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EMMYS: TV Academy To Honor Casting Queen Marion Dougherty With Governors Award; Announces Juried Winners

By | Thursday July 31, 2014 @ 10:45am PDT

EMMYS: TV Academy To Honor Casting Queen Marion Dougherty With Governors Award; Announces Juried WinnersCasting director Marion Dougherty will be posthumously awarded the 2014 Governors Award, the Television Academy said today. It will be presented, along with the Juried Award winners (also announced today) during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Saturday, August 16 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.

Marion11Dougherty, who passed away in 2011, is being recognized for defining the role of the Casting Director, changing the profession for both television and film. She broke the mold of traditional casting, which commonly involved bringing in a large number of the same type of actors to read for a role. Instead, she would bring three or four very different actors to provide the director with casting options, and performers who could bring unique shadings to the roles. She used that approach in casting Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Martin Sheen, William Shatner, Christopher Walken, Robert Duval, Glenn Close and James Caan in some of their earliest roles.

Among her many achievements: suggesting to Norman Lear that Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton play Archie and Edith on Lear’s pilot for a new series called All In The Family; convincing Richard Donner to cast Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon even though his part was written for a white male; and casting Robin Williams in Garp, his first dramatic role.

There was a push in 1991 to get Dougherty the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar — with the likes of Warner Bros’ Mark Rosenberg, Paula Weinstein, Newman, Woody Allen and Sydney Pollack behind the campaign — but that lobbying effort failed. Read More »

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R.I.P. Movie Makeup Icon Dick Smith

By | Thursday July 31, 2014 @ 8:49am PDT

R.I.P. Movie Makeup Icon Dick SmithLegendary Hollywood makeup artist Dick Smith has died at the age of 92. His protege and fellow makeup genius Rick Baker tweeted the sad news this morning.

“The master is gone. My friend and mentor Dick Smith is no longer with us. The world will not be the same.”

Smith’s iconic transformationsdick smith makeup appeared in films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver and The Exorcist, in which he created the device that allowed Linda Blair to projectile vomit. He also transformed the look of F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus, as he aged in the film from his 40s to his 80s. In 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences presented Smith with an honorary Oscar (Smith’s second, his first was for Amadeus) at the Governors Awards. It was presented by Baker who called Smith “my idol, mentor, and friend for over 40 years, the greatest makeup artist of all time”. On accepting the award, an emotional, tearful Smith said ”When I watch the wonderful films they just showed, I thought, ‘What a wonderful career this fellow has had.’ I have loved being a makeup artist. To have had so much kindness is just too much.”

Earlier in his career, he worked on the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows, a project he credited with being valuable preparation for the 1970 film Little Big Man. In Dark Shadows, vampire Barnabas Collins was undergoing medical treatment to change him into a living human being. … Read More »

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TECH Bits: ‘Mario Kart 8′ Sales Rev Up As Nintendo Struggles; Rob Glaser Redux

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 8:02pm PDT

TECH Bits: ‘Mario Kart 8′ Sales Rev Up As Nintendo Struggles; Rob Glaser ReduxNot even the arrival of fast-selling sequel Mario Kart 8 could rev up sales of the Wii U game console, as one-time video game king Nintendo continued to struggle in its first quarter. Operating losses of 9.47 billion yen ($92.2M) were twice as bad as expected in consensus analyst estimates, while sales dropped more than 8 percent to 74.7 billion yen ($72.7M) despite sales of more than 2.8 million units of Mario Kart in the quarter.

There were modest signs of hope, as Wii U sales spiked more than three times from the same quarter a year ago, hitting 510,000 units. That still leaves the Wii U far behind Sony’s next-generation game console, the PS4, which has racked up 8.7 million units sold since its debut in November 2013, a year after the Wii U. Nintendo has sold fewer than 6.7 million units in 19 months.

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Twitter Reactions To Robert Halmi Sr.’s Death

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 7:22pm PDT

Twitter Reactions To Robert Halmi Sr.’s DeathThe death of Robert Halmi Sr., the vastly respected producer of ambitious and Emmy-winning TV projects who led a very full life over 90 years, stirred plenty of comment and reaction on social media and beyond. Below is a sampling of reactions from some of the industry’s notables, including producer Gale Anne Hurd‘s (The Walking Dead) simple homage of two hashtags. Read More »

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‘Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn Sets ‘Sex With Strangers’ On Fire; A Pianist’s Tale Of Survival After The Kindertransport

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 6:37pm PDT

‘Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn Sets ‘Sex With Strangers’ On Fire; A Pianist’s Tale Of Survival After The KindertransportAnna Gunn, an Emmy winner as Skyler White on Breaking Bad and Geffen Playhouse regular, has taken to the boards as her latest show, Gracepoint, heads to its October premiere on Fox. In Laura Eason’s Sex With Strangers, running at the increasingly essential Second Stage, she plays Olivia, a writer who has retreated to a secluded B&B in Michigan to finish her second novel. It’s a dark and snow-stormy night when Ethan comes stomping in from the cold.

