance won four of its nine Emmy bids for best choreography over the second, third and fourth seasons. In 2007, there was a three-way tie as "SYTYCD" took two Emmys and "Tony Bennett: An American Classic" also won, leaving "Dancing With the Stars" the sole loser. In both 2008 and 2009, "SYTYCD" repeated, albeit with just one win each time and sharing its most recent victory with the Oscarcast hosted by Hugh Jackman.

This year, "So You Think You Can Dance" has two chances to continue its winning streak. Mia Michaels -- a champ in 2007 and a nominee last year -- is a contender with the routines "Gravity/Addiction," "Koop Island Blues" and "One." Stacey Tookey landed her first nomination for the routine "Fear."

"Dancing With the Stars" remains winless over six nominations. Four years ago and despite three entries, "DWTS" was left on the sidelines as "High School Musical" won the only Emmy awarded for choreography. For the last three years, "DWTS" has managed just one bid per year -- Louis van Amstel (2007), Julianne Hough (2008) and Derek Hough (2009) -- always to be bested by "SYTYCD," which has racked up multiple nominations.

This year, the ABC hit that pairs celebrities with professional dancers earned a pair of Emmy noms for Derek Hough. He contends alone for the routines "Futuristic Paso Doble/Living on Video" and "Quickstep/Anything Goes" and with Chelsie Hightower for the routine "Paso Doble/Malaquena."

Last year, Tony Award champ Rob Ashford ("Thoroughly Modern Millie") won his first Emmy for choreographing the Oscars. This year, Adam Shankman pulled double duty by both co-producing the show and choreographing the routines "Opening Number/No One Wants to Do it Alone" and "Score Suite," using many of the performers from "SYTYCD." He was rewarded for his efforts with a pair of nominations as the awardscast also contends in the special class category against last year's Tonys.

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Image: "So You Think You Can Dance" logo. Credit: Fox

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Poll: Will Emmy's biggest loser Bill Maher ever win?

July 12, 2010 |  7:39 am

Bill Maher is already Emmy's biggest loser with 22 nominations and zero wins (Susan Lucci won on nom No. 19). Last week, he got a chance to add to that losing record with four more Emmy Awards nominations for writing and producing both "Real Time With Bill Maher" -- making its sixth consecutive bid for outstanding variety, music or comedy series -- and the variety special "Bill Maher: But I'm Not Wrong."

Bill_maher

More than likely, Maher will continue his staggering losing streak this year. "Real Time" is up against "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (which has won the last seven races in a row) as well as the record-breaking "Saturday Night Live" (which last won in 1993), four-time nominee "The Colbert Report" and sentimental favorite "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien".

Bill Maher's Emmy snubs date back to a 1995 bid for "Politically Incorrect" as outstanding variety, music or comedy series. ("The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" won that year for the only time.) Maher's show brought him a total of 11 nominations -- producing (eight), writing (two) and hosting (one).

His current HBO series had earned him nine nods before these latest ones -- producing (five), writing (three) and hosting (one). In addition, Maher had losing producing bids for his 2006 special "Bill Maher: I'm Swiss" -- that one lost to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, no less -- and in 2008 for "Bill Maher: The Decider," which was beaten by "Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project." This year's special is up against, among other entries, the 32nd edition of the Kennedy Center Honors. That annual kudocast has won this race five times, including last year.

As Maher's losses are mostly for producing and writing, Angela Lansbury's record of 18 losses as a performer remains safe for some time. In September 2008, Bill Maher told Gold Derby that he was cool with being the biggest loser of TV's top award. We had met up at the Toronto Film Festival to discuss his documentary "Religulous."

At the time of that interview, Maher had racked up 19 defeats at the Emmys. During our discussion of this topic with "Religulous" director Larry Charles (a two-time Emmy winner for "Seinfeld"), Maher couldn't help but show he was a tad miffed. Maher mentions that his Emmy losing streak might not matter if he wins an Oscar for "Religulous" as best documentary but -- uh oh -- he was snubbed by the motion picture academy.

Below is the portion of our chat where I ambushed Maher to get his view of his Emmy fate. In the past, whenever I had submitted a formal request to interview him on the subject, it had been ignored. So I decided to seize this opportunity while being granted time with him to discuss "Religulous." Normally, it's Maher who puts people in the hot spot. Oh, what fun it was to do so to him!

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Photo: Bill Maher publicity still. Credit: HBO

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What do Al Pacino and Maggie Smith have in common?

