Matthew Perry’s recurring role on CBS’ The Good Wife begins March 25. He will play a Chicago attorney tasked with heading up a blue-ribbon panel investigating a police shooting. When Alicia (Julianna Margulies) is assigned to the panel, she begins to questions his actions as chairman. Perry has been no stranger to TV since Friends. In addition to numerous arcs, he starred on NBC’s Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, which lasted one season, and co-created and starred in last year’s ABC midseason replacement Mr Sunshine, which was not brought back.
When CBS chief Les Moonves appears at an investor event like this week’s UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, they should just get him an orchestra and a spotlight so he can sing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” “Everybody calls me a cheerleader but network television’s doing better than it’s done in many years,” he told analysts today. He says that CBS’ prices for ads in the scatter market are up “in the mid-teens” over the upfront, although “our competitors are doing not as well.” Heading into the holiday season ”demand is picking up again” and few are cancelling upfront orders for early 2012. “When you look at where our ratings are, you don’t want to cancel a CBS show because (later on) you’ll pay more.” To underscore his confidence in CBS’ finances, he threw some red meat to investors: ”Could we raise the dividend (next year)? That’s a possibility.”
He’s encouraged by the additional dollars flowing to the network from retransmission consent deals with pay TV distributors, and reverse compensation payments to CBS from its affiliates. If a local station balked at shelling out cash to CBS — which used to pay stations to carry its shows — then Moonves would consider yanking the affiliation agreement. But he says that’s unlikely because CBS’ strong primetime line up ”is making them a lot of money” by delivering large audiences to local newscasts. Meanwhile, he’d like the FCC not to require that network programming remain on pay TV when distributors balk at retransmission consent payments. ”This is America. We’ll make a deal with these guys or won’t make a deal.”
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.
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.”
EXCLUSIVE: Last week, Deadline’s Mike Fleming reported that Ridley Scott is planning another Blade Runner film, while brother Tony Scott plots to do a remake of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah Western classic The Wild Bunch. These are just a couple of many film projects the indefatigable pair are involved in after careers that have spawned some of the most successful pictures of recent years. For Ridley, that would include three Best Director Academy Award nominations for the likes of Best Picture Oscar winner Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Thelma and Louise, and for Tony a resume that includes such hits as Top Gun, Crimson Tide and most recently last year’s Unstoppable. He’s currently prepping Hell’s Angels, while Ridley is working on the 2012 summer release Prometheus. It’s remarkable that they actually have time for anything else, but since 1995 they have been heavily involved in their very prolific joint production company Scott Free, which not only produces their big-screen vehicles (and many others) but also has become a force in television, receiving 23 Emmy nominations this year in multiple categories covering scripted, nonfiction and miniseries. In 2010, it received the Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment.
Under the day-to-day guidance of president of television David Zucker, Scott Free has seen growing critical and ratings success in the medium even as both are often in far-flung corners of world making movies. When I caught up with them in a conference call last week, Tony was in London, Ridley was in the South of France, and David was in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, they were thrilled about the Emmy love and planned to be here for the Sept. 18 prime time ceremony, where the CBS hit drama series The Good Wife, now moving into Season 3, is nominated for nine Emmys and the elaborate Starz miniseries Pillars of the Earth collected seven nominations. Their nonfiction entry Gettysburg is a major player also, with seven nods in the Creative Arts awards to be handed out a week earlier.
The secret to all this success, they say, is smart creative choices and independence. “In terms of the creative ambitions of the company, as well as profitability, Ridley and Tony decided a few years ago to go entirely independent, so we have the flexibility to partner with ambitious and like-minded production companies like Tandem Communications but also the freedom to align on network projects or cable projects, with whatever studio or broadcaster that suits the material,” Zucker says. “I think the mandate that has always been the case for the company is that it’s very talent-driven, it’s very writer-driven, so when we happen upon something fiction or nonfiction that excites everyone and that Ridley and Tony want to pursue, then it’s all about finding the right home and about finding the right partner, and so the flexibility of being independent has been critical to being able to have this variety of projects.”
