Thursday, July 18, 2013

The 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations

Emmy_statueAnnounced today and presented on September 22nd:

Outstanding Comedy Series
"The Big Bang Theory" (2007)
"Girls" (2012)
"Louie" (2010)
"Modern Family" (2009)
"30 Rock" (2006)
"Veep" (2012)

Outstanding Drama Series
"Breaking Bad" (2008)
"Downton Abbey" (2010)
"Game of Thrones" (2011)
"Homeland" (2011)
"Mad Men" (2007)
"House of Cards" (2013)

Outstanding Miniseries or Made for Television Movie
"American Horror Story" (2011)
Behind the Candelabra (2013)
"The Bible" (2013)
Phil Spector (2013) (TV)
"Political Animals" (2012)
"Top of the Lake" (2013)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock" (2006)
Don Cheadle for "House of Lies" (2012)
Jason Bateman for "Arrested Development" (2003)
Louis C.K. for "Louie" (2010)
Matt LeBlanc for "Episodes" (2011)
Jim Parsons for "The Big Bang Theory" (2007)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville for "Downton Abbey" (2010)
Bryan Cranston for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Jon Hamm for "Mad Men" (2007)
Damian Lewis for "Homeland" (2011)
Jeff Daniels for "The Newsroom" (2012)
Kevin Spacey for "House of Cards" (2013)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch for "Parade's End" (2012)
Matt Damon for Behind the Candelabra (2013)
Michael Douglas for Behind the Candelabra (2013)
Toby Jones for The Girl (2012) (TV)
Al Pacino for Phil Spector (2013) (TV)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Laura Dern for "Enlightened" (2011)
Lena Dunham for "Girls" (2012)
Edie Falco for "Nurse Jackie" (2009)
Tina Fey for "30 Rock" (2006)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "Veep" (2012)
Amy Poehler for "Parks and Recreation" (2009)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes for "Homeland" (2011)
Michelle Dockery for "Downton Abbey" (2010)
Elisabeth Moss for "Mad Men" (2007)
Connie Britton for "Nashville" (2012)
Vera Farmiga for "Bates Motel" (2013)
Kerry Washington for "Scandal" (2012)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Jessica Lange for "American Horror Story" (2011)
Laura Linney for "The Big C" (2010)
Helen Mirren for Phil Spector (2013) (TV)
Elisabeth Moss for "Top of the Lake" (2013)
Sigourney Weaver for "Political Animals" (2012)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell for "Modern Family" (2009)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson for "Modern Family" (2009)
Bill Hader for "Saturday Night Live" (1975)
Ed O'Neill for "Modern Family" (2009)
Adam Driver for "Girls" (2012)
Tony Hale for "Veep" (2012)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jim Carter for "Downton Abbey" (2010)
Peter Dinklage for "Game of Thrones" (2011)
Aaron Paul for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Jonathan Banks for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Bobby Cannavale for "Boardwalk Empire" (2010)
Mandy Patinkin for "Homeland" (2011)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
James Cromwell for "American Horror Story" (2011)
Zachary Quinto for "American Horror Story" (2011)
Scott Bakula for Behind the Candelabra (2013)
John Benjamin Hickey for "The Big C" (2010)
Peter Mullan for "Top of the Lake" (2013)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik for "The Big Bang Theory" (2007)
Julie Bowen for "Modern Family" (2009)
Jane Krakowski for "30 Rock" (2006)
Jane Lynch for "Glee" (2009)
Sofía Vergara for "Modern Family" (2009)
Merritt Wever for "Nurse Jackie" (2009)
Anna Chlumsky for "Veep" (2012)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Morena Baccarin for "Homeland" (2011)
Christine Baranski for "The Good Wife" (2009)
Anna Gunn for "Breaking Bad" (2008)
Maggie Smith for "Downton Abbey" (2010)
Emilia Clarke for "Game of Thrones" (2011)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Sarah Paulson for "American Horror Story" (2011)
Imelda Staunton for The Girl (2012) (TV)
Ellen Burstyn for "Political Animals" (2012)
Charlotte Rampling for Restless (2012) (TV)
Alfre Woodard for Steel Magnolias (2012) (TV)

Outstanding Variety, Music Or Comedy Series
"The Colbert Report" (2005)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1996)
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (2003)
"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (2009)
"Real Time with Bill Maher" (2003)
"Saturday Night Live" (1975)

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
"The Amazing Race" (2001)
"Dancing with the Stars" (2005/I)
"Project Runway" (2004)
"So You Think You Can Dance" (2005)
"Top Chef" (2006)
"The Voice" (2011)