July 9, 2010 | 12:35 pm

Emmy Awards TV Mini Actors Al Pacino ("You Don't Know Jack") and Maggie Smith ("Capturing Mary") are the only two Emmy champs among the 10 nominees for lead performances in telefilms and mini-series. Both are also among the 17 performers to win the triple crown of acting.

Pacino joined this exclusive club in 2004 when he won in this same category with his first Emmy nomination for "Angels in America." The veteran stage actor is batting a thousand with the Tonys, winning both of his bids for "Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie" (featured, 1969) and "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel" (lead, 1977). However, the patient Pacino had to wait till nomination No. 8 in 1993 before finally taking home an Oscar for "Scent of a Woman."

Smith had two unsuccessful Emmy bids -- one in this race in 1993 for "Suddenly Last Summer" and another in the supporting category for "David Copperfield" -- before prevailing in 2003 for her lead performance in "My House in Umbria." By then, Smith already had two Oscars -- "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (lead, 1969) and "California Suite" (supporting, 1978) -- and a Tony Award -- "Lettice and Lovage" (lead, 1990) -- on her mantle.

One of Smith's longtime friends and frequent co-star is Judi Dench ("Return to Cranford"). While she has an Oscar -- "Shakespeare in Love" (supporting, 1998) -- and a Tony -- "Amy's View" (lead, 1999) -- Dench does not have an Emmy. She has lost this race twice before: in 2001 for "Last of the Blonde Bombshells" and in 2008 for the original "Cranford."

Continue reading »

Two-minute warning: Jon Hamm in the hunt for an Emmy

July 8, 2010 |  2:36 pm

Jon Hamm -- who picked up his third consecutive lead actor nomination for "Mad Men" -- also earned his second-in-a-row guest actor bid for "30 Rock." However, as this appearance clocks in at just 136 seconds (2:16), many of our forum posters think a nod for his hosting of "Saturday Night Live" would have been more appropriate. Last year Hamm -- who played one of Liz Lemon's (Tina Fey) string of gentlemen callers in a three-episode arc -- lost this race to Justin Timberlake for his standout turn as host of "SNL."

Will Arnett is contending for reprising his 2008-nominated role as Devon Banks -- network nemesis of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) -- on "30 Rock." Fred Willard -- who was a three-time nominee for a recurring role on "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- picked up a nomination for a pair of guest appearances on "Modern Family" as father to Phil (Ty Burrell).

Another freshman hit -- "Glee" -- boasts two guest actor nominees to go along with with the guest actress bid by Emmy and Tony champ Kristin Chenoweth. Mike O'Malley earned his first Emmy nom for his recurring role as Curt's dad, while Neil Patrick Harris -- who also reaped his fourth consecutive supporting bid for "How I Met Your Mother" -- was recognized for his role as Will's one-time friend turned foe.

Eli Wallach -- nominated for his performance as a patient who tries the patience of "Nurse Jackie" -- won his only Emmy in 1967 for a supporting role in the telefilm "The Poppy is Also a Flower." Since then he has contended three more times, most recently for a guest spot on the drama series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" in 2007. This veteran stage actor won a Tony in 1951 for "The Rose Tatoo," which was the same year he first appeared on TV. He did not make his movie debut -- in the 1956 drama "Baby Doll" -- till he was 40. At 94, Wallach is two years older than Ernest Borgnine was last year when he contended on the drama side for a guest role on "ER."

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Trio of Emmy favorites among guest actor drama nominees

July 8, 2010 |  1:16 pm

Ted danson damages guest actor emmys Ted Danson earned his 15th Emmy nod for "Damages." He also contended in this category last year while he was a supporting actor nominee for his first season on this crime drama. He won two (1990, 1993) of his 11 consecutive lead actor bids for "Cheers" and was also nominated for his lead performance in the landmark TV movie "Something About Amelia" in 1983.

Beau Bridges made it an even dozen Emmy bids with his nomination for "The Closer." Last year, he contended for guest actor in the comedy series "Desperate Housewives." Bridges has won three Emmys: lead actor in a movie/mini in 1992 for "Without Warning: The James Brady Story" and two supporting wins in the movie/mini race for "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" (1993) and "The Second Civil War" (1997).

John Lithgow has already won the Golden Globe for his killer role this season on "Dexter," which just earned him his 11th Emmy nomination. He won this race in 1986 for his whimsical portrayal of a simple, lonely man in "The Doll" episode of "Amazing Stories." Lithgow also prevailed in three (1996, 1997, 1999) of his seven consecutive Emmy bids for lead actor in the comedy series "Third Rock from the Sun." 

