EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed actor Taylor Kitsch. Here’s the guy who – after playing one of the great recent TV characters in fullback Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights and then a small but showy role as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine – seemed like he was going to be the next big leading man. That was before he suffered a hellacious summer when the two big movies he starred in, John Carter and Battleship, both flopped. But Kitsch has put himself back on the track with a good showing in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and most recently playing the Medal of Honor-winning Long Island-bred Navy SEAL Michael Murphy in the Peter Berg-directed Lone Survivor. Kitsch was last repped by WME but has been agent-less this year until now. He continues to be managed by Untitled Entertainment, and he next stars in the ensemble of HBO’s adaptation of the Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart, directed by Ryan Murphy.
Cannes: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard Introduce Imagine 2.0; A Pele Pic On The Croisette, A Crowd-Funded ‘Friday Night Lights’, ‘Dark Tower’, Jay-Z And One Angry White Whale
EXCLUSIVE:When Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard re-upped in their 26th year at Universal in early 2012, like all studio term producers they watched the deal get smaller. They also went from exclusive to first look and while that might have humbled less energetic founders who’d made 50 films for the same studio, Grazer and Howard took it as license to tap into new avenues of distribution and funding to be more productive than ever.
Consider that while Howard tinkers with the finished Formula One drama Rush and casts the Warner Bros adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick novel In The Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, Grazer is on the Croisette, beating the drum for a Pele biopic to be directed by The Two Escobars helmer Jeff Zimbalist and his brother Michael. Grazer and production president Kim Roth called the film a close cousin to the search for genius depicted in 8 Mile, only here it’s a dirt-poor kid’s journey from being part of the Shoeless Wonders (a band of soccer wunderkinds too poor to afford shoes) to a phenom who at 17 led Brazil to the World Cup. Grazer and his partners will have the film ready by the time the world is whipped into a frenzy for World Cup action next year.
* While they’ve temporarily halted the move to turn Jack Bauer loose in a 24 feature, they’ve instead decided to bring him back in a limited series, this after selling an Arrested Development revival directly to Netflix. Grazer tells me they are absolutely moving forward with a movie version of another Imagine series, Friday Night Lights, and they will likely use crowdfunding to directly tap the rabid fan base of that drama for some of the budget. “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series,” Grazer said. “I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.”
Friday Night Lights creator Peter Bergwants the GOP presidential candidate to stop using the expression “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” from his former NBC show. Berg’s letter comes just days after Buzz Bissinger, who wrote the book upon which the series is based, announced that he was going to vote for the Republican ticket. The request also comes just a couple of days after Sesame Street‘s production company asked President Obama’s campaign to take down its Big Bird-themed ad taking Mitt Romney to task for his plan to cut funding to PBS. Here’s Berg’s letter he sent to Romney today:
EXCLUSIVE: Former Friday Night Lights executive producer David Hudgins has signed a new overall deal with Universal Television to develop projects for the studio and work on existing series. Hudgins has a longtime association with Uni TV-based FNL developer/executive producer Jason Katims. Hudgins worked on FNL for entire run of the series, serving as co-showrunner with Katims on the final season, which earned four Emmy nominations, including best drama series, and won 2: best drama writing for the Katims-penned series finale and best actor in a drama series for Kyle Chandler. For the last two seasons, Hudgins has served as a co-executive producer on Katims’ latest series, NBC’s Parenthood. Under his new deal, Hudgins could work for Parenthood or Katims’ new drama County if they are renewed/picked up to series.
This past development season, Hudgens wrote a U.S. adaptation of praised Danish drama Borgen for NBC and Uni TV, which he executive produced with Katims. “Hudgins has been an asset on our shows crafting interesting characters and compelling stories,” Uni TV EVP Bela Bajaria said. “This year, he wrote a great drama for NBC.” UTA-repped Hudgins previously created Fox’s short-lived drama Past Life and worked on the WB drama Everwood.
