Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Have A Happy And Healthy Holiday

Here's an email from a friend.  He's an independent contractor and is going through what a lot of others have to deal with this time of year. (He's also not a Republican as far as I can tell.)

For those not having to deal with the Affordable Care Act, here's part of the confusion:

 
I previously discovered that I could not trust the provider list from my current ACA policy; the first three or four doctors on the list (that had good reviews) in fact were NOT accepting the insurance.  Also, have found examples of doctors not listed by insurers when other info on the web says they do accept that insurance.  So, forget about having faith in the answers you find online.

 
Today is last day to make a change and get uninterrupted coverage into 2015.  I made a chart of five recommended doctors and seven possible policies.  That makes 35 possible matches.  Called all the doctors' offices, and of those possibilities, they were confident that 19 were unaccepted, 4 were "probably" unaccepted, 6 were unanswerable, 5 were "possibly" accepted, leaving a total of 1 that was APPARENTLY a match.  

 
Note that this is the last day, so this info has been available to the doctors for the maximum possible amount of time (not blaming the doctors' offices, just explaining the time horizon), and when I would read the policy name exactly as it appears on the healthcare.gov website, the offices would frequently say they "don't know what that is" -- even when it's an insurance company that they do accept some policies from.  They would sometimes ask "is that a (blah blah) or a (blah blah)?," and I would repeat that I'm just reciting the name exactly as it appears.

 
The insurance companies offer sub-groups of sub-groups of policies, and the doctors' offices frequently said the policies are "too new" for them to know -- on the last day of enrollment!

 
One doctor's office suggested I call their affiliated hospital's billing department, which I did, and was told they had no idea why I was told that, since their handling of insurance is completely separate.  Just got off the phone with one office, and the very patient woman trying to come up with an answer on whether they accepted "Blue Care Network - Blue Cross [...] HMO" spent about twenty minutes on it, and concluded she absolutely could not tell me.  She said the only way to know was to provide her with my policy number -- which you obviously don't get until after you sign up!

So, despite the most deliberate efforts, even at the deadline date, you discover that the vast majority of lower-priced policies are either unaccepted or have an unknown status, and nobody is offering to research it and "get back to you."  Of course, many of the non-answers come after being on hold for a very long time.
 
No need to comment.  The thing speaks for itself.

PR Job

Paul Rodgers, vocalist for Free and Bad Company, turns 65 today. But he's still out there, rocking.

\





Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You'd think it's a hoax

"It’s Okay To Hate Republicans"

Okay? Hell, it's a duty.

Polishing his resume

"I have suggested that the most promising approach lies in . . . emphasizing technocratic expertise[.]"

Great idea, buddy. Way better than the lying incompetents we've had before. Got anyone in mind? Preferably somebody with a secret email account for some technocratic discussion.

A Decade In The Making

For years my friend Jesse Walker has been listing his top ten film--from decades ago. (In fact, I think he's been doing it for more than ten years, so he'll be repeating himself.)  He feels he didn't see enough titles in 2014 to have a fair top ten list, but he's caught up to 2004, 1994, etc.  So over the next few weeks, we'll be going back in time.

He just put up his top ten list for 2004 (which happens to be the year this blog started). Here it is:

1. Bad Education
2. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. The Wire 3
5. Deadwood
6. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
7. Sideways
8. Palindromes
9. The Incredibles
10. Team America: World Police

I can see putting Bad Education in the top 10, though #1 seems a bit high.  The second Kill Bill improves on the first, but I still see them as Tarantino's low point--some great sequences (which is why be probably made the film/s) but I don't give a damn about the Bride's quest or even the Bride; Tarantino, as outrageous as he could be, generally operates on a human level, which he left behind here.  Eternal Sunshine has a good concept, and there's certainly a lot of cleverness, but once we get the idea, there's not enough forward motion.  The Wire and Deadwood are TV shows which, as Jesse knows, I don't think should be on film lists. Life Aquatic, like other Wes Anderson films, has grown in my estimation over the years, but I'm still not sure I like it.  Sideways should be here.  Palindromes has the Solondz Touch, which once was a good thing, but I'm not so sure any more.  The Incredibles might make the top of my list.  Team America should certainly be hear (and is it wrong to admit you find marionettes sexy?).

