Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Berry Beat

Happy birthday, Bill Berry.  He was the drummer for R.E.M.  He also was the first to leave, perhaps realizing in the late 90s that the band's best days were behind it. (I seem to recall Norm Macdonald saying Berry was leaving the band to spend more time with his eyebrows.) But when they were on they were as good as anyone around.

Still Checking Out Others Checking In

Over the weekend I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  The plot has seven elderly British citizens--played by well-known names like Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Judi Dench--trying to change their lives by moving to a spot in India run by a young man who's trying to prove himself to his family.  Much of the comedy is fish-out-of-water, West meets East sort of stuff.  It's charming if a bit pat--hard not to paint in broad strokes when you've got eight lead characters, each with a separate arc.

What was remarkable, however, was that the theatre was fairly packed.  True, the film has only been playing art houses, but it's now in its third month.  Most films these days are played out after a few weeks.  This is truly an old-fashioned hit, built by word of mouth--and a hit it is, costing $10 million and grossing $130 million worldwide so far. It's also old-fashioned in another sense--fashioned for old people.  Not too many films are about the problems retirees face.

Of course, the reason you don't see too many films like this is that young people go to movies in greater numbers.  Older people usually have to hear about a film from several friends before they'll check it out, which doesn't work too well for studios who want instant gratification in grosses.  Will they learn something from the more slow-burning success of Marigold Hotel?  Don't hold your breath.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sincere Sugar

Happy birthday, Christine McGuire, oldest of the three McGuire Sisters. They were one of those pre-rock and roll girl groups that lasted into the rock era. In fact, they had a pretty smooth transition, covering the Moonglow's R&B hit "Sincerely," turning it into one of the biggest hits of the era:

A couple years later they had another #1, this time a little bouncier. (The tune seems to come partly from Chico Marx's theme "I'm Daffy Over You.")

Home Cooking

Breaking Bad is my favorite show, but how I wish it were on HBO or Showtime.  Watching it live feels like half the time is taken up with commercials. Speaking of commerce, let's look at this week's episode (only five weeks left!), "Hazard Pay."

Mike is tagging along as a lawyer's paralegal so he can talk directly to his "guys" who have been picked up by the feds.  He wants to assure them the Fring deal is still on--they keep their mouths shut, they get their hazard pay. He has to get to them all right away or who knows who'll speak.  Where will he get the money?  No need for them to know, but we sure do. There may be no love lost between Mike and Walter, but Mike does right by his guys.

Back at the White residence, Walt is moving back in.  Where he lives is harder to keep track of than who's got the guns on Lost, but it looks like this move is for good.  Depressed, frightened Skyler wonders if this is a good idea, but Walt isn't worried about her opinion any more.

Walt and Jesse meet with Saul and explain they're bringing in Mike.  Saul, recently threatened by Mike, isn't thrilled, but hey, as Walt notes, "it's what he does." Who hasn't been threatened by Mike?  So at the confab Mike explains they cook, he handles the business.  Walt's okay with it, he explains to Saul, because he'll be the one handling Mike.

Say what you want about Saul, he does his job well.  He's got a bunch of places lined up for potential cooking. I thought they'd take the first place, which looked pretty good, but Walt had some problems that he as a master chemist would have to deal with.  The four look at other places till Walt figures out a plan which he'll explain after the lengthy commercial break.

The last place they checked stored the colorful tarps pest control uses to tent houses being bug-bombed.  Walt explains they'll come in the first day, cook a batch, leave, and no one will be any the wiser.  Saul knows the guys and they're crooked enough that he can deal with them.  Walt's idea is so good he doesn't even feel there's any need to vote on it, even though he, Jesse and Mike are supposedly equal partners.

At a music store we discover Sneaky Pete is masterful at the keyboards. He's so good with classical music it's almost out of character.  Badger banging away at a guitar is more believable.  They're on a mission from Jesse to buy huge roller cases--they can pretend they're roadies, but no doubt they'll carry the cooking equipment.  Pete pays with cash, and when he and Badger deliver the goods, they offer their services to Jesse, who's obviously back in business.  Not so long ago, he asked them to get involved, but he's too big league for them now (thanks to training from the best--Walt for cooking, Mike for the rest).

Mike lays down the law to the pest control people.  This he's good at. Even Walt is impressed.  Walt is also impressed by some of Jesse's suggestions as to how to create the cook set-up. One idea is to use a medical tent--like the one Gus had in Mexico--to control the smell.  It wasn't that long ago Walt would regularly berate Jesse for his stupidity. The boy's turned himself around.  I bet he'd get a good grade in Mr. White's class now.

Andrea and Brock come home.  They're living with Jesse.  Walt meeting Brock, the boy he poisoned (or had poisoned, anyway), is pretty sickening. Walt must also wonder if Jesse should have this new family around. They can get in the way.

The pest control people tent a home, the owner leaves and Jesse and Walt come in wearing their "Vamonos Pest" suits, ready to do their business.  We've seen them cook in a basement, an RV, a superlab, and now they're taking their act from home to home.  They cook as good, or better, than ever.  During a break, the two take it easy as they sit on the couch and watch the Three Stooges on the owner's big-screen TV.  Walt talks to Jesse a bit about Andrea. He says he's sure Jesse will make the right decision.  In the past, Walt has cared about what Jesse does, but now it's more Heisenberg handling his young charge.

Marie visits Skyler at the car wash. She may be the least favorite and least necessary regular on the show, but it's nice to see her again.  She's perkier than usual--Hank is working (what about the investigation over beating up a citizen?) and walking, and Walt's 51st birthday is coming up.  The show started with Walt turning 50, and now it's time for another party.  Skyler can't take it any more and starts screaming "Shut up!" over and over.  A lot of people would like to shout at Marie, but Skyler overdoes it.

Back at the cook Walt and Jesse yield almost 50 pounds. The new system works.  They leave and the cockroach reprieve is over.  Walt returns home and Marie is waiting for him.  (Marie and Walt alone is a rare scene.)  She tells Walt about Skyler's breakdown.  In past seasons, we've seen Walt lie an awful lot to Skyler in this house, but now he gets to lie to someone new, and it's more despicable than ever.  He never liked Skyler's lies about where he got his money since it made him look bad, so now he can get her back.  He explains about Ted Beneke's serious injury, and says that's why Skyler is so shaken up.  That and the fact they had an affair.  (True enough, of course, but not the real reason she went off.) So Walt gets to share some gossip with Marie "explaining" his wife's odd actions, and makes her promise to keep it quiet.  Heisenberg strikes again.

