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Gold Derby nuggets: Betty White + "SNL" = Emmy? | Tom Selleck reprises 'Jesse Stone' | Another amazing 'Race' finale

May 7, 2010 |  3:59 pm

Betty White SNL • The power of a Facebook petition helped land four-time prime-time Emmy champ Betty White the hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend. Last year, the Emmy Awards eliminated the individual performance in a variety series category. "SNL" hosts were eligible instead in the guest acting races, and Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake both won for their stellar turns at the helm of this late-night staple. White won the guest actress in a comedy series race back in 1996 for playing an exaggerated version of herself on "The John Larroquette Show." The last four of her 16 Emmy nominations have been for guesting on both comedy and drama series. With White's career red-hot, she is also guesting on the May 19 finale of freshman hit "The Middle" as the less-than-kindly librarian who stands between Brick (Atticus Shaffer) and promotion to third grade.

• Even though this year's nominees for the Tony Awards were just announced Tuesday and we are still more than five weeks away from the kudos being awarded, there is already a front-runner for next year's best actor in a play prize. Oscar winner Al Pacino is playing Shylock in a production of "The Merchant of Venice" this summer in the renowned Shakespeare in the Park series put on by the Public Theatre. And, as Andrew Gans reports, two Broadway powerhouse producers -- Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel -- have invested in this non-profit production with an eye to transferring it to the rialto in the fall. Pacino is a two-time Tony champ, winning the featured actor in a play award for "Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie" in 1969 and the lead actor race in 1977 for "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel." PLAYBILL

Quentin Tarantino is to head the jury at the 67th Venice Film Festival which runs for 11 days beginning Sept. 1. This is the Oscar champ's first time working with this fest in an mainstream capacity. He did preside over the 2004 Cannes jury that awarded Michael Moore's documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" the Golden Palm. The top prize at Venice is the Golden Lion which went last year to "Lebanon." While that film did not figure in the Oscars, Colin Firth ("A Single Man") did parlay his Venice win into a best actor nomination at the Academy Awards. Two years ago, the top pic at Venice was "The Wrestler," which earned Oscar nods for Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei. The only Golden Lion winner to compete as a best picture nominee at the Oscars in the past decade was "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005. LA BIENNALE

Tom Selleck No RemorseTom Selleck nabbed an Emmy nomination for best actor in a TV movie for "Jesse Stone: Sea Change" back in 2007; he lost to Robert Duvall for "Broken Trail." That was the fourth time he portrayed Robert B. Parker's creation -- a  former big-city cop living in a small Massachusetts town. On Sunday, Selleck returns with the sixth entry in the franchise. In a wide-ranging interview with Megan Walsh-Boyle, Selleck says, "I couldn’t be prouder of the Jesse Stone series and, in this case, 'No Remorse.' Each one gets better. The seventh is already filmed and in the can — it’s called 'Innocents Lost.' The thing I’m so proud of is they look like feature films and they play like feature films." Selleck remains the only Emmy champ to win while hosting the kudocast. He pulled this double duty back in 1984 when he won on his third of five consecutive nominations for "Magnum, P.I." TV GUIDE

Howard Gordon, an executive producer of "24," warns fans not to expect a happy ending for the character Jack Bauer played by Emmy champ Kiefer Sutherland. As per this report from Maria Elena Fernandez, Gordon said, "One thing we tried and didn't work was a happily-ever-after for Jack. What he's done -- forget about the last eight seasons -- but in these last six episodes ... leaves him, once again, in a very morally compromised place, morally, ethically and emotionally. This show is a tragedy, and to give Jack a happy ending just didn't feel authentic." SHOW TRACKER

• Newly-tapped Emmys host Jimmy Fallon told Alicia Rancillo he wants to keep the kudocast classy. The late-night talk show host recalled, "watching the Emmys while growing up with his mother, who would dress up in a gown and give fake acceptance speeches. He wants to make watching the telecast an event for which people will host watch parties in their own homes." AP

The Amazing Race logo • "The Amazing Race" host Phil Keoghan promises "a very tense finish" as the sixteenth edition of the show wraps up Sunday on CBS. "The Amazing Race" has won all seven Emmy Awards handed out for best reality competition series. Chatting to Derrik J. Lang, Keoghan revealed, "The thing about the last leg is we really want to make it as fair as possible for all the teams." While the Emmy-nominated host won't say who won, "he does believe that the show's fans are rooting for the beloved professional bull riders to win and that the ending isn't necessarily happy for everyone. Keoghan foreshadowed that Upton and Horne are confronted by another team at the mat." AP