Lithgow is one of the few performers to have won Tony Awards for both dramatic ("That Championship Season, 1973) and musical ("The Sweet Smell of Success," 2002) turns. Another is Robert Morse ("How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," 1962; "Tru," 1990), who won the lead actor Emmy in 1993 for re-creating that latter performance as Truman Capote on-screen. This is his second go-round in this race for his work on "Mad Men"; he lost two years ago to Glynn Thurman ("In Treatment").

Continue reading »

Will 'SVU' be good luck charm for Ann-Margret at Emmys?

July 8, 2010 | 11:36 am

Bedtime law order svu ann-margret emmy awards Ann-Margret might finally nab the Emmy that has eluded her five times with her guest actress bid for "Law & Order: SVU." Over the years, guest actresses on this procedural drama have garnered 14 Emmy nominations resulting in four wins: Amanda Plummer (2005) and the last three years in a row -- Leslie Caron (2007), Cynthia Nixon (2008) and Ellen Burstyn (2009). With that victory, Burstyn became the 18th performer to win the acting triple crown of Oscar, Emmy and Tony awards.

Ann-Margret has contended for lead actress in a movie or mini-series four times and supporting once but has always gone home empty-handed. She was nominated for the first time in 1983 for her performance as a dying woman in "Who Will Love My Children?" but was bested by Barbara Stanwyck for "The Thorn Birds." That gracious Hollywood legend acknowledged the younger woman's work in her heartfelt acceptance speech. (That also marked the first of 18 Emmy bids for Angela Lansbury, who was nominated for "Little Gloria ... Happy at Last.")

The following year Ann-Margret wowed critics with her performance as Blanche duBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire" but she lost the Emmy to Jane Fonda in "The Dollmaker." In 1987, she was back in the hunt for her performance as a gold digger in "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles" but was edged by Gena Rowlands in "The Betty Ford Story."

In 1994, Ann-Margret was nominated in the supporting category for "Queen: The Story of an American Family" but lost to Mary Tyler Moore for "Stolen Babies." Most recently, she contended in 1999 for the title role in "Life of the Party: The Pamela Harriman Story" but was bested by Helen Mirren for "The Passion of Ayn Rand."

This year, the red-headed dynamo reaped her sixth Emmy bid for playing a faded star caught up in an unsolved criminal case. Among her competition for the guest actress Emmy are two Oscar champs -- Sissy Spacek ("Coalminer's Daughter") for an arc on "Big Love" and Shirley Jones ("Elmer Gantry") for "The Cleaner" -- as well as Tony and Emmy winner Lily Tomlin for her arc on "Damages," Emmy champ Mary Kay Place for her work on "Big Love" and Elizabeth Mitchell for reprising her regular role on "Lost."

Photo: Ann-Margret in "Law & Order: SVU." Credit: NBC.

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Conan O'Brien ousts Jay Leno and David Letterman from Emmys

July 8, 2010 |  8:08 am

Conan-obrien-and-jay-leno As expected, Conan O'Brien was rewarded for submitting himself with an Emmy nomination for his seven-month tenure at the helm of "The Tonight Show." While it isn't so surprising that he edged out the returning Jay Leno -- who won this award once (1995) during his first 17 years hosting this late-night staple -- it is a jaw-dropper that "Late Show with David Letterman" is missing from this race for the first time since it debuted in 1994.

"Late Show" won the Emmy for its first season and then picked up five in a row beginning in 1998. That winning streak was halted by "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," which has owned this category since 2003 and contends once again this year. O'Brien will face this Comedy Central hit head-on in the ratings when he launches his new chat fest on TBS in the fall.

It took O'Brien a full decade of hosting "Late Night" before his show landed its first Emmy bid in the variety comedy music series category in 2003. It contended unsuccessfully in this race for five years. In both 2008 and 2009, "Late Night" lost its slot in the list of nominees to the resurgent "Saturday Night Live," which is in the hunt once more.

The other two nominees have been perennial Emmy bridesmaids. "The Colbert Report" earned its fifth consecutive nomination and has an excellent chance to prevail this year thanks to an episode it plans to submit to Emmy jurors -- the host's hilarious and heartfelt trip to Iraq. "Real Time with Bill Maher" earned nom No. 6 but has failed to win a single Emmy, even in the crafts categories. Indeed, Maher is the new Susan Lucci, ranking as the biggest loser in the history of TV's top award, with 22 defeats and no wins for producing, writing and performance.

