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Category: Entourage

'Mad Men' is crazy like a fox at Emmy timing

July 26, 2010 | 11:47 am

It's no coincidence that "Mad Men" premiered its new season last night — just days before ballots are shipped to Emmy voters to pick winners. TV networks like AMC often air new seasons of Emmy contenders at strategic times to boost award hopes.

Cable series can be more flexible about air dates than can broadcast channels, which usually conform to traditional launch times, such as September or January. But there are exceptions. NBC waited till May sweeps before airing the most recent season of "Friday Night Lights," which originally aired on DirecTV last fall. End of the Emmy eligibility period was May 31. Voting on nominations began June 4. Therefore, NBC gave "Friday Night Lights" perfect scheduling placement, and it paid off with two top nominations for the first time ever: bids for best lead actor and actress for Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.

Mad Men True Blood 48362915 TV entertainment news

Such strategic Emmy scheduling dates back to "Sex and the City," which premiered on HBO on June 6, 1998. It wasn't eligible for awards that September, of course, but it was given high profile during voting season in order to position the show in the minds of TV academy members in the future. For the next few years, "Sex and the City" continued to air its newest season in June just as voters were casting ballots on the previous season. The strategy paid off with repeated nominations in top races, including a victory as best comedy series of 2001.

HBO employed similar scheduling strategies for "Six Feet Under" and "Entourage," which never won best series but nonetheless scored frequent top nominations. The notable exception to the HBO approach was "The Sopranos." Its first two seasons aired January to April in 1999 and 2000. Season 3 aired March 4 to May 20, 2001. Season 4 was telecast from Sept. 15 to Dec. 2, 2002. "The Sopranos" was consistently nominated for best drama series but lost its first four bouts to "The Practice" and "The West Wing." It wasn't until its fifth time up that "The Sopranos" finally won best drama series for the first time after episodes aired between March 7 and June 6, 2004.

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Can Jeremy Piven get back into the Emmy derby?

July 7, 2010 |  6:07 am

I saw this video over at Jeff Wells' Hollywood-Elsewhere blog and I think it's important to share on the eve of Emmy nominations coming out Thursday morning. Remember: When last year's list was unveiled, past champ Jeremy Piven ("Entourage") wasn't nominated. That was a shock because he had won the previous three years in a row. The snub was probably backlash from his fishy story about why he quit the Broadway production of "Speed-the-Plow." Many observers believed that Piven was a pampered TV star bored with the grueling work of appearing on stage eight times a week and so he cooked up an excuse about mercury poisoning from eating sushi to exit his contract early. Emmy voting is done by peer group, so Piven was being judged by fellow actors who take their "craft" very seriously. Here is Piven's side of the story, which he relates to Rolling Stone's Peter Travers. Do you believe him? Do you think Hollywood has forgiven Piven? Will he return to the ranks of Emmy contenders this week?

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Gold Derby nuggets: Katy Perry to host Teen Choice Awards | Charlie Sheen plea deal delayed | 'Mad Men' secrets revealed

June 9, 2010 |  7:04 am

Teen Choice Awards Katy PerryKaty Perry has been tapped to host the 12th edition of the Teen Choice Awards airing on Fox on Aug. 9. Perry is a four-time also-ran with these kudos, which determine winners via an online vote. She lost the Myspacer race in 2008 and her three music bids -- single, album, female artist -- last year. The Jonas Brothers hosted the 2009 festivities. "Twilight" set a TCA record, winning 11 of its 12 nominations, including best drama movie, actor (Robert Pattinson), actress (Kristen Stewart), villain (Cam Gigandet), lip-lock (Pattinson and Stewart) and rumble (Pattinson and Gigandet). Nikki Reed lost "fresh face female" to co-star Ashley Greene. Nominations for this year's kudos will be announced in the coming days.

• Even her one-time "Grey's Anatomy" colleague Eric Dane was surprised that Katherine Heigl submitted herself for Emmy consideration this year. Taken by surprise when asked about the Emmy hopes of his often-absent co-star, Dane recovered and then deftly deflected the conversation. "I don't even know if I've ever submitted myself for an Emmy. I really honestly never thought about myself as getting nominated, or have thought about an Emmy at all to be honest with you. I've never given it much thought. But hey, it would be wonderful." Good news, Eric -- someone in your camp submitted your name to the academy this year E! ONLINE

• "Entourage" producer Mark Wahlberg remains committed to turning "Entourage" -- the TV show about movie actors -- into a movie with the TV actors. On the red carpet at Sunday's MTV Movie Awards, he admitted, "I am more focused on making that movie than my own films. I just think we can make a great movie. I think people always wanted [it] and have complained that the episodes are too short; they've always wanted more. I think we're going to do it. We just have to end strong, and this season is, by far, the best season so far." The HBO hit begins its sixth season on June 27. "Entourage" has lost the best comedy series race for the last three years in a row to "30 Rock." MTV

Charlie Sheen • "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen won't be behind bars when he finds out if he is an Emmy nominee on July 8. He has reaped a lead actor bid for each of the last four seasons of the CBS Monday night staple, but has yet to win. The actor was set to plead no contest Monday to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a domestic dispute in Aspen, Colo., last Christmas. However, Pitken County Dist. Atty. Arnold Mordkin told the court, "We need more time than is available for us to complete some of the finer points." The plea deal was worked out in part by Yale Galanter, who accompanied Sheen to court and also represented his wife, Brooke Mueller. Sheen was set to serve his 30-day sentence during this summer's hiatus for the show, which just wrapped Season 7. After initially vowing to bow out of the hit laffer, he just inked a deal for two more seasons for a reported seven-figure-per-episode payday. E! ONLINE

• Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove" has yet to be seen in Japan. As Yuri Kageyama reports, "three movie theaters that had been scheduled to show the film later this month canceled their plans last week after receiving a flood of angry phone calls and warnings of protests by nationalists, who have been screaming slogans outside the Tokyo office of the Japanese distributor in recent months. Protesters criticize the film as a betrayal of Japanese pride." The controversial documentary details a dolphin hunt in a Japanese village. AP

• First Facebook got Emmy champ Betty White a gig hosting "SNL." Now the online site is being used to campaign for an honorary Oscar for Doris Day. A top box office draw in the 1960s, Day lost her only Oscar race in 1959. Nominated for the smash hit "Pillow Talk," she was bested in the best actress race by Simone Signoret for "Room at the Top." Although Day did accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes in 1989, it is unclear if she would leave her beloved Carmel to attend the academy's new Governors' Awards ceremony.  FACEBOOK

Mad-men-logo-300x159Roger Friedman tattles on some of the secrets of the upcoming fourth season of two-time Emmy champ "Mad Men." He writes that "production has only now just wrapped Episode 5 of 13. This much is gleaned: the show picks up more or less right after it ended in Season 3. It’s the beginning of 1964. This could mean the arrival of The Beatles in America and on 'The Ed Sullivan Show.' It’s also the start of color TV. The first new episode is called 'Public Relations.' The second is titled 'Distress Signal,' followed by 'The Fine Print,' and 'Dominion.'" SHOWBIZ 411

• More than four decades after it closed on Broadway after a three-year run, the first rialto revival of "Funny Girl" is in the works. The 1964 show launched Barbra Streisand into the stratosphere. Though the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill tuner about Fanny Brice contended for eight Tony Awards, it was blanked by "Hello, Dolly!" Streisand went on to star in the film versions of both these musicals, winning the Oscar for the first and the enmity of role originator Carol Channing for the second. Patrick Healy reports that producer Bob Boyett has enlisted helmer Bartlett Sher -- who won the Tony two years ago for his restaging of "South Pacific" -- to tackle the task of finding someone to step into Babs' shoes. ARTS BEAT

• The Theatre World Awards -- now in their 66th year -- go to performers deemed outstanding in their New York stage debuts over the last year. By tradition, six men and six women are chosen for this honor by a collection of theater journos. Among those being feted Tuesday are four Tony Award contenders -- lead actor in a musical nominee Sahr Ngaujah ("Fela!") and featured play performers Jon Michael Hill ("Superior Donuts"), Scarlett Johansson ("A View From the Bridge") and Eddie Redmayne ("Red"). The other Broadway newcomers chosen were Chris Chalk ("Fences") and Stephanie Umoh ("Ragtime"). Capturing the committee's attention for their work off-Broadway were Nina Arianda ("Venus in Fur"), Bill Heck ("The Orphans' Home Cycle"), Keira Keeley ("The Glass Menagerie"), Andrea Riseborough ("The Pride"), Heidi Schreck ("Circle Mirror Transformation") and Michael Urie ("The Temperamentals"). PLAYBILL

Top photo: Teen Choice Awards logo. Credit: Fox

Middle photo: Charlie Sheen in "Two and a Half Men." Credit: CBS

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

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Gold Derby nuggets: Dave Karger Oscar predix | 'Avatar' goodwill mission | Oscar nominees luncheon tidbits

February 12, 2010 |  4:29 pm

The Hurt Locker posterDave Karger has posted his predictions for the top eight races at the Oscars. He is going with "The Hurt Locker" for best picture: "No film has ever won Best Picture without winning at least one of the four major guild prizes (PGA, SAG, Directors Guild, and Writers Guild). 'Avatar' already lost PGA and DGA to 'The Hurt Locker' and it wasn’t even nominated for SAG’s best ensemble prize ('Inglourious Basterds' won that one). And even though it was nominated, it’s obviously not going to win the Writers Guild award." And Dave says, best actress is Sandra Bullock's to lose -- "This is clearly the only thing resembling a race in the acting categories. 'The Blind Side''s Best Picture nomination (compared to no other nods for 'Julie & Julia') means Bullock has the edge." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• However veteran Oscars expert Jack Mathews cautions: "'Inglourious Basterds' is not my favorite nominee, but a very good case can be made for its ability to pull off a 'Shakespeare'-size upset. It received just one less nomination than 'Avatar' and 'The Hurt Locker' and it has received them in all of the pertinent categories -- picture, directing, acting, screenplay and film editing. It also did well at the box office, selling $120.5 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada and $193 million overseas. Academy voters don't always reward the biggest commercial success, which is 'Avatar;' nor are they known for throwing gold in the direction of box office bombs, which is 'The Hurt Locker.' Compared to those extremes, 'Basterds' may have just the right mix of good filmmaking and commercial appeal." MOVIE FONE

Scott Feinberg interviewed double Oscar nominee Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds") "who was at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to appear on a panel of top directors and also to thank the festival and film legend Kirk Douglas for the 2009 Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film by moderating a special Q&A with Douglas or, as he called it, a 'Q&K.' Afterward, he was kind enough to take a few moments to answer my questions about his films, thoughts, and incredible journey from high school dropout to beloved filmmaker." AND THE WINNER IS

Avatar PosterPete Hammond reports that "Avatar" producer Jon Landau, "showed me photos of their recent excursion to the Persian Gulf, where they ran 'Avatar' on the Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier. It was a stealth trip, and most of the press didn't even know about it. Cameron signed over 3,000 autographs and posed for photos with all the sailors for eight hours. Landau shared a letter he received from a top admiral saying the movie and the visit energized them for their upcoming mission in Afghanistan. Yes, there are things more gratifying than winning an Oscar." NOTES ON A SEASON

Oprah Winfrey returns with another Oscar special on ABC March 3 that will pair up stars to interview each other. The first edition of this show in 2007 featured six Oscar champs with Julia Roberts chatting with George Clooney, old friends Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe reminiscing and Jamie Foxx paying homage to screen icon Sidney Poitier.