Jesse is playing videogames with Andrea and Brock, but he's got something to tell them.  Meanwhile, Skyler, depressed, lies in bed. She here's some gunfire and goes to the living room where Walt and Jr. and Holly are enjoying the violence of Al Pacino in Scarface (which is also being heavily advertised during the AMC commercial breaks).

Anyway, the new partners are making fat stacks.  The first batch has grossed almost $1.4 million. But then the "mules"--the drivers--have to get their cut, plus the cost of methylamine (though this time was free), the loan from Jesse to get going (partly taken from Jesse's new stack--what gives?), the pest control people and Saul Goodman.  Then there's a "legacy cost"--making good on Saul's guys' hazard pay. Walt is not pleased.  Why should it come out of his end? Jesse says take it from his cut and Walt backs down, but you know it's not over.  So each of the three end up with $137,000--1/10th of the gross.  Less than J and W made with Fring.

Mike leaves and Walt asks Jesse how he's feeling.  Jesse says he broke it off with Andrea--just as Walt wanted, presumably. But Walt is more offended right now by the money.  Jesse notes they cooked a lot more weight for Gus.  They may have made more money, but they made a smaller percentage.  Jesse and Walt's roles have reversed.  Not so long ago Jesse did the math and figured out what a small percentage they were getting and Walt reminded him that they were making millions.  Now Walt, or actually Heisenberg, is the one fuming.  He brings up Victor.  Why did Gus kill him?  Walt thought it was to send a message.  It was probably mostly because he'd been seen and was a liability. But also there was Victor cooking--taking liberties. Walt doesn't say it explicitly, but now he thinks Mike is taking liberties.  Jesse wonders where this is going.

So do we all.  A fine episode, and good to see them cooking again (oddly enough).  But Walt is getting hard to stomach.  And where he'll make his next move is hard to predict.  The DEA is closing in, Mike is throwing his weight around, and Walt needs to handle Jesse, Skyler and Marie.  Who knows what'll blow up next?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mister Christian

Happy birthday, Charlie Christian.  He practically invented the electric guitar as a jazz instrument.

Christian died of tuberculosis in 1952, only 25.  Who knows what would happened if he stuck around?

Get A Load Of Peggy

I've been noting some of the mindless speculation about the Colorado theatre attack. For many, of course, it's a chance to knock popular culture, always a good angle when anything anywhere goes wrong. The column practically writes itself--certainly Peggy Noonan gives no indication of interrupting the process with any original thought in her latest thumbsucker:

Did “The Dark Knight Rises” cause the Aurora shootings? No, of course not.

Good.  Can we end the column here?

One movie doesn’t have that kind of power, and we don’t even know if the shooter had seen it.

Peggy, did you pay any attention to the story?  The attack took place at a Thursday midnight showing--the first chance anyone had to see the film.

But a million violent movies have the cumulative power to desensitize and destabilize, to make things worse, and that’s what we’ve been seeing the past quarter century or so, the million movies.

I understand you've written this column so many times that you're on autopilot, but shouldn't you at least glance at the evidence and discover violent crime has been going down sharply in the last twenty years?  (Other social problems have been improving as well, such as non-violent crime and teenage pregnancy levels, but since this is about a shooting spree, I'll concentrate on violence.)

Each ups the ante in terms of carnage. Remember Jack Nicholson’s Joker, from 1989? He was a garish, comic figure and he made people laugh. He was a little like Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook in the old TV version of “Peter Pan.” You knew he wasn’t “real.” He was meant to amuse. . . .

I'm not even sure what point you're trying to make here.  That Jack Nicholson's take on the Joker was less dangerous to America than Heath Ledger's? If you think that, then you can't handle the truth, which is America was a lot more violent back in 1989 (and I'm sure we can find many editorials--maybe even you wrote one, Peggy--about the dangers of Batman films a generation ago.)

Some of the sadness and frustration following Aurora has to do with the fact that no one thinks anyone can, or will, do anything to make our culture better.

That's the frustration of people who want the culture to change anyway, and will exploit any tragedy to make their point.  It's also the frustration of people who don't bother to look up statistics that are readily available.

The film industry isn’t going to change, the genie is long out of the bottle. The genie has a cabana at the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The movie market is increasingly international, and a major component is teenage boys and young men who want to see things explode, who want to see violence and sex.

Actually people have been complaining about the effects of movies from the start. Meanwhile, if you want to get international, the general trend has been lower rates of violent crime over the years.

Political pressure has never worked. Politicians have been burned, and people who’ve started organizations have been spoofed and spurned as Puritans.

Unfortunately, political pressure has sometimes worked when it comes to censoring art and entertainment.  What it's never succeeded at, at least as far as I can tell, is signficantly lowering the crime rate or dealing with actual social problems.

When Tipper Gore came forward in 1985, as a responsible citizen protesting obscene rap lyrics, her senator husband felt he had to apologize to Democratic fund-raisers.

She wasn't a responsible citizen so much as an incredibly well-connected one, whose personal anger could mean tremendous problems for those creating music.  And I was too busy noticing Al holding national hearings on his wife's pet project to pay much attention to any apologies he may have made.

By the way, her first complaint was about "Darling Nikki," not a rap song.  In fact, most of the lyrics people were mad about back then were not rap, which hadn't quite taken over in 1985. (Since it has taken over, of course, there's been a tremendous drop in violence.)

If some dumb Republican congressman had a hearing to grill some filmmakers, it would look like the McCarthy hearings.

Just what's the end game here?  Do you truly want entertainers looking over their shoulder?  Do you want them to stop making films that hundreds of millions enjoy, or weigh down our entertainment with messages you approve of?  And what happens if they do and there's another massacre?

There would be speeches about artistic freedom, and someone would have clever words about how Shakespeare, too, used violence. “Have you ever seen ‘Coriolanus?’”

Actually, I missed Coriolanus.  I was busy down the street at the bear-baiting.  Then I went over to the town square and watched them hang some pickpockets.

Anyway, we all know when old art uses violence, it's okay.  You know, like Jack Nicholson in Batman.

The president won’t say anything—he too is Hollywood funded—and maybe that’s just as well, since he never seems sincere about anything anymore.

Peggy, please, stop. You're gonna make me vote for Obama.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Stop Sign

Every now and then I see the phrase "unstoppable juggernaut."  This is redundant.  The whole point of a juggernaut is it's unstoppabe.  Stop this.

Gee, this post is pretty short. As long as I've got some extra space, let me link you to a fun site--myinstants, which has a bunch of buttons you can press for various sound effects.

