Deadline Hollywood - AwardsLine - Emmy Nominees - 08/10/22

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BEN STILLER

MAKING SEVERANCE PAY

JENNIFER COOLIDGE

FOREVER BLOWING BUBBLES

HACKS

LEAVING LAS VEGAS

AUGUST 10, 2022 EMMY NOMINEES

HOST PROTOCOL

HOW SETH MEYERS EMBRACED THE PANDEMIC TO MASTER HIS LATE NIGHT DOMAIN

PLUS: LIZZO SYDNEY SWEENEY DANNY STRONG CHRISTINA RICCI HWANG DONG-HYUK D E A D L I N E .C O M /AWA R DS L I N E


Outstanding Comedy Series

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

Outstanding Comedy Series

Outstanding Drama Series

FOR YOUR EMMY Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

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®


Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series

Outstanding Drama Series

Outstanding Television Movie

Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series

CONSIDER ATION Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded)

Outstanding Comedy Series

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR EMMY NOMINEES ®


D E A D L I N E .CO M

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CALL SHEET First Take 4 BEN STILLER: The Severance director discusses the passions that drive him 10 QUICK SHOTS: Jazzing up Only Murders in the Building; dressing The Moon Knight 12 ON MY SCREEN: Jennifer Coolidge reflects on life before and after The White Lotus 16 RESOLVE: Changing the Game exposes the truth about the media war on trans athletes 20 FIVE THINGS: Danny Strong explains why William Goldman is the man and horror is not his jam 22 ABNORMAL PEOPLE: A visit to the Stranger Things FX lab reveals the secrets of the season

Cover Story 26 SETH MEYERS: After nearly a decade in the chair, and with a first Emmy nomination for his show, can talk TV’s underdog finally take the late-night trophy?

Dialogue 36 40 44 48

Sydney Sweeney Hwang Dong-hyuk Christina Ricci Lizzo

Handicaps 52 Pete Hammond places his bets on this year’s class of Emmy contenders as the competition heats up

AM AZO N ST U D I OS

The Partnership 74 Hacks takes to the road as we meet creators Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello and Jen Statsky ON THE COVER: Seth Meyers photographed by Lloyd Bishop/NBC.


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QUICK SHOTS 10 | ON MY SCREEN: JENNIFER COOLIDGE 12 | FIVE THINGS: DANNY STRONG 20

LIGHT

Ben Stiller finds his groove behind the camera on the subversive Severance

W ILSO N W E B B/S H OW T I M E

By Joe Utichi

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Peacock © Peacock TV LLC. Angelyne © Universal Content Productions LLC. All rights reserved.

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It’s a little over a month since Ben Stiller returned from Ukraine. It was there, as part of his work representing the UN Refugee Agency, that Stiller was granted an audience with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, currently defending his country from a war of Russian aggression. It isn’t often that Ben Stiller is starstruck, but he marveled at Zelenskyy’s path, from comic actor to unflinching war premier. “I was really taken by the resilience of the people of Ukraine, and of the President,” he says now. “His incredible sense of how he has risen to the moment and offered his people leadership and true resolve to get through this awful situation.” It would be churlish—insulting, even—to draw a comparison between a man fighting for the survival of his country and one who has just directed several episodes of a popular new television show. But leadership—particularly the quality that makes one good at it—appears to be of real fascination to Stiller. It is baked right into Severance, the Apple TV+ phenomenon that has earned Stiller two more Emmy nominations, as Adam Scott’s Mark grapples with his conflicting desires to ascend the corporate ladder and unpick the puzzle of the mysterious organization he works for. Stiller feels it at home, too, as he strives to prioritize fatherhood and his responsibilities away from the entertainment industry. He is currently learning the lessons of his late parents—the actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara—as he prepares a documentary about their lives. “I’ve had to gird myself a little bit for it, because I’m seeing my parents in [new] ways,” he says. “I look at how I’ve compared myself to them and my relationship with them, my relationship with my own kids.” This kind of deep reflection is nothing new for Stiller, though as his career matures, he seems to have more opportunity to discuss it. He has never shied from acknowledging the advantages he was able to seize on, following his well-established parents into the entertainment industry. And yet it was Stiller’s own talent as a comic performer that truly launched his career, landing him a spot in the cast of SNL, and an Emmy for The Ben Stiller Show. It also confirmed him as one of the most bankable comedy movie stars of the ’90s and early 2000s, leading a string of feature film hits like There’s Something About Mary, Meet the Parents and Along Came Polly. For many, that’s who Ben Stiller was: the guy who made them laugh. But he directed his first feature, Reality Bites, in 1994, and has been quietly building a formidable oeuvre behind the camera ever since. The tone of 1996’s unfairly maligned The Cable Guy hinted at Stiller’s fondness for darkness. With Zoolander, he learned how to craft a cult classic. With its sequel he learned the perils of being offered free rein. And with Tropic Thunder he expertly satirized the lunacy of his own industry. For anyone paying close attention, his dramatic turn with the limited series Escape at Dannemora was not entirely without precedent. Even his comedies find their laughs by picking at the darker side of human nature. So, too, does Severance, from creator