• As per Peter Knegt, "Film distributor GKIDS has announced that their surprise Oscar-nominated animated feature 'The Secret of Kells' will open theatrically at New York’s IFC Center on March 5, which also happens to be Oscar weekend. The New York opening at IFC Center will be followed by previously -announced opening in Boston on March 19 (tied into St. Patrick’s day for the Irish film), and an April 2 expansion to major US markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and others." INDIE WIRE

Oscar nominations 2010 Avatar The Hurt Locker The Blind Side Up in the Air UpSteve Pond describes Monday's nominees luncheon as "one of the most collegial, stress-free events on the Oscar calendar. It’s an event where seating arrangements are shuffled so that you don’t sit with anybody from your film, or anybody from your category; where a Best Actor nominee could end up at the same table with a documentarian, a cinematographer, a special effects whiz and the maker of an animated short." As he writes, "it’s where the producer (or producers) of the Oscar show get to address the nominees, generally using their time as an opportunity to plead for short speeches. In 2001, for instance, Gil Cates announced at the luncheon that he was giving a high-definition TV to the winner who made the shortest speech. (The winner, Dutch filmmaker Michael Dudok de Wit, wasn’t even at the luncheon and didn’t know about the offer. 'I have many television sets,' he said, after giving his prize to charity.) The following year, Laura Ziskin gave out silver hourglasses containing exactly 45 seconds worth of sand, for nominees to use while practicing their speeches. It didn’t really help; Ziskin’s show was the longest in Oscar history." THE ODDS

Hanh Nguyen reports, " 'So You Think You Can Dance's' Legacy will be at the Academy Awards, but not for his emotionally wrought crying scenes. The busy b-boy will take part in a dance routine at the Oscars on Sunday, March 7 in Hollywood, reuniting with 'SYTYCD' judge Adam Shankman, who's also producing the Oscars alongside Bill Mechanic. 'I will be part of the Academy Awards. LXD [The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers crew] got asked to perform in it. Either I'll be performing with LXD or I'm doing some stuff with Adam.'" ZAP 2 IT

Top photo: "The Hurt Locker" poster. Credit: Summit

Middle photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox

Bottom photo: Academy Awards statuettes. Credit: AMPAS

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Easiest Emmy prediction: '30 Rock' will win best comedy series -- again

August 19, 2009 |  1:58 pm

"30 Rock" has not only triumphed as Emmy's best comedy series for the last two years, it's never lost and may be unbeatable. Two reasons: it's a shrewdly crafted satire (arguably, it actually deserves to win) and Emmy voters are TV industry insiders who can't resist its devilish take on their own workaday world. You must wonder: at some point, won't voters finally get bored with it winning every year, rebel and pick something else? Reality check: "Frasier" won this slot five years in a row and it wasn't even about the TV biz. It was about the radio biz — in Seattle.

Both of our Emmy seers Chris "Boomer" Beachum and Robert "Rob L" Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net) think, like I do, that "30 Rock" is a shoo-in to prevail again. Below, more of their reasoning and handicapping.

30 rock tina fey

BEST COMEDY SERIES: BOOMER'S PREDIX
(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1.) "30 Rock"
2.) "The Office"
3.) "Entourage"
4.) "How I Met Your Mother"
5.) "Family Guy"
6.) "Flight of the Conchords"
7.) "Weeds"
 
BOOMER'S COMMENTARY: Unlike some of the acting categories, I think it's a done deal that "30 Rock" will pick up its third consecutive Emmy in the top comedy race. First and foremost, they aced their episode choices with six of the absolute best and funniest of the season. Secondly, the biggest competition (and previous winner) is "The Office," which needed to be perfect in their episode choices to have a decent shot at a win. They did a great job except for the episode "Golden Ticket," which was just a mediocre selection.

I really don't believe any of the other shows have a realistic chance of winning this category.  Looking back over the past 40 years of the Emmys, only one show has won the comedy series award without having at least one directing or writing nomination (that was "Friends" in 2002, when it was the overwhelming favorite to win anyway). I love statistics when predicting, so for my purposes it effectively eliminates "Family Guy," "How I Met Your Mother" and "Weeds" from consideration since they don't have those other nominations.

A victory by either of the other two nominated series ("Entourage" or "Flight of the Conchords") would be the upset of a lifetime.

Congratulations to Tina Fey, Lorne Michaels and the rest of the "30 Rock" team on another well-deserved win!

BEST COMEDY SERIES: ROB'S PREDIX
(Ranked by likelihood to win)
1.) "30 Rock"
2.) "The Office"
3.) "Family Guy"
4.) "How I Met Your Mother"
5.) "Flight of the Conchords"
6.) "Weeds"
7.) "Entourage"

ROB'S COMMENTARY: I think Boomer's theory that a series is not likely to win in this category without directing and writing nominations is a good one. That being said, I have rearranged the list according to how I think each of the series might fare, depending on what I perceive to be their potential core fan base. Remember, with seven nominated series, any one of them would presumably need around 15% of the votes to scrape through with a win. My math is not the best, but you hopefully know what I'm getting at.

