'Mad Men' and Jon Hamm were entirely shut out
With semi-surprising nods for Mayim Bialik and Anna Gunn, "The Big Bang Theory" and "Breaking Bad" were among the TV leaders at Wednesday (December 11) morning's nominations for the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
With three nominations apiece, "Modern Family" and "30 Rock" also placed well with the SAG membership, which will announce their winners on Sunday, January 18. [If you include the Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble category, "Breaking Bad" actually earned four nominations, while "Game of Thrones," "Homeland" and "Boardwalk Empire" all join the pack with three.]
ER Docs discuss second half struggles, or lack thereof
My interview with ER docs Travis & Nicole Jasper went down a wormhole.
In the first half of the season, Travis & Nicole were one of my favorites, earning the nickname The Power Parents with a string of strong performances that proved they were both smart and physically able.
Then, though, as the season progressed the Power Parents seemed to struggle, particularly Nicole, who had a series of Roadblock stumbles and had to be bailed out by the willing assistance of eventual winner Amy. In the process, Travis became more and more critical of his wife's challenge contributions and much of the early audience support vanished.
After the last of Nicole's struggles, attempting to drop a bag of flour from a bush plane onto a target in Alaska, Travis & Nicole slipped to third, where they ended the season. Still, despite those difficulties, Travis & Nicole never finished lower than fourth in any Leg, a feat achieved by surprisingly few "Amazing Race" teams across the show's recent history.
In their exit interview, though, Travis & Nicole insisted that they didn't struggle and that what looked like struggles were actually a reflection of the enhanced competition of reaching the end of the Race. I'll admit that I wasted several minutes rephrasing a single question. It happens. Some of the answers to my rephrased question are good. So there's that.
The interview also contains discussion of the lessons Travis learned from watching himself on TV.
Click through for the full Q&A...
A TV mobster and TV cop talk Darabont, noir and more
Last week, I posted my "Mob City" interview with Ed Burns & Robert Knepper, who discussed playing a real-life and fictional mobster respectively in the TNT drama from Frank Darabont.
The "mobster" hook gave a through-line to that interview. The pairing of Jeffrey DeMunn and Jeremy Luke offered no such through-line. DeMunn plays a fictionalized LAPD officer, while Luke plays the very real Mickey Cohen. DeMunn has worked with Darabont at every step through his career, while Luke is a first-timer in the Frank Darabont Repertory Acting Company.
The disconnect led to some amusing detours in the conversation, including which actress provided DeMunn's surprising inspiration and which video game experiences the two men share. They also discuss working with Darabont and the advantages of working in Los Angeles on a project like this.
Click through for the full Q&A, which was initially filmed for video, but ended up being audio-only. Apologies.
Production begins in Paris in January, so start casting!
Back in July at the Television Critics Association press tour, NBC announced a slew of event series or miniseries productions that the network was moving forward on.
The Hillary Clinton miniseries, which actually had a writer/director (Courtney Hunt) and a top-tier star (Diane Lane) attached, fell apart spectacularly and is dead.
It's unclear where things stand on the adaptation of "Tommyknockers," which had Yves Simoneau attached to direct, or a Mark Burnett-produced story of the Mayflower landing.
One event series that's definitely moving forward is NBC's "Rosemary's Baby." On Tuesday (December 10), NBC announced a formal greenlight for the miniseries, which is roaring towards a production start in January in Paris.
'Almost Human' ticks up, 'Sleepy Hollow' ticks down
Fast National ratings for Monday, December 9, 2013.
After a long absence, NBC's rebooted "The Sing-Off" returned to decent numbers and helped NBC cruise to Monday victories in all measures on a Monday laden with repeats and holiday programming.
FOX was the only other network with a full slate of new shows, as the network saw "Almost Human" get an encouraging bump (anything other than a decline would count as encouraging), though "Sleepy Hollow" was down slightly in its final new episode of 2013.
Meanwhile, The CW keeps airing these "IHeart Radio" specials and nobody keeps watching, with a One Direction hour the latest to tank.
[ABC had the football preemption in the Chicago market, which will likely lead to small declines in Finals.[
On to the numbers...
The Afghanimals discuss energy, Race ethics and more
This week's string of "Amazing Race" exit interviews begins with my chat with the freshly completed run's most polarizing team, Leo & Jamal.
The self-described Afghanimals were the season's most reliably energetic and enthusiastic team and they made the season's most consistent alliance, working alongside Ice Queens Ally & Ashley from the very first Leg.
Of course, while some fans loved that Afghanimal energy, certain rival teams criticized Leo & Jamal for excessive gamesmanship and occasional white lies. Travis & Nicole took particular exception to Leo & Jamal's ethics and it's obvious that months after filming wrapped, the Afghanimals are still irked by certain things that Nicole in particular did in those last few Legs.
