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

Category: Television

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


"Big Love" *
"Damages" *
"Friday Night Lights"
"Grey's Anatomy"
"House" *
"The Mentalist"
"Rescue Me"
"The Tudors"

"The Big Bang Theory"
"Bored to Death"
"Desperate Housewives"
"Entourage" *
"Family Guy" *
"How I Met Your Mother" *
"Two and a Half Men"
"Ugly Betty"
"United States of Tara"
"Weeds" *

"Alice" (SyFy)
"Emma" (PBS)
"Occupation" (BBC America)
"The Prisoner" (AMC)
"Small Island" (PBS)

"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)

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Case closed: 'Law & Order' canceled on brink of setting TV record

May 14, 2010 | 12:39 pm

Law-and-Order-Cancellation-Season-20 NBC canceled "Law & Order" Friday after two decades on the air. When the procedural drama signs off May 24, it will be tied with "Gunsmoke" as prime-time's longest-running drama series. Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Vonn is one of the show's last guest stars. The ski champ features in the series finale as a key witness in a terrorism case.

Two of the three "Law & Order" spinoffs -- "SVU" and "Criminal Intent" -- were renewed for seasons 12 and 10 respectively; "Trial by Jury" lasted just 13 episodes in 2005. And a new "Law & Order" series set in Los Angeles is scheduled to debut on NBC next season.

The original "Law & Order" debuted on NBC in September 1990. Although the series was a solid ratings performer for most of its run, it failed to win over the Emmys very often, taking home just six awards for its 52 nominations so far.

Beginning with the second season, it earned 11 consecutive Emmy Award nominations for best drama series, winning the award only once, in 1997. Elaine Stritch won the guest actress Emmy in 1993 and the series has won four technical awards -- sound editing (1992) and cinematography (1993, 1997, 1998).

Over the years, "Law & Order" starred three different lead actor contenders -- Michael Moriarty (1991-1994), Sam Waterston (1997, 1999, 2000) and Jerry Orbach (2000) -- but none of them made it to the winner's circle. Neither did either of the two supporting actor nominees -- Steven Hill (1998, 1999) and Benjamin Bratt (1999).

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Emmy's ultimate reality TV challenge — a whole, wild 'Brick City'

April 28, 2010 |  7:02 am

"Brick City" is a curious entry in this year's Emmy race. Often there's tough competition between reality TV shows starring shockingly dysfunctional people, but this Sundance Channel series spotlights a whole shockingly dysfunctional city: Newark, N.J.

Brick City news

"Brick City" is "an involving, often moving, slice of Newark city life," notes Newark's Star-Ledger. It stars a mayor and police chief, gang members, teachers, real estate developers and others trying to survive – and save – a once-great city now beset with gang wars, crime, illiteracy and racial strife during disastrous economic times. Its co-creators/directors Mark Benjamin and Marc Levin strived to "capture real people inside the establishment and outside on the streets, trying to make a difference," says Levin.

Benjamin adds: "We're witnessing what's happening in a city that's going through this dream of transformation."

"Here's a city that had such a bad reputation and look how it's struggling to change," Levin says. "This is a microcosm of much more than Newark. It's Gary, Ind. It's Baltimore. It's St. Louis. It's East L.A."

The TV academy is still weighing category eligibility, but "Brick City" will compete either for best nonfiction series or exceptional merit in nonfiction filmmaking plus crafts categories.

Click the right-pointing arrow below to listen to Gold Derby's full podcast chat with Benjamin and Levin. (It begins with just Benjamin, but then Levin connects with our chat.) Also check out their video discussion below. Here's the series' website.

Photo: Mayor Cory Booker addresses the Newark Police Academy graduation ceremony. Credit: Sundance Channel

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Mad Men' returns in July | 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' back next year | '24' movie script ready

April 20, 2010 |  5:35 pm

Mad-men-logo-300x159 • "Mad Men" returns to the AMC lineup for a fourth season on July 25 at 10 p.m. ET. The reigning two-time Emmy champ for best drama series is a strong bet to contend for a third consecutive year when nominations are announced on July 8. The third season ended with many of the characters in a state of flux. Just how long this series will continue to explore the lives of Don Draper and company is up for debate. Creator Matthew Weiner has voiced concern about continuing beyond six seasons, but the network says no end date has been discussed. TV SQUAD   

• As Steve Pond reports, "The Screen Actors Guild has chosen the nominating committees for its 2011 SAG Awards, selecting 2,100 of its more than 125,000 members for a committee that will select the feature film nominees, and another 2,100 to choose the television nominees." Actors are only allowed to serve on a committee once every five years. And the studios are kept from knowing the names of the nominators, with SAG acting as a clearinghouse for screeners. Nominations for the 17th annual kudos will be announced Dec. 16, with the awards handed out Jan. 30. THE ODDS