Cover Band

Happy birthday, George Cummings.  He founded Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show, a band that had a bunch of top ten hits in the 70s.

This one may be their best known:

Or maybe this one:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Totally Awesome

Years ago I had a Nintendo.  I played it so much eventually I gave it away.  It was taking up too much time and, besides, I'd already saved the Princess.  Those sort of memories came back as I read Harold Goldberg's All Your Base Are Belong To Us.  If you know what that phrase means, you'd probably like the book. It's a history, from the prehistoric 1950s to the present, of video games.

Most people don't think that much about how these games came about.  They just seem to appear.  But it's a big business--bigger than the movie business, even if it doesn't get the same attention.  And, as the book shows, to create a game, you've got to be a bit eccentric.  So each chapter has the weird route someone with vision and hope and a willingness to work hours on end with no guarantees was willing to take to get his (and it's usually a man) game to market.

Over 300 pages, the book hits most of the big names:  Grand Theft Auto, BioShock, Madden NFL, Super Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, Pong, Tetris, The Sims, World Of Warcraft and many more.  If I have any complaint, it's that the book gives fairly short shrift to the classic arcade games in favor of home video, but, after all, that's where the market is today and has been for a while.

Nothing Is Over

The three most influential films of the 70s were American Graffiti, Star Wars (both by George Lucas) and National Lampoon's Animal House.  The first taught Hollywood you didn't need a score, or an original song--you could pick a bunch of hits and play them wall-to-wall for your soundtrack.  The second taught Hollywood you could make mindboggling amounts of money with a mythical story well told mixed with state-of-the-art special effects.  And Animal House showed how raunchy and outrageous the public could take its comedy.

Maybe that was the wrong lesson, since most of the Animal House knockoffs that followed were vastly inferior.  The secret of AH was its three smart writers--Doug Kenney, Harold Ramis and Chris Miller, who didn't know from screenplays but knew how to be funny--and a fair amount of others who took their raw material and turned it into something special.

There's been a fair amount written and spoken about the making of the film, and now, finally, someone's put it in a book.  Matty Simmons, who published National Lampoon and produced the film has just put out Fat, Drunk, And Stupid, his recollections of the whole story (including a lot of backstory about the early days of National Lampoon magazine, which he wrote about in his previous book). Perhaps in his mind he's more centrally involved than in real life, but happily most of the book deals with the contributions of others such as people like John Landis and John Belushi.

It's a short book, not especially well written, with plenty of filler.  Still, it's nice to have all these stories in one place.  It's easy to forget how improbable the whole things was.  Almost everyone involved had next to no experience with movies, but Universal was willing to take a chance because National Lampoon had a reputation and the budget was small.  What they ended up with was the biggest comedy hit up to that time--a film that, adjusted for inflation, grossed close to half a billion dollars domestic.

It also changed college life.  It helped revive the ailing Greek system (alas).  Also, for a few years anyway, every campus hosted tons of toga parties and food fights.  (Have you watched the film recently?  The food fight lasts maybe two seconds.)

Simmons has one chapter where he goes over what was cut.  The first raw cut of Animal House was close to three hours.  Too bad it was shot in the pre-DVD days or we could see what were probably some very funny scenes that just didn't fit into the story.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Peter Bogs Down A Bit

A lot of people have been writing think pieces about the massacre in Aurora, and now, notably, director Peter Bogdanovich adds his voice.  He might seem a fitting person to discuss the issue as his first feature was the cult classic Targets, generally based on the Charles Whitman story, about a sniper who ends up shooting people at a drive-in.

Unfortunately, Bogdanovich has the same sort of response that so many (understandably) have had, one which ignores the facts.  He starts his piece with this:

People go to a movie to have a good time, and they get killed. It's a horrible, horrible event. It makes me sick that I made a movie about it.

(I shouldn't be flippant about a tragedy, but the easy response is he shouldn't be sick about making Targets, he should be sick about making Nickelodeon.)

He goes on:

Violence on the screen has increased tenfold. It's almost pornographic. In fact, it is pornographic. Video games are violent, too. It's all out of control. I can see where it would drive somebody crazy. [....] The fact that these tentpole movies are all violent comic book movies doesn't speak well for our society.

Really?  He thinks that's what did it with this guy, even though tens of millions live in the same environment and don't go crazy?  Crazy people have been around forever, and have been set off by all sorts of things.

As I wrote a few days ago, any such discussion should include the actual stats about crime in America.  In the last twenty years, as graphic, violent video games have become more popular, and gangster rap has been huge, and we've had a steady diet of violence in movies and TV, crime has been dropping significantly in America.

In fact, the general trend with violent crime is there was a steady increase (with a few ups and downs) starting in the mid-60s and peaking in the early 90s.  Then, for the past twenty years, rates have been regularly going down.  Homicide in particular cratered, with 2010 rates the lowest America has seen since 1961.

Why this is happening I can't say.  There are a number of sociological arguments (more and better policing, harsher punishments, more awareness, better gun laws, changes in demographics, changes in where people live, potential violent criminals being aborted, people tiring of the violence, etc) though I don't know if anyone has satisfactorily explained the decline.  Much easier to explain is people believing there's no decline until they check (if they ever do)--that's just how people are.

I can't blame Peter Bogdanovich for wringing his hands.  He saw horrible personal tragedy when his girlfriend, actress and Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, was murdered by her estranged husband.  Still, we shouldn't set public policy based on emotion, especially when it leads us astray.  Sometimes we're looking for an explanation when all you can say is no matter how much you plan tragedies will still happen--we should at least be pleased they're happening less and less.

Newsroom For Improvement

Aaron Sorkin has fired most of the writing staff for the second season of his HBO series The Newsroom.  The first response of most people is "there's a writing staff?" It all sounds like Sorkin to me.

With a ton of publicity and little competition, The Newsroom still doesn't get the ratings of Game Of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire, and regularly loses about 60% of the audience from its highly popular lead-in True Blood.  Still, HBO is just as much about classy shows that get nominated for awards as big numbers.  And that's the problem.  The reviews have been pretty harsh, and Sorkin is probably more unhappy about that than anything else.

I watched the first three episodes and that was three episodes too many.  Still, let me give Sorkin some advice if he wants to make his show more watchable.