It's also obvious that Leo is frustrated by the way their "Amazing Race" run ended, specifically the inverted torso on a robot puzzle in Tokyo, a task he was doing himself while Nicole and Amy teamed up, a task that cost them a place in the final Leg and left them in fourth place.
In their exit interview, Leo & Jamal talk about why they were viewed by other teams as a threat, how they kept their energy up and their version of "Amazing Race" ethics.
Click through for the full Q&A and stay tuned for the three finalists over the next few nights.
Jerry Sandusky and Whitey Bulger docs, Alex Gibney's latest head for Park City
If you looked at last week's Sundance Film Festival documentary slate and thought, "Sure, some of these look like fantastic and powerful documentaries, but are they seriously going to hold a Sundance without Alex Gibney?" we're relieved to tell you that The Hardest Working Man in Documentary Filmmaking will be back for Sundance 2014.
Sundance announced its full list of Documentary Premieres on Monday (December 9) and if you were missing the big names either in front of the camera or behind it from the competition slate, this is where they're lurking.
NFL overrun gives 'The Simpsons' a bump
Fast National ratings for Sunday, December 8, 2013.
After last week's Sunday Night Football dud, NBC got a matchup of playoff-bound teams and rode the Panthers-Saints matchup to easy Sunday wins in all key measures.
FOX got a boost from its own NFL overrun and took second for the night among young viewers, while "60 Minutes" and the "Amazing Race" finale helped CBS claim second overall. [Note that CBS had a slew of football delays and started 27 minutes late in a number of markets, though the network's placement is unlikely to change.]
ABC saw "Once Upon a Time" rise over last week's airing, while "Revenge" was steady in its return after several weeks away. "Betrayal," however, sunk.
On to the numbers...
Should dropping flour from a plane be worth a million bucks?
It's odd that an "Amazing Race" season that began with some people, myself included, suggesting this could be the most blandly likable assortment of contestants in Race history ended with a two-hour finale that left me, and a few other people if Twitter is any barometer, searching desperately for anybody to root for.
It was a deserving Final 4, but it was also a Final 4 that people seemed to approach in the conditional tense.
"I could like Jason & Amy *if* Jason were a bit more memorable and a bit less macho."
"I could like Travis & Nicole *if* Travis weren't so sanctimonious and condescending when Nicole struggles."
"I could like Tim & Marie *if* Marie were somebody else."
"I often like teams like Leo & Jamal and I think I could like them *if* they were completely different."
I've seen desires for a Tim & Amy super-team pop up in comment sections and on Twitter and I think I would agree that that would be a more appealing matchup, but even before Sunday's (December 8) finale made it explicit, I already had a hunch that without Marie, Tim's chances of having any interest in doing "The Amazing Race" would be nil. Without Marie, there is no Tim on this show and it's possible that a goodly portion of what we all liked about Tim was his attitude in the face of Marie anyway.
I'm not sure that I've ever gone into an "Amazing Race" finale with so little rooting interest, so in lieu of wanting any one team to win, I quickly found myself just wanting the team that won to be deserving, to perform in such a way that I could go, "OK. I can buy that after 12 Legs, this was the pair that earned the million bucks.
Full recap after the break...
Latest bootee discusses the Brad Culpepper blindside and more
As the "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" season started, most viewers eyed Caleb Bankston suspiciously and thought, "What kind of man could be engaged to Colton Cumbie?"
But rather than emulating his verbally glib, camera attentive significant other, Caleb proved to be an amiable background performer. Unlike Colton, Caleb never said anything controversial. Unlike Colton, Caleb never complained about the harsh conditions. In fact, how many Caleb talking head segments do you remember from his 30-ish days in the game?
And unlike Colton, Caleb made it past the Merge and even though he was eliminated from the game and became the third member of the Jury, Caleb's run on "Survivor" is almost certain to be remembered mostly for one positive moment of gameplay. It was Caleb who single-handedly brought down Brad Culpepper, the dominant figure in the game's first half, pulling the sort of anti-blindside rarely seen on "Survivor." Sensing Tribal Council unrest and fearing his head might be on the block, Caleb announced that he was flipping on his former alliance-mate and urged others to come along, getting the necessary votes to oust Brad after an initial tie.
It was a good moment.
Caleb had a different vantage point for the season's other big Tribal Council moment when, in his first night on the Jury, he got to witness only the second tie-breaking rock-drawing in "Survivor" history.
In this week's exit interview, Caleb talks about those exciting Tribals and also about the tile-stacking Duel that sent him home. He also discusses why he was never prepared to write Colton's name down in the game and how frequently "Survivor" Colton surfaces in Real-World Colton.
Click through for the full Q&A...