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.)
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:
Drama series producers agonize over their selection of up to six episodes for 2011 Emmy nomination consideration. Here’s insight from Deadline TV Contributor Diane Haithman into why these particular episodes were thought to impress Emmy voters:
BOARDWALK EMPIRE – PILOT EPISODE
Story line: It is January 1920, on the eve of Prohibition. Atlantic City’s treasurer Enoch “Nucky”Thompson …
Lisa Edelstein has booked her first post-House gig — an arc on the CBS drama series The Good Wife next season. Edelstein, who shockingly exited House last month after seven years, will play a lawyer/poker player on the praised …
“Welcome to the pre-Emmy nominations campaign lunch,” one cable network exec deadpanned as I walked into the first (and organizers hope annual) Critics’ Choice Television Awards on Monday afternoon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The event, created by the Broadcast Critics Association to complement the now 17-year-old Critics Choice Movie Awards and plant its flag officially in Emmy season, will be aired Wednesday on ReelzChannel, a rather obscure network that bills itself as “TV about Movies” but in this case will be “TV about TV.” Timed to occur during the Emmy nomination voting period (ballots aren’t due until this Friday), these awards, which drew many nominees, showrunners and execs and a big media turnout for red-carpet interviews, are another cog in the promotional wheel that has turned Emmy season into an advertising bonanza for many media outlets (yes, ads run on Deadline, too), and one that seems to be rivaling Oscar season for its pure visceral assault on potential voters. Actually, as a longtime member of the TV Academy, I would say the attention — not to mention cold hard cash — being lavished on trying to land nominations is more elaborate and intense than it has ever been. And maybe just a bit of overkill.
There are electronic billboards around L.A. soliciting votes (Steve Carell in The Office, anyone?) not to mention bus-shelter posters, Q&As everywhere (I have moderated my share), a months-long advertising blitz in trade papers and the Los Angeles Times (which recently had a full-on front-page ad wrap with their newspaper logo so that when readers opened their paper, they didn’t see the usual headlines but rather an Emmy bid for the stars of Men Of A Certain Age) and so much more.
Then there are all the lavish DVD boxes sent to the over-15,000-strong membership. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put a stop to this kind of blatant pandering to voters by enacting specific guidelines strictly outlawing promotional opportunities sent with screeners of award hopefuls. The TV Academy has not done this (although they should), which is why some days at Emmy time the mail brings loads of fun stuff for voters to unwrap. HBO, which usuually dominates Emmy noms, sent its traditional boxes packed with series, specials, movies and docs, but other outlets feeling the need to be noticed came up with attention-getting devices like the pop-up card from How I Met Your Mother; the monopoly-style board game for The Big Bang Theory; the children’s book-style layout for Fox’s Raising Hope; a lenticular showing two sides of RuPaul for his reality show on Logo; numerous elaborate glossy DVD-laden brochures and/or foldout packages for the likes of Glee, Modern Family, Hot In Cleveland, Community, The Good Wife, Friday Night Lights (including the final 13 episodes of the series); and the shows of Starz, FX, Showtime, TNT, WE, NBC Universal, History Channel, Discovery and others. AMC had one of the most sophisticated mailings and included the entire seasons of Mad Men and The Walking Dead as well as episodes from their other series.
The most garish bid for attention was an ill-conceived item from Warner Bros Television, which sent a big red box (inside another big box) that was adorned with its series’ names and contained seven very slick 4-foot long (by a little less than 2 feet wide) vertical banners with individual series DVDs awkwardly stuffed into the bottom part of each one (Two and a Half Men was MIA in this package, though).
After sifting through all this stuff, at least Fox gave voters a laugh with their annual solicitation for the animated perennial loser Family Guy, an unfolding DVD package that featured such sayings as “It’s been this way for eight years, and it’s starting to hurt morale,” then, “We paid for a Golden Globe and didn’t get it, so we’re owed an award,” then, “Here’s a free DVD to give to your nephew,” and finally, “This screener has one frame of porn. Find the porn.”