564_curb_your_enthusiasm_468 • "Curb Your Enthusiasm" will be back for a 10-episode eighth season in 2011. The five-time Emmy contender for comedy series drew its best ratings for Season 7, which used a reunion of "Seinfeld" as a plot device for creator and star Larry David to repair his TV marriage. In making the announcement, David said, "After much soul searching — and by the way, it was nowhere to be found — I have decided to do another season of 'Curb.' I look forward to the end of shooting, when I can once again resume the hunt for my elusive soul. I know it’s here somewhere or perhaps in the rugged mountainous regions of Pakistan." ZAP 2 IT

Emily Christianson has compiled a fun and fact-filled photo gallery saluting the various casts of classic TV fare who have reunited over the years at the TV Land Awards. This year, it was two-time Oscar champ Tom Hanks who joined his "Bosom Buddies" on-stage. In years past, these kudos have saluted Emmy-winning fare like "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Golden Girls" as well as rerun staples such as "The Brady Bunch." THE ENVELOPE

24-logo-1Kiefer Sutherland just wrapped the finale of "24," but he is already talking about a movie version of the 2006 Emmy champ for best drama series. The real-time crime drama is signing off May 24 after eight event-filled years. And says Sutherland, screenwriter Billy Ray ("State of Play") has finished a film script that may be more in keeping with the spirit of the early years of the TV show. "It doesn't have to be a bomb. It can be something personal that people understand." IGN

• The much-delayed Broadway musical "Turn Off the Dark," based on Spider-Man, has lost its villain with Tony Award winner Alan Cumming ("Cabaret") committing to a regular role on TV's freshman hit "The Good Wife" instead. The tuner, first announced in early 2009, had already lost its leading lady, Evan Rachel Wood ("The Wrestler"). Only newcomer Reeve Carney, who is to play the webbed crusader, remains on board. The tunes are by Bono and the Edge of U2 with two-time Tony winner Julie Taymor ("The Lion King") helming the big-budget production. PLAYBILL

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

Middle photo: "Curb Your Enthusiasm" logo. Credit: HBO

Bottom photo: "24" logo. Credit: Fox


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Emmy predix: Best lead comedy actor

Emmy predix: Best supporting actor in a drama series

Cannes film festival competition short on Oscar contenders

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Can Conan O'Brien get back in the race for the Emmys?

April 12, 2010 | 12:46 pm

Conan O'Brien TBS Emmy Awards Conan O'Brien has landed a new gig to replace his short-lived run at the helm of "The Tonight Show." While it took him only a few weeks to sign with TBS for a Monday-Thursday 11 p.m. talk show, O'Brien may have to wait awhile to get back in the Emmy race. Remember, this critical darling failed to win over viewers in the vaunted 11:35 time slot and even the final season of "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" managed just one Emmy Award nomination last year. 

It took Conan O'Brien a full decade of hosting "Late Night" before the show landed its first Emmy bid in the variety comedy music series category in 2003. It contended unsuccessfully in that race for five years, always losing to "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," which O'Brien will now face head-on in the ratings. In both 2008 and 2009, "Late Night" lost its slot to the resurgent "Saturday Night Live," while "The Daily Show" kept winning.

O'Brien and his writing staff finally won an Emmy in 2007 after being also-rans every year from 1996 to 2004 and then again in 2006. That was the only Emmy won by "Late Night" out of 29 nominations, including two more bids for writing in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, the "Late Night" writers lost to the team behind "The Colbert Report" and in 2009 to the scribes for "The Daily Show."

Prior to "The Daily Show" owning the series category, "Late Show With David Letterman" won that  award five years in a row beginning in 1998. The CBS late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman has competed in the top Emmy race every year since its debut season in 1994, when it won. In addition, it has taken three technical Emmys for a total haul of nine awards out of 64 nominations.

Compare that to the track record of Jay Leno, who returned to the "Tonight Show" in March. While he may be beating long-time rival David Letterman once again in the ratings, don't expect Leno to contend anytime soon at the Emmys. After all, he and the show were snubbed by the Emmys for his (first) farewell tour last year. The last nomination for Leno's edition of the NBC staple was in 2005, when he contended for the now-defunct individual performance prize, losing to Tony Awards host Hugh Jackman.