EXCLUSIVE: Kyle Chandler is the latest name to join the ensemble of the untitled Kathryn Bigelow-directed drama about the Navy SEAL Team 6′s long hunt for Osama bin Laden. That hunt culminated with the fatal shooting last year of the Al-Qaeda leader and mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I’ve heard that Chandler will be playing a CIA agent, but nobody has confirmed any of the cast Deadline has revealed on the film, so you’ll have to take my word for it. The Mark Boal-scripted drama for Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures stars Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez. The picture is moving forward even as the Pentagon announced it is investigating charges made by Rep. Peter King that Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker tandem Bigelow and Boal somehow got inside information about the mission from the Obama administration in preparing the script. Sony Pictures has dated the film for release on December 19, deliberately steering clear of the presidential elections.
Former Friday Night Lights star Michael B. Jordan is re-teaming with the series’ executive producer Jason Katims. Jordan has been cast opposite Jason Ritter in Katims’ NBC drama pilot County. The Universal TV-produced project chronicles the lives of young doctors, nurses, and administrators in a frenetic underfunded and morally compromising LA County Hospital. Jordan will play one of them, Travis, a new intern at County who looks after his junkie sister’s daughter. Jordan, whose series credits include HBO’s The Wire, also recurred on Katims’ NBC series Parenthood. He currently stars in the movie Chronicle, which opened #1 last weekend. The actor, who was sought after this pilot season, is with UTA, the Schiff Co, and attorney Greg Slewett.
Emmy 2011 is officially over and those I talked to at the Governors Ball, HBO and AMC celebrations generally liked it. The consensus is that Jane Lynch was a sharp host, the pace was good and the Mark Burnett-produced show came to life enough times to make it all worthwhile despite the deja vu feeling from repeat winners Modern Family (two years in a row), Mad Men (four years in a row), The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (9 wins in a row) and The Amazing Race (8 wins in the past 9 years). The highlight was when the six nominees for Best Actress in a Comedy Series came on stage as their names were announced and lined up in beauty pageant fashion – before (surprise) winner Melissa McCarthy of CBS’ Mike And Molly was given roses, a tiara and an Emmy. I caught up with McCarthy at the HBO party and she told me it was barely planned. “We had talked about it but when (first nominee) Amy Poehler got up and walked on stage I guess I realized then we were really going to do this,” she said. ”The whole experience was so surreal.
McCarthy has also been winning lots of praise for her scene-stealing performance in the summer smash comedy, Bridesmaids. Universal campaign insiders are telling me they are likely planning a Supporting Actress campaign for her. She was practically speechless when I asked her how she felt about this, but finally said: “If they do it I …
The broadcast networks staged a major comeback on a wild night at the Emmys, which started and ended with wins that were widely predicted but saw some real curve balls in between. Broadcast’s dominating performance was led by the five Emmys for ABC’s heavy comedy favorite Modern Family, which won every category it was nominated in, sweeping the first four trophy presentations of the night — for best supporting actor/actress and best writing/directing in a comedy series — and making the final award of the night, for best comedy series, a foregone conclusion. Modern Family won that too for a second straight year, and its sweep shut out rival Glee, leaving Emmy host Fox empty-handed. Broadcast shows also claimed the lead actor/actress in a comedy series categories, which provided two of the major upsets of the night. Melissa McCarthy of CBS’ Mike & Molly won for lead comedy actress despite most pundits having her as their fifth or sixth pick in the category and Golden Globe winner Laura Linney considered a strong front-runner for The Big C. Fellow CBS leading man Jim Parsons denied Steve Carell an Emmy for his iconic role on The Office. (The Office and fellow 30 Rock were left out completely tonight.) McCarthy’s and Parsons’ wins also meant a comeback for the multi-camera genre, which had its first double lead actor/actress win in a long time.
