Monday night is the 827th Primetime Emmy Awards, honouring what the television academy thinks is the best in prime time TV from the 2013-2014 school year. On the upside, my secret boyfriend Seth Meyers is hosting this year. On the downside, the show tends to be somewhat dull. While I do watch more than my share of TV, with time shifting (hey, we get Jimmy Fallon at 9.30 PM), and Netflix, and PVR and VOD, I tend to miss or avoid most of the real prime time programming. Here are the nominees and my picks for the major awards.... what are your faves? Best Comedy Series Big Bang Theory Louie Modern Family Veep Orange Is The New Black Silicon Valley Should win: I love Big Bang, and also loving Veep in binge sessions on airplanes Will win: the buzzy Orange Is The New Black, which I don't love and don't think of as a comedy Best Drama Series Breaking Bad Downton Abbey Game of Thrones House of Cards Mad Men True Detective Should win: The not even nominated The Good Wife, so then the terrific season 2 of House Of Cards Will win: The buzzy final season of Breaking Bad (which granted I have not seen)
Best Actor, Drama Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom Kevin Spacey, House of Cards Jon Hamm, Mad Men Matthew McConaughey, True Detective Woody Harrelson, True Detective Should win: Spacey for House of Cards (especially as James Spader wasn't even nominated for The Black List) Will win: McConaughey for True Detective (haven't seen, this is his year for Oscar and Emmy and the world) Best Actress, Drama Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey Claire Danes, Homeland Robin Wright, House of Cards Kerry Washington, Scandal Julianna Margulies, The Good WifeLizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex Should and will win: Robin Wright for her masterful work in House of Cards
Best Actor, Comedy Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory Matt LeBlanc, Episodes Don Cheadle, House of Lies Louis C.K., Louie William H. Macy, Shameless Ricky Gervais, Derek Should and will win: among a weak list, Big Bang's Parsons will get his 4th win in this category Best Actress, Comedy Lena Dunham, Girls Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black Should win: Poehler for the subtle and very funny Parks Will win: Emmy record holder and repeat winner Louis-Dreyfus Other "Best" TV: There are lots of other categories and nominees, I am hoping for these winners... The Normal Heart for best TV movie Christine Baranski, best supporting actress in a drama for The Good Wife Jim Carter, best supporting actor in a drama for Downton Abbey Allison Janney, best supporting actress in a comedy for Mom Jesse Tyler Ferguson, best supporting actor in a comedy for Modern Family Actors from The Normal Heart: Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts Some call-outs to the amazingly overlooked at nomination time: Bellamy Young for Scandal, James Spader for The Blacklist, The Good Wife for best drama series. and the cast and total show of The Mindy Project. What were your faves of the year?
Oscar winning actor and legendary stand-up comedian Robin Williams died last week, at his own hand after struggling with depression, addiction, and other health issues.
His death was shocking and sad, and has in the media and online worlds brought out the best and the worst ... look at Jimmy Fallon's touching tribute as an example of the best, and the venom spewed at Williams' daughter Zelda by internet trolls as the worst.
Maybe people will learn something about depression, or just about kindness, from all of this?
I loved Williams in everything from Mork and Mindy to Aladdin and Good Will Hunting and Mrs Doubtfire and The Birdcage and so many more...
To see his range, check out little seen gems like Insomnia and One-Hour Photo... the man was an incredible actor.
He also was by all accounts a kind and decent human being who did tons of charity and community work.
Here is a fun performance by Williams at the 2000 Academy Awards, when he was a surprise performer of best song nominee "Blame Canada" from the South Park movie...
Much as I love escapist fluff entertainment -- hell, I am re-watching chick flick Confessions of A Shopaholic as I write this -- once in a blue moon a smart substantial film wows me.
Or sometimes twice in a blue moon.
I recently watched two AIDS-themed dramas that dazzled me, and caused me to shed some tears: How To Survive A Plague and The Normal Heart.
How To Survive A Plague is the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary about the early days of the AIDS crisis and the beginning of activist groups like "Act Up" and their struggle to get recognition, assistance, caring or respect from the government, the media, and the medical establishment.
Plague is culled from hundreds of hours of arrived footage and is brilliantly woven together into a personal story. It is emotionally brutal and absolutely breathtaking.
It is available on demand, on Netflix and on DVD... gear yourself up and watch it.
The Normal Heart is the long-delayed film version (made for HBO this year) of Larry Kramer's seminal 1985 play on AIDS in the 80s, based on his own life. It's star studded cast includes Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts and Jim Parsons, and it is up for 16 Emmy awards at next month's ceremony.
Ruffalo is Ned Weeks, the Kramer-ish activist who rails against the politicians, reporters, doctors, and closeted gay men who ignore 'the gay cancer' in the early 80s while all his friends are dying... and all while he is falling in love with a fashion reporter (Bomer) who will be struck by the disease. Their charming love story among all the suffering is amazing.