I think that it is safe to say that "30 Rock" will win this again. With a 22 nominations (a record for a comedy series), it is the industry favorite, probably the hottest comedy on TV and does not look like it can be beaten, regardless of what episodes it submitted to voters. In its favor is that it has submitted six of its very best ones, which will more than likely propel it to a repeat victory.

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'Parks and Recreation' can rally at the Emmys

April 9, 2009 | 12:59 pm

Cheer up, Amy Poehler fans. Just because some TV critics aren't wild about the pilot episode of "Parks and Recreation," her new sitcom debuting tonight on NBC, doesn't mean it can't rally in coming weeks — and at the upcoming Emmys. Many of the critics pooh-poohing "Parks and Recreation" as a weak imitation of  "The Office" — from the show's same creators, Greg Daniels and Mike Schur — are the same sourpusses who once dismissed Parks and recreation amy poehler NBC's "The Office" as a pale imitation of the hit British original starring Ricky Gervais. The re-tooled Yankee version of "The Office" got the last laugh, winning the Emmy for comedy series at the end of its first season (2005-2006).

"Parks and Recreation" has some quick catching up to do, being a mid-season, spring replacement series with just a handful of episodes airing before the end of the Emmy eligibility period (May 31), but that timing can also be beneficial, since it'll be fresh on voters' minds.

But the race for best comedy series is no laughing matter this year. Of the five nominees last year, "30 Rock" (winner in 2007 and 2008), "Entourage," "The Office" and "Two and a Half Men" look like good bets to return. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" isn't eligible. Which show will claim the remaining slots? Remember, due to a new rule change, there will be six or seven nominees instead of the usual five. No new show has been a break-out smash hit. "United States of Tara" was well received. Ditto "Better Off Ted." However, neither had socko ratings, which matter a lot because the nominees will now be determined strictly by a popular ballot. There won't be judging panels this year to boost a lower-rated show's chances. "Parks and Recreation" will benefit from being a hugely touted prestige series airing on NBC's Thursday night lineup.

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Jeremy Piven fight for Tony Award goes to round two

March 26, 2009 | 11:25 am

Three-time Emmy Award winner Jeremy Piven ("Entourage") is being brought before an arbitrator who will decide whether the actor owes damages to the Broadway producers of "Speed-the-Plow" for his abrupt departure from the hit show in December. Piven said he left because of fatigue brought on by high levels of mercury in his bloodstream. And the reason given for these elevated levels? His sushi addiction. As the play's author, David Mamet, acidly remarked at the time, "My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer."

Jeremy_piven_tony_awards

At the first hearing on this matter in mid-February, Jeremy Piven won over the five actors in attendance with his tale of woe while the five producing representatives remained unconvinced. Now the producers of the show just need to win over one man, arbitrator George Nicolau. The producers did minimize their losses as Piven's replacements — first Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz ("Dirty Rotten Scoundrels") and then Emmy winner William H. Macy — proved to be good draws. The show closed as scheduled in late February having turned a profit.

While Piven may ultimately avoid any financial payout to the producers, his actions have probably cost him a Tony Award nod. Piven was a frontrunner for lead actor in a play. For his Broadway debut as Bobby, one of a pair of Hollywood hustlers, in "Speed-the-Plow," he earned rave reviews when the play opened Oct. 22. Jeremy Piven costarred opposite perennial Tony nominee Raul Esparza, as Charlie, and another Broadway newcomer, Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"), who played their secretary, Karen. Ironically, the arbitration begins the day after the June 7 kudocast.

Raul Esparza, who has struck out in three different Tony Award categories — featured actor in a play ("The Homecoming," 2008), lead actor in a musical ("Company," 2007) and featured actor in a musical ("Taboo," 2004) — could be rewarded by the theater community for adapting his performance to those two successive replacements for Piven. Ron Silver, who originated Esparza's role in 1988, won a Tony for  lead actor in a play. While his costar Joe Mantegna (in Piven's part) did not get a Tony nod, they did compete for the Drama Desk kudos, where Silver prevailed. Alas, Madonna, the poorly reviewed third side of that original lopsided triangle, had to make do with being grateful that there was no theater equivalent to moviedom's Razzie Awards.

Twenty years ago, "Speed-the-Plow" lost the Tony Award race for best play to David Henry Hwang's gender-bending "M. Butterfly." This season, three Tony best play winners have been revived with mixed results: "All My Sons" (1947), "A Man for All Seasons" (1962) and "Equus" (1975). The Noel Coward comedy classic "Blithe Spirit" recently opened to respectable notices while "Waiting for Godot" is doing just that in the wings. Therefore, there should be room in the best revival race for this well-received production. Mamet's 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning "Glengarry Glen Ross" won that Tony Award in 2005.

For Ben Brantley of the New York Times: "Mr. Piven has the pivotal role, and he executes it with uncanny grace and intelligence." And Elysa Gardner of USA Today thought, "Jeremy Piven's Bobby is softer-textured but also more disturbing than the showbiz animal he plays on 'Entourage'; we see the anxiety and flickers of good intentions underlying his cool arrogance." Michael Kuchwara of the  Associated Press found that "Piven's Bobby is the play's moral center, or at least, the one person on stage who has qualms about what is happening and doesn't quite know what to do about it. The actor has perfected the persona of bad-little-boy-lost and wears the snarling bewilderment here with considerable expertise." And Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News also lauded him: "Piven is an excellent foil. While downplaying the loudmouthed, sharklike behavior we've seen from him on 'Entourage,' he shows Gould's power-mad side as well as the vulnerability that gradually becomes more apparent."