Here are Jesse's honorable mentions:

11. Nobody Knows
12. Howl's Moving Castle
13. In the Realms of the Unreal
14. The Assassination of Richard Nixon
15. Panorama Ephemera
16. Before Sunset
17. Garden State
18. Light Is Calling
19. Kung Fu Hustle
20. Primer

Howl's Moving Castle might be my #1 (good year for animation).  I find Before Sunset sort of dull.  Garden State I liked. I'm not a big Stephen Chow fan (and he may be the biggest HK star of all), but Kung Fu Hustle is one of his better films.  Primer is baffling but fascinating--probably should be top ten.  Haven't seen the rest.

Here are a couple other films that would have made my top ten:

Downfall--the film that launched a thousand YouTube parodies is pretty great itself. (Now I suppose someone should make a video of Hitler ranting about not making the top ten list.)

Shaun Of The Dead--Simon Pegg's best, and the top zombie comedy around.

Other films I liked.

50 First Dates, Battle At Kruger (a famous YouTube short--I don't believe in shorts on these lists, but Jesse does), Collateral, Dhoom, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Ella Enchanted, Finding Neverland, The Good Girl, I Heart Huckabees (which hasn't gotten the respect it deserves), Incident At Loch Ness, Jiminy Glick In Lalawood, Layer Cake, Mean Girls, Napoleon Dynamite, National Treasure, The Nomi Song, Ray, Starsky & Hutch, The Village (yes, I am the one person in the world who will defend this film)

Other films of note:

13 Going on 30, 2046, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, The Alamo, Alexander, Alfie, Alien vs. Predator, Along Came Polly, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Arizona Summer, Around the World in 80 Days, Art Heist, The Aviator, Barbershop 2: Back in Business, Be with You, Being Julia, Beyond the Sea, The Big Bounce, Birth, Blade: Trinity, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Bourne Supremacy, Bride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, Butterfly Effect, Catch That Kid, Catwoman, Cellular, The Chorus, Christmas with the Kranks, The Chronicles of Riddick, Clifford's Really Big Movie, Closer, Club Dread, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Connie and Carla, Crónicas, Cube Zero, D.E.B.S., Dawn of the Dead, The Day After Tomorrow, De-Lovely, Dhoom, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, District 13, Employee of the Month, Envy, EuroTrip, Exorcist: The Beginning, Face, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Fallen, Fat Albert, Flight of the Phoenix, The Forgotten, Friday Night Lights, Garfield, The Girl Next Door, Going the Distance, The Grudge, Happily Ever After, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Head in the Clouds, Hellboy, Hidalgo, Hotel Rwanda, House of Flying Daggers, Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, I, Robot, Imaginary Heroes, In Good Company, Intimate Strangers, Jersey Girl, King Arthur, Kinsey, Ladder 49, The Ladykillers, Laws of Attraction, The Libertine, Little Black Book, Look at Me, A Love Song for Bobby Long, The Machinist, The Manchurian Candidate, Meet the Fockers, Melinda And Melinda, The Merchant of Venice, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, Million Dollar Baby, The Motorcycle Diaries, Mr. 3000, Ocean's Twelve, Outfoxed, The Passion of the Christ, Perfect Strangers, The Phantom of the Opera, The Polar Express, Raising Helen, Saved!, Saw, The Scarlet Letter, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Shark Tale, She Hate Me, Shrek 2, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Soul Plane, Spanglish, Species III, Spider-Man 2, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, Starsky & Hutch, The Stepford Wives, Super Size Me, Surviving Christmas, Taxi, The Terminal, Troy, Twisted, Van Helsing, Vanity Fair, Vera Drake, A Very Long Engagement, Walking Tall, Welcome to Mooseport, White Chicks, The Whole Ten Yards, Wicker Park, Win A Date With Tad Hamilton!

String Fling

Happy 70th, jazz guitarist John Abercrombie.





Monday, December 15, 2014

Lesbos? You've got my attention.