The Normal Heart is the anti-Philadelphia... it shows the disease, and the anger, and also the love and lust among the gay men at is centre. It is loud, lusty, messy, angry, and yes sometimes preachy. And it works as a drama and as a history lesson.
Both films ask the question shouted by Weeks in The Normal Heart --- "Who cares if a faggot dies?" -- and both are mesmerizing. Watch them... but I do not recommend a double feature.
Sure it's summer TV rerun season, and most of the new programming out there is the level of America's Got Talent crap, however we have discovered a fantastic new sitcom... smart, funny, totally bitchy, we love it! The show is called Vicious, and it is a BBC import that shows on PBS on Sunday nights (and is available on DVD). In Vicious, Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi are Freddie and Stuart, an elderly gay couple who have been together for 48 years and maintain a love/hate relationship... they are bitter and petty and bitchy and yes vicious to each other. And it is awesome. I told my husband this was our future... his response was that this is our now. Underneath Freddie's and Stuart's vicious co-dependency bickering they have a deep love for each other and it is sweet in it's own way. Joining in the fun every week are their lovelorn best friend Violet (Frances de la Tour, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and Ash (Iwan Rheon, Game of Thrones), their young, hot upstairs neighbour. The first season of Vicious aired in the UK last year (it's only 6 episodes) and is on here now. A second season is coming later this year. Check Vicious out... it is fast, it is funny, and let's face it, at this time of year your other options are Botched and Dance Moms.
In The Scarlet Letter Society, three smart successful women meet monthly for an early breakfast book club... not that unusual, until you realize that the books are all about women having extramarital affairs, and the women have this in common in their real lives as well.
As with most book clubs, the book talk is quickly abandoned for real life talk, and in this case sex and relationship talk. It is dishy and fun and insightful, and sometimes yes touching.
My bloggy buddy Mary McCarthy, semi-famous for Pajamas and Coffee, has FINALLY published her first novel, and the timing is perfect... this is an ideal summer read, a fast, fun, sexy, chatty beach book.
Besides being a breezy read and interesting take on grown-up relationships, this Scarlet Letter is loaded with self aware pop culture references... a book with people talking about books, with poppy references from Sixteen Candles to the Eagles to Stevie Wonder to Erica Jong... if I didn't love my 70s and 80s shallow pop culture I may think was too much, but so not an issue for me at all... never enough!
In The Scarlet Letter Society, there is wit, there is humour, there is sex, and most importantly there are three women who think they're slutty but may just be lonely; okay, one of them is totally slutty, but in a wonderfully charming bi-curious kind of way.
Between monthly book club breakfasts we follow each woman's life; Eva the lonely attorney with a chef on the side, Maggie the vintage retailer with her ex on the side, and Lisa the baker with a different kind of secret. You will come to adore them all.
And yes there is a totally fabulous gay best friend, who has a totally sweet gay wedding to his boyfriend ALFRED!
Put this one on top of your summer reading list, and spend some time with these fun, fascinating, fidelity-challenged women, and their friends and lovers, in The Scarlet Letter Society...
Disclaimer: the publisher sent me a digital copy of this book. This review is my own, no compensation was received. Jelly beans would have been nice.
Tomorrow we see Cher and Cyndi Lauper live in concert (okay, okay, sort of live, as there may be some Cher lip syncing involved).
I love Cher, have seen her twice before, she puts on an amazing show…. and her 'comeback' album from last year, Closer To The Truth, is fantastic in a glitzy touching over-produced danceable-with-some-sadness kind of way… so totally Cher! Believe... If I Could Turn Back Time... Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves... Woman's World... Song For The Lonely... Dark Lady... Half Breed... You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me...
So while yes insomnia totally sucks, there are ways to handle it... drugs, exercise, hypnosis... I don't do any of them when I can't sleep. I read or watch TV. Usually I choose chopper gadget infomercials or Golden Girls reruns, but this week I chose Netflix... and discovered they are showing two recent acclaimed gay films I had read about but never had access to before. Both are awesome.
Stranger By The Lake, France, 2013 (English subtitles)
This sexual thriller is unlike anything I have seen before... at first I was thinking "what's the big deal" and then I was holding on to the edge of my seat to see what would happen next. The whole film takes place within a few days on a gay cruising beach. Franck is an out gay man who goes there looking for conversations, sex, and maybe love, unlike the other mostly closeted beachgoers just looking for anonymous sex in the woods. This is a beautifully shot work, with the lake and nearby woods by day and by night being postcard gorgeous. In more ways than just the scenery, the film overall is beguiling... and oh yeah, good to note, very sexually explicit. Franck becomes enchanted with Michel, another attractive man who spends his afternoons at the beach having sex with different men. He then realizes Michel has a possessive boyfriend. And while watching them from a distance, he sees Michel deliberately drown the boyfriend. Franck knows he should report this to the police, but is so infatuated he keeps quiet and starts getting involved with Michel. And two days later the body is discovered and police start interviewing all the closeted men at the cruising park, which you know is not gonna go well. And the mystery evolves... This is an original, suspenseful, explicit, dark and twisty thriller. Highly recommended.