First, the problem is not the writing staff--how could it be when Sorkin gets sole or shared credit for every episode?  It's the concept, which amounts to Sorkin lecturing us each week on how old news stories should have been covered.  Now if he could change the subject to fictional news, the difference between the real world and Sorkin's take wouldn't be so obvious, and thus the smugness and self-righteousness of his characters wouldn't be so annoying.  But we can't expect him to give up on this, since it's probably the reason he wanted to do the show in the first place.  So have the actual news be a part of the show, but not as big as part--more stuff on behind the scenes action that doesn't involve characters telling us what everything means.

Second, let the characters be wrong occasionally.  Have them make bad calls--and not because they're so hardworking or so honest or so intelligent that they sometimes make mistakes. No, they make mistakes because they're sometimes blind, sometimes arrogant, sometimes forgetful, sometimes venal, whatever, but make them recognizable human frailties. (It's okay, characters can be horrible sometimes, this is cable.)

Third, actually present both sides of the issues.  Sorkin may believe he is already, but I suggest he hire at least two people on staff who think everything he says is wrong.  Let them go over every script and suggest counter-arguments that intelligent, rational people would make, and every now and then put them in, rather than featuring fatuous characters who only exist to be swatted down by the superior regulars.

Fourth, go through every script and pick out the five top moments that make you say "that'll teach 'em." Remove these moments.

Fifth, less self-congratulation among the characters.  Have them wonder if they've gone too far, or missed something, or failed to be fair.  Smack someone down who's gotten a little too smug.

Sixth, have someone on the newsroom's staff--not just the evil suits and the owners of the channel--worry about ratings.  Don't let them all be selfless crusaders who only want to put on the best damn news show, damn the numbers.

Seventh, if the staff is going to argue about politics, have them honestly argue about politics. Not just a token line here and there, but true argument.

Eighth, at least once a season, have anchor Will McAvoy--a putative Republican--go after Democrats. Not because they're too kind or too naive or too nuanced, but because they're doing the kind of things Democrats do and it's a bad idea. If Sorkin has trouble coming up with examples, I'd be glad to send him twenty or thirty.

Ninth, limit the mentions of the Koch Brothers to once a season, and when this occurs, note that they, like hundreds of other groups and people, give money to causes they deeply believe in, that their money goes to people who generally agree with them, and that they don't have the power to control the debate. You know what? Scratch that.  Sorkin has already demonstrated he can't discuss the Koch's rationally, so he's lost all privileges. Don't mention them at all. While we're at it, same for Glass-Steagall.

Tenth, a little less love of the past--have characters admit Murrow and Cronkite could be hacks, weren't always trusted, and weren't that much smarter than the people they took on--and a little more love of the present--have young people with new ideas occasionally show the old fogeys they just might have a little on the ball even when they do things differently.

Finally, even though Sorkin writes most of the scripts, and heavily rewrites the rest, let me suggest something radical.  Take a few of the characters--two, three, maybe four--and let the new writers compose most of their dialogue.  I know it'll be hard not to change it, but at present all characters, no matter what their age, sex, ethnicity, place in life, etc., sound like Sorkin-bots.  Having a few who sound a bit different would make the show a little less hermetic.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What About Chad

Chad Everett has died.  He was one of those handsome leading man types who appeared in tons of TV shows in the 60s, as well as some movies.  He hit his peak as the lead in Medical Center, a series that lasted from 1969 to 1976.  After that it was a lot more TV, most of it forgettable.

I'd certainly forgotten him.  But there's one moment late in his career that stands out.  It's in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive.  Naomi Watts plays Betty, a pollyannish young woman seeking stardom in Hollywood.  We have no reason to suspect she's particularly talented, but then she has an audition for a movie that shocks us with its power.  She plays the scene with Chad Everett who's portraying an old actor, but could just as easily be Chad himself.

Little Miss Meta

Ruby Sparks opens today in limited release.  From what I can gather, it's about a young writer, played by Paul Dano, who creates a fictional young woman named Ruby Sparks, played by Zoe Kazan, who somehow comes to life.  It's directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who did Little Miss Sunshine.

Dano and Kazan are together in real life, but it's hardly the first time a real couple played a couple in a romantic comedy.  And the plot of a writer's creation come to life has been done as well.

What struck me as odd, however, is the film is written by Kazan.  So she created this guy who creates this girl--played by her--who comes to life.  Can she do that?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Burning Bright

It looked like a lackluster season, but since the All-Star Game the Tigers have been on a tear.  Somehow, they're in first place (in a weak division).

They do have Justin Verlander, probably the best pitcher.  They've also got Jose Valverde, a fine reliever.  And with hitters like Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder, they can score runs.  For some reason, though, in the first half of the season they were barely able to play .500 ball.

I'd like to know what changed.  Is it luck, or some sort of attitude adjustment?  Anyway, I hope they can keep it up.  It's been too long since Detroit won the World Series. And after all, Detroiters really know how to celebrate.


Happy birthday Jim McCarty, drummer for the Yardbirds and Renaissance.  Pardon me if I concentrate on the former.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hall's The One

Orleans was one of the better wimp-rock bands of the 70s.  John Hall, whose birthday is today, founded the group and wrote some of their music.  He's since become a politician but I'm willing to overlook that. 

I guess it figures Hall tried to stop both Bush and McCain from playing a song he wrote at campaign events:

A New Song

You don't take out an international, multi-million dollar drug empire with out ramifications.  Last week, on Breaking Bad, we had Walt, Jesse and Mike deal with the immediate loose ends to keep themselves out of jail.  This week, in the season's second episode, "Madrigal," the repercussions are spreading out further.

We start in Germany, where the head of a company, Mr. Schuler, is tasting new sauces, but not with much gusto.  What is this, Lost?  BB rarely leaves Albuquerque and I don't think it's ever gone outside the Southwest.  But this is the Madrigal corporation that Gus Fring worked with, the one that supplied his superlab equipment.  So now German authorities are checking out the place to find out what's the connection, even as they're taking down their Los Pollos Hermanos signs around the building.  Schuler leaves the tasting, sees the police in his office, goes into a bathroom and commits suicide (by forcing a heart attack in a rather ornate way).  It may be one loose end tied up, but there's lots more to go.

At the White residence we watch Walt prepare a fake dose of ricin as we overhear a previous conversation where he and Jesse discuss the missing poisonous cigarette.  This is the rational old Walt we hear, not the arrogant Heisenberg--except he's doing it to fool Jesse.  He needs Jesse on his side--and does honestly seem to care about him--and if Jesse discovered he poisoned Brock (not to mention he allowed Jane to die) it'd be a fight to the death.