The new edition of "Late Night" -- helmed by Emmy host Jimmy Fallon -- was snubbed this year. Also missing is "The Mo'Nique Show," starring the "Precious" actress who swept the last film awards derby (New York Film Critics Circle to Oscars).

Continue reading »

Emmy Awards nominations: Who got skunked!

July 8, 2010 |  7:05 am

Ah, the Emmy Awards nominations that might have been! Below is a list of the programs and stars snubbed Thursday by the 14,000 voters of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Here is a list of nominees contending for the major awards at the 62nd annual edition of the Emmys, which will be handed out Aug. 29 on NBC.

* = nominee in 2009

EmmySQ

NOT-SO-BEST DRAMA SERIES
"Big Love" *
"Damages" *
"Friday Night Lights"
"Grey's Anatomy"
"House" *
"The Mentalist"
"Rescue Me"
"The Tudors"
"24"

NOT-SO-BEST COMEDY SERIES
"The Big Bang Theory"
"Bored to Death"
"Californication"
"Desperate Housewives"
"Entourage" *
"Family Guy" *
"How I Met Your Mother" *
"Scrubs"
"Two and a Half Men"
"Ugly Betty"
"United States of Tara"
"Weeds" *

NOT-SO-BEST MINISERIES
"Alice" (SyFy)
"Emma" (PBS)
"Occupation" (BBC America)
"The Prisoner" (AMC)
"Small Island" (PBS)

NOT-SO-BEST TV MOVIE
"Amish Grace" (Lifetime Movie Network)
"A Dog Year" (HBO)
"Einstein & Eddington" (HBO)
"Jesse Stone: No Remorse" (CBS)
Hallmark Hall of Fame: "When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story" (CBS)
"Who is Clark Rockefeller" (Lifetime)

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: Justin Bieber rocks Much Music Awards | 'Red' in the black | 'Mad Men' returns July 25

June 21, 2010 |  3:42 pm

Justin Bieber Much Music Awards • Hometown favorite Justin Bieber was a big winner at Sunday's Much Music Awards in Toronto. These kudos are the Canadian equivalent of the MTV VMAs. Bieber won for best video by a Canadian ("One More Time"), favorite video ("Baby"), and favorite new artist. "It's my first award, and to have it in Canada is just amazing," Bieber told the crowd. "I want to say thank you to all my fans who got me in this position." Teen queen Miley Cyrus, who also performed and presented, won best international video for "Party in the U.S.A" which she dedicated it to her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. NY DAILY NEWS

•  Alan Sepinwall has been busy as of late compiling his wish list for the upcoming Emmy Awards nominations. While he was able to winnow the supporting races to a half dozen would-be contenders, he admits, "lead drama actor, on the other hand, was a real bear, so much so that I'm actually going to write a few words about some of the people I just couldn't find room for on the list, and why. You may not agree with those rationalizations, and there may be times when I don't, either, but I had to find some way to cut this puppy down to six names, and these were the reasons that made sense to me as I did it." Among those actors he dropped: "Lost" leading man Matthew Fox and Kyle Chandler of "Friday Night Lights." HIT FIX

• Popeater began a Facebook campaign to boost the profile of "Friday Night Lights" star quarterback Zach Gifford and land him a supporting actor nomination at the Emmy Awards. Mike Hess, who writes for this offshoot of AOL, was impressed by Gifford's performance in a recent episode where his character comes to terms with the death of his father. For Hess, "Gifford ran the gamut of emotions in a way that few actors as young as he is (or older, even) ever could. Brutal sadness, confusion, tension-cutting laughter: They were all there, and all executed in perfect real-life harmony." Monday marks the end of the nomination phase with the results announced July 8. POPEATER

Red Playbill • One week before its limited run on Broadway ends, the producers of the Tony-winning best play "Red" announced it had recouped its $2.25 million investment. This two-hander about abstract artist Mark Rothko and his assistant is by John Logan, who was Oscar-nominated for scripting best picture champ "Gladiator" and best pic nominee "The Aviator." The West End transfer of "Red" won five of its other six Tony bids -- featured actor (Eddie Redmayne), director (Michael Grandage), lighting design (Neil Austin), scenic design (Christopher Oram) and sound design (Adam Cork). PLAYBILL