Olivia is on the cusp of 40, wispy and comfortably wrapped in an afghan. Ethan is played by Billy Magnussen, for whom the cusp of 40 is still a considerable way off and who — as anyone knows who saw him as Sigourney Weaver’s gifted boy toy in Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike (he was Spike) — has a body to render women weak and set men’s teeth on edge. Read More »

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R.I.P. Robert Drew, Pioneer Of American Cinema Verite

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 5:29pm PDT

R.I.P. Robert Drew, Pioneer Of American Cinema VeriteThe documentary filmmaker who was called the “father of American cinema verite” died today at his home in Sharon, Conn. Robert Drew was 90. He was a Life magazine correspondent and editor when he formed Drew Associates in 1960 and hired a team of filmmakers that included then-unknowns D.A. Pennebaker, Albert Maysles and Ricky Leacock. Their first project was Primary, which followed handsome young senator John F. Kennedy as he campaigned in Wisconsin for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination.

PrimaryStarting with Primary, Drew’s films pioneered a new journalistically minded code of documentary creation, including not directing subjects or using set-up shots or an on-camera narrator. The candid footage was edited into a dramatic narrative that gave the feeling of what it was like to be there as events occurred. His technique became known as cinema verite or direct cinema, though he liked to call it reality filmmaking.

Drew and his team re-engineered a motion picture camera and sound recorder so they could move freely and in sync with a subject, allowing them the mobility to capture real life as it unfolded before the lens. Primary and the 1963 docu Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment, which chronicled the president’s effort to integrate the University of Alabama, are part of the Library of Congress’ National Registry of historic films. Read More »

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R.I.P. Robert Halmi Sr.

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 4:59pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

R.I.P. Robert Halmi Sr.Emmy-winning TV movie and miniseries producer Robert Halmi Sr. has died. At 90, he was still doing what he had loved doing for the past three and a half decades — producing television — until his sudden passing this afternoon in his New York home from a brain aneurysm.

A freedom fighter in his native Hungary, where he had been jailed and sentenced to death twice — once by Nazi invaders, then by the communist regime — Halmi was able to emigrate to the U.S. in 1951, arriving with a Leica camera and $5 in his pocket. He started off as a “diaper photographer,” taking pictures of babies for a diaper service, before becoming one of America’s leading magazine photographers. He then switched to television, becoming one of the most prolific longform producers in the genre’s heyday during the 1980s and 1990s. His more than 200 movies and miniseries included such hits as Gulliver’s Travels, Merlin, The Odyssey and Tin Man. Together, they have earned 136 Emmy Awards (and 480 nominations), as well as Golden Globes, Peabodys, Christophers and Humanitas Prizes.

“I cannot retire, I would go nuts,” Halmi told me five years ago, when he was still jetting around the world to the sets of his movies, with that still camera still around his neck. Recently, he was working on the latest big-scope project, Syfy’s 13-part series Olympus, which started filming three weeks ago for a 2015 premiere.

A Christmas CarolHalmi … Read More »

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EMMYS: A Year After Its Finale Bryan Cranston Still Hopes ‘Breaking Bad’ Has Awards Mojo On Its Side

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 3:44pm PDT
Pete Hammond

EMMYS:  A Year After Its Finale Bryan Cranston Still Hopes ‘Breaking Bad’ Has Awards Mojo On Its SideBreaking Bad may have finished its run a year ago but, as far as Emmys are concerned, it has all the heat now – and then some. It recently won Best Drama Series from the Critics Choice Television Awards, Program Of The Year  from the Television Critics Association and even finally the Golden Globe last January for the show and star Bryan Cranston after essentially being ignored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the length of its 6-year  run. The show has really come into its own and continues to be talked about and debated, and has taken a kind of victory tour at all the Guild shows as well since finally winning its first Best Drama Series Emmy in 2013. And it is nominated again, for the last time, for those final eight episodes that ran last summer just as Emmy voting for the previous season was in full force. Some think voters gave breaking-bad-beats-mad-men-and-homeland-to-win-best-drama-seriesit the Emmy then as much for the new shows, that were unspooling as they had ballots in hand, as much they did for the eligible 8 shows from  the first half of the sixth and final season. It begs the question whether the Academy is ready to go there one more time even though BB long ago finished its first-run episodes on AMC. But despite three lead actor Emmys in 2008, 2009 and 2010 for Cranston as well as a pair for … Read More »