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Has Jeremy Piven hurt his chances at the Tonys and Emmys?

January 19, 2009 |  8:48 am

Three-time Emmy Award winner Jeremy Piven ("Entourage") is unlikely to be contending at this year's Tony Awards for his recent acclaimed, albeit abbreviated, Broadway run in "Speed-the-Plow." Despite excellent reviews, the actor cut short his contract and departed the show in mid-December blaming high levels of mercury in his bloodstream. Our L.A. Times Culture Monster blog has more details on the backstory plus outcry from the National Fisheries Institute.

The play's writer, David Mamet, acidly remarked at the time, "My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer." Even Mark Wahlberg, exec producer of "Entourage," mocked Piven for making this excuse when the pair attended the Golden Globe Awards. (Both the show and Piven lost their bids.)

Jeremy_piven_entourage_edited1

The producers of the play certainly weren't laughing as box office receipts dropped with Piven's departure. On Friday, they filed a formal complaint against Piven with the union Actors Equity. The actor's publicist responded, saying, in part, "Mr. Piven followed his doctors' advice, although his forced withdrawal from the show was an enormous personal disappointment since it was a life-long dream to perform on Broadway." On Thursday, Piven appearing on "Good Morning America" to do damage control, had told Diane Sawyer, "This was the greatest moment of my life."

Certainly Piven's notices for his Broadway debut were the stuff of an actor's dreams. He was cast as Bobby, one of a pair of Hollywood hustlers, in the first rialto revival of Mamet's 1988 hit. Piven played opposite perennial Tony nominee Raul Esparza as Charley and another Broadway babe, Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"), as their secretary, Karen. After several weeks of rehearsals and then previews, the play opened Oct. 22 to nearly universal acclaim for the players and the production, with many reviewers singling Piven out for special mention.

Said Ben Brantley of the New York Times: "Mr. Piven has the pivotal role, and he executes it with uncanny grace and intelligence." For Elysa Gardner of USA Today, "Jeremy Piven's Bobby is softer-textured but also more disturbing than the showbiz animal he plays on 'Entourage'; we see the anxiety and flickers of good intentions underlying his cool arrogance."

Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press thought, "Piven's Bobby is the play's moral center, or at least, the one person on stage who has qualms about what is happening and doesn't quite know what to do about it. The actor has perfected the persona of bad-little-boy-lost and wears the snarling bewilderment here with considerable expertise." And Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News also lauded him: "Piven is an excellent foil. While downplaying the loudmouthed, sharklike behavior we've seen from him on 'Entourage,' he shows Gould's power-mad side as well as the vulnerability that gradually becomes more apparent."

Twenty years ago, "Speed-the-Plow" lost the Tony Award race for best play to David Henry Hwang's gender-bending "M. Butterfly." This season, three Tony best play winners have already been revived: "All My Sons" (1947) "A Man For All Seasons" (1962) and "Equus" (1975). Still to come: classics "Hedda Gabler," "Blithe Spirit" and "Waiting for Godot." However, the rave reviews for this production could well propel it into the race for best revival. Mamet's 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning "Glengarry Glen Ross" won that Tony Award in 2005.

Esparza, who has struck out in three different Tony Award categories -- featured actor in a play ("The Homecoming," 2008), lead actor in a musical ("Company," 2007), and featured actor in a musical ("Taboo," 2004) -- could be rewarded by the theater community for adapting his performance to two successive replacements for Piven. First, Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz ("Dirty Rotten Scoundrels") stepped into the part, and now William H. Macy is with the production. Ron Silver, who originated Esparza's role in 1988, won the lead actor in a play Tony. While his co-star Joe Mantegna (in Piven's part) did not get a Tony nod, they did compete for the Drama Desk kudos, where Silver prevailed. Alas, Madonna, the poorly reviewed third side of that original lopsided triangle, had to make do with being grateful that there was no theater equivalent to moviedom's Razzie Awards.

Read related posts

Will 'Speed-the-Plow turn up Tony Awards?

Jeremy Piven leads the supporting actor race at the Emmys again.

Jeremy Piven may be on an Emmy roll, but he's no Don Knotts.

Photo credits: Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, CBS

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Experts predict the Emmys: 'Mad Men,' '30 Rock' and Glenn Close are heavy faves

September 19, 2008 | 10:54 am

Gold Derby recruited two teams of experts to predict who'll win the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 21 and discovered surprising consensus. Heavy favorites: "Mad Men" for best drama series, last year's champ "30 Rock" to repeat as best comedy, "John Adams" as best miniseries and "Damages" star Glenn Close as best drama actress.

But the two teams differ drastically in a few races and that's probably because of how I organized the teams. Team TV Journos comprises notable writers who cover the TV beat and pay close attention to the Emmys. How_i_met_your_mother_entourage_tv_Team The Envelope is composed largely of award nuts like me who pay special attention to past voting patterns and the sample episodes submitted to Emmy judges by the nominees.

It's interesting to note that one member of Team TV Journos really does too — that's John Kubicek, who once won a Gold Derby amateur prediction Emmy contest when he was known as poster "Tommy Castro" in our forums, but now I am banishing him (sorry, John!) to the journo team since he's a writer for BuddyTV.com. While Tommy Castro still posts in our message boards, the only forum posters I'm including on Team The Envelope are our Emmy-savvy moderators. Call it a perk of leadership.