Broadcast’s big night continued with Julianna Margulies winning as best actress in a drama series for CBS’ The Good Wife. The Eye network scored again in the reality competition series, where The Amazing Race won for the eighth time in nine years in the category. Additionally, Friday Night Lights, which originated on NBC and continued to air second runs on the broadcast network, scored two big wins for its final season. One went to star Kyle Chandler for lead actor in a drama series and another to showrunner Jason Katims for writing. Add to that the strong showing of pubcaster PBS, whose Masterpiece Theatre mini-series Downton Abbey won four major awards: best TV movie/miniseries, best supporting actress, Maggie Smith, and best writing and directing for a TV movie/miniseries.
Emmys Live-Blog: ‘Modern Family,’ Dominates Comedy Field, ‘Mad Men’ Squeaks Best Drama Win, Big Farewell For ‘Friday Night Lights’ And Upsets Galore
We’re off and running. The much-talked-about opening number of host Jane Lynch features the Glee star in a massive pre-taped production number having her sing and dance through the stages of a slew of hit TV shows. It opens with Leonard Nimoy who, as network president, introduces Lynch to the house of television where all TV shows are housed. The part was originally taped with Alec Baldwin but was redone after Fox cut a line about the News Corp hacking scandal. The elements are uneven, but the best bit is Lynch walking into a scene of AMC’s period ad agency drama Mad Men and being asked by Jon Hamm’s Don Draper to go fetch coffee. When Lynch fires back that she is no secretary but the host of the Emmys Pete Campbell’s Kartheiser is not impressed. “What you should be doing is learning how to type and firing the guy that gave you that man’s haircut!” Lynch tells them that a lot has changed since 1965 and now women can marry each other, nodding, “Hi, Peggy….” “Does that mean women don’t have to sleep with men anymore to make it to the top?” wide-eyed Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) asks. “No, you still have to do that,” Lynch replies. She tells the group that people can now watch television on their phones. When she adds that in the future people can fast-forward through the commercials, everyone freezes. Ad man Don Draper turns to her and gives her a steely look. “You’re going to turn around, walk out of here, and we’re going to pretend we never met you.” Lynch obliges but not before one last jab at Kartheiser, “This haircut costs more than your house. “The number spilled into the stage with a big live finale featuring Lynch hoisted up by male dancers. “Try doing this with triple Spanx,” she said after getting down.
ABC’s Modern Family is on an early roll in the supporting comedy series acting categories, dismissing some projections that, with all 6 cast members nominated in the 2 categories, they might cancel each other out. The first winner of the night is the show’s Julie Bowen for best supporting actress in a comedy series. “I don’t know what I am going to talk about in therapy next week now,” she says.
A second after she thanked her TV husband, Ty Burrell, he too walked to the stage to pick up his trophy for best supporting actor in a comedy series. Burrell talked about his dad, who passed away before he got into acting, doing “a job where every day I go to work in makeup.”
Ricky Gervais presents the director for a comedy series category in a pre-taped segment. “Sorry. I can’t be live and in person. Not after the Golden Globes. I’m not even allowed on American soil if I say something rude or offensive.”
Modern Family is going 3-for-3 with a comedy series directing award for director Michael Alan Spiller for the Halloween episode.
And now it’s 4-for-4 as Modern Family also wins for best writing in a comedy series for the “Caught in the Act” episode written by Steve Levitan and Jeffrey Richman. Levitan, noting that the episode’s main story of the Dunphy kids walking in on their parents having sex was based on his own experience, thanked his “somewhat satisfied wife and 3 traumatized children.” The director cuts to Levitan’s wife who is rolling her eyes.
After the early Modern Family sweep, Lynch comes back from commercial with “Welcome back to the Modern Family Awards.”
Then it’s Charlie Sheen, presenting the lead actor in a comedy series category. Like on The Tonight Show earlier in the week, it was not the Warlock but the old Sheen — cool, collected and gracious — who showed up. “Before I present the award in my old category I wanna take a moment to get something off my chest and say something to all my friends from Two and a Half Men,” he said. “From the bottom of my heart, I wish nothing but the best for this upcoming season. We spent 8 wonderful years together, I know you will continue to make great television. Now on to the Emmy.”
