News Column

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel On TV/Radio column

July 19, 2013

YellowBrix

July 19--By my count, 36 of the Emmy Awards nominations announced Thursday were for programs with Wisconsin ties.

Although in most cases, the relationship is tenuous.

For instance, 15 of them were for "Behind the Candelabra," the HBO movie based on the life of Liberace, born Wladziu Valentino Liberace in West Allis.

The nominations for the film include best director for Steven Soderbergh and competing best actor nominations for Michael Douglas, as Liberace, and Matt Damon as his companion, Scott Thorson.

The only week-in-week-out, prime-time workhorse with local ties is "Modern Family," whose creator, Steve Levitan, attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Modern Family" received 13 nominations, including for best comedy. It has won 16 Emmys since its 2010 premiere -- out of 44 total nominations -- including outstanding comedy series for three years running.

You may not have heard of Mark Samels, but the Shawano native and documentary producer is a regular at Emmy time. According to IMDB.com, Samels has produced more than 100 episodes of PBS' "The American Experience." This year, he was executive producer of two episodes nominated in the documentary or nonfiction series category, "Death and the Civil War" and "The Abolitionists."

The documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," about child sexual abuse at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis, was nominated for five awards. The HBO film, directed by Alex Gibney, was also shown at the Milwaukee Film Festival.

And Waukesha native Richard Dahm was nominated as part of the writing team for "The Colbert Report."

The breaking Emmy news, big-picture-wise, was the 14 nominations that went to three programs not shown on broadcast or cable TV but by the online streaming service Netflix, which has 29 million subscribers.

The political drama "House of Cards" received nine nominations, including best drama, best actor for Kevin Spacey and actress for Robin Wright; the comedy "Arrested Development," a revival of a cult Fox show, received three nominations, including best actor for Jason Bateman; and the horror series "Hemlock Grove" earned two nominations.

These nominations are being hailed as an acknowledgment of the growing appeal of nontraditional viewing services among audiences dissatisfied with the increasingly high cost of pay TV and the often low quality of network TV.

And in fact, this moment resembles a similar rise in the popularity of HBO, whose "The Larry Sanders Show" was the first cable series nominated as a comedy in 1994; and "The Sopranos," which was the first cable series nominated as best drama in 1999 and the first to win in 2004. Its star, the late James Gandolfini, won cable's first best actor award in 2000.

This year, HBO led all networks with 103 nominations. It remains to be seen whether Netflix, which aggressively moved into original programming this year, and other streaming services will follow in its footsteps.

Other Emmy tidbits:"Louie," on FX, became the first basic-cable series to be nominated for outstanding comedy; the FX show "American Horror Story: Asylum" received 17 nominations, more than any other show; the Sundance Channel, which had no nominations last year, received 10 nominations, eight for "Top of the Lake" with Elisabeth Moss and directed by Jane Campion; and "Mad Men" failed to receive any writing nominations for the first time in the AMC show's six-year history.

The Emmy awards will be presented Sept. 22 on CBS and hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

Mark Keefe, program director of Milwaukee public radio station WYMS-FM (88.9), snagged an exclusive 21-minute interview with Paul McCartney before his concert at Miller Park Tuesday. McCartney wanted to talk to a radio station "that wouldn't primarily focus on his past," Keefe said. "He couldn't have been nicer. He treated me like I was (from) Rolling Stone." Go to www.radiomilwaukee.org to listen to the interview.

Andres Fischer-Centeno, a 2004 Shorewood High School graduate, is co-writer of the 10th episode of CBS' "Under the Dome." Four episodes have aired. He graduated from Chapman University with a screenwriting degree and was recruited by DreamWorks. He was a writer's assistant on "The United States of Tara" and "The Mindy Project."

Caledonia resident Fred Hermes is expected to be featured in an "On the Road" segment on Friday's "CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley." Hermes, 87, who owns one of the largest Wurlitzer theater organs ever built, has turned his home into a mini-movie palace filled with film artifacts.

Email: ddudek@journalsentinel.com

THE NOMINEES ARE...

Nominees in major categories for the 2013 Emmy Awards:

Drama series: "Breaking Bad," "Downton Abbey," "Game of Thrones," "Homeland," "House of Cards," "Mad Men"

Comedy series: "The Big Bang Theory," "Girls," "Louie," "Modern Family," "30 Rock," "Veep"

Miniseries or made-for-TV movie: "American Horror Story: Asylum," "Behind the Candelabra," "The Bible," "Phil Spector," "Political Animals," "Top of the Lake"

Actor, drama series: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"; Hugh Bonneville, "Downton Abbey"; Damian Lewis, "Homeland"; Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"; Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"; Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom"

Actress, drama series: Vera Farmiga, "Bates Motel"; Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"; Claire Danes, "Homeland"; Robin Wright, "House of Cards"; Elisabeth Moss, "Mad Men"; Connie Britton, "Nashville"; Kerry Washington, "Scandal"

Actor, comedy series: Jason Bateman, "Arrested Development"; Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"; Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"; Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"; Louis C.K., "Louie"; Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"

Actress, comedy series: Laura Dern, "Enlightened"; Lena Dunham, "Girls"; Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"; Amy Poehler, "Parks and Recreation"; Tina Fey, "30 Rock"; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"

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(c)2013 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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