Who knew it was so cheap to become SPECTRE? I imagine it's the upkeep that kills you.

I do think we should adopt the approach as national policy. California would be a good place to start. You'd think that would cover the deficit for at least a fiscal year, maybe two.

But Was It Any Good?

Here's the first sentence in Stephanie Zacharek's LA Weekly review of Chris Rock's new film Top Five:

Whatever it is Americans want out of life — and it's not even something we can precisely define ourselves — it was nowhere in evidence on Dec. 3, when a grand jury failed to indict the New York police officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner in July.

As they used to say in The New Yorker, here's an article I never bothered to finish.  Apparently Zacharek confused her movie column with the editorial page.  Stephanie, I barely care what you think about the movie, but I don't care at all what you believe about American politics.  Even when films are explicitly all about politics (and I wouldn't put Top Five in that category), try to tell us about the film, not your smug pontifications on the geopolitical scene.

Speaking of which, here's the last sentence by another editorial writer who's mistakenly found himself on the film pages.  It's the last sentence from a squib review--a rave--by Alan Scherstuhl on the documentary Concerning Violence:

There are revelations here for everyone, but this definitely should be seen by every white American who shares MLK quotes on Facebook to tell black Americans to stop protesting

The movie is, as far as I can tell, a pro-violence film about colonization, and follows the principles of Frantz Fanon.  As Scherstuhl puts it:

Göran Hugo Olsson's profound essay documentary aspires to upset in the truest sense. [...I]ts narration [...] demands that Western viewers fundamentally upset their conceptions of everything.

Now that's useful information, telling us what the film is like (even if he's wrong about Western viewers--not to mention the subset that'll see this film--who, I'm guessing, are more open and diverse than Scherstuhl understands).  Less useful is Scherstuhl emphatically embracing Fanon's questionable (and that's a nice word for it) theorizing on the topic, rather than actually reviewing the film.  He seems to be giving the work a thumbs up because it represents a lecture he approves of.  Hate to see what he'd say about a documentary that actually challenges his beliefs.

DC

There was a time when some thought the Dave Clark Five would replace the Beatles as the top British band. Boy, that didn't last long.  Still, let's celebrate Dave Clark's birthday. (It's rare the leader of a band is the drummer.)









Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sell it

So I slid into Amazon Prime yesterday inadvertently--we ordered something then immediately canceled it but I fell for the free 30 day pitch--and the interface is beyond me.

I'm used to Hulu and Netflix (and irritated when they change) but I've never been able to get Amazon Prime instant video to do what I want (I've fallen for the pitch before).

However, I made progress. I started watching a trailer for a film that I was on the cusp of being interested in.

This is the first trailer I've ever seen where they ran the opening credits (or anyway a selection of them).

I think that's possibly the best trailer I've ever seen. I certainly won't risk spoiling it by watching the movie.

Norman, Is That You?

In the 70s there were two main streams of sitcoms which inform comedy to this day.  One was the Mary Tyler Moore Show line, which led to shows such as Bob NewhartTaxi, Cheers and even The Simpsons.  The other was the Norman Lear line, started with All In The Family and followed by Sanford And Son, The Jeffersons, Maude and Good Times. (I guess a third line began a few years later with Garry Marshall shows such as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork And Mindy.)

The Mary Tyler Moore shows tended to be quieter, wittier and, I'd say, smarter.  Lear's shows featured more emotion, more politics and more screaming.  While I prefer the Moore line, there's something to be said for Lear's shows--especially All In The Family--which, even if they haven't always dated well, offered big laughs and memorable moments.

So I was interested in Norman Lear's autobiography, Even This I Get To Experience. Of course, it took a long time to get to All In The Family--about half the book.  There are a hundred pages of his early days before show biz, then another hundred to cover his first twenty years as a rising writer-producer-director in show biz before we get to the stuff that people are waiting for.