TEAM TV JOURNOS: Michael Ausiello (Entertainment Weekly), Aaron Barnhart (Kansas City Star), Marc Berman (MediaWeek), Robert Bianco (USA Today), Hal Boedeker (Orlando Sentinel), Melissa Grego (Broadcasting and Cable), Richard Huff (New York Daily News), John Kubicek (BuddyTV), Lisa de Moraes (Washington Post), Kristin Dos Santos (E! OnlineCLICK HERE for expanded Emmy predix), Maggie Furlong (AOL Television), Michele Greppi (TV Week), Matt Mitovich (TVGuide.com), Ray Richmond (Hollywood Reporter), Matt Roush (TV Guide), Maureen Ryan (Chicago Tribune), Michael Starr (New York Post), David Zurawik (Baltimore Sun).

TEAM THE ENVELOPE: Chris "Boomer" Beachum (Gold Derby forums), Elena Howe (The Envelope), Joseph A. Kapsch (Latimes Entertainment), Robert Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net, Gold Derby forums), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby, TheEnvelope), Andrew Pickett (Gold Derby forums)

BEST DRAMA SERIES
"Boston Legal"
"Damages" — Beachum
"Dexter" — Huff
"House"
"Lost" — Barnhart, Dos Santos, Greppi
"Mad Men" — Ausiello, Berman, Bianco, Boedeker, de Moraes, Grego, Furlong, Kubicek, Mitovich, Richmond, Roush, Ryan, Starr, ZurawikHowe, Kapsch, Licuria, O'Neil, Pickett

BEST COMEDY SERIES
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" — Boedeker, Pickett
"Entourage"
"The Office"
"30 Rock" — Ausiello, Barnhart, Berman, Bianco, de Moraes, Dos Santos, Grego, Furlong, Huff, Kubicek, Mitovich, Richmond, Roush, Ryan, Starr, Zurawik, Beachum, Howe, Kapsch, Licuria, O'Neil
"Two and a Half Men" — Greppi

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES
Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment" — Huff
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" — Ausiello, O'Neil
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" — Dos Santos, Mitovich, Howe, Kapsch
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" — Berman, Furlong, Roush, Starr, Zurawik
Hugh Laurie, "House" — Barnhart, Bianco, Boedeker, Grego, Greppi, Richmond, Ryan
James Spader, "Boston Legal" —de Moraes, Kubicek, Beachum, Licuria, Pickett
(NOTE: Tom O'Neil switched his vote from Spader to Cranson on Sept. 19.)

BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES
Glenn Close, "Damages" — Ausiello, Barnhart, Berman, Bianco, Boedeker, de Moraes, Furlong, Grego, Greppi, Mitovich, Richmond, Roush, Beachum, Howe, Kapsch, Licuria, O'Neil, Pickett
Sally Field, "Brothers and Sisters" — Dos Santos,
Mariska Hargitay, "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit"
Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace"
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" — Huff, Kubicek, Ryan, Starr, Zurawik

BEST ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" — Ausiello, Berman, Bianco, Boedeker, de Moraes, Dos Santos, Greppi, Huff, Kubicek, Mitovich, Richmond, Roush, Starr, Zurawik, Howe, Kapsch, Licuria, O'Neil, Pickett
Steve Carell, "The Office" — Barnhart, Grego, Ryan, Beachum
Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies" — Furlong
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men"

BEST ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES
Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?" — Ausiello, Bianco, Grego, Kubicek, Mitovich, Richmond, Kapsch, Pickett
America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty" — de Moraes, O'Neil
Tina Fey, "30 Rock" — Berman, Furlong, Greppi, Huff, Ryan, Roush, Starr, Zurawik, Howe, Licuria
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" — Boedeker, Beachum
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds" — Barnhart, Dos Santos

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES
Ted Danson, "Damages" — Ausiello, Berman, Bianco, Boedeker, de Moraes, Furlong, Greppi, Richmond, Roush, Ryan
Michael Emerson, "Lost" — Dos Santos, Kubicek, Howe
Zeljko Ivanek, "Damages" — Mitovich, Licuria
William Shatner, "Boston Legal" — Barnhart, Grego, Starr, Beachum, Kapsch, O'Neil, Pickett
John Slattery, "Mad Men" — Huff, Zurawik

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES
Candice Bergen, "Boston Legal" — Richmond, Licuria, Pickett
Rachel Griffiths, "Brothers and Sisters"
Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy" — Furlong, Kubicek, Starr
Dianne Wiest, "In Treatment" — Berman, Greppi, Huff, Ryan, Zurawik, Howe
Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy" — Ausiello, Barnhart, Bianco, Boedeker, de Moraes, Dos Santos, Grego, Mitovich, Roush, Beachum, Kapsch, O'Neil

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES
Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men" — Greppi
Kevin Dillon, "Entourage" — Huff
Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother" — Bianco, Dos Santos, Furlong, Kubicek, Roush, Ryan, Starr, Howe
Jeremy Piven, "Entourage" — Ausiello, Barnhart, Boedeker, de Moraes, Grego, ZurawikBeachum, Kapsch, Licuria, O'Neil, Pickett
Rainn Wilson, "The Office" — Berman, Mitovich, Richmond