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Ben Stiller meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Dan Erickson, which Stiller read and fell in love with some five years ago. “It’s a show about what we do to one another as human beings,” he says, of what drew him in and kept him engaged with the long journey to bring it to screen. “That tone of what’s underneath human interactions is fascinating. And the bigger question of what makes us who we are.” He thought of Adam Scott, who has landed his first Emmy nominations for the show, to play Mark almost immediately. From the off, we follow Mark both inside and outside Lumon, a mysterious corporation dealing with unspecified trade secrets, in which employees’ consciousness is split between their work and home lives. Stiller with his dad, Jerry Stiller, in Zoolander; on the set of Escape at Dannemora with Benicio del Toro.

U K RA IN I AN P RESID E N T I AL P R ESS O F FIC E V IA A P/ PA RAM O U N T/CO U RT ESY E V E RE T T CO LL ECT I O N /C HR ISTO PH ER SAUN D ERS/S H OW T I ME

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“BRILLIANT” “UNPARALLELED

LAUGH-MAKING MACHINE”

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“EVERYONE SHOULD BE WATCHING…

SHARP WRITING”

“FUNNIEST CAST

(AND WRITERS) ON TV”

®

EMMY NOMINATIONS ®

INCLUDING

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES

D E A D L I N E .C O M /AWA R D S L I N E

FOR YOUR EMMY CONSIDERATION

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Top, from left: Adam Scott, Zach Cherry, John Turturro and Britt Lower in Severance; Stiller with Patricia Arquette.

“It’s not a comedy,” Stiller insists, “but what fascinated me was that Dan was using a framework that, to me, is inherently a comedic framework: the workplace comedy. There’s inherent humor in these workplace relationships, like you find in The Office or Office Space, but then there was that other layer to it that makes it a lot weirder.” He relished exploring, with Scott and the wider cast, which includes Britt Lower, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro and Christopher Walken, the idea that each character was split in two. Not two distinct characters, but two unique conceptions of the same individual. “I think it comes from the specificity of Dan’s writing,” Stiller says. “He set up a world where the littlest event becomes very important. It was fun to dig into the mundanity of the everyday office life that was happening, but suddenly there’d be a note or a map or a little glimmer of something that becomes very, very important.” When Stiller’s career was ascending, he graduated from television into feature film. That was the hierarchy as many knew it: you could have success on television, but movies were what made you a true star. Those distinctions, he says, don’t exist anymore. When he did Dannemora, the nature of its narrative allowed him to consider its seven episodes as part of a whole: a 440-minute movie. Severance represents “a new world” for him, considering the way a continuing series must be architected to develop. “I’ve heard the advice that if you’re doing a television series, you’re asking a lot of questions, and if you’re doing a movie, you’re answering them,” Stiller says. “People have to feel you’re telling enough of the story to feel satisfied that a story is being told, but this is a new thing for me at this point in my life, having directed a bunch of movies, where it becomes about maintaining the tone of [an ongoing] show. Really letting that emerge. And what you need to make it work is consistency. I didn’t know what the final tone of our show would totally feel like, but I knew that we had to have consistency about it.” He’s excited, too, by the thought of helping create Severance’s second season with a hungry audience already established, and speculating wildly about what Lumon is, what everything means, and where the story threads might go next. “There are ideas that have been formulated in Dan’s head for years and years,” Stiller says, “but there’s also stuff that hasn’t been written yet. It has been interesting to have the season come out while we were still