Gayby, USA, 2012
This one is much lighter fare, the story of a gay man and straight woman who are best friends and decide to have a baby together. Sure this store has been done before -- hell, Jennifer Aniston and Madonna each did it in a couple of crappy films fifteen years ago -- but Gayby is fresh and fun. It's a bitchier, more vulgar Will and Grace.
Writer-director-actor Jonathan Lisecki's tale of thirty something BF's Mat and Jenn agreeing to try to have a baby together — he's gay and recently single, she's straight and loveless — is as fast and quippy as you expect a movie built around dry, neurotic, yoga-loving, comic-book-reading New Yorkers to be.
Gayby's warmth and character development lift it above sitcom status. The actors are highly appealing as they move from awkward sexual coupling to awkward fertility treatment, while simultaneously navigating new romantic possibilities outside their arrangement.
I adore 9 to 5 icon Dolly Parton, from her endless talent to her amazing community work to her bawdy humour, she wins all around for me. Even like the plastic surgery and how she openly talks about it. Like her enough to forget about that crappy movie with Sylvester Stallone... almost.
I have lots of her music in my car for road trips... love it!
Parton is out on a media blitz promoting her new album Blue Smoke, and was asked about marriage equality.
Same-sex marriage might not be recognized in Dolly Parton's native Tennessee, but the outspoken Parton, herself married for almost fifty years, supports equality for all.
"I didn’t know any gay people in my childhood. I do have a lot of gays in my family now, but some will never come out," the singer, who was one of 12 children in a Pentecostal family living in Locust Ridge, Tenn., told Britain's Event magazine.
"I think everyone should be with who they love," Parton, 68, continued. "I don’t want to be controversial or stir up a bunch of trouble but people are going to love who they are going to love. I think gay couple should be allowed to marry. They should suffer just like us heterosexuals. Ha ha ha!"
I have been an avid reader since I was a kid -- fiction, histories, business books, auto-biographies, almost everything except war stuff. And while I am always waiting eagerly for the next Sue Grafton mystery, I am currently on an autobiography frenzy, and last week's read was Elaine Lui's Listen To The Squawking Chicken. Elaine Lui is a social media icon in Canada -- blogging as "Lainey" at www.laineygossip.com, appearing on E-talk television (our low rent version of Entertainment Tonight) and co-hosting The Social (our low-rent version of The View). Lainey is always a hoot -- she is smart and fast and funny and bitchy and totally awesome. And while Lainey is fast and funny and bitchy, I excepted the same from her autobiography. I was wrong. While Squawking Chicken is interesting and fascinating, it is not funny or bitchy... it is more passive and dysfunctional, like a Chinese-Canadian traffic accident I could not look away from. Lainey's "Squawking Chicken" is her overbearing mother, who she lived away from for many years and who was -- and apparently still is --- controlling, judgemental and dictatorial. Lainey talks about being "feng shui blackmailed" and "shamed" through her life. Laine has lived an interesting life and -- as she always does - has interesting stories to tell. She seems to know that her mother's behaviour is abnormal and controlling and socially unacceptable and yet she accepts and somehow condones it. Weird. Interesting to read though. My issue with the story -- not the book, which I zoomed through, but the story itself -- is that strong outspoken Lainey has a Stockholm Syndrome-y thing going on when it comes to justifying her mother's behaviour. She rationalizes the Squawking Chicken's humiliating remarks, excessive meddling, demands for money, over-the-top control, imposition of superstitious beliefs, and condemning attitude towards everyone. The woman is damaged and mean. I guess all families are weird in their own way, and Lainey's is not an exception. While this dysfunction is disturbing, Lainey is a strong writer and her story is interesting to read about... now bring on the next book, Lainey, and make it dishy and funny!
His cuteness Alfred is my best fur friend, and today the little dude is seven years old! So while we may have a toy or two for the little furball, it is a tradition on alfred lives here to mark this occasion in a bigger way…
So in honour of the birthday of the world's cutest canine, also known as Alfie, Alfredo, Eggplant, Furball, ADD Alfred, Ewok, Moocho Poocho, Beagle Wannabe, Alfie Poop, Little Dude, The Instigator and Have-Many-Needs Havanese, ... here's the deal… As I know that Alfie is more pampered than your average pooch, we are gonna celebrate his birthday by raising money for the animals in tougher circumstances. For every comment left on this post today and tomorrow, April 26 and 27, we will donate $1 from Alfie's allowance to the Humane Society… so leave a comment! How much money will Alfie raise this year?