So Walt goes to Jesse's place to "look" for the cigarette, or at least the vial inside.  He allows Jesse to discover it in his Roomba.  As Walt flushes it, Jesse starts to cry.  He almost killed Walt over this, and he feels sorry.  Now he needs Mr. White, and his approval, more than ever.  Heisenberg has made sure he's got a solid partner.

Walt and Jesse have a sitdown with Mike, who only meets with them out of courtesy (and mostly courtesy to Jesse, I'd guess). They can cook, but he can hook them into the old distribution network.  Mike has seen enough of Walt, judging him (correctly) to be a dangerous person to work with and wants nothing to do with the enterprise.  (Gus was relatively level-headed and look what happened with him.)

At DEA HQ, Hank is walking again--if not well--and Gomie welcomes him home.  Hank must be some sort of hero now, having spotted Fring when no one else believed him.  The DEA are meeting with the Madrigal people, who wish to help to get rid of all the damage to their reputation.  Later, at the chief's office, it's clear their boss is getting the boot. He had Gus Fring under his nose the whole time and didn't catch on. The dramatic irony--Hank has Walt under his nose--is not lost on the audience. Hank is actually brilliant at his job, but Walt, whom he still sees as a clueless milquetoast, is his one blind spot.  We only have so many episodes left, so the question is when will Hank catch on, and what happens next.  We also discover Fring's laptop data was encrypted, and for all we know the authorities wouldn't have found anything, but thanks to the magnet caper, they found the routing number to overseas accounts.

At an out-of-the-way restaurant Mike has a meet with the mysterious Lydia, whom we've never met.  She's nervous.  She and Mike both worked for Gus, and there are a lot of loose ends--Lydia has a list of eleven names--who will likely be picked up by the DEA and could finger them.  (Some fans have complained that Gus's organization always seemed too small, but I just assumed we didn't see most of it--furthermore, I'd expect it to be compartmentalized.  No reason for everyone to know everyone else, as Lydia doesn't even know Gus's chemist, and she sure doesn't know he killed Gus.) Mike is disgusted she'd suggests murdering them--they're good men that he vetted, and they won't crack.  They've all be paid well by Gus, and part of that pay was to ensure they'd keep their mouths shut.  Lydia also brings up Chow, whom we saw at the end of the last season in some sort of caper that we didn't quite understand. All we know is Chow and the others were part of the organization.

Back at home Walt plays the father to Junior and Holly.  Meanwhile, Skyler is still in bed.  She doesn't want to go to the car wash. She doesn't want to do anything.  She now realizes just what she's bought into, and there's no way out (not until Walt dies, anyway), and she's depressed.

At the DEA, Mike is called in for an interview.  He sees Chow who's leaving.  Turns out Hank (with sidekick Gomie) want to talk to Mike. These two tough guys have never shared a scene together, and so this is a great moment.  They're questioning everyone who worked at Los Pollos Hermanos and Gus was head of security.  They go into his past. He once was a cop in Philly who left under unpleasant circumstances. (Could this be the "half measures" speech he made in season three?)

They want to know how a big league tough guy like Mike was hired to do security checks on fry cooks.  If there's one guy you can't sweat, it's Mike.  He gets up to walk out when Hank drops the bomb.  They've found out about Gus's secret accounts, including one that goes to Kaylee, Mike's beloved granddaughter.  She's got two million in her account. (Mike said Walt got paid a lot more, and I supposed that's true, but Mike was doing okay for himself.) Mike can't say anything about it, of course, just as Jesse had to watch the bag of money he left behind in his car go to Hank when he claimed he knew nothing about Tuco.

When Mike leaves, he knows everything has been shot to hell.  Not only does he and his grandkid have little to show for his work, but all those eleven guys Lydia listed will have their dough confiscated as well.  They're not going to be happy.

At Saul's place, Walt and Jesse discuss their new plans.  Walt wants Saul to find a new place where they can cook with no one watching.  No more RV, that's for sure.  As far as what they need to cook, they've got everything except the secret ingredient, methylamine.  It's just not out there, but there's no way Walt will go back to doing a pseudo cook.  Saul suggests maybe they just be happy they're still alive and walk away.  Walt will have none of it.  He's broke, for one thing.  More important, he's Heienberg, and Heisenberg is a drug lord, not a patsy.

Meanwhile, "Pop Pop" is playing with his when Chow calls.  The DEA have taken his money and he needs to talk about it before he talks to them again.  Mike agrees to come over.  Chow is being held at gunpoint when he says this, by the way.  Mike gets there, knowing something is up.  He gets the drop on the guy who wants to kill him.  It's one of the eleven whom Lydia has hired to kill the rest, including Mike.  The guy has already killed Chow.  Mike regretfully kills his former teammate.

(At this point there's an absurd anti-Romney ad that tries to make his financial experience a reason to vote against him.  Can this approach possibly work?)

We're in a very fancy residence and a little girl, Kira, gets a cookie from a Latino maid. In a dark corner, Mike waits with a gun.  Who's he gonna kill?  Lydia comes her--her place, her daughter. Mike pulls her aside and has her dismiss the maid.  He wants to kill her cleanly and dispose of the body, but Lydia's last request is the kid find her dead body and know she wasn't abandoned.  Ultimately, Mike can't pull the trigger, even though she put out a hit on him and two others have died already.  He simply asks if she can still get ahold of methylamine.  Looks like we're back in business.

So Mike, with no money (and a network of guys who need money) reconsiders and calls Walt.  He's in.  Walt goes to bed with Skyler, who's still cowering under the sheets.  He calmly tells her that she'll get used to hurting people like Ted once she realizes she's doing it for a good reason--family.  It's a cold moment, and reminds us that Walt's original reason to cook was always nonsense.  Gangsters and movie gangsters may make the family excuse, but no one should believe it.

Breaking Bad is the fastest hour of  TV out there.  And without much else on right now, it's tough to have to wait another week for the next refill.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


There's not much to say about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado except there are some crazy people out there.  Perhaps after a few weeks we can try to put it in a larger context (one that should include the fact that murder has been going down for over twenty years in America, and is at levels we haven't seen since the early 60s), but right now feelings are probably too raw to try to make sense of anything.

But that didn't stop people from getting on their hobby-horses and explaining what it all meant.  I won't go over them (though my friend Matt Welch has listed a few), though certainly a special prize has to go to Brian Ross of ABC, who speculated there may be a link to the Tea Party since there was a Tea Party member in Colorado matchng the killer's name.  Even if "Jim Holmes" weren't a common name this is almost unbelievably dumb, not to mention revolting.