Mad Men (AMC)
Why It Was Nominated: Because it’s television’s reigning gold standard, that’s why, with 19 total nominations this year (more than any other series and second among all shows behind the HBO mini Mildred Pierce, which tallied 21). Matt Weiner 1960s ad agency hour has won three times in a row here and by winning a fourth would tie Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and The West Wing for the most Outstanding Drama Emmys. In its fourth season, critics and fans seem to be in agreement that Mad Men remains at the top of its game. So if it’s still about quality, just hand the Emmy over.
Why It Has To Win: Mad Men is on a roll, one that shows no signs of derailing with wins this year from the Television Critics Association and the inaugural Critics Choice Award. “They did some of their best work this season,” one producer says, “and the level that Weiner is operating at sort of leaves a lot of us in awe. It’s astoundingly good.” This show appears to be that rarest of exceptions: One that started out hot and has grown only hotter year after year as well as backlash-proof.
Why It Can’t Possibly Win: There are a couple of monkey wrenches that could squelch this year’s anticipated Mad Men coronation. One is the fact that, unlike its first three years in Emmy contention, the show had no fresh episodes this summer during voting time — pushed to next spring by Weiner’s protracted contract negotiations. The other is those very negotiations themselves that found the headstrong Men creator-showrunner all over the media with the sometimes acrimonious back-and-forth. “There will be some who don’t vote for the show out of jealousy directed at Weiner,” a voting writer believes. “But it’s hard to know how much that will matter.”
Matthew Weiner, Mad Men (AMC)
Why He Was Nominated: What, are you kidding? Weiner has been nominated for 18 of these things and come out on top eight times, including winning both as producer and writer for Mad Men the last three years running. He also took the prize as a producer for a little show called The Sopranos in both 2004 and 2007. The fact that Weiner has personally earned 10 nominations for Mad Men during the past three years alone is a bit astonishing, particularly when you consider that AMC wasn’t on the Emmy map at all until Weiner arrived.
Why He Has To Win: It would take almost an act of God to keep Weiner from taking both the series and writing trophies for a fourth consecutive year, in part because the Mad Men episode for which he’s nominated — “The Suitcase” — is considered both a tour de force for star Jon Hamm and one of the show’s best hours, period. And that’s saying something. The hour was essentially a writing showcase for Weiner and an acting workshop for Hamm and co-star Elisabeth Moss. Cue the bandwagon.
Why He Can’t Possibly Win: That Mad Men is nominated twice here has the possibility of splitting the vote. There’s also the school of thought that the late momentum for Friday Night Lights could carry Jason Katims (nominated for the series finale) to an upset victory. Or, you know, the sun may not rise tomorrow. Anything is possible.
2011 TCA AWARDS: ‘Friday Night Lights’ Wins Program Of The Year, ‘Game Of Thrones’ Named Best New Show
As a new NBC series, Friday Night Lights won Outstanding New Program at the Television Critics Association’s awards in 2007. Four years later, as a departing DirecTV show, Friday Night Lights tonight won the top TCA award, Program of the Year. HBO’s Game of Thrones was named outstanding new program during the non-televised ceremony hosted by Parks and Recreation co-star Nick Offerman at the Beverly Hilton. Oprah Winfrey got a career achievement TCA award to go with her recently awarded Oscar “for her influence through 25 seasons of The Oprah Winfrey Show,” while Offerman received an Individual Achievement in Comedy Award to make up for the Emmy-nomination snub last month. CBS’ The Amazing Race, whose best series Emmy-winning streak was broken last year, is starting a new one at the TCA Awards, winning the first award in newly established reality program category. Here is the list of the winners in 12 categories voted by the members of TCA, a media organization comprised of more than 200 professional TV critics and journalists from the U.S. and Canada:
Program of the Year
Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
Outstanding Achievement in Drama
Mad Men (AMC)
Outstanding Achievement in Comedy
Modern Family (ABC)
Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming
The Amazing Race (CBS)
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
During a panel for his new thriller drama series for FX, American Horror Story, Murphy confessed a dark family secret that may have led to his fascination with horror: “My grandmother would force me, even when I was sobbing and screaming, to watch Dark Shadows,” he said. “And then when I was bad, I had to watch The Waltons.”