During Leno's 17 years at the helm, this NBC late-night staple won just one Emmy for best variety comedy series. That was way back in 1995, and the last of the show's nine nods in that race was in 2003. Add in three technical wins and the first incarnation of the "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" managed to take home just four Emmys out of 40 nominations. While Letterman -- who won four consecutive Emmys as part of the writing team on the original "Late Night" beginning in 1984 -- has been a perennial writing nominee for "Late Show," Jay Leno and his team of gag writers were snubbed by the Emmys for the entire run of his first version of the "Tonight Show."

Photo: Conan O'Brien at the 2007 Prime-time Emmy Awards. Credit: Fox.


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Kate Winslet taking on Joan Crawford's Oscar-winning role in 'Mildred Pierce'

February 12, 2010 |  1:08 pm

A year after finally taking home the Oscar for "The Reader," Kate Winslet is ready to go back to work. The Hollywood Reporter says Winslet will be starring in a five-hour TV remake of the 1945 film "Mildred Pierce," which won Joan Crawford her only Academy Award. We can only imagine what that grande dame of old Hollywood would think of all this.

Mildred Pierce Kate Winslet Joan 

Crawford Oscars

Todd Haynes ("I'm Not There") is adapting James M. Cain's bestselling 1941 novel and will direct the HBO miniseries. Haynes was a 2002 Oscar nominee for his script of "Far From Heaven," a homage to the lush 1950s movie romances of director Douglas Sirk; he lost to Pedro Almodovar for "Talk to Her."

The 1945 "Mildred Pierce" contended for six Oscars, including best picture, which went to "The Lost Weekend." Crawford earned the first of her eventual three Oscar nominations --  "Possessed" (1947) and "Sudden Fear" (1952) were the others. The actress feigned illness on Oscar night and, after skipping the ceremony, she received the press at home, where she accepted the Oscar in bed.

The meaty title role in "Mildred Pierce" is a single mother who struggles to provide for her two daughters during the Depression. Taking on a job as a waitress, she infuriates her older daughter, Veda, who has grandiose social ambitions. After younger daughter Kay dies of pneumonia, Mildred pours all her love into the ungrateful Veda. The mother is even willing to take a murder rap for the daughter, who offs her stepfather in a dramatic shootout.

If Winslet thinks she can score another award, an Emmy, by assuming this role, she may be doubly mistaken. For starters, "Mildred Pierce" looks like high-camp soap opera when viewed from the cynical perspective of the 21st century. How can that mix be adapted for modern audiences? Second, it may not really be award-winning material. It's widely known among Oscarologists that Crawford didn't really win her Golden Boy for the brilliance of her diva strutting in "Mildred Pierce." She won it for the brilliance of her full-throttle strong-arm campaign, one of the first major tub-thumping blitzkriegs in Oscar history.

In 1945, it looked like Crawford's career was all washed up. She had left MGM after 18 years and was desperately hustling up roles at Warner Bros. when she discovered "Mildred Pierce," a role rejected by Bette Davis. Director Michael Curtiz didn't want Crawford on board, dismissing her as a has-been, but he finally bowed to studio pressure after she agreed to take a screen test.

In December, award watchers were stunned when Crawford was voted best actress by the National Board of Review. Variety called it an "eye-opening selection," which certainly opened Crawford's eyes. Promptly, she hired a veteran PR man to manage her Oscar campaign and was off to win her overdue chunk of Academy gold, beating the three previous champs in the race -- Greer Garson, Jennifer Jones and Ingrid Bergman -- as well as Gene Tierney.

Photo: "Mildred Pierce" poster. Credit: Warner Bros.


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Patricia Heaton takes 'The Middle' to the top

September 30, 2009 |  7:38 am

Patricia Heaton The Middle Emmy Awards Reviews Entertainment News 2468097

Patricia Heaton returns to the type of role that won her two Emmy Awards during the nine-year run of "Everybody Loves Raymond" -- a sassy suburban mom -- in the new ABC sitcom "The Middle." And TV reviewers are heaping loads of praise on her for this new twist on an old format.

Two years ago, Heaton and time-slot mate Kelsey Grammer ("Hank") teamed up as battling exes in "Back to You." That Fox workplace comedy failed to find favor with either critics or the public. Now with "The Middle," Heaton is back where she belongs -- in a domestic situation comedy.

And she could well find herself back on the red carpet. For her performance on "Everybody Loves Raymond," she was nominated for the lead actress in a comedy series Emmy  seven years in a row (1999-2005). She won the award in 2000 and 2001. While she was snubbed by the Golden Globes for the entire run of the show, those Emmy-winning years for her marked the only two times Ray Romano landed a Globe bid.