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writing the second. We were in a vacuum for so long. It has been great to find that people are so invested in these details. It’s an encouragement for us to keep doing what we’ve been doing. [The audience] has become a part of it, and that’s inspiring.” He hasn’t abandoned feature films, but he says the thought of making another movie comes with the realization that “those two hours are much more precious real estate”. He recalls a conversation with House of Cards creator Beau Willimon, with whom he discussed a collaboration. “He said, ‘Gosh, if we do a movie, it has really got to be a perfect poem.’ That’s how he looks at it, because you don’t have all that space and time to slowly develop characters. So, [making television] has given me a new appreciation for what that is, too.” It’s that evolution that keeps Stiller engaged with his chosen profession. He has wavered over the years, with the consequences of becoming such a recognizable star, what he wanted to achieve, and yes, what it means to be a leader. But he insists he has never lost the hunger to create. He has just watched his friend Judd Apatow’s documentary about the comic George Carlin, American Dream. “It was really interesting to watch his progression over the years, and how he found his voice, lost his voice, found it again. I’m paraphrasing, but there’s something he says that is like, ‘As a creative person, you just keep going. You just keep on trying to get better, trying to get closer to something. You don’t even necessarily know what it is.’” He relates to that. “Most people I know that have been doing this for a while, for better or worse they won’t dwell on the past. They’re looking forward at what they’re doing now and trying to get better. And by better, I mean expressing themselves more honestly, or more closely. I know as I’ve gotten older, that’s become more important to me. What am I going to resonate with in this? I don’t know if I can define it, but I know it when I relate to something. I’m learning to listen to my gut feeling more, and not necessarily analyzing why it draws me in.” His work with the UN has taught him to use his voice for what matters most, too. His meeting with Zelenskyy, he hopes, shone a brighter light on the refugee crisis ongoing in Ukraine, as several months of headlines about prolonged bloodshed have inured outsiders to the country’s plight. “There are seven or eight million people, just within the country, who have been displaced,” Stiller notes. “It’s just so overwhelming when you see the reality of it. It’s human nature to want to turn the page as we get through our own lives and our own issues that are all very real to us. But when you go over there, you see it’s not just the physical effects of the war and the destruction. It’s also the trauma and the psychological effects of what happens when you’re forced to fight for your life in a situation that you have nothing to do with.” Stiller told the people he met that he was amazed by their strength and courage. “They said, ‘For us, we have no choice. This is our country, and they’re trying to obliterate us.’ It makes you think what you’d do in that situation. Standing in solidarity with these people is so important.” ★

AP P LE T V+ /AL BE RTO E . RO D RI G U E Z /G E T T Y IM AG ES

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“SARAH PAULSON’S PORTRAYAL OF LINDA TRIPP STEALS THE SHOW”

“PHENOMENAL” “RIVETING…

“PAULSON IS

THE STANDOUT”

SHARP, ENGAGING WRITING”

“A BRILLIANT

“[PAULSON IS]

MESMERIZING”

PORTRAYAL”

SARAH PAULSON OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES

5 EMMY NOMINATIONS ®

OUTSTANDING WRITING

OUTSTANDING CONTEMPORARY MAKEUP

FOR A LIMITED SERIES

(NON-PROSTHETIC)

OUTSTANDING CONTEMPORARY HAIRSTYLING

OUTSTANDING PROSTHETIC MAKEUP

FOR YOUR EMMY CONSIDERATION


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Murder Ballads How composer Siddhartha Khosla looked beyond the laughs to bring out the hidden melancholy of Only Murders in the Building “Only Murders is dramatic as much as it is comedic,” says composer Siddhartha Khosla. Only Murders in the Building follows a trio of true crime fans who start a podcast when they find themselves embroiled in a case themselves. “We collectively felt that the score needed to play the dramatic beats of the story—the mystery, and the loneliness of our characters, and not really underscore the comedy as much.” Khosla is nominated for the score of the series as well as the title theme. “One day I started humming this hooky melody,” Khosla says, “and John [Hoffman] loved it so much that he claimed it instantly as ‘the