Lear was born in 1922 to a Jewish family in Connecticut.  He has plenty of colorful stories about his family, but the most memorable character was his father, Herman, whom Archie Bunker was based on.  Herman would argue with his wife (telling her to "stifle") and tell Norman he was the laziest white man he'd ever met.  He was a rogue, but more than that, he was a crook--he spent years in prison while his son was growing up.  Once out he tried get-rich-quick schemes and even had his son work for him for a while before the business evaporated.  That actually happened after Lear flew on bombing missions in WWII, and just before he came out to California with his first wife to make it.

But not necessarily in show biz.  Then he and a relative through marriage, Ed Simmons, wrote a song parody that sold for forty bucks--at a time when their regular jobs only earned them fifty bucks a week.  They realized they should write together, and soon sold a routine to Danny Thomas for a thousand bucks. (It helped that Lear was a good salesman who wouldn't take no for an answer.) This was clearly the business to be in.

It was the early days of TV and next they started writing (back in New York) for Jack Haley.  This led to a job on the Colgate Comedy Hour featuring Martin and Lewis, and they were as big as writers could get in the new medium.  Lear (who'd split up with Simmons and eventually teamed up with producer Bud Yorkin) went on to write for Martha Raye, Tennessee Ernie Ford and George Gobel, among others.

Then in the 60s he and Yorkin also got involved in movies, working in various capacities on such memorable titles as Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn (though they gave up the rights to his next two Broadway hits Barefoot In The Park and The Odd Couple), Divorce American Style, The Night They Raided Minsky's and Cold Turkey. Lear had a career in movies, and could have continued writing, producing and directing them.

But there was a show that he'd written, and shot three pilots for, and when it had a chance to get on, he was happy to go back to TV.  It was called--after a couple changes--All In The Family, and after going up against all sorts of network censorship, and coming a bit slow out of the gate, it become the gigantic hit which put Lear on top.  Lear talks about the windy path to success, as well as the fights with Carroll O'Connor, who was wonderful in the lead but hard to work with.  Lear doesn't pull punches with stars who gave him trouble.  He thought John Amos and Esther Rolle did a great job as the parents in Good Times, but never quite appreciated their position, and fought too hard against him--and against show breakout Jimmy Walker.  They may have had decent motives, such as the image of African-Americans, but they didn't have the big picture in mind.

Lear created another innovative show in the 70s, the soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.  His company syndicated it, and it showed in most cities five times a week at 11 pm.  This also led to his parody talk show Fernwood Tonight.

But Lear had other interests.  He'd always been a liberal and his politics started to express themselves more and more--not just in his shows, but in real life.  In the 80s he formed the advocacy group People For The America Way.  While all this means a lot to Lear personally, it meant to me a lot of pages in the final quarter of the book best skimmed over.

Meanwhile, he helped finance some films, particularly those of Rob Reiner (who'd been Mike on All In The Family, though Lear had known him since he was Carl Reiner's young son), such as This Is Spinal Tap, Stand By Me and The Princess Bride.  On the other hand, he never again dominated TV as he had in the 70s--shows such as Sunday Dinner and The Powers That Be didn't last long.

But his place in TV history was secure.  He's one of the top producers the medium has ever known, and comedy wouldn't have been the same without him.  I can recommend the book, though the middle sections on his show biz life are the main reason to read it.

Best Known For Bach

Today is the centennial of pianist Rosalyn Tureck.






Saturday, December 13, 2014

No Burger For You

Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burgers, Ann Arbor's favorite hamburger joint, was closed for a year when the University of Michigan took over the land, but it's since reopened downtown.  Good thing, as its become a national landmark, featured on shows Diners, Drive-Ins And Dives, Man vs Food and Food Paradise.

The food is as good as ever, but there's one thing that gives me pause--the strict rules.  According to photos I've received (which I can't show here, alas), these rules are now listed on the wall, and woe to those who don't follow.