Reviewing "The Middle,"  Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times said, "Ms. Heaton is less acerbic than she was on 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' but just as comical playing an overwhelmed Midwesterner who works at Orson’s only surviving car dealership. Frankie touches up her roots with a brown felt-tip pen and throws fast-food bags on the dining room table with the words, 'I cooked.' Though the troubled economy is only glancingly mentioned in the show, it colors the landscape, and that makes Frankie’s ill-founded optimism all the more amusing."

For Robert Bianco of USA Today, "ABC may be on to something with 'The Middle,' a perfectly timed, down-to-earth comedy that calls to mind 'Roseanne' and 'Home Improvement' (with a little of Fox's 'Malcolm in the Middle' thrown in)." And David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun enthused, "This family will make you smile a lot, especially Frankie's stressed-out, manic attempts to keep this house of nutsiness almost functioning. Heaton is an outstanding comic performer who really deserved all those Emmys in the 'Raymond' days."

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Ho, hum — Jay Leno passes the late-night torch to Conan O'Brien

May 15, 2009 |  9:19 am

Jay Leno may have sat behind the desk at the "Tonight Show" for 17 years, but the hoopla surrounding his departure is definitely muted. On Thursday, Leno announcedTonight Show NBC Jay Leno Emmy TV news 931275384 that Conan O'Brien — his successor in the time slot — will be his final guest on the May 29 finale. While this display of network team spirit makes for good PR and sets to rest rumors of any discord between the two men, it certainly lacks sizzle.

Remember the national countdown that accompanied the signing off of Leno's predecessor, Johnny Carson, in 1992 after almost three decades? The weeks leading up to Carson's final show saw the couch filled with a string of celebs paying homage to the undisputed king of late-night TV. While his last telecast on May 22, 1992, was a low-key affair — with Carson sitting on a stool reminiscing with sidekick Ed McMahon and bandleader Doc Severinsen — the previous night's installment was one for the ages.

First up was Robin Williams, who dazzled Carson with his rapid-fire delivery. The final guest was Bette Midler who serenaded her longtime mentor with several songs, including a specially penned version of "You Made Me Love You," with new lyrics by her musical director Marc Shaiman. She and Carson performed an impromptu duet on one of his favorite tunes, the war-time "Here's That Rainy Day." And then Midler sang the ultimate saloon song — "One for My Baby" — in tribute to Carson. Both got caught up in the emotion of the moment, as seen below.

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Jay Leno unlikely to break Emmy losing streak with final 'Tonight Show' season

May 15, 2009 |  9:12 am

Unlike Johnny Carson — his predecessor on "The Tonight Show" — Jay Leno is unlikely to win an Emmy Award for his final season of the late-night talk fest. Since taking over the fabled franchise in 1992, Leno's version of the talk-show staple has won the Emmy for best variety comedy or music series exactly once, way back in 1995. And the last of its nine nominations in that category came in 2003.


Just why is that? Leno's middle-of-the-road approach to humor naturally works with middle America, but it lacks the cool factor for Emmy voters, who prefer the edginess of David Letterman (his "Late Show" won five Emmys in a row beginning in 1998) and the savage satire of Jon Stewart (his version of "The Daily Show" has won the last six races). Conan O'Brien — Leno's soon-to-be successor at the "Tonight Show" — failed to win any of five successive bids (2003-07) for his version of "Late Night" as best variety series.

However, while Leno and his gag writers have never been Emmy nominees, O'Brien and company have been in the writing race every year since 1996 (but for 2005) and finally won the award in 2007. That brought an end to a four-year winning streak for "The Daily Show" scribes. David Letterman won four consecutive Emmys as part of the writing team on the original "Late Night" beginning in 1984 and has been a perennial writing nominee for "Late Show," including last year.

O'Brien has never competed for the individual performance Emmy while Leno has lost that race twice — in 1998 to Billy Crystal, who hosted the Academy Awards, and in 2005 to Hugh Jackman, who emceed the Tony Awards. Letterman was also in that 1998 race, and he has lost an additional four times (2001, 2006-2008). O'Brien's replacement, Jimmy Fallon, has never vied for an Emmy in any category.

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Farrah Fawcett faces court battle over 'Farrah's Story'

May 14, 2009 |  2:43 pm

Farrah Fawcett details her fight against cancer in the documentary "Farrah's Story" that is to air Friday night on NBC. Last night, the two-hour special screened at the Paley Center in L.A. with her long-time love Ryan O'Neal introducing the event. Among the most gripping of scenes were those depicting the loss of Fawcett's famous tresses to the effects of chemotherapy.