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HBO Greenlights David Simon Miniseries Starring Oscar Isaac & Catherine Keener

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 12:45pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

HBO Greenlights David Simon Miniseries Starring Oscar Isaac & Catherine KeenerAfter spending the last couple of months locking in a director and lead cast, HBO has officially greenlighted for production Show Me A Hero, a six-hour miniseries from The Wire co-creator David Simon. Inside Llewyn Davis leading man Oscar Isaac is set to star and Catherine Keener to co-star in the mini, which will be directed by Paul Haggis (Crash).

oscarisaacCatherine Keener Penned by Simon and Baltimore Sun journalist/The Wire writer William F. Zorzi, Show Me A Hero is based on the nonfiction book by Lisa Belkin. It tells the story of Nick Wasicsko (Isaac), the youngest big-city mayor in the nation who finds himself thrust into the center showmeaheroof a racial controversy when a federal court orders him to build a small number of low-income housing units in the white neighborhoods of his town, Yonkers, N.Y.. His attempt to do so tears the city apart, paralyzes the municipal government and, ultimately, destroys his political future. Keener, repped by Gersh, plays Mary Dorman, an East Yonkers homeowner who comes to a remarkable realization during the battle over where to build low-income housing. Read More »

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Paramount Digital Entertainment Sets New Comedy Series From Elizabeth Banks & Max Handelman

Paramount Digital Entertainment Sets New Comedy Series From Elizabeth Banks & Max HandelmanIn its first collaboration, Paramount Digital Entertainment is teaming with Pitch Perfect’s Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman’s Brownstone Productions banner on the workplace comedy Resident Advisors. Banks and Handelman will exec produce and Ira Ungerleider (Friends) has come aboard to shepherd the project as both exec producer and director. Natalia Anderson will produce based on a pilot script written by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Alex Reid. The ensemble cast includes Ryan Hansen (2Broke Girls, Burning Love), Jamie Chung (Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, The Hangover Part II & III), Alison Rich (College Humor Originals), Andrew Bachelor (House Of Lies), Graham Rogers (Revolution) and Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect). Series is set in the most hormonally overloaded, sexually active, out-of-control workplace in the world: a college dorm. It follows a group of resident advisors as they navigate sex, drugs, and midterms.
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‘Sea Of Trees’ With Matthew McConaughey Begins Lensing In Massachusetts, Japan

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 10:36am PDT

‘Sea Of Trees’ With Matthew McConaughey Begins Lensing In Massachusetts, JapanGus Van Sant‘s next directorial Sea Of Trees starring Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe and Naomi Watts is currently in production in rural Massachusetts and will be moving its production to Japan in September.  Financier and producer Ken Kao and Alex Walton’s international sales, production and financing company, BLOOM, launched and introduced Sea Of Trees in Cannes, and by the end of the festival had sold out most of the world.

Van Sant has assembled a top-notch creative team to work on the film including Oscar-winning editor Pietro Scalia, Emmy nominated production designer Alex DiGerlando (HBO’s True Detective), cinematographer Kasper Tuxen (Beginners), Oscar-nominated costume designer Danny Glicker (Milk, Up In The Air) and make up department head Felicity Bowring (The Bourne Legacy, The Social Network). Read More »

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Lauren Sanchez & Dan Friedkin Launch Pursuit Productions, First Doc ‘Found’ In The Works

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 10:02am PDT

Lauren Sanchez & Dan Friedkin Launch Pursuit Productions, First Doc ‘Found’ In The WorksEmmy award-winner Lauren Sanchez, who is a frontrunner to join The View as a co-host, has formed Pursuit Productions with Dan Friedkin.  Pursuit will focus on telling compelling real life stories from around the globe. The company already has its first documentary feature in the works, Found, and closed a deal with Mark Monroe (Sound City, The Tillman Story, The Cove) to write. Found follows the search for those pilots whose planes were lost in The Battle of Peleliu during World War II.  Also joining the search for the missing pilots in the doc is former United States Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, whose memoir Lone Survivor was adapted into the 2013 Universal Studios film of the same name starring Mark Wahlberg. Friedkin and Sanchez, in conjunction with Imperative Entertainment, are also filming a pilot, On the Road, which follows the death-defying adventures of The Horsemen, the world’s only vintage P-51 aerobatic flight team.  Sanchez guest-hosted on The View this morning. Pursuit Productions is repped by WME.

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Jessica Lange Set For Santa Barbara Film Fest Honor

Jessica Lange Set For Santa Barbara Film Fest HonorThe actress who went from reclining in King Kong’s hand to creeping us out on American Horror Story, picking up a pair of Oscars along the way, will be feted this fall by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Organizers said today that Jessica Lange will receive the ninth annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film during a black-tie gala on November 16 in Santa Barbara. Presenters will be revealed in the coming months. Here’s the release: Read More »

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So Who Comic-Conquered San Diego?

So Who Comic-Conquered San Diego?The fanboy Super Bowl is over. Who made the most of San Diego Comic-Con and who spit the bit? Here’s the view from Deadline staffers who endured endless movie and TV show presentations. We’ll start with features:

WARNER BROS: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jupiter Ascending, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Mad Max Comic ConThe best Comic-Con panels show fans things they’ve never seen before. From that standpoint, Warner Bros changed the game by making the Hall H experience seem larger. It turned the dark curtains covering 450 feet down the sides of the auditorium into a wraparound multimedia visual experience that left jaded geeks looking left and right in wonder at images that complemented the onstage presentation. Expect others to rip this off. For star power: Zack Snyder introduced his Batman v Superman stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot and offered glimpses of the film. Warner Bros also wowed with explosive footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that looks like it could be the answer someday to this Trivial Pursuit question: What movie transformed Tom Hardy from a great actor into a big fucking movie star? Warner Bros also brought Middle Earth excitement to Hall H with a lengthy Hobbit: The Five Armies panel and footage that had LOTR fans aflutter.

Related: Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con

MARVEL: Ant-Man, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Avengers 2 at Comic-ConMarvel is always the must-see panel; not so much this year. Maybe it was DC Comics’ turn to shine, and maybe being a sequel factory imposes limits on the surprise front. They trotted out the superstar Avengers lineup — been there, done that! — with additions Josh Brolin, Aaron Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen. No Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, who was busy bitch-slapping Hercules at the box office in the Luc Besson film Lucy. Footage was OK, but Kevin Feige set a high bar for himself in past Cons, and this year he couldn’t clear it. Ant-Man brought Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly (already knew they were in the movie), and plans for a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel were greeted by a collective “Duh!’ Feige could have told us what movies will fill all those release dates he recently staked out. He didn’t. Better luck next year, Marvel Man.

Related: Marvel Sets ‘Guardians 2′ For 2017; ‘Avengers 2’ Footage Draws Standing O

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Giancarlo Esposito Joins Musical Drama ‘Stuck’; Rom-Com ‘Temps’ Sets Leads

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 5:17pm PDT

Giancarlo Esposito Joins Musical Drama ‘Stuck’; Rom-Com ‘Temps’ Sets LeadsGiancarlo Esposito has joined the cast of NYC-set musical drama Stuck, about six strangers trapped on a stalled subway train. Filming is underway with a cast that includes Amy Madigan and singer-actress Ashanti. Esposito will play Lloyd, a mysterious homeless man who might offer more wisdom than expected.

Stuck is adapted from the stage play by Riley Thomas, who co-scripted with director Michael Berry; the helmer is set to release his drama Frontera, also co-starring Madigan alongside Ed Harris, Eva Longoria, and Michael Peña, this month. Esposito starred on the recent NBC series Revolution and was just announced as joining the cast of Disney’s The Jungle Book. He’s also in pre-production on his own project Patriotic Treason which he’ll direct, produce, and co-star opposite Ed Harris in the period retelling of the saga of abolitionist John Brown. Read More »

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Oscar Winner James L. Brooks Inks With WME

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 4:00pm PDT

Oscar Winner James L. Brooks Inks With WMEJames L Brooks, who created iconic TV series including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi and The Simpsons and who three Oscars as writer, director and producer of Terms Of Endearment, has inked with WME. The 20-time Emmy winner is founder of Simpsons producer Gracie Films and has 10 Academy Award nominations overall including for writing and producing Broadcast News (1987), producing Jerry Maguire (1996) and producing and co-writing As Good As It Gets (1997). He will continue to be represented by Sam Fischer at Ziffren Brittenham.