There's an obvious problem trying to tie what Holmes did to anyone or anything else.  We've got over 300 million people in the country and only a handful have ever gone on a shooting spree.  No matter what aspect of Holmes' life interests you there are probably millions of others with similar tastes or activities who haven't shot up a movie theatre.  I'm not saying there can't be violent movements or criminal organizations that represent dangerous conspiracies, but in most cases like Holmes', it's hard to use the shooter to prove anything except that he did something horrible that even people who share certain similarities would never even consider.


Happy birthday, Rick Davies.  He was one of the founders of Supertramp, a group that kicked around for a while doing pretty well, then released an album, Breakfast In America, that made them a supergroup (Supersupertramp?).

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Let's say goodbye to Tom Davis, half of Franken and Davis, the junior writing team from the earliest days of Saturday Night Live.  Franken went on to greater fame as a producer, performer, author and, finally, politician.  Davis had his own road to travel (which included an awful lot of drugs), as he explains in his odd book Thirty-Nine Years Of Short Term Memory Loss.

Maybe the best-known bit the team created was the Coneheads, and, as a one-off, there's Dan Aykroyd as Julia Child.  F&D also pestered Lorne Michaels enough to get a fair amount of air time for their own routines.

Franken and Davis may not have been the best writers or performers in SNL's history, but they helped establish a tone of juvenile bad taste that the show has kept up, as well as a strong touch of absurdity.

Ones To Watch

On paper, The Watch must have seemed impressive.  Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill in a wild comedy. (They also wanted Chris Tucker but didn't get him.) The first two and probably the third can open a film alone. It opens next week and for all I know it'll be big.  But man are the trailers lame.

I've seen Watch trailers with several audiences and as yet no one has gotten excited.  Now maybe the film is actually good, and the trailers are hiding a great story, and if so, I'm sure it'll do well.  But really, I think these trailers are hurting business. (Also hurting is the concept of a humorous neighborhood watch.  A decent concept, but not so funny after Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.)

Still, The Watch seems to have more heat behind it than the Will Ferrell/Zach Galifianakis The Campaign.  Should be interesting to see how these two do.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Now We're Cooking

Happy birthday, Paul Cook.  He was the drummer for the Sex Pistols. The band put out one album before breaking up, but that was enough.

Emmy Memo

The Emmy nominations have been announced. Here are some of the big categories with my bracketed notes:

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory • CBS • Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television

Curb Your Enthusiasm • HBO • HBO Entertainment

Girls • HBO • Apatow Productions and I am Jenni Konner Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

30 Rock • NBC • Broadway Video, Little Stranger, Inc. in association with Universal Television

Veep • HBO • Dundee Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

[No Office, and Glee-mania seems to be over, but a lot of mainstays, some of which are getting tired.  And when the Emmys pick something new, it's Girls and Veep, neither of which deserve the nod, while Community and Louie go unrecognized, even with six slots in the category.  Very disappointing.]

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series

Girls • HBO • Apatow Productions and I am Jenni Konner Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath
Mike & Molly • CBS • Bonanza Productions, Inc. in association with Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. and Warner Bros. Television

Melissa McCarthy as Molly Flynn

New Girl • FOX • Chernin Entertainment in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Zooey Deschanel as Jess Day

Nurse Jackie • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Lionsgate Television, Jackson Group Entertainment, Madison Grain Elevator, Inc. & Delong Lumber, A Caryn Mandabach Production

Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton

Parks And Recreation • NBC • Deedle-Dee Productions, Fremulon, 3 Arts and Universal Television

Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope

30 Rock • NBC • Broadway Video, Little Stranger, Inc. in association with Universal Television

Tina Fey as Liz Lemon

Veep • HBO • Dundee Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer

[Seven names?  Maybe three of these deserve a nomination.]

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory • CBS • Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television

Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper

Curb Your Enthusiasm • HBO • HBO Entertainment

Larry David as Himself

House Of Lies • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Crescendo Productions, Totally Commercial Films, Refugee Productions, Matthew Carnahan Circus Products

Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan

Louie • FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. in association with FX Productions

Louis C.K. as Louie

30 Rock • NBC • Broadway Video, Little Stranger, Inc. in association with Universal Television

Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

Two And A Half Men • CBS • Chuck Lorre Productions Inc., The Tannenbaum Company in association with Warner Bros. Television

Jon Cryer as Alan Harper

[Some decent names, but not a great list.  And just because Don Cheadle is a fine movie actor doesn't mean he deserves a nod for a crappy TV show.]

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory • CBS • Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television

Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler

Desperate Housewives • ABC • ABC Studios

Kathryn Joosten as Karen McCluskey

Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy

Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett

Nurse Jackie • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Lionsgate Television, Jackson Group Entertainment, Madison Grain Elevator, Inc. & Delong Lumber, A Caryn Mandabach Production

Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow

Saturday Night Live • NBC • SNL Studios in association with Universal Television and Broadway Video

Kristen Wiig as various characters

[Interesting mix, especially Mayim Bialik as the one choice from Big Bang. Alas, no love for Community.]

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Ed O'Neill as Jay Pritchett

Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett

Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy

Modern Family • ABC • Levitan-Lloyd Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker

New Girl • FOX • Chernin Entertainment in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television

Max Greenfield as Schmidt

Saturday Night Live • NBC • SNL Studios in association with Universal Television and Broadway Video

Bill Hader as various characters

[Complete domination from Modern Family. Come on people, there are other shows.  So Max Greenfield gets noticed, but nothing for Community or Parks & Rec?]

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

Community • Remedial Chaos Theory • NBC • A Krasnoff Foster Entertainment, Harmonious Claptrap, Russo Brothers production, Universal Television production in association with Sony Pictures Television

Chris McKenna, Written by

Girls • Pilot • HBO • Apatow Productions and I am Jenni Konner Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

Lena Dunham, Written by

Louie • Pregnant • FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. in association with FX


Louis C.K., Written by

Parks And Recreation • The Debate • NBC • Deedle-Dee Productions, Fremulon, 3 Arts and Universal Television

Amy Poehler, Written by

Parks And Recreation • Win, Lose, Or Draw • NBC • Deedle-Dee Productions, Fremulon, 3 Arts and Universal Television

Michael Schur, Written by

[Finally, a little love for Community.  If the best half hour of TV in years can't take this, what's the point?]