Greg Ellwood recaps the 30 bold-faced names who impressed the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce enough to receive stars on the Walk of Fame. "This year's group will feature the first 'family' induction with Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd and Laura Dern all laying down their stars at the same time. Other intriguing nominees include Oprah Winfrey, 'American Idol' creator Simon Fuller, Tina Fey, Penelope Cruz and The Muppets. In general, all the nominees have five years to set an induction date or the honor will, um, 'expire.' All honorees are selected in one of five categories: Motion Pictures, Television, Recording, Radio and Live Performance/Theatre. No radio inductees made the cut this year." HIT FIX

• Nominees Wayne Brady (“Let’s Make a Deal”) and Alex Trebek (“Jeopardy”) along with 2003 supporting actress champ Vanessa Marcil (“General Hospital”) have been added to the list of presenters at Sunday's Daytime Emmy Awards. The 37th annual edition of this kudocast airs live on CBS from Las Vegas and will be hosted by Regis Philbin. TV BY THE NUMBERS

Kraig Becker reports that the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" is "stirring up controversy in Japan, where several theaters, including one on an U.S. Army base, have removed it from their screens, while others decide if they should risk showing it all. Last week, three theaters pulled the film, which depicts the annual dolphin slaughter in a Japanese village, after they received a number of protests and angry phone calls from nationalist political groups. That caused 23 other theaters to reconsider showing the movie as well." GADLING

Mad-men-season-4-poster • "Mad Men" returns to AMC on July 25 for a fourth season. The two-time Emmy winner for best drama series is likely to contend again this year for its third season. Andrea Reiher analyzes the first promotional poster for the upcoming episodes. "Rather than last year's image of Don Draper calmly smoking a cigarette amidst rising water, this one shows a solo Don Draper staring contemplatively out the window of his empty office. At the end of Season 3, Don left Sterling Cooper, the ad agency he has worked for since the show's inception, to strike out on his own. He also agreed to give his unhappy housewife Betty a divorce." ZAP2IT

• "True Blood" has barely begun its third season on HBO, but the paycaster has already renewed it for a fourth year. This news is not so surprising when you consider that Sunday's premiere drew 5.1 million viewers. That was up 38% from last season, which is the one in the running for this year's Emmy Awards. The first season of the show was snubbed last year despite Anna Paquin winning a Golden Globe and the show contending there as well.

Top photo: Justin Bieber at the 2009 Much Music Awards. Credit: Much Music.

Middle photo: "Red" playbill. Credit: Golden Theater.

Bottom photo: "Mad Men" poster. Credit: AMC.

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Betty White reflects on a golden career

June 17, 2010 | 12:50 pm

Betty White Emmy Awards Betty White is one of the true pioneers of television, making her debut on the nascent medium in 1939. More than seven decades on and she remains a star of the small screen, headlining a new sitcom, "Hot in Cleveland," which debuted to record ratings for TV Land Wednesday night. 

White was interviewed in 1997 by the Archive of American Television, an offshoot of the foundation of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She is just one of scores of TV legends to have granted this invaluable resource in-depth video interviews. Other subjects include two of the other "Golden Girls" -- Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan -- along with Dick Clark, Norman Lear, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Carl Reiner, Isabel Sanford, William ShatnerAaron Spelling, Ted Turner, and Barbara Walters.

The archive has released the embed codes so that compelling conversations, such as this one with White, can be shared with the blogosphere. In part one of this five-part interview, the actress discusses her early days in radio and television and her first Emmy win. See the other parts at the archive website

As White recounts, her connection with television dates to an appearance on an experimental Los Angeles channel in 1939. She and her high school classmate sang songs from the light operetta "The Merry Widow." They were sweltering in a small studio on the sixth floor of the Packard building while the viewing audience gathered in the ground floor auto showroom.

After WWII, White landed a variety of gigs on live TV shows on which she was spotted by local DJ Al Jarvis, who was transferring his hit radio show to television. Soon, White was playing "girl Friday" to Jarvis for 33 hours per week of live lively TV during the day. The pair also hosted a weekly variety show in the evening and from that evolved White's first half-hour situation comedy, "Life with Elizabeth."

As she recalls, the live edition of that show landed her an Emmy bid in 1952 where she was pitted against Zsa Zsa Gabor for "Bachelor's Haven." White won -- much to both their surprise -- and began a love affair with the Emmy Awards that has continued for nearly half a century.

Photo: Betty White with her local Emmy Award for "Life with Elizabeth" in 1952. Credit: Los Angeles Herald

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