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES
Kristin Chenoweth, "Pushing Daisies" — Bianco, Dos Santos, Furlong, Kubicek, Starr
Amy Poehler, "Saturday Night Live" — Ausiello, Barnhart, de Moraes, Huff, Richmond, Roush, Ryan, Zurawik, Beachum, Howe, Licuria, O'Neil, Pickett
Jean Smart, "Samantha Who? — Grego, Mitovich
Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men" — Greppi
Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty" — Berman, Boedeker, Kapsch

BEST REALITY HOST
Tom Bergeron, 'Dancing With The Stars' — Berman, Bianco, Boedeker, de Moraes, Greppi, Roush, Zurawik
Heidi Klum, 'Project Runway' — Grego, Furlong, Ryan, Beachum
Howie Mandel, 'Deal Or No Deal' — Ausiello, Richmond
Jeff Probst, 'Survivor' — Huff, Mitovich, Licuria
Ryan Seacrest, 'American Idol' — Barnhart, Kubicek, Dos Santos, Starr, Howe, Kapsch, Pickett

BEST REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
"The Amazing Race" — Ausiello, Barnhart, Bianco, Berman, Boedeker, de Moraes, Huff, Kubicek, Mitovich, Roush, Starr, Beachum, Licuria, O'Neil, Pickett
"American Idol" — Dos Santos, Grego, Zurawik, Howe, Kapsch
"Dancing with the Stars" — Richmond
"Project Runway" — Furlong, Greppi, Ryan
"Top Chef"

BEST VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SERIES
"The Colbert Report"
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" — Ausiello, Barnhart, Berman, Bianco, Boedeker, de Moraes, Dos Santos, Furlong, Grego, Greppi, Kubicek, Mitovich, Richmond, Roush, Ryan, Starr, Zurawik, Beachum, Howe, Kapsch, O'Neil, Pickett
"Late Show With David Letterman" — Huff
"Real Time With Bill Maher"
"Saturday Night Live" — Licuria

BEST MADE-FOR-TV MOVIE
"Bernard and Doris" — Greppi
"Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale" — Ausiello, Berman, Furlong, Starr, Beachum, Kapsch
"The Memory Keeper's Daughter"
"A Raisin in the Sun" — Barnhart, Bianco, Dos Santos, Grego, Richmond, Ryan, Zurawik, Pickett
"Recount" — Boedeker, de Moraes, Huff, Kubicek, Mitovich, Roush, Howe, Licura, O'Neil

Continue reading »

Gold Derby's official racetrack odds: Who will win the Emmys

September 19, 2008 | 10:50 am

OK, you've seen who all of the experts predict will win the Emmys (CLICK HERE), including me, but you haven't yet seen my careful breakdown of all contenders in each top category. Below: Gold Derby's racetrack odds. Please note: they're issued for entertainment purposes only and should not be used for gambling. Missing are the two reality races, but soon I'll add those odds too. Right now I haven't finished watching all of the episodes each nominee submitted to Emmy judges as samples of their best work.

Gold_derby_odds

My evaluations rely heavily on episode submissions. For example, note that I think "Saturday Night Live" is a real threat to "The Daily Show," which has won best variety series five years in a row. Granted, "SNL" hasn't won since 1993 and I still put "Daily Show" out front, but "SNL" submitted the same blockbuster episode that's likely to pay off with a win for Amy Poehler as best supporting actress: Tina Fey's return as host. Jon Stewart's episode is fantastic too — it's 20 minutes of ranting against the White House (of course) followed by a brief, fun chat with Judd Apatow.

But I don't think, like many of my peers, that Tina Fey will win best comedy actress. Three of her opponents submitted episodes that involved some element of split personality and that usually pays off with a victory. (Never again wonder how Lindsay Wagner won best drama actress for "The Bionic Woman" in 1977 — that's when she suddenly discovered her evil twin, remember?) In this year's derby, America Ferrera goes bonkers when sprayed with a poisoned perfume, Christina Applegate goes psycho when she hears the song "We've Got the Beat" on the radio and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, pumped up on testosterone, threatens to kick the "sorry, tanned, bleach-blonde, Botoxed" butts of rival school moms. The reason I give the best odds to Ferrera is because she stars in a one-hour program. The longest shows usually win — as Ferrera proved last year.

To see a full list of all episode submissions, CLICK HERE. Click through the subsequent pages of that forum to read the predix of our posters based upon what they think of those episodes. If you're curious to see what episodes were entered at past Emmy derbies, CLICK HERE. Remember: actors submit one sample episode; ditto for contenders for best variety and reality series. Nominees for best comedy and drama submit six that are paired off into three groupings that are randomly submitted to voters. Actors vote on actors, writers on writers, everybody gets to vote in the program categories. Roughly 250 to 300 voters volunteer to judge submissions in the races for best comedy and drama series. The typical acting category has about 50 to 75 judges.

BEST DRAMA SERIES
"Mad Men" - 5/4
"Damages" - 7/5
"Lost" - 8/1
"House" - 9/1
"Dexter" - 10/1
"Boston Legal" - 50/1

BEST COMEDY SERIES
"30 Rock" - 1/3
"The Office" - 8/5
"Entourage" - 20/1
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" - 30/1
"Two and a Half Men" - 40/1

BEST DRAMA ACTOR
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad" - 2/1
James Spader, "Boston Legal" - 11/5
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men" - 13/5
Hugh Laurie, "House" - 8/1
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter" - 8/1
Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment" - 35/1
(NOTE: I changed this prediction from James Spader to Bryan Cranston on Sept. 19.)