Nina Arianda and Bill Heck have won the Clarence Derwent award for most promising female and male performers on the New York theater scene. Arianda starred in the acclaimed two-hander "Venus in Fur" while Heck is finishing up a run in the nine-hour Horton Foote trilogy "The Orphans' Home Cycle."  Established by Derwent, the president of Actors Equity, in 1945, these kudos have gone to such notables as Annette Bening, Kristin Chenoweth, Morgan Freeman, Allison Janney, and Christopher Walken. And past Tony contender Helen Stenborg and current Tony nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson have won the Richard Seff prizes awarded to stage vets for their performances in "Vigil" and "Fences" respectively. This year's judges were Joe Dziemianowicz (Daily News); Adam Feldman (Time Out NY); Susan Haskins (Theatre Talk); Harry Haun (Playbill); Michael Kuchwara (AP); and David Rosenberg (Back Stage). PLAYBILL

Top photo: Kristen Wiig and Betty White on the set of "SNL." Credit: NBC

Middle photo: Tom Selleck in "No Remorse." Credit: CBS

Bottom photo: "The Amazing Race" logo. Credit: CBS

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Can Taylor Swift make it three in a row at CMT Awards?

April 7, 2010 | 10:22 am

Taylor Swift CMT Awards No surprise that reigning country queen Taylor Swift is among the leading contenders in Tuesday's announcement of first-round nominees for the ninth annual CMT Music Awards. Swift landed three nominations, including bids for video of the year and female video for "You Belong to Me." Swift took home both of these awards last year for "Love Story" and in 2008 for "Our Song."

Taylor Swift is the only woman to win video of the year twice and is tied with Keith Urban ("Better Life," 2006; "Days Go By," 2005) and Toby Keith ("American Soldier," 2004; "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," 2003), both of whom are back in that race this year. Urban contends with "Til Summer Comes Around" while Keith vies with "American Ride."

Taylor Swift is also contending for collaborative video for her duet with Kellie Pickler on "Best Days of Your Life." Pickler picked up a female video nom as did Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood. Underwood's video for "Cowboy Casanova" is also up for the top award, and her rendition of "Temporary Home" on the CMT show "Invitation Only" is nominated for the performance prize.

A trio of acts scored four nominations apiece -- Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum and Sugarland. Aldean and Lady Antebellum both contend for video of the year for "The Truth" and "Need You Now," respectively. Sugarland was shut out of the top race, landing competing bids for duo video of the year ("Keep You," "Nightswimming/Joey") as well as two noms for their collaboration with the B-52s on "Love Shack," a highlight of last year's CMT Awards.

Brad Paisley is back in the hunt for his first video of the year win with a bid for "Welcome to the Future." Last year, Paisley was the big winner at the CMT Awards, taking home his first male video award ("Waiting on a Woman") plus laurels in two other categories: collaborative video ("Start a Band" with Keith Urban) and performance of the year ("Country Boy" with Alan Jackson, George Strait and Dierks Bentley).

Eight of the nine categories have eight contenders apiece. Online voting that runs till May 3 will winnow these to four finalists in each category, which will be announced May 11. Then another round of online voting through June 8 will determine the winners.

Voting for video of the year is different. There are 10 semifinalists, which will be cut down to a final five that will be revealed at the start of the awards ceremony airing live on CMT June 9 from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. The winner of the top prize will be determined by votes cast online and via text message during the kudocast.

OTHER POSTS:

Gold Derby nuggets: 'True Blood' goes graphic | 'Precious' talent updates | Carol Burnett reminisces

Are 'Damages,' Glenn Close now doomed at the Emmys?

Who'll break the curse against Emmy's funny ladies: Tina Fey, Toni Collette or Julia Louis-Dreyfus?

Photo gallery: Emmy's biggest snubs

'Lost' Emmy mystery solved: Terry O'Quinn returns to the supporting-actor race

'Bosom Buddies' Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari reuniting on TV Land Awards

Gold Derby nuggets: John Forsythe dies at 92 | Oscar shorts go long

40 years ago today: 'Patton' was released, then slapped Oscar

Flashback: 'Clash of the Titans' lost best picture to 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' … at the Saturn Awards

Emmy gamble: 'Mad Men' star Elisabeth Moss drops to supporting

Poll: Does Miley Cyrus deserve a Razzie for 'The Last Song'?

Again, Showtime ships first campaign mailer to Emmy voters

Can 'Avatar' crush 'Twilight: New Moon' at the MTV Movie Awards? 

 Photo: Taylor Swift performing on the 8th annual CMT Awards. Credit: CMT

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