Murphy and fellow American Horror Story co-creator Brad Falchuck said that the present cast and characters would not necessarily only be around for the first 13 episodes as has been speculated. And they assured their audience that many of the questions raised in the pilot episode would be answered fairly quickly in the second and third episodes. “(We have) a pilot that I believe has like eight cliffhangers,” Murphy said. “We had an obligation to the audience in the next two scripts to explain a lot of those things that are set up.” One of those things, he said, will be why the characters stay in the very scary 1920s California house — a phenomenon that has been spoofed a lot, why people in haunted houses in horror films and TV shows just don’t get the heck out of there. Murphy said that very important question would be answered in the third episode. As for questions about the recent controversy over the fate of some of the stars from his other series — Fox’s Glee — Murphy declined to answer those. “I’m not talking about Glee,” he said after the panel. “I’ve said everything I wanted to say about that” (See Emmy Q&A: Ryan Murphy About ‘Glee’ and ‘Glee’s Ryan Murphy Talks For First Time About Spinoff & Firings Missteps.)
Oscar contenders The King’s Speech, The Fighter and 127 Hours will face off again, this time as finalists in the feature film category for this year’s Humanitas Prizes, which recognize writers whose work “entertain, engage and enrich the viewing public.” The series finale of DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights made the cut in the hourlong TV category alongside Fox’s House, Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva and HBO’s The Pacific, while ABC’s Emmy-winning Modern Family, which shared the comedy prize in the half-hour category with Showtime’s Nurse Jackie last year, is nominated again, along with Nurse Jackie, CBS’ How I Met Your Mother and Showtime’s The Big C. (The drama prize last year was split between Glee and The Good Wife.) The winners in 6 categories will be announced at the annual ceremony slated to take place Sept. 16 at the Montage Beverly Hills where comedy veteran Gary David Goldberg will receive the Kieser Award “which is given to an individual whose work has helped promote a greater appreciation for each member of the human family.” Here is the official release:
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s Emmy coverage.
EMMYS: Comedy And Drama Series Have Become Primetime’s Great Divide
The Emmy nomination for top drama series that so many had been wrongly predicting for years finally materialized this morning for Friday Night Lights, the DirecTV-by-way-of-NBC football drama that since its 2006 start has been at once blessed with lavish critical praise and cursed with spotty ratings. Yet the fact that the series nom comes for Lights‘ final season — long after it can do the show any good — still tasted sweet rather than bitter for showrunner Jason Katims. “It’s fantastic,” Katims said in an interview with Deadline today, referring both to the show’s first series nomination as well as the repeat performing nods for leads Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler (their second in as many years). “It was completely unexpected but totally plays into the whole spirit that guided this series. To use our metaphor, it’s like earning a shot with our last possession in the final seconds of the game. And we’re thrilled to have it.” Lights blazed a decidedly unprecedented path in its fight to survive as long as it did, starting out on NBC where it struggled in the ratings after having its second season cut short by the writers strike and faced cancellation before being rescued from the scrap heap by DirecTV.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s Emmy coverage.
Nominations released this morning for the 63rd Primetime Emmys continued to demonstrate the intriguing trend of broadcast dominating comedy series and cable the drama side, to the point of near-exclusivity. No cable series broke through in the Outstanding Comedy race. The last time that happened was 2005, which coincidentally was also the most recent year that all four major nets, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox, each landed at least one best comedy series nom apiece, as they did this time. (That last fact is sure to please the Big 4, which just signed a new eight-year, $66 million deal with the TV Academy to carry the Primetime Emmy Awards through 2018.) Last year, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Showtime’s Nurse Jackie both cracked the list, while in ’09 the group included HBO’s Entourage and Flight of the Conchords as well as Showtime’s Weeds. This time, however, it was a broadcast sweep with NBC’s 30 Rock and The Office, first-timers Parks and Recreation and The Big Bang Theory as well as Fox’s Glee and ABC’s defending champ Modern Family.