BEST DRAMA ACTRESS
Glenn Close, "Damages" - 2/1
Mariska Hargitay, "Law and Order: S.V.U." - 3/1
Sally Field, "Brothers and Sisters" - 7/2
Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace" - 4/1
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer" - 9/2

BEST COMEDY ACTOR
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" - Even
Steve Carell, "The Office" - 5/2
Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies" - 7/2
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk" - 6/1
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" - 50/1

BEST COMEDY ACTRESS
America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty" - 2/1
Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?" - 7/3
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "New Adventures of Old Christine" - 5/2
Tina Fey, "30 Rock" - 3/1
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds" - 50/1

BEST MINISERIES
"John Adams" - 1/2
"Cranford" - 7/5
"Tin Man" - 30/1
"The Andromeda Strain" - 40/1

Continue reading »

Emmy predix: '30 Rock' will get the last laugh as best comedy again

August 23, 2008 |  9:18 am

Our two best Emmy gurus — forum moderators Robert "Rob L" Licuria (AwardsHeaven.net) and Chris "Boomer" Beachum — clash on what show will win best drama series (see HERE), but agree on what'll prevail as best comedy: "30 Rock." And this time I agree with them.

Last year's champ will not only repeat for all of the reasons they outline in their text below, but one more. "30 Rock" is a show about the lunacy of the TV biz and that probably proves irresistible to TV academy members who must cope with that craziness in their daily jobs. Sure, one of Emmy's biggest losers — "The Larry Sanders Show" — was about the late-show biz, but it was brilliantly creepy and off-putting and it didn't showcase superstars like Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey.

30_rock_the_office_emmys_2

Boomer and Rob agree with what's in second place too ("The Office"), but thereafter their rankings diverge. Boomer holds out some hope for "Entourage," but not Rob. Very interesting. But here I tend to agree with Boomer.

 

BEST COMEDY SERIES: BOOMER'S RANKING
1. "30 Rock"
2. "The Office"
3. "Entourage"
4. "Two and a Half Men"
5. "Curb Your Enthusiasm"

QUICK EARLY CALL —  Unlike the drama series race, this is a very easy category to predict.  "30 Rock" has all the industry buzz, the hip cool factor with Tina Fey at the helm, and is the defending champ.  It doesn't hurt that the show has far more than six excellent episodes to submit too.

The only other show even close is "The Office," but even its greatest fans would say that the show slipped a little this last season.  The producers can certainly assemble a great package of episode submissions, but I just don't think it will win this time.  Much like the drama series race, it is extremely rare for a series to win this category without a directing or writing nomination (the only time in the last 25-plus years was "Friends"), so I think it is safe to say that "Men" and "Curb" are out.  "Entourage" has a slim hope, but it also fell in quality this last season.  It is a real shame that "Pushing Daisies" did not make this race after claiming so many other nominations.

BEST COMEDY SERIES: ROB'S RANKING
1. "30 Rock"
2. "The Office"
3. "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
4. "Two and a Half Men"
5. "Entourage"

QUICK EARLY CALL — If "30 Rock" submits "Rosemary's Baby," then it's a shoo-in. With "Cooter," it is vulnerable, because although it's a clever and entertaining episode, the laughs are not there as much. Ditto for "The Office," which looks to have submitted unwisely. That being said, it's a two-horse race, with the two NBC comedies dominating the buzz and positive cult-like reviews of the media and fans alike.

Continue reading »

PODCAST: Jeremy Piven admits he portrays a 'wrecking ball' on 'Entourage'

August 8, 2008 |  9:07 am

In our podcast chat, I accuse Jeremy Piven of becoming the Ari Gold of the Emmys. While marching through two wins as best supporting comedy actor over the last two years, crushing all opposition, he appeared very much like the combat-lusting Hollywood talent agent he portrays on "Entourage."

But Jeremy Piven is eager to remind us of the duality of the character of Ari Gold — "the humanity of this guy," he says. CLICK HERE to download the MP3 file and listen. Note: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.

Jeremy_piven_emmy_podcast_entourage

A vulnerable side to aggressive Ari does shine through in the sample episode of "Entourage" that Jeremy Piven submitted to Emmy judges this year, a stand-out of the TV season that makes him a good bet to repeat another win.

In "The Day F***ers," we see haughty Ari crumble when his son's application to a private school is rejected. Desperate to save his boy from a mediocre education in a public school, Ari, as usual, will resort to anything to get his way, even if it means having to swallow his ego.

"Yes, he's a wrecking ball," Jeremy Piven admits about Ari. "He's incredibly abrasive. He says the unthinkable and the unsayable, but he's a monogamist man who will do anything to help his family. In this particular case, he's gotten in the way of his son's education and he finally has to go — literally — to the doorstep of the headmaster in the middle of the night and grovel."

Addressing Ari's monstrous side, he admits, "You can't get away with this in our society and yet people do and so it's fun to watch this particular ride. It's just so juicy to dig in there and get into the belly of the beast with this guy."

Jeremy Piven has flashed his own tender side by bringing his mom as his date to the Emmys in the past and invoking the spirit of his deceased dad in an acceptance speech. Both parents were actors and drama coaches who taught him his craft while operating a workshop theater in Illinois. Nowadays he's eager to acknowledge them, and he shares endearing (and wild) stories in this podcast about what it was like growing up amidst a thespian troupe.

But, beware: Piven warns that he probably won't bring his mom to the upcoming Emmys: "I think she's a little over it. She's loves being at home, dressing casually, viewing it that way."

Continue reading »

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