Here's what one sign says:

HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN:
LISTEN TO THE QUESTIONS
ANSWER JUST THE QUESTION
HOW TO ORDER A BLIMPYBURGER
- # OF PATTIES (THERE ARE 10 TO A LB.)
- WHAT KIND OF BUN
  REGULAR (INCLUDED) ONION, KAISER OR PUMPERNICKEL EXTRA
- ANY GRILLED ITEMS
BACON, EGGS, ONIONS, MUSHROOMS, SALAMI, PEPPERS
CHEESE AND CONDIMENT CHOICES WILL COME LATER!!!!!!
THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE AND
AND (sic) PARTICIPATING IN THE PROCESS
ENJOY YOUR BLIMPY

Next there's a sign that says:

PLEASE NOTE:
IT IS EXTREMELY
HELPFULL (sic) TO GET YOUR
ORDER CORRECT IF
EVERYONE IN YOUR
PARTY IS IN LINE AND
ORDERS THEIR OWN MEAL
(MEDICAL, ETC EXCEPTIONS ARE OK.)
DINING IN - GET A
TRAY FOR EVERYONE
TAKE OUT - DON'T
HAVE A TRAY SO WE'LL
KNOW TO WRAP YOUR
ORDER
THANK YOU!

Then one more warning:

PLEASE NO CELL PHONES
IN LINE THANK YOU!

The place is extremely busy, especially around lunch, so I understand some rules to make things flow, but really, this is taking a charming eccentricity and turning it into a fetish.

Swifties

Happy birthday, Taylor Swift, 25 today.  You're getting up there.









Friday, December 12, 2014

Woody Guthrie, call your office

Trains have lasers to remove debris from the tracks.

Pretty cool. I foresee this is how the robots will get me.

Yes And No

I liked Amy Poehler's work before I knew who she was.  She had a regular gig on Conan O'Brien's show as Andy Richter's kid sister who had a thing for Conan.  She wore head gear and had a shy smile (before she'd get mad at Andy for blowing her cover). It was a good bit.

A little later I knew her as the only female in the Upright Citizen's Brigade, a comedy troupe with a show on Comedy Central.  After that she was a regular on Saturday Night Live.  After that, she starred, and still stars, in the NBC sitcom Parks And Recreation, not to mention appearing in films like Mean Girls, Hamlet 2 and Baby Mama.  Overall, she's done consistently good work.

And now she has a book out, a bestseller entitled Yes Please.  Women on TV or in comedy publishing books about themselves have become a major trend.   I think it started with Tina Fey's Bossypants, a huge success and the gold standard in this genre.  Since then there's been books by Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham and others.  I don't think Poehler's is as good as Fey's (these are the only two books I've read in this field), but I suppose it'll do.

These books are a mix of autobiography and observations on life.  As you might guess, I prefer the former and read quickly through the latter.  Though I think the audiences for these books (which I'm guessing are mostly female) may feel the opposite.

Poehler starts her book complaining about how hard it is to write a book. (She even has others write or co-write some of her chapters).  Yes, I'm sure it's very difficult, but so what?  There are a lot of authors who work just as hard and toil in obscurity, so I could do without the whining.

She does tell her life story, but it's in bits and pieces throughout the book, and not generally in order.  How many times must I say this--chronology is our friend.  Even if you think it's cool to put this chapter here because it feels right, most of the time (whether it's an autobiography or a "memoir") please put the earliest stuff first, and work your way to the present, just to make the book easier to follow.

I liked the stuff about her career, and wish there was more.  Instead, we get chapters about stuff like body image and feelings of shame the meaning of charity and how computers have changed out lives.  Perhaps this is very meaningful for Poehler and most of her readers, but for me a little of it goes a long way.  Poehler also mentions a surprising amount of stuff that annoys her.  Enough that you wonder if she isn't sort of annoying herself.

So a mild thumbs up.  The book is a bestseller, so I guess she did it right.

PS  It's published on thick, glossy paper. I assume this is because the book is salted with photos and other illustrations that require a particular surface.  But it sure makes the book heavy.

Smooth

Happy birthday, jazz-funk saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.






Thursday, December 11, 2014

The seat of democracy

"Facial colour charts"

I had no idea there was such a thing, but apparently it's to help make sure you don't suffocate. Huzzah!

SAGGY

The SAG nominations are out.  Try to contain yourselves.  If nothing else (and there probably is nothing else) they do give a decent indication of where the Academy will be voting, since there's a lot of overlap.

Here are the nominees with my comments:

MOVIES

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
STEVE CARELL / John du Pont – “FOXCATCHER” (Sony Pictures Classics)
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH / Alan Turing – “THE IMITATION GAME” (The Weinstein Company)
JAKE GYLLENHAAL / Louis Bloom – “NIGHTCRAWLER” (Open Road Films)
MICHAEL KEATON / Riggan – “BIRDMAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
EDDIE REDMAYNE / Stephen Hawking – “THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING” (Focus Features)

A pretty weak category.  No big surprises.  Some say Jake Gyllenhaal is a surprise, but is he really--sure, Bradley Cooper or Bill Murray or a few others had a chance, but Jake was quite memorable and the film did reasonably well.  I suppose Michael Keaton is the likely winner since he's got a nice comeback story, and actors love movies about actors, but there's no odds-on favorite.  Steve Carell, arguably in a supporting role, is being considered a lead.  This year, that may make it easier to win.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
JENNIFER ANISTON / Claire Bennett – “CAKE” (Cinelou Films)
FELICITY JONES / Jane Hawking – “THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING” (Focus Features)
JULIANNE MOORE / Alice Howland-Jones – “STILL ALICE” (Sony Pictures Classics)
ROSAMUND PIKE / Amy Dunne – “GONE GIRL” (20th Century Fox)
REESE WITHERSPOON / Cheryl Strayed – “WILD” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Aniston a bit of a surprise, the rest expected.  Can't say much about the performances since I've only seen two (I don't get screeners and three of these haven't opened yet).

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
ROBERT DUVALL / Joseph Palmer – “THE JUDGE” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
ETHAN HAWKE / Mason, Sr. – “BOYHOOD” (IFC Films)
EDWARD NORTON / Mike – “BIRDMAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
MARK RUFFALO / Dave Schultz – “FOXCATCHER” (Sony Pictures Classics)
J.K. SIMMONS / Fletcher – “WHIPLASH” (Sony Pictures Classics)

This is the best category.  Not sure what Duvall is doing here except he's a SAG favorite.  The rest did great jobs, though the real battle looks to be Edward Norton and J.K. Simmons.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
PATRICIA ARQUETTE / Olivia – “BOYHOOD” (IFC Films)
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY / Joan Clarke – “THE IMITATION GAME” (The Weinstein Company)
EMMA STONE / Sam – “BIRDMAN” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
MERYL STREEP / The Witch – “INTO THE WOODS” (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
NAOMI WATTS / Daka – “ST. VINCENT” (The Weinstein Company)

Arquette was arguably the lead, but she's probably better running as a supporting actor.  I expect she's the favorite here.  Haven't seen Into The Woods (which hasn't opened), though the film was mostly snubbed except for good old Meryl.  The surprise here--the biggest surprise in the movie categories--is Naomi Watts. She's a fine actress who had a poor year, doing subpar work in St. Vincent as well as Birdman.  She didn't even give the best female supporting performance in the film she's nominated for.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
BOYHOOD (IFC Films)
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
THE IMITATION GAME (The Weinstein Company)
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus Features)

It's an odd category--is it about the best overall average performances, the best people did working together, or what?  With its long, intense takes, Birdman certainly put the ensemble through its paces. Good or bad, Boyhood sure had a small ensemble.  Grand Budapest, on the other hand, had a gigantic ensemble, even if they didn't interact that much outside the central figures.  Will Imitation Game and Theory Of Everything (I prefer the former) cancel each other out as British science tales?

TELEVISION

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
ADRIEN BRODY / Harry Houdini  – “HOUDINI” (History)
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH / Sherlock Holmes – “SHERLOCK: HIS LAST VOW” (PBS)
RICHARD JENKINS / Henry Kitteridge – “OLIVE KITTERIDGE” (HBO)
MARK RUFFALO / Ned Weeks – “THE NORMAL HEART” (HBO)
BILLY BOB THORNTON / Lorne Malvo – “FARGO” (FX)