In the Outstanding Drama Series race, meanwhile, the superiority was almost equally absolute on the cable/satellite side, with HBO freshmen Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones and Emmy maiden Friday Night Lights from DirecTV joining AMC’s three-time champ Mad Men and Showtime’s annual nominee Dexter to give non-broadcast hours five of the six slots. Only CBS’ The Good Wife prevented a clean sweep. It’s the first time that broadcast has claimed just a single nominee in any major Emmy series category. (Last year, The Good Wife was joined in the category by departing ABC series Lost.)
EMMY ANALYSIS: New Drama Series, Overlooked Comedies, ‘Friday Night Lights’, Jimmy Fallon And ‘SYTYCD’ Make A Splash
63rd Primetime Emmy Nominations
HBO’s new dramas Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones made a big showing in their first Emmy races, Friday Night Lights received a great sendoff for its final season, Modern Family solidified its position as the undisputed comedy king, The Big Bang Theory and Parks and Recreation landed first best series noms, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and So You Think You Can Dance broke into the major categories at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. On the heels of its Golden Globe and SAG wins, Prohibition-era extravaganza Boardwalk Empire netted an impressive tally of 18 Emmy nominations — including best drama series, best actor (Steve Buscemi) and best director (Martin Scorsese) — second only to the drama series that has dominated awards races for the past four years, AMC’s Mad Men, which had 19 noms. HBO led the network pack with 104 nominations, followed by CBS, which was the most nominated broadcast network with 50 noms, NBC with 46, PBS with 43, and this year’s host of the Primetime Emmy ceremony, Fox, with 42. HBO’s miniseries Mildred Pierce was the most nominated program overall with 21 mentions, including one in the newly consolidated best movie/miniseries category.
In its final Emmy hurrah, high school football drama Friday Night Lights earned its first best series nomination for its final season on DirecTV, along with the second consecutive best actor and best actress noms for stars Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. In the best drama series category, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones and FNL joined returning nominees Mad Men, Dexter and The Good Wife, which was once again the sole representative of broadcast TV in the top drama series category. Game of Thrones took a spot occupied by another genre series last year, HBO’s vampire drama True Blood, while notable omissions in the best drama series field include AMC’s high-profile new entries The Walking Dead and The Killing as well as FX’s Justified, all considered strong Emmy contenders, though the last two landed acting noms for stars Mireille Enos and Timothy Olyphant, respectively, and standout supporting players Michelle Forbes (The Killing), with her co-star Joel Kinnaman overlooked, and Margo Martindale, Walton Goggins and Jeremy Davies (Justified). Left out in the cold were Showtime’s drama Shameless and HBO’s Treme, as the TV Academy continues to show little love for Treme co-creator David Simon.
Following its complete dominance of the awards races following its best comedy series win at last year’s Emmy Awards, ABC’s Modern Family was once again the top comedy dog with 17 nominations, including best comedy series as well as acting nominations for the entire adult cast of the show, all of whom submitted themselves as supporting: last year’s winner Eric Stonestreet, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen and Ed O’Neill, who was surprisingly left off last year’s nominee list. With no new comedy series making a big splash this past season on broadcast or cable, Emmy voters took a second look at series that had been passed over for best series recognition in the past. Both NBC’s Parks and Recreation and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory landed their first best comedy series nominations this year for their third and fourth season, respectively, but NBC’s offbeat sophomore Community and its cast were once again overlooked. Both Parks & Rec and Big Bang already had had lead actor nominations for stars Amy Poehler and Jim Parsons, who won for best comedy actor last year. Both are back in Emmy contention this year. However, Poehler’s co-star Nick Offerman was snubbed, while in another Emmy gain for Big Bang, Parsons is facing fellow star Johnny Galecki, who earned his first Emmy nomination. Joining Modern Family, Parks and Recreation and Big Bang in the best comedy series category are last year’s nominees Glee, The Office and 30 Rock.
