Emmys 2014

    Kate McKinnon: SNL’s New Superstar

    The ‘SNL’ scene-stealer nabbed an Emmy nod for singing about penises and her impression of Angela Merkel. Now she’s on the hit Hulu series ‘The Awesomes.’

    Every actor knows that there are tricks to landing an Emmy nomination. If a pregnancy storyline is written for your character, the birth episode is Emmy gold. A bout with a life-threatening—though not life-ending—illness is always good awards bait. When all that fails, ask the writers to pen you a scene where your meth-dealing former teacher suffers a psychological breakdown.

    Or, if you’re Saturday Night Live’s newest breakout star, you sing a song about traveling the world in pursuit of penises and do an impression of a German chancellor who most of mainstream America has never heard of. Unconventional? Sure. But that’s why we love Kate McKinnon.

  • Sundance.tv

    Ripped From the Headlines

    Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Best Performance Yet

    Her free-wheeling eloquence, as much the actress’s trademark as those emotive, saucer-sized eyes, is more measured than usual when discussing ‘The Honorable Woman’ and Gaza.

    Maggie Gyllenhaal is being very careful with her words.

    We’re talking about her role in the eight-part miniseries The Honorable Woman, which begins airing Thursday night on SundanceTV. Gyllenhaal delivers what might be the most towering, complex, best performance of her career in the miniseries—a title not given freely to an actress who has been so stunning in projects like Sherrybaby, Secretary, and Crazy Heart, for which she received an Oscar nomination—and is outspokenly proud of her work in it.

  • Kevin Tachman/Getty


    Laverne Cox, Emmy Trailblazer

    Laverne Cox has become the first out transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy. The lesson for the entertainment industry is to employ more transgender actors.

    Earlier today, Laverne Cox became the first out transgender actress to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, for her role as Sophia on the Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black. This achievement followed her appearance on the cover of Time magazine, championing the nation’s “transgender tipping point.”

    Cox, who got her start in TV with one-off parts on shows like Law & Order and appearing as a contestant on 2008’s I Want to Work for Diddy, has finally found herself with the fame, recognition, and respect she deserved all along.

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    The Bridge’s Striking Heroine

    The striking German actress on the drama’s improved Season 2 and whether she’s ever seen her partner Joshua Jackson’s ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ [Warning: Some spoilers.]

    Hers was “the face that launched a thousand ships.” Now, a decade after making her big-screen splash in the sword-and-sandals blockbuster Troy, Diane Kruger is no longer a model-turned-ingénue, but a versatile actress who can convincingly portray anyone from a German screen siren/spy (Inglourious Basterds) to a treasure hunter with a Ph.D. (the National Treasure films). But on FX’s gritty drama The Bridge, she’s taken her talent to a different level.

    Kruger plays Det. Sonya Cross, a member of the El Paso Police Department who, when she’s not investigating rampant corruption and violence along the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico—the show’s title refers to the Bridge of the Americas border crossing—is busy managing her Asperger’s. The socially awkward Cross has found an odd ally in Det. Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir), a world-weary homicide detective for the Mexican State Police of Chihuahua.

  • Jessica Miglio/Netflix


    Inside S2 of ‘Orange Is the New Black’

    Marlow Stern and Kevin Fallon dive into the first six episodes, including a terrifying new villain, the backstories of Crazy Eyes and Poussey, and much more. [Warning: Spoilers!]

    Marlow: Now that it’s been almost a week, let’s unpack the first six episodes of Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black. The premiere, directed by Jodie Foster, really sets the tone for the entire season—a much darker one than the first. A terrified Piper is whisked away in the dead of night extraordinary rendition-style (presumably for killing Pennsatucky), placed on the OITNB version of Con Air, replete with a woman outfitted with a mask for spitting—an amalgam of the gagged-and-bagged Nazi and Steve Buscemi’s Garland Greene in the aforementioned Nic Cage guilty pleasure—as well as Lori Petty (!), and transferred to a max prison in Chicago to testify in the trial of Alex Vause’s drug boss, Kubra Balik.

    While I missed all the other Litchfield ladies, the Piper-centric premiere did a good job of setting the stage for the rest of the season—which basically sees Piper observe the prison turf war from the sidelines (more on that later). Since we knew going into S2 that Laura Prepon would only be in three episodes due to a “scheduling conflict,” the premiere was also, it seems, designed to move Vause out of the way by setting her free—while Piper perjures herself, claiming she’s never met Balik. We’ll see if that move comes back to bite Piper in the ass. Also, someone needs to ask Jenji Kohan how they trained beetles to transport cigarettes on their backs (if those were real beetles).

  • Hillary Clinton talks with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer for her first television interview in conjunction with the release of her new book, airing during a one-hour ABC News prime time special on MONDAY, JUNE 9 (9-10 pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Martin H. Simon/ABC)

    ‘Nothing Off-Limits’

    Hillary’s Network Massage

    Monday night’s relentlessly promoted Diane Sawyer interview felt full of pre-asked questions, little news—and hard selling of the possible next president’s new book, ‘Hard Choices.’

    Hillary Clinton almost didn’t need to show up. After all, the interview was more about Diane Sawyer’s questions than it was about Clinton’s answers, and Sawyer’s questions had been played over and over and over again in network promos advertising the show.

    So Monday night, when ABC finally got around to televising Hillary Clinton: Public and Private—One-on-One with Diane Sawyer, there was a sense of anti-climax in the air, and on the air. The show maybe wasn’t so much Hill’s Greatest Hits as Diane’s Most Askable Questions, and the questions were there as much to prompt viewer tweets, it seemed, as to elicit news from Clinton, possibly the next president of the United States.

  • THE NORMAL HEART: Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo. (Jojo Whilden/HBO)

    Emmy Alert

    Matt Bomer Breaks Your ‘Normal Heart’

    He was a straight high schooler when he first read ‘The Normal Heart.’ Now, years after coming out, the actor delivers a powerful turn as a man dying of AIDS in HBO’s adaptation.

    You don’t know it yet, but you’re about to be blown away by Matt Bomer.

    We’re used to staring in awe at the 36-year-old actor with the piercing blue eyes, so suave and debonair in White Collar and so astonishingly chiseled as a male stripper in Magic Mike. But we’re not used to simply being in awe of him, as we are—and you’ll soon be—after watching his devastating performance in The Normal Heart.

  • Rachel Harris of the new television show "Surviving Jack" participates in Fox Broadcasting Company's part of the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter 2014 presentations in Pasadena, California, January 13, 2014. (Kevork Djansezian/Reuters)

    I Love the ‘90s

    ‘The Bitch’ Survives Typecasting

    After years of being typecast as ‘the bitch’ thanks to ‘The Hangover,’ Rachael Harris finally gets the warm sitcom role she deserves in Fox’s Surviving Jack.

    Rachael Harris is not a bitch.

    That's important to clarify right off the bat, because you just might have the wrong impression of the Surviving Jack star. Before landing the role as the warm, but mischievous, mother in the '90s-set ABC sitcom, Harris has made a career out of playing the kind of sharp-tongued, caustic characters that you relish watching on TV and in movies but wouldn't be able to handle spending two minutes in the same room with in real life. You know, for the sake of your self-esteem.

  • Brendan O'Sullivan/Photoshot, via Getty

    The Week in Death

    You Didn’t Mess With This Fat Lady

    The chequered life of Clarissa Dickson Wright, the larger of the two stars on the eccentric cooking show ‘Two Fat Ladies.’

    Clarissa Dickson Wright, who has died aged 66, sprang to celebrity as the larger of the Two Fat Ladies in the astonishingly popular television series.

    Clarissa Dickson Wright was a recovering alcoholic, running a bookshop for cooks in Edinburgh when the producer Patricia Llewellyn was inspired to pair her with the equally eccentric Jennifer Paterson, then a cook and columnist at The Spectator. The emphasis of the program was to be on “suets and tipsy cake rather than rocket salad and sun-dried tomatoes,” the producer declared. Hence bombastic tributes to such delights as cream cakes and animal fats were mingled with contemptuous references to “manky little vegetarians.”