WME also recently signed writer-producers Ian Goldberg (Once Upon A Time) and Patrick Harbinson (Homeland).

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Cinedigm, Great Point Media Pact On 8-Film Genre Distro Deal

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 12:55pm PDT

Cinedigm, Great Point Media Pact On 8-Film Genre Distro DealIndependent distributor Cinedigm has agreed to distribute an octet of new cast-driven sci-fi and thriller features from Robert Halmi Jr.’s Great Point Media in a new multi-picture partnership between the companies. Cinedigm will take all U.S. rights to the films including theatrical, digital, VOD, home entertainment, and TV in addition to having first look rights to Great Point Media’s development line-up. First pair of features are slated for late 2014. Emmy and Golden Globe-winning producer Halmi has over three decades of film and TV under his belt, including genre titles Dinotopia, Arabian Nights, The 10th Kingdom, Cleopatra, Alice in Wonderland, The Baby Dance and Lonesome Dove. His Great Point Media partner and fellow Emmy-winner Jim Reeve has produced for TV and film for 25 years, including Foyle’s War and Jack Higgins’ On Dangerous Ground. Their deal is the latest content agreement for Cinedigm, which is also planning a Comic Con branded digital channel, a Dove branded family and faith-based channel, and a documentary channel called Docurama. Great Point Media currently has 30 films, 2 mini-series and 6 television series in various stages of production and development.

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EMMYS: Party Season In Full Force As Final Voting Gets Underway And Nominees Turn Out

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 11:04am PDT
Pete Hammond

EMMYS: Party Season In Full Force As Final Voting Gets Underway And Nominees Turn OutWith still exactly a month to go before the big (Monday) event, the Emmy party season kicked off in style last night on the 3rd floor outdoor deck of the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills with a bash for performer nominees. Showing up to meet and greet potential voters as well as press and other Academy members were Modern Family’s Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson; Minnie Driver, nominated for the Lifetime movie Return To Zero; Veep’s pair of 2013 winners and nominees again, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale; double nominee for Mom and Masters Of Sex, Allison Janney; Scandal’s bad guy Joe Morton;  House Of Cards‘ Kevin Spacey; and Fargo’s Billy Bob Thornton.  Presiding over it all were actors branch Governors Bob Bergen and Lily Tomlin. Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum and new president Maury McIntyre also made the scene.

Emmy Party 2014Now this was just the first round. There will be an even bigger bash for performers two nights before the Emmys at the Pacific Design Center. Between now and then there will be another 21 of these peer group parties representing every branch of the Academy from Costume Designers (who actually were the first group to party a few days ago) to Make Up and Hairstylists to Writers (I am on the Board Of Governors repping that branch, which will celebrate its nominees August 21). That’s almost one a night. Putting all this together is the indefatigable Barbara Chase and the Academy staff.

Also happening during this period will be the Creative Arts Emmys and Ball on Saturday, August 16 where 94 categories will be presented (up from 80 last year). Just a measly 26 categories will be presented on the NBC telecast August 25th.Whew. August is usually the dog days for the TV industry, but this year it is where all the heat is — at least as far as Emmys go. Voting, which is done by individual volunteers from each peer group , also got underway this week with the first round of ballots due back August 6 (for Creative Arts)  and the final round the next week. Read More »

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Jay Leno Back On NBC…As ‘Last Comic Standing’ Mentor

By | Monday July 28, 2014 @ 11:59am PDT

Jay Leno Back On NBC…As ‘Last Comic Standing’ MentorNBC said today he will return to the network as the final comic mentor on Last Comic Standing on Thursday at 10 PM. In the episode, the final five comics are flown to meet surprise guest Leno in Las Vegas and ask him questions about stand-up comedy. He answers, shares personal stories and anecdotes and gives advice before the next stand-up routines that whittle the contestants to four. The season finale is August 14.

Jay Leno has kept himself busy since departing as longtime host of The Tonight Show in February, from hosting his car show Jay Leno’s Garage (it was nominated for an Emmy) to surprising Arsenio Hall to announce (prematurely, it turned out) that The Arsenio Hall Show had been renewed, He also was inducted into the TV Academy’s Hall of Fame in March, and the next month  he had a street named for him on the Universal lot.

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