theme of our show’.” In an effort to give it a more “NYC” feeling, he incorporated bucket drumming into the sound. “On the main title you hear a mix of our amazing string and woodwind players, autoharps, my voice, mellotron, pianos, and of course those buckets.” Using those same instruments for the bulk of the score, Khosla’s work became essential in “The Boy From 6B,” which follows the perspective of the deaf character Theo Dimas (James Caverly). “This is a silent episode of television,” Khosla says. “As there is virtually no dialogue, the score and sound design play a big part in delivering the narrative.” In this episode, the score truly shines through as a “classic but also modern” feel with some “quicker, darker elements” to highlight the mystery. —Ryan Fleming

Charted Territory At press time, here is how Gold Derby’s experts ranked the Emmy chances in the Best Comedy Series Actor and Actress races. Get up-to-date rankings and make your own predictions at GoldDerby.com

Comedy Series Actor 1 Bill Hader Barry

ODDS................................. 18/5

2 Jason Sudeikis Ted Lasso

ODDS....................................4/1

3 Steve Martin

Only Murders in the Building

Walk Like An Egyptian God Moon Knight costume designer Meghan Kasperlik on the finer details of Marvel’s hieroglyphic hero For Moon Knight, it was important for costume designer Meghan Kasperlik to put in the research and honor the ancient Egyptian influences. “We had an Egyptian director, Mohamed Diab, and it was very important to him that we were portraying the real Egypt,” she says. Kasperlik incorporated Egyptian symbols into the costumes, with hieroglyphs, Khonshu’s oath, and mummy wrappings, to honor not

only the Moon Knight comic series, but the ancient Egyptian story of the moon god Khonshu as well. “I did a tremendous amount of research about Egyptian culture,” she says, “and it’s showcased throughout the series in both the fantasy costumes and the contemporary costumes.” The series finale “Gods and Monsters” was chosen by Kasperlik for Emmy consideration due to the number of custom-built suits and monsters shown. “The finale shows

Moon Knight, Mr. Knight, the reveal of Scarlet Scarab, Harrow, Khonshu, Amit, and Taweret in all their glory.” Taweret’s costume was special for Kasperlik, as each member of her team had a hand in the hippopotamus goddess’s look. “Luca, our in-house metalsmith, hammering the metal for her neckpiece, headpiece and jewelry; Aleanza, the in-house leather worker, hammering the leather with custom made hieroglyph stamps; Agi, one of my tailors, being meticulous with the build of the costume; and Wilberth creating the beetle and back piece to complete the costume. Each time Antonio Salib put the costume on it was a proud moment for myself and my team.” –Ryan Fleming

ODDS................................... 9/2

4 Martin Short

Only Murders in the Building ODDS.................................. 11/2

5 Donald Glover Atlanta

ODDS.................................... 7/1

6 Nicholas Hoult The Great

ODDS.................................... 7/1

Comedy Series Actress 1 Jean Smart Hacks

ODDS...............................69/20

2 Quinta Brunson Abbott Elementary

ODDS............................... 39/10

3 Rachel Brosnahan

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ODDS.................................. 11/2

4 Issa Rae Insecure

ODDS....................................6/1

5 Kaley Cuoco

ODDS....................................6/1

Oscar Isaac as the titular hero in Moon Knight.

6 Elle Fanning The Great

ODDS..................................13/2

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D IS N E Y +

The Flight Attendant


To watch please go to ABCfyc.com until August 31, 2022.


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Season 1 of The White Lotus, from left: Coolidge with Natasha Rothwell; with Murray Bartlett.

The White Lotus star reveals her most quoted role and why she almost gave up after making an Adam Sandler movie By Antonia Blyth

Jennifer Coolidge is fresh from shooting Season 2 of The White Lotus and she’s on a high. Having made such an indelible mark in Season 1 of Mike White’s limited series set in a luxury Hawaiian resort, she’s the only main character returning for a second shot. For now, she’s having to keep plot details under wraps, but she’s positive that it will be another hit: “It would be impossible to not like it,” she says. All we know is that Season 2 will see Coolidge, Emmy-nominated for her role, back as the tortured and grieving Tanya McQuoid alongside her terminally ill boyfriend Greg ( Jon Gries). This time the setting is a Sicilian White Lotus resort, where they’ll be joined by such new cast members as Aubrey Plaza, F. Murray Abraham, Adam DiMarco and Tom Hollander. Here, she reminisces on a career that’s seen her stealing scenes in classic modern comedies such as American Pie and Legally Blonde.