  • Vivian ZInk/ABC via Getty

    The ‘Trophy Wife’

    A Trophy Wife’s Life After ‘SNL’

    Could getting fired from ‘SNL’ boost an actress’s career? That seems to be the case for the Trophy Wife star who’s quickly become Hollywood’s most in-demand scene-stealer.

    “I do like to play people I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes in a room with,” says Trophy Wife star Michaela Watkins.

    It’s a good thing, too, considering the treasure trove of hilarious scene-stealing—and wacky blunt, and sometimes maddeningly annoying—characters the actress has unleashed on us since breaking out in 2008 during her infamously (and unjustly) short year on Saturday Night Live. (Remember those “Bitch, pleeeze” sketches?)

  • Lou Rocco/ABC

    She’s Back!

    Rosie’s Explosive Return

    Seven years after quitting ‘The View,’ Rosie O’Donnell returned to the couch. Funny, engaging, and reliably controversial, she proved her unparalleled worth.

    “Is Hasselbeck here? Just checking.”

    With one naughty, haughty question, Rosie O’Donnell transports us all back to what was, at once, the most exciting and despicable time in daytime television: the Rosie O’Donnell/Elisabeth Hasselbeck wars of 2007. It was energizing, captivating television, watching two strong women unapologetically articulate their respectively controversial viewpoints and un-self-consciously debate and defend them against each other. It would’ve been inspiring had the moments—and they were the epitome of television “moments”—been organic. Instead, they were so callously orchestrated by The View’s producers (remember that offensive Jerry Springer-esque split screen shot?) that O’Donnell—that rare breath of air that’s fresh precisely because it’s a bit crude and rancid—quit the show feeling disgraced and used.

  • MTV

    Real Housewives

    ‘Teen Mom’s Shocking Abortion

    A new season of ‘Teen Mom 2’ is back, and no, shows like it did not reduce teen pregnancy rates, whatever the claims. But the series is so grim that we might believe in its powers.

    If watching Teen Mom 2 was mandatory for American teens, then maybe the MTV show really would reduce teen births by 6 percent. The show is grim. Really grim. Each episode is like watching The Empire Strikes Back on repeat, with no trilogy-ending, daddy-issues-resolving finale on the horizon. This documentary isn’t MTV’s The Hills or Laguna Beach. The show doesn’t resemble a show. It’s more like boring old life, strenuous and unyielding.

    In the vein of True Life, the show follows the girls from the second season of 16 and Pregnant as they grapple with adulthood, single-parenting, and deadbeat fathers. As a running PSA for abstinence (or whatever you have to do to avoid getting knocked up), Teen Mom 2 never misses a moment to drop wisdom.

  • From left, Jennifer Carpenter as Debra Morgan in Dexter; Mireille Enos as Sarah Linden in The Killing; Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland. (Showtime (2); AMC)


    Television's Mad Women

    Thane Rosenbaum on the rise of the mentally unstable, lonely, workaholic heroine.

    American culture is undergoing a dramatic shift in how it likes to see its heroines portrayed on TV and in film. Gone are the days of Mary Tyler Moore, Rachel and Monica, and the fun-loving, heart-of-gold Sex & the City girls. In fact, both men and women are painted in the most unflattering of lights on the small screen these days. We’ve got philanderers and serial killers, bipolar ice queens and small-town drug dealers. While the results can often be dramatically exhilarating, our attachments to these characters can get downright confusing. Harkening back to that Simon & Garfunkel song, it’s no longer just ‘Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio'—the same now hold true for Mrs. Robinson herself. We’ve seen her kind before, but the women on TV and in film today aren’t evil—they’re mental.

    Bad boys and mad men are very much the rage nowadays. Chivalry is dead when it comes to TV’s male heroes, replaced by dissolute behavior and moral ambiguity. The public seems to have grown to appreciate the seedier exploits of the new antihero—morally compromised louts though they may all be. James Gandolfini’s recent death was a reminder of his iconic portrayal of a mafia chieftain who was conflicted about almost everything except murder in The Sopranos. The dapper but hopelessly depraved Donald Draper (Jon Hamm) in Mad Men is becoming increasingly harder to root for. And Walter White (Bryan Cranston), the high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine dealer in Breaking Bad, can make a viewer long for the innocence, and even some of the inanity, of Welcome Back Kotter.