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program
Tom Bergeron for "Dancing with the Stars" (2005/I)
Anthony Bourdain for "The Taste" (2013)
Cat Deeley for "So You Think You Can Dance" (2005)
Ryan Seacrest for "American Idol" (2002)
Betty White for "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" (2012)
Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn for "Project Runway" (2004)

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
"Girls" (2012): Lena Dunham("On All Fours")
"Glee" (2009): Paris Barclay("Diva")
"Louie" (2010): Louis C.K.("New Year's Eve")
"Modern Family" (2009): Gail Mancuso("Arrested")
"30 Rock" (2006): Beth McCarthy-Miller("Hogcock!" / "Last Lunch")

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
"Boardwalk Empire" (2010): Timothy Van Patten("Margate Sands")
"Breaking Bad" (2008): Michelle MacLaren("Gliding All Over")
"Downton Abbey" (2010): Jeremy Webb("Episode 4")
"Homeland" (2011): Lesli Linka Glatter("Q & A")
"House of Cards" (2013): David Fincher("Chapter 1")

Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Behind the Candelabra (2013): Steven Soderbergh
The Girl (2012) (TV): Julian Jarrold
Phil Spector (2013) (TV): David Mamet
Ring of Fire (2013) (TV): Allison Anders
"Top of the Lake" (2013): Jane Campion, Garth Davis

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series
"The Colbert Report" (2005): Jim Hoskinson
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1996): Chuck O'Neil
"Late Show with David Letterman" (1993): Jerry Foley
"Portlandia" (2011): Jonathan Krisel
"Saturday Night Live" (1975): Don Roy King
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (2003): Andy Fisher

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
"Louie" (2010): Louis C.K., Pamela Adlon("Daddy's Girlfriend")
"Episodes" (2011): David Crane, Jeffrey Klarik("Episode 209")
"The Office" (2005): Greg Daniels("Finale")
"30 Rock" (2006): Jack Burditt, Robert Carlock("Hogcock!")
"30 Rock" (2006): Tina Fey, Tracey Wigfield("Last Lunch")

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
"Downton Abbey" (2010): Julian Fellowes("Episode 4")
"Breaking Bad" (2008): George Mastras("Dead Freight")
"Breaking Bad" (2008): Thomas Schnauz("Say My Name")
"Game of Thrones" (2011): David Benioff, D.B. Weiss("The Rains Of Castamere")
"Homeland" (2011): Henry Bromell("Q & A")

Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special
Behind the Candelabra (2013): Richard LaGravenese
"The Hour" (2011): Abi Morgan
"Parade's End" (2012): Tom Stoppard
Phil Spector (2013) (TV): David Mamet
"Top of the Lake" (2013): Jane Campion, Gerard Lee

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
"The Colbert Report" (2005)
"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (1996)
"Portlandia" (2011)
"Real Time with Bill Maher" (2003)
"Saturday Night Live" (1975)
"Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (2003)

Mister B. Gone, by Clive Barker

Mister B. Gone, by Clive BarkerWell, this was a curiously written book for sure.  I had never read a book in which the protagonist speaks to the reader as if he were alive in the pages of the book itself.  An original approach for sure.

Now, the protagonist in this book is a demon, so you can see how right away we get past the physical impossibility of such a thing as a person in a book actually being alive.

The book is not bad, but it does drag on at times, especially when the demon keeps asking you to burn the book and him within it over and over and over again.

Doug Bradley, the performed, does a very good job however, and the book isn’t very long, so it’s not so bad.

Grade: 6

Sepulcher, by Kate Moss

Sepulcher, by Kate MossRight after reading Ms. Moss’ Labyrinth, I decided to pick up Sepulcher, which was written after Labyrinth, to see whether her style had improved with time.  I’m happy to report that it has (her long winded descriptions are still there but they seemed less frequent, shorter, and more to the point) but I also have to say that she still makes decisions that boggle the mind.

For instance, in Sepulcher, which has nothing to do whatsoever with Labyrinth in terms of story or time period, Ms. Moss decided to introduce a couple characters from Labyrinth.  Why?  No idea.  I honestly cannot understand why she would make that decision.

Sure, both books use the two-timelines storyline, that is we are transported back and forth in time between two stories that eventually connect in some way, but that’s as far as it goes in terms of similarities.  Furthermore, one of those two characters was a key character from Labyrinth who carried a very important secret.

The reason why this sort of thing counts as a negative, in my opinion, is that if you’ve read Labyrinth, when these characters are introduced you first start questioning why this character is here, then you start analyzing the timeline to see if it even makes sense that they are here, and finally you start wondering how the two books are connected, what is the meaning behind their introduction, whether this is actually a sequel, what other characters might come into play that you already know, and so on.