Outstanding Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire • HBO • Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

Breaking Bad • AMC • Sony Pictures Television

Downton Abbey • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

Game Of Thrones • HBO • Bighead, Littlehead, Generator Productions,
Television 360, and Grok Television in association with HBO Entertainment

Homeland • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21

Mad Men • AMC • Lionsgate Television

[This is the best category.  Boardwalk Empire has never been any good, and Downton Abbey I'm already a bit tired of, but the rest are great.  Perhaps it's time for Mad Men to step aside.  I wouldn't mind if it won, but Breaking Bad or Game Of Thrones probably deserve it more.  A lot of shows didn't make the cut--Luck, Boss, Magic City, The Good Wife, Walking Dead, Justified, The Killing, Sons Of Anarchy, Dexter, True Blood and so on--but that's how it goes.]

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series

Damages • DirecTV • Sony Pictures Television, FX Productions and KZK Productions

Glenn Close as Patty Hewes

Downton Abbey • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley

The Good Wife • CBS • CBS Television Studios in association with Scott Free Productions and King Size Productions

Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick

Harry's Law • NBC • Bonanza Productions in association with David E. Kelley Productions and Warner Bros. Television

Kathy Bates as Harriet Korn

Homeland • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison

Mad Men • AMC • Lionsgate Television

Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson

[Don't have too much to say here, though it'd be nice to see Claire Danes take it for an amazing job.  Will there be any sentiment for Moss now that she's leaving?]

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire • HBO • Leverage, Closest to the Hole Productions, Sikelia Productions and Cold Front Productions in association with HBO Entertainment

Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson

Breaking Bad • AMC • Sony Pictures Television

Bryan Cranston as Walter White

Dexter • Showtime • Showtime Presents, John Goldwyn Productions, The Colleton Company, Devilina Productions

Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan

Downton Abbey • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham

Homeland • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21

Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody

Mad Men • AMC • Lionsgate Television

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

[I don't care if he's won three times before, no one else here is even close to Bryan Cranston.  Also, Hugh Laurie has been doing award-worthy work for years as Dr. House, but never won.  Now he's not even nominated for his final year, even though he's better than most of the names on this list.]

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series

Breaking Bad • AMC • Sony Pictures Television

Anna Gunn as Skyler White

Downton Abbey • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

Maggie Smith as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Downton Abbey • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

Joanne Froggatt as Anna

The Good Wife • CBS • CBS Television Studios in association with Scott Free Productions and King Size Productions

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma

The Good Wife • CBS • CBS Television Studios in association with Scott Free Productions and King Size Productions

Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart

Mad Men • AMC • Lionsgate Television

Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway Harris

[Some decent choices, but can the voters possibly resist Maggie Smith?]

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series

Breaking Bad • AMC • Sony Pictures Television

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman

Breaking Bad • AMC • Sony Pictures Television

Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo 'Gus' Fring

Downton Abbey • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

Brendan Coyle as John Bates

Downton Abbey • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson

Game Of Thrones • HBO • Bighead, Littlehead, Generator Productions, Television 360, and Grok Television in association with HBO Entertainment

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

Mad Men • AMC • Lionsgate Television

Jared Harris as Lane Pryce

[Some interesting competition, though Jared Harris probably didn't deserve to take John Slattery's Mad Men slot. And where's Mandy Patinkin? People love Dinklage, as they should. The real question is will Paul and Esposito split the Breaking Bad vote. It was Esposito's season, so he's still got a reasonable chance.]

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Downton Abbey • Episode 7 • PBS • A Carnival / Masterpiece Co-Production

Julian Fellowes, Written by

Homeland • Pilot • Showtime • Showtime Presents, Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet, Fox 21

Alex Gansa, Written by

Howard Gordon, Written by

Gideon Raff, Written by

Mad Men • The Other Woman • AMC • Lionsgate Television

Semi Chellas, Written by

Matthew Weiner, Written by

Mad Men • Commissions And Fees • AMC • Lionsgate Television

Andre Jacquemetton, Written by

Maria Jacquemetton, Written by

Mad Men • Far Away Places • AMC • Lionsgate Television

Erin Levy, Written by

Matthew Weiner, Written by

[Nothing for Breaking Bad?  Surely this is a typo.  While we're at it, how about something for Game Of Thrones--it's the writing that makes the show, not the sets and costumes.  One nomination for Mad Men should have been enough.]

Outstanding Variety Series

The Colbert Report • Comedy Central • Hello Doggie, Inc. with Busboy Productions and Spartina Productions

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart • Comedy Central • Central Productions, LLC

Jimmy Kimmel Live • ABC • ABC Studios in association with Jackhole Industries, Inc.

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon • NBC • Universal Television and Broadway Video

Real Time With Bill Maher • HBO • Bill Maher Productions and Brad Grey Television in association with HBO Entertainment

Saturday Night Live • NBC • SNL Studios in association with Universal Television and Broadway Video

[A bit of a catch-all.  Most interesting--no Letterman, no Leno, no Conan.]

Outstanding Animated Program

American Dad! • Hot Water • FOX • Fox Television Animation

Bob's Burgers • BurgerBoss • FOX • BentoBox Entertainment

Futurama • The Tip Of The Zoidberg • Comedy Central • The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television

The Penguins Of Madagascar: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole • Nickelodeon • Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation

The Simpsons • Holidays Of Future Passed • FOX • Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television

[A tired category.  Speaking of which, no South Park. (Robot Chicken is nominated in the short-format category.)]

Outstanding Voice-Over Performance

Desperate Housewives • Give Me The Blame / Finishing The Hat • ABC • ABC Studios

Brenda Strong as Mary-Alice Young

Disney Phineas And Ferb: Across The 2nd Dimension • Disney Channel • Disney Channel

Dan Povenmire as Doctor Doofenshmirtz

Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty Vs. Nice • ABC • Walt Disney Animation Studios

Rob Riggle as Noel

Futurama • The Silence Of The Clamps • Comedy Central • The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television

Maurice LaMarche as Clamps, Donbot, Hyperchicken, Calculon, Hedonismbot, Morbo

The Looney Tunes Show • Double Date • Cartoon Network • Warner Bros. Animation

Kristen Wiig as Lola

The Simpsons • Moe Goes From Rags To Riches • FOX • Gracie Films in association with 20th Century Fox Television

Hank Azaria as Moe Szyslak, Duffman, Mexican Duffman, Carl, Comic Book Guy, Chief Wiggum

[An odd but fascinating category.  Why no Harry Shearer or Billy West?]

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

The Amazing Race • CBS • World Race Productions Inc.