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The first most depressing lesson I ever learned on a set was when I went to do Legally Blonde, and there was an actor—a television actor that I’d seen on TV, a funny guy­—and he was the parking attendant [for the studio]. And I remember thinking, we have to be grateful. I was thinking, I could do this movie here, and then it could be back to waitressing. Nothing is written in stone. So, I remember thinking what a privilege it was to get this job. I was thinking, God, you really have to have gratitude in this business. It’s quite a rollercoaster ride being an actor and we have to be thrilled about getting these jobs, because sometimes they don’t

come around again for a long time. Or ever.

The Best Advice I Ever Received My father used to always say to me—and he used to say it more than any other little phrase—“Jennifer, you have to remember that character is fate.” And I think he’s right. Who you are forms your ending, and you have the power to be good or rotten.

The Part I Always Wanted There was a very cool thing that Mike White wrote for HBO, which didn’t get made, but it was called The Tears of St. Patsy. That was really cool. But I have to say, it’s not like Tanya

With Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde.

McQuoid was a disappointment. So, either one is good for me.

My Toughest Role I don’t know if there’s any film footage of it, but I did this movie with Adam Sandler. It was called Click and his character was married to Kate Beckinsale’s. My love interest was the lead in Baywatch, David Hasselhoff. I remember they were going to do these reunions where we aged. And I was in the old-age makeup for a very long time, but somehow when I showed up on set to film, everyone else had less oldage makeup. Kate looked like she could have been my daughter. I mean, it was very funny. She had very little of it on, but I remember with my face that’s sort of chubby, with the old-age prosthetics, I just looked like a space monster. I was thinking, How is this possible that everybody else looks like the same age and yet somehow it just looked like I was Godzilla or something. I remember going home thinking, Wow, I don’t know, maybe it’s about time I should quit the movie business.

MA RIO P E R E Z / H BO/ MG M/CO URT ESY E VE R E T T CO L LECT IO N

JENNIFER COOLIDGE

My First Film Lesson


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EMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS ®

I N C L U D I N G

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES

LE AD AC TOR MICHAEL KEATON SUPPORTING AC TRESS K AITLYN DEVER | M ARE WINNINGHA M S U P P O R T I N G AC TO R W I L L P O U LT E R | P E T E R S A R S G A A R D | M I C H A E L S T U H L B A R G

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FIRST-RATE, HEROIC TELEVISION.” SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

WINNER

WINNER

WINNER

BEST ACTOR

BEST ACTOR

BEST ACTOR

L I M I T E D S E R I ES

L I M I T E D S E R I ES

SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS®

CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS

MICHAEL KEATON

MICHAEL KEATON

D E A D L I N E .C O M /AWA R D S L I N E

L I M I T E D S E R I ES

GOLDEN GLOBE® AWARDS MICHAEL KEATON

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That was another incredible time on a set, where it was the English countryside. I have to say those two experiences were maybe a pinnacle.

The Character That’s Most Like Me

I can’t handle any movie with something sad that happens to an animal. And then there are some movies that are just so overwhelmingly devastating, you can’t recover from them. Cinema Paradiso, I remember crying so hard at the end of that movie. I do like sad music, but sad movies are really hard to handle sometimes.

The Most Fun I’ve Had On Set I did a movie called Gentlemen Broncos with Jared Hess, and I had an incredible time. That was when I met Mike White. We actually hung out because he played my boyfriend in the movie. Then I really hit it off with [Jared’s] wife. I really liked his wife, Jerusha Hess, and then I got to go do Austenland with her.

There are a lot of things about Tanya McQuoid that are similar. Mike stole a lot of those things because he witnessed me on a trip to Africa and I know he collected a lot of my eccentric ways and put them into the show. I’m like, “Oh my God, am I really that bad?” But as far as who am I most like? I don’t know, but I would’ve liked to have been as confident as Stifler’s mom [from American Pie] in real life. I