All those distractions are unnecessary and detract from the enjoyment of the book you’re presently reading.  I can say all this for a fact because I actually went through the stages outline above.  This cost me time and was ultimately completely useless because there is no link whatsoever between the two books.  The characters that appear in both bring no added value to Sepulcher from Labyrinth and could have been just as easily brand new characters.  Had Ms. Moss suddenly run out of imagination and couldn’t figure out how to write her new book without making use of old characters that didn’t belong there?  Very odd and ultimately annoying.

The story per se isn’t bad.  A young teenage girl in late 19th century Paris lives through some unforeseen and unfortunate events because of her brother’s love interest’s connection to a very bad guy.  The whole story is gradually unraveled by a woman in our time who eventually discovers her connection to that young girl.

Sepulcher isn’t a bad book but I cannot give it a better grade because of the complaints outlined above.

Grade: 6

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead 3Season 3 of this terrific show brought us more scares, more drama, more thrills, more excitement, and more great entertainment.

The conflict between Rick’s people and the Governor takes center stage and becomes more terrifying with each episode.  A downward spiral that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The Walking Dead is one of my favorite shows of all time and it never disappoints.  If you’ve never checked it out, you should definitely do so.

Grade – Season 3: 9

England and Wales

Yesterday, Queen Elizabeth II signed into law same-sex legislation that made gay marriage legal in England and Wales:

uk_colour_map%255B1%255DWith little fanfare or controversy, Britain announced Wednesday that Queen Elizabeth II — hardly a social radical — had signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in England and Wales.

Official word that the queen had approved the bill drew cheers in the usually sedate House of Commons.

“This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives,” Equalities Minister Maria Miller said in a statement. “I am proud that we have made it happen and I look forward to the first same sex wedding by next summer.”

There were British political figures and religious leaders vehemently opposed to gay marriage but the opposition never reached a fever pitch, in part because the same-sex marriage bill had broad public support and the backing of the leaders of the three major political parties. In fact, it was Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of the tradition-minded Conservatives, who proposed the legislation in the first place.

The public seemed to take it for granted that gay marriage should be a part of British life. It was perhaps a sign of how Britain has evolved in past decades into a much more cosmopolitan nation than its starchy, traditionalist image would suggest.

“The opposition seemed restricted to a very small number of people very vigorous in their views,” said Stephen Fielding, a political scientist at the University of Nottingham. “It was restricted to the back benchers of the Conservative Party. It wasn’t shared across the political spectrum. It was an issue whose time had come. To oppose it seemed slightly strange.”

The law was also written in a way that allowed the Church of England — which is opposed — to sidestep the controversy since it is explicitly barred from conducting same-sex marriages.

(From The Washington Post)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Being Human

Being HumanSeason 3 of Being Human reinforces how good the American remake of this British show is.  Aidan, freed from his earthly grave, finds himself starving and unable to feed because of a virus that doesn’t bother humans but is lethal for vampires who feed on infected blood.  Josh finds himself having to deal with the reality of dating a werewolf while he no longer is one.  And Sally is still looking for a way back from limbo.

Naturally, things get complicated for everyone involved and many new characters come on the scene while some others exit it.

All in all this supernatural show has become one of my “lesser” favorites, way less exciting than, say, True Blood, but definitely worth watching.

Grade – Season 3: 7

Game of Thrones

Game of ThronesI couldn’t wait for this show to come back, and even before it ended I was already longing for the next season.  Game of Thrones is a fantastic show that seems to never run out of gorgeous sets, enthralling storylines, and engaging adventures.

Thanks to George R. R. Martin’s seemingly boundless original material, the screenwriters delight us to intrigue, twists, and machinations at every turn, and because of Martin’s sprawling cast of characters one is never really sure who will be the next to be offed in some gruesome and inventive new way.

Season 3 was the adaptation of the first half of Book 3, while season 4 will take on the second part of that book.  The production has stated the desire to produce 7 seasons in all as a way to set an end date for the entire saga, which already makes me sad Sad smile.

Lastly, season 3 will forever be etched in my memory for its famous Red Wedding episode which is arguably one of the most shocking scenes I’ve ever seen on a screen.

Grade – Season 3: 10

Veep

Veep-Season-2-PosterSeason 2 of Veep managed to avoid any sophomore slump by delivering funny and engaging episodes all dealing with different topics but nicely linked together.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is brilliantly hysterical as the politician who can be clueless and astute at the same time and always tries to stay a step ahead of current events when she’s actually three behind…

Grade – Season 2: 8

Nurse Jackie

nurse jackieSeason 5 of this medical dramedy doesn’t disappoint and that’s quite the accomplishment considering they had done a 360 in season 4 with Jackie getting treatment for her drug addiction.

This season Jackie is clean and trying to piece her life back together.  She even gets a new love interest!!