Bertram van Munster, Executive Producer

Elise Doganieri, Executive Producer

Jerry Bruckheimer, Executive Producer

Jonathan Littman, Executive Producer

Mark Vertullo, Executive Producer

Dan Coffie, Co-Executive Producer

Giselle Parets, Co-Executive Producer

Phil Keoghan, Co-Executive Producer

Michael Norton, Supervising Producer

Matt Schmidt, Supervising Producer

Patrick Cariaga, Supervising Producer

Michael Miller, Supervising Producer

Darren Bunkley, Senior Producer

Chad Baron, Senior Producer

Neil Jahss, Senior Producer

Dancing With The Stars • ABC • BBC Worldwide Productions

Conrad Green, Executive Producer

Joe Sungkur, Co-Executive Producer

Ashley Edens-Shaffer, Co-Executive Producer

Kim Kilbey, Supervising Producer

Tara West, Senior Producer

Renana Barkan, Senior Producer

Daniel Martin, Senior Producer

Deena Katz, Senior Producer

Joshua Firosz, Senior Producer

John Birkitt, Producer

Marcy Walton, Producer

Jonty Nash, Producer

Project Runway • Lifetime • The Weinstein Company, Bunim-Murray Productions and Full Picture in association with Lifetime Television

Heidi Klum, Executive Producer

Harvey Weinstein, Executive Producer

Bob Weinstein, Executive Producer

Meryl Poster, Executive Producer

Jonathan Murray, Executive Producer

Sara Rea, Executive Producer

Jane Cha Cutler, Executive Producer

Desiree Gruber, Executive Producer

Rob Sharenow, Executive Producer

Gena McCarthy, Executive Producer

David Hillman, Executive Producer

Barbara Schneeweiss, Executive Producer

Colleen Sands, Co-Executive Producer

Gil Goldschein, Co-Executive Producer

Lisa Fletcher, Supervising Producer

So You Think You Can Dance • FOX • Dick Clark Productions, Inc. in association with 19 Entertainment

Barry Adelman, Executive Producer

Simon Fuller, Executive Producer

Nigel Lythgoe, Executive Producer

James Breen, Co-Executive Producer

Jeff Thacker, Co-Executive Producer

Zoe Brown, Senior Supervising Producer

Mike Yurchuk, Co-Supervising Producer

Dan Sacks, Co-Supervising Producer

Adam Cooper, Senior Producer

Mike Deffina, Senior Producer

Colleen Wagner, Senior Producer

Hope Wilson, Senior Producer

Top Chef • Bravo • Magical Elves

Dan Cutforth, Executive Producer

Jane Lipsitz, Executive Producer

Nan Strait, Executive Producer

Casey Kriley, Executive Producer

Andrew Cohen, Executive Producer

Dave Serwatka, Executive Producer

Erica Ross, Co-Executive Producer

Sue Kolinsky, Co-Executive Producer

Tom Colicchio, Co-Executive Producer

The Voice • NBC • One Three Inc. (a Hearst/Mark Burnett company), Talpa Media USA, Inc. and Warner Horizon Television

John de Mol, Executive Producer

Mark Burnett, Executive Producer

Audrey Morrissey, Executive Producer

Stijn Bakkers, Executive Producer

Lee Metzger, Executive Producer

Chad Hines, Co-Executive Producer

Jim Roush, Co-Executive Producer

Amanda Zucker, Co-Executive Producer

Nicolle Yaron, Supervising Producer

Mike Yurchuk, Supervising Producer

Dean Houser, Supervising Producer

Joni Day, Producer

Teddy Valenti, Producer

May Johnson, Producer

David Offenheiser, Producer

Carson Daly, Producer

[Don't have much to add except that American Idol wasn't even nominated.]

Outstanding Nonfiction Special

Bobby Fischer Against The World • HBO • Moxie Firecracker in association with HBO Documentary Films

Sheila Nevins, Executive Producer

Dan Cogan, Executive Producer

Liz Garbus, Produced By

Stanley Buchthal, Produced By

Rory Kennedy, Produced By

Matthew Justus, Produced By

Nancy Abraham, Senior Producer

George Harrison: Living In The Material World • HBO • Grove Street Pictures, Spitfire Pictures, and Sikelia Productions in association with HBO Documentary Films

Margaret Bodde, Executive Producer

Scott Pascucci, Executive Producer For Grove Street

Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Executive Producer For Sikelia Productions

Blair Foster, Supervising Producer

Olivia Harrison, Produced By

Nigel Sinclair, Produced By

Martin Scorsese, Produced By

Gloria: In Her Own Words • HBO • Kunhardt McGee Productions in association with HBO Documentary Films

Dyllan McGee, Executive Producer

Jacqueline Glover, Supervising Producer

Peter Kunhardt, Produced By

Sheila Nevins, Produced By

Paul Simon's Graceland Journey: Under African Skies • A&E • A&E IndieFilms in association with Sony Music Entertainment's Legacy Recordings and @Radical.Media

Molly Thompson, Executive Producer

David McKillop, Executive Producer

Robert Debitetto, Executive Producer

Eddie Simon, Executive Producer

Jon Kamen, Producer

Justin Wilkes, Producer

Joe Berlinger, Producer

6 Days To Air: The Making Of South Park • Comedy Central • Presented by Comedy Central

Arthur Bradford, Executive Producer

Jennifer Ollman, Supervising Producer

[Some decent stuff here, but I think the Bobby Fischer show deserves to win over the bigger names of the flashier George Harrison doc.]

Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics

The Heart Of Christmas • Song Title: The Heart Of Christmas • GMC • My Three Sons Films, God & Country Entertainment in association with GMC

Matthew West, Music & Lyrics by

Raising Hope • Prodigy / Song Title: Welcome Back To Hope • FOX • Twentieth Century Fox Television

Matthew W. Thompson, Music & Lyrics by

Saturday Night Live • Host: Jason Segel / Song Title: I Can't Believe I'm Hosting • NBC • SNL Studios in association with Universal Television and Broadway Video

Eli Brueggemann, Music by

Seth Meyers, Lyrics by

John Mulaney, Lyrics by

Smash • Pilot / Song Title: Let Me Be Your Star • NBC • Universal Television in association with DreamWorks Television and Madwoman in the Attic

Marc Shaiman, Music & Lyrics by

Scott Wittman, Music & Lyrics by

65th Annual Tony Awards • Song Title: It's Not Just For Gays Anymore • CBS • White Cherry Entertainment in association with Tony Award Productions

Adam Schlesinger, Music by

David Javerbaum, Lyrics by

[Hmm, nothing for the songs in Community's "Regional Christmas Music."]

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