"Farrah's Story" could compete at the Emmy Awards as either outstanding nonfiction special or for the juried award for exceptional merit in nonfiction filmmaking. But before being judged by Fawcett's TV peers, it seems that the documentary is to be considered by a court of law.

Farrah Fawcett Ryan O'Neal Farrah's Story NBC Emmy Awards TMZ is reporting that Fawcett's one-time producing partner Craig Nevius is "suing for a declaration from the court that he has a binding deal to manage the project. He's also suing for damages." The pair worked together on the 2005 TV Land reality series "Chasing Farrah" and Nevius alleges he was pushed out of this project by O'Neal and Fawcett's friend Alana Stewart, who shot much of the footage.

As Stewart told People last week, "It was never meant to be a documentary. Farrah just took her little hand-held camera to the doctor one day." It was on that 2007 doctor's visit that Farrah Fawcett was told her cancer had come back. She had been diagnosed with anal cancer the previous year and thought she had beaten the disease. With conventional treatments no longer working, Fawcett went to Germany to pursue alternative therapies.

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Has 'Lost' found the secret to winning another Emmy?

May 14, 2009 | 10:45 am

"Lost" finished up its fifth season with a two-hour finale that, as usual, posed even more questions than it answered. Many TV critics were rapturous in their reviews of this wrap-up written by showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. In 2005, the pair shared in the first-season Emmy win by "Lost" as best drama series. And they were part of the team recognized in last season's nomination in that category.

Lost Season Five Finale The Incident Emmy Awards Ironically, their two Emmy nods as writers on "Lost" came in the second and third seasons when the show itself was not nominated. In 2006, they were up for "The 23rd Psalm" and in 2007 for "Through the Looking Glass." In each of those races, they lost to an episode of "The Sopranos."

 Though "Lost" was not an Emmy contender for best drama series in its second and third seasons, it was a top 10 finalist. However, it did not make the cut with the judging panels. This year, the Emmy Awards are doing away with those judging panels and the nominees will be determined strictly by popular vote.

This season, "Lost" has faced off against ratings powerhouse "American Idol" but earned good results in the key 18-49 demographic and respectable numbers overall. And buoyed by the great reviews for the finale, it enters this year's Emmy race in a strong position.

As Frazier Moore of the AP said, "Jack wanted an explosion and he got his explosion, on the explosive season-ender of 'Lost.' It was a mind-bending finale that, in the best tradition of the series, cleared things up, then confused them again, with exhilarating richness."

Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe thought, "the episode was 'Lost' at its most vigorously entertaining, as the action leaped from Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and the gang in 1970s Dharmaville, Ben and (what appeared to be) Locke in contemporary times, and a variety of character backstories, all of which included the presence and the touch of the mysterious and unaging Jacob. 'Lost' has the uncanny ability to be riveting even while it is being mind-bendingly complex, and so there wasn't a dull moment right up until the explosive end, when the doomed Juliet detonated the bomb that may undo the crash of Oceanic 815."

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BAFTA nominees are best of British TV

March 24, 2009 | 10:41 am

The nominations for the BAFTA TV Awards — the British equivalent of the Emmy Awards — are almost exclusively home-grown this year. Only "Wallander" — the Kenneth Branagh detective series that will play on "Masterpiece Mystery" in the coming months — has the requisite American production partner to make it Emmy eligible. Branagh earned his fourth TV nod from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for producing this adaptation of the bestselling series by Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell. The show competes in the drama series category against a trio of past champs: "Spooks" (2003), "Shameless" (2005) and "Doctor Who" (2006).


Branagh was snubbed in the best actor race, which pits three actors from single drama biopics — Stephen Dillane ("The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall"), Jason Isaacs ("The Curse of Steptoe") and previous nominee Ken Stott ("Hancock and Joan") — against Ben Whishaw for the miniseries "Criminal Justice."

Contending for best actress, also a catch-all category that includes performances in one-offs, minis and series, are three first-time nominees — June Brown ("EastEnders"), Maxine Peake ("Hancock and Joan") and Andrea Risborough ("Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk to Finchley") — and one previous winner, Anna Maxwell Martin ("Poppy Shakespeare").

The international category is all American with three drama series — "Dexter," "Mad Men" and "The Wire" — up against "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart."

The award show broadcast, hosted by Graham Norton at the Royal Festival Hall, is scheduled to air on BBC1 on April 26. The BAFTA website has the full list of nominees.

BAFTA splits up its awards between on-air and behind-the-scenes talent and will announce nominees for the Craft BAFTAS next week with that ceremony to be held May 17.

An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to "Hancock and Joan" as "Hancock and June" and this error has been corrected.


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