I won’t spoil any main plot points except to say that I was very sad to see Eve Best (Dr. O’Hara) take a hiatus (hopefully she’ll be back in the future) and to praise the production and writing teams for the smartly handled secondary storyline involving Gloria Akalitus.

Very often these “plot B” stories are either boring or simply ridiculous, but this one felt organic to the show, had its own raison d'être, and was resolved well.

Grade - Season 5: 8

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Death of Prop 8 and DOMA

supreme courtOn June 26 2013, the United States Supreme Court handed gays and lesbians their biggest victories in a decade by striking down Article 3 of DOMA, which allowed the federal government to ignore all legal same-sex marriages performed in the country, and by dismissing the proponents of Proposition 8 (California’s Constitutional Amendment that blocked gay marriage in 2008 after a brief period during which it was legal) for lack of standing.

californiaIn a nutshell, after the California Supreme Court unanimously declared gay marriage legal in the state effective immediately, gays and lesbians started to marry while our opponents started gathering the signatures to pass a Constitutional amendment to limit marriage to heterosexual partners.  They succeeded in November 2008 when same-sex marriages were blocked.

Soon after, AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights) sued the state to overturn Prop 8 because it effectively took away a right that had been deemed fundamental by the Supreme Court according to the state Constitution.  We won the first time when a federal judge, Judge Walker, declared that Prop 8 was unconstitutional.

Our opponents appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when the new California Governor and his Attorney General both declined to defend Prop 8 because they too considered it unconstitutional.  Their appeal was allowed to proceed at the Circuit court level after the Supreme Court of California declared that they had the right to defend their championed proposition if the legitimate governmental entities declined to do so.  Unfortunately for them, we won a second time when the Ninth Circuit Court sided with us and substantially upheld Judge Walker’s decision.

Unsatisfied, Prop 8’s proponents appealed to the US Supreme Court, which has now declared that they had no standing to defend the proposition in court in the first place, thereby invalidating the Appeals Court’s decision, and rolling history back to Judge Walker’s ruling, officially and permanently ending the travesty that was Proposition 8.

171538738The Appeals Court didn’t even wait for the customary 25-30 days after a Supreme Court’s decision before lifting its stay on gay marriages in the state of California, so just 2 days after the ruling, on June 28, gays and lesbians started to marry again, and the first marriage was performed by none other than the Attorney General herself!!

While ecstatic for the state of California and what it means to re-add the most populous state in the union to the column of the Equality States (now 13 plus DC!!), our personal biggest joy came for the death of Article 3 of DOMA.

DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, was passed to prevent the federal government from recognizing gay marriages.  It was passed by a panicked GOP when it realized that gay marriage was becoming a reality and signed by a panicked Bill Clinton who, I believe, signed it only to avoid the possibility that a constitutional amendment would be passed instead, something that would have been much harder to undo.

DOMA’s Article 3 held that the federal government didn’t have to recognize any legal same-sex marriage for any federal purpose.  This is utterly unconstitutional and was found to be just that by a 5-4 Court decision that declared it null because it infringed upon our equal rights and due process, and also because of federalism issues.

2vtdoma062713With this ruling, the federal government can no longer withhold federal benefits from legally married same-sex couples.  This brings us well over a thousand federal benefits that were previously denied, including social security, taxation, inheritance and immigration.

DOMA is not completely defunct but its Article 2, which states that individual states don’t have to recognize other states’ same-sex marriages, infringes upon another US Constitution article, and will therefore be struck down as well once it reaches the Supreme Court.  That’s the next battleground.

Ray and I, the death of Article 3 means that my legally wedded husband can now file a green card petition on my behalf just like any straight couple would be allowed to do.  This is something we’ve been waiting for almost 16 years to happen.

After jumping from one visa to the next just so that we can stay together, we’ll finally be able to plan our future without having to worry if it will be here in the States or somewhere else.  I will finally be free from the yoke of uncertainty that has shackled me for all these years.

originalThis momentous decision for gay rights in America means that our family is finally safe from the possibility of getting splintered in just over a year when my work visa would have run out.

Our joy and relief was expressed in tears, hugs, kisses, and boundless joy that lasted for days, and can still be felt.

Our application has been submitted and we know for a fact that it will be approved.  That, my friends, is the meaning of happiness.

Here’s a video compilation put together by AFER about the events surrounding June 26.  Keep the Kleenexes handy:

In Memoriam

Cory Monteith (1982 – 2013)

Cory Monteith

I did not watch Glee, the TV show that made Monteith a TV star, but from all I’ve read and heard about him, he was a good actor and a pleasant guy to work with, and when someone this young leaves us so unexpectedly and suddenly, it’s always very hard to accept.

Unfortunately, he had dealt with the demon of drug addiction for many years, and it looks like it finally won the battle.

R.I.P.