Emmys 2015: Will TV history be made?

16 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2015 Emmy nominations FAQ: Where to watch the announcement.

As we wait for Uzo and Cat to get into place, here’s a list of all the prizes that will be up for grabs and the 26 categories that showrunners and actors will be hoping they get a slot in. Race horses and athletes are often grouped intro strong starters and good finishers and the same distinction can be seen among legendary American TV series – at least if taking home trophies from the Emmy awards is regarded as the finishing line. We’ve included the winners from last year, more from Gwilym Mumford on how some of those – looking at you, Modern Family – might finally be knocked off their perch this year. Mad Men stormed out of the gates, taking the Emmy for outstanding drama series in each of its first four seasons, amid several other prizes, but has failed to convert any of its nominations into gongs in the past three years.

The likely contenders for Thursday’s Emmy nominations include hit series “Empire” and “black-ish” and their wealth of critically acclaimed black actors, and “Jane the Virgin” and its standout Latina star, Gina Rodriguez. So one of the main areas of interest when the 2015 Emmy awards are handed out is whether the advertising industry series – which will surely receive several shortlistings for its final season – can make it to the podium and end with a flourish. Nominees in top categories are to be announced Thursday morning by Uzo Aduba, an Emmy winner last year for her “Orange is the New Black” role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, and “So You Think You Can Dance” host Cat Deeley. That still leaves five incumbent nominees, all in fighting form, and a strong line-up of newcomers that includes at least five freshman shows with enough industry heat to potentially crack the field. (Click to see predictions for the drama series contenders). With the depth of African-American talent among actresses starring in drama series, it’s possible that one of them could become the first to win in the category — among the few Emmy acting awards still solely in white hands.

Not necessarily, though both have a pretty good shot — Aduba won Guest Actress in a Comedy last year, while Deeley is a perennial nominee in the Reality Show Host category. If there’s one newcomer all but assured to lock up the slot vacated by “Orange,” it’s another digital sensation: Amazon’s “Transparent.” The Golden Globe winner was a critical favorite ever since the online outlet previewed the pilot, and the subject matter of a father of three who is coming out as a trans woman late in life tapped into the zeitgeist in a way few comedies ever accomplish. The awards, which recognize the best shows and performances to appear on television and streaming services between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015, will be handed out at a Sept. 20 ceremony. Henson, who plays an unyielding matriarch in the hip-hop family drama “Empire,” Viola Davis as a cutthroat attorney in “How to Get Away with Murder” and previously twice-nominated Kerry Washington as a D.C. powerbroker in “Scandal.” The expansive ethnic diversity that TV offers, relative to theatrical releases, also is in play when it comes to sexuality.

Also looking like safe bets: HBO’s Sunday night duo of “Veep” and “Silicon Valley” were both nominated last year and could be sleepers to watch for the win this year, thanks to crackerjack seasons showcasing exceptional writing and peerless ensemble acting. The Sopranos was also more honoured for its later and final series, and the belated acclaim for these two shows may be explained by the fact that they had daringly unsympathetic central characters (both gangsters of a kind) who needed time to grow on the voters. The question of whether Mad Men will be given a gold-plated send-off touches on the question of whether awards are best used to recognise originality or to honour longevity. There would be a sentimental satisfaction in Matthew Weiner’s series getting a valedictory gift – a sort of retirement gold watch – but the judges would also have to consider as objectively as possible if the last tranche of the drama matches up to the perky earlier stages of, say, House of Cards or True Detective. In addition to this difficulty in separating long-runners from newcomers, award panels also have the broader problem of adjudicating who contributed what to a successful production.

In most cases, a hit will come from combined excellence in all these areas but – with prizes available for so many different aspects – jurors are sometimes encouraged to split the ticket between various worthy winners: singling out the script in this, the acting in that, the look of the other. Another key aspect of TV’s evolution likely to be reflected in the nominations: The rising tide of non-broadcast and cable platforms, including streaming services, which has made shows including Netflix’s “House of Cards” and Amazon’s “Transparent” serious contenders.

This will be the year that proves whether the TV Acad views “Big Bang” as another “Friends,” “Frasier” or “Everybody Loves Raymond” (all nommed in season eight), or … not. Simon Russell Beale once joked, after taking a best actor award in a new play that didn’t even win a nomination for its writer or director, that he had obviously somehow managed to give a good performance in a play that was badly written and incompetently staged. Similarly, a TV historian noting that Bryan Cranston was chosen as best actor for Breaking Bad three times running from 2008-10 but then not again until the finale in 2014 might conclude that he phoned in his performance for half of the seasons before getting his act together again for the closing episodes. David Letterman, who retired from “Late Show,” and Stephen Colbert, who left “The Colbert Report” to succeed Letterman this fall, also are in the Emmy hunt for their former shows. “Late Show” was last nominated in 2009 as best variety, music or comedy series and last won in 2002. Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is a prediction favorite for many pundits due to both the heavyweight status of its outlet and the enviable Emmy track record of executive producers Tina Fey and Robert Carlock.

In reality, his acting probably came to be taken for granted – or was regarded as too obvious a choice – before a feeling that his achievement across the whole series should be noticed. Jon Hamm may hope for a similar response to his final hours as Don Draper, and the encountering of recent personal difficulties may not harm his chances.

They’re both getting a break: the TV academy split the variety series category into two, one for variety talk shows and one for variety or sketch series like “Saturday Night Live,” making space for more contenders in each. In the case of the Emmys, though, even more precise distinctions are required than on other panels because – unlike many other TV prizes, including the Baftas – nominations relate to specific episodes, with actors and writers (due to the American TV fashion of using multiple scripting teams) being entered for specific storylines.

Then again, voters may warm to another Netflix comedy, “Grace and Frankie,” which stars a quartet of beloved industry veterans and has an unprecedented (at least in the U.S.) focus on four main characters over the age of 70. But the comedy that might have the best shot of all of toppling “Modern Family” is Amazon’s “Transparent,” a show about an even more modern family.

The change to a theater in West Hollywood also moved the traditional pre-dawn back by several hours, making it unavailable to network morning shows that typically aired it. This year, with Mad Men in the writing and performing sections, Hamm and Weiner may get a lift from the extra emotions surrounding Person to Person, the last episode, but in another category, the concentration on specific scripts may harm the show’s hopes in the main. It’s right in the wheelhouse of previous hourlong nominees “Ally McBeal,” “Ugly Betty” and “Desperate Housewives,” but the biggest question is whether enough voters watch CW. And ABC’s “Black-ish” took its creative inspiration from both Norman Lear and “The Wonder Years” and became the first true hit to follow “Modern Family,” a smart piece of scheduling that could pay off with an Emmy too. And with Amy Poehler (a lead actress nominee five years running) and Chris Pratt dominating the box office in “Inside Out” and “Jurassic World,” respectively, during the time of Emmy voting, the industry may well feel sentimental about the show that launched them to stardom.

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