Cumberbatch and Ruffalo both getting a lot of love from SAG.  Billy Bob was pretty memorable in Fargo, and I guess SAG likes him better than Martin Freeman.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
ELLEN BURSTYN / Olivia Foxworth – “FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC” (Lifetime)
MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL / Nessa Stein – “THE HONORABLE WOMAN” (Sundance TV)
FRANCES McDORMAND / Olive Kitteridge – “OLIVE KITTERIDGE” (HBO)
JULIA ROBERTS / Dr. Emma Brookner – “THE NORMAL HEART” (HBO)
CICELY TYSON / Carrie Watts – “THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL” (Lifetime)

The Gyllenhaal family getting a lot of love from SAG.  I'm sensing a lot of movie envy here, since each of these nominees has been nominated for an Oscar. Or is it that when female movie stars get older they have to go to TV to get good roles?

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
STEVE BUSCEMI / Enoch “Nucky” Thompson – “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” (HBO)
PETER DINKLAGE / Tyrion Lannister – “GAME OF THRONES” (HBO)
WOODY HARRELSON / Martin Hart – “TRUE DETECTIVE” (HBO)
MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY / Rust Cohle – “TRUE DETECTIVE” (HBO)
KEVIN SPACEY / Francis Underwood – “HOUSE OF CARDS” (Netflix)

They don't have supporting roles for TV, so a character like Dinklage gets nominated here.  What the heck is Buscemi doing with a nomination--there are so many better shows than Boardwalk Empire (actually, any show that's halfway decent is better than BE).  Notice no Jon Hamm.  No Mad Men anywhere.  As I've said, the show overstayed its welcome.  And poor Woody--he knows if his show is getting any award it won't be for him.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (6 nominees)
CLAIRE DANES / Carrie Mathison – “HOMELAND” (Showtime)
VIOLA DAVIS / Annalise Keating – “HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER” (ABC)
JULIANNA MARGULIES / Alicia Florrick – “THE GOOD WIFE” (CBS)
TATIANA MASLANY / Sarah/Coxima/Alison/Rachel/ – “ORPHAN BLACK” (BBC America)
Helena/Tony/Jennifer and Various Others
MAGGIE SMITH / Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham – “DOWNTON ABBEY” (PBS)
ROBIN WRIGHT / Claire Underwood – “HOUSE OF CARDS” (Netflix)

Six names here, which means there was a tie.  No big surprises except the absence of Jessica Lange.  Nice to see Maslany get some attention for her tour de force--if only her show were better.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
TY BURRELL / Phil Dunphy – “MODERN FAMILY ” (ABC)
LOUIS C.K. / Louie – “LOUIE” (FX)
WILLIAM H. MACY / Frank Gallagher – “SHAMELESS” (Showtime)
JIM PARSONS / Sheldon Cooper – “THE BIG BANG THEORY” (CBS)
ERIC STONESTREET / Cameron Tucker – “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)

I'm not sure if Macy deserves it, but if he kept out Don Cheadle it's a fair trade.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
UZO ADUBA / Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren – “ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK” (Netflix)
JULIE BOWEN / Claire Dunphy – “MODERN FAMILY” (ABC)
EDIE FALCO / Jackie Peyton – “NURSE JACKIE” (Showtime)
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS / Vice President Selina Meyer – “VEEP” (HBO)
AMY POEHLER / Leslie Knope – “PARKS AND RECREATION” (NBC)

Orange Is The New Black could be a drama or a comedy?  Does it win more awards as a comedy.  I'd say Falco and Nurse Jackie are pretty tired, except the show wasn't much to begin with.  Uzo Aduba I don't get--I consider Crazy Eyes to be one of the least interesting, most annoying characters in an otherwise top-notch ensemble.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO)
DOWNTON ABBEY (PBS)
GAME OF THRONES (HBO)
HOMELAND (Showtime)
HOUSE OF CARDS (Netflix)

So long Mad Men.  But really, Boardwalk Empire?  For that matter, isn't Downton Abbey done yet?

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS)
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (FOX)
MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (Netflix)
VEEP (HBO)

The best all-around category--all good choices, and all true ensembles.  Good to see Brooklyn Nine-Nine here, a show that's as reliably funny as any on TV.

Little Miss Dynamite

Brenda Lee turns 70 today.










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