Emmys, Did They Get It Right?

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The Emmy Awards won’t air until August 29 on NBC, hosted by Jimmy Fallon, but it’s still the topic of chit-chat all over town. The biggest buzz seems to be the fact that The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien was recognized with four nominations: For “Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Show,” art direction, direction, and in the writing category for Conan’s final show.

There were no nominations for Jay Leno, whom I personally like. He did something nice to surprise my mom several years ago, for which I’ll always be grateful. But I have to give kudos to Team Coco for handling a tough situation with such integrity and class. TBS will be home to Conan’s new chat show this fall, and the cable network launched the “Give this man one more thing to tweet about” campaign to get their new star some recognition. It worked. Although The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has won seven times already, if I were handicapping the race, I’d give O’Brien the edge and make 2010 “The Year of the Ginger.”

It’s a good thing that I’m not a voting member of the Television Academy. I would let my personal fondness for certain performers influence me. Let’s take Betty White for example, who has already won six Emmys. The octogenarian “It Girl” was nominated for being the guest host of Saturday Night Live. Of course she skillfully elevated the SNL material into something special. But I’d hand her a trophy just for showing up and being such a sweet and saucy lady, as she continues to prove each week on TV Land’s hit sitcom Hot In Cleveland.

“I’ve always had a bawdy sense of humor, I guess because my father was a traveling salesman and came home with bawdy jokes,” she told me recently at the opening of Pinks Hot Dogs at Universal CityWalk. “Actually, both of my parents had a wonderful sense of humor, even through grim times, and that certainly beats the alternative.”

Another one of my favorites, Bryan Cranston gives his grim role on Breaking Bad unexpected humanity. That’s why he has won Emmys for the past two years, and is up again for the dramatic AMC series. The former Malcolm in the Middle star, and Sherman Oaks neighbor, is one of the nicest fellows in the business (just ask his proud wife Robin), but deserves the award because of the depth of his talent. He also directed the riveting “No Mas” season premiere. Cranston gives credit to the writers and calls producer-creator Vince Gilligan “the show’s courageous mastermind, keeping everyone surprised, and taking my character and turning Mr. Chips into Scarface, losing his moral center this season.”

Now Breaking Bad co-star Aaron Paul is the new moral center of the show. Paul describes his role as “that lost kid you just want to help out. A bad puppy that’s very hard to train, but kind of endearing.” And he’s very good at getting Emmy attention, earning his second nomination for supporting actor.

More uplifting is the comedy series category which has some bright new faces beaming among the veteran nominees. I’m overjoyed to see the FOX musical series Glee swoop up 19 nominations. Among them is Lea Michele for Best Actress. The lovely songbird personifies every misfit teenager who ever performed in high school and enjoyed a brief moment of being cool in the spotlight. Glee’s dedicated teacher Matt Morrison got a Best Actor nod, Jane Lynch and Chris Colter got a supporting nods, plus Kristin Chenoweth, Mike O’Malley and Neil Patrick Harris for their guest starring roles.

All are deserving, but listing Glee as a comedy is really stretching the category, because I believe the show has more heart-wrenching moments then big laughs. But because they break into song to express their emotions it is considered a comedy. Oh, well.

Clearly a great comedy is Modern Family. The ABC freshman series got 14 nominations, with most of its outstanding cast getting nods, including Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet. But a glaring omission is Ed O’Neill, who plays Modern Family’s patriarch, and little Rico Rodriguez as his scene-stealing stepson.

If every deserving nomination was acknowledged and awards given out, the Emmys would probably last three or four days. No, they don’t. Really, it only seems that way. Tune in.

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