It wasn’t a strong year for new broadcast series, so it is not surprising that none broke the best series categories. But three actresses from freshman sitcoms — Melissa McCarthy of CBS’ Mike & Molly, Martha Plimpton of Fox’s Raising Hope as well as Laura Linney of Showtime’s The Big C, which just started airing its second season — made the cut for best actress in a comedy series, where they will compete against returning nominees Tina Fey of 30 Rock, Poehler and last year’s winner Edie Falco of Nurse Jackie, though Showtime’s medical dramedy failed to repeat as best series nominee.
ESPN Classic said today it will become the cable home of NBC’s Friday Night Lights, with the first two episodes airing at 8 PM and 9 PM ET Tuesday as part of the kickoff. A Season 1 marathon of the Texas high school football drama is set for July 14-15, and the series will run in full in sequential order from the start on Thursday nights at 9 PM and 10 PM beginning this week. “We recently created a home on ESPN Classic for ESPN Films on the weekends and we believe Friday Night Lights further enhances our mix of long-form sports storytelling,” said Connor Schell, VP and executive producer of ESPN Films and ESPN Classic. ”We see this as an opportunity to deliver the series to a whole new audience.” Longhorn Network, the ESPN owned-and-operated 24-hour network dedicated to Texas athletics, will also air the five seasons of Friday Night Lights when it launches in August. FLN has its series finale on NBC set for Friday. It has been a critical darling — snatching a Peabody Award and having been nominated in several Emmy categories, including a win for casting in 2007 — but it has struggled in the ratings. In 2008, NBC partnered on the series with DirecTV, which shared production costs in exchange for airing the show before the peacock network.
This year’s Emmy race for Outstanding Drama Series will continue cable’s dominance in this most prestigious category. Cable claimed 10 of the 13 nomination spots over the past two years, and 13 of 19 since 2008. By contrast, cable earned a mere nine nods combined in the seven years between 2001 and 2007 when the networks still ruled. The shift from broadcast is so extreme in 2011 that CBS’ The Good Wife is considered the only network series with a solid shot to earn its second nomination in as many years. (Though not in that league, NBC/DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights, NBC’s Parenthood, and CBS’ Blue Bloods deserve consideration while ABC has entered a rebuilding phase.) The sad reality is that the broadcast networks, which just signed a new eight-year deal with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to carry the Emmys, are facing a possible first-ever shutout from the top drama series category. That’s because of the continuing strength and ambition of programming on cable — in particular, HBO in a return to form, and AMC still on a roll.
HBO’s Prohibition-era hourlong Boardwalk Empire drew the most critical attention this Emmy season because of its pedigreed producer team, headed by the legendary Martin Scorsese and creator/showrunner Terence Winter, a Sopranos alum. How interesting that the pay channel’s expensive serial will compete against another period drama from that other Sopranos alum Matt Weiner. AMC’s first acclaimed original series, Mad Men, has won this category three years running and is bidding this year to be the first series to win four in a row since NBC’s The West Wing (2000- 2003). Though the frontrunner, Mad Men could be hurt by a long hiatus.
AMC has seized the mantle from HBO as TV’s preeminent quality-drama purveyor with a pair of newcomers that could crack the series field this year: the zombie-themed hour The Walking Dead, and the dark murder mystery The Killing. Even though two-time category nominee Breaking Bad is not eligible for 2011, AMC could still land three nods, becoming the first network in 10 years to do so in this category, after NBC scored the hat trick in 2001 with The West Wing, ER, and Law & Order. No cable network has ever managed the feat to date.
And then there’s Showtime, whose Dexter is in the running for its fourth consecutive Outstanding Drama nomination, along with first-season Shameless. FX is pushing its increasingly buzzed-about Western, Justified and, to a lesser extent, Sons Of Anarchy. TNT wants attention for The Closer, Men Of A Certain Age, and Southland. USA is pressing Covert Affairs and White Collar. Here’s our assessment of the chances for this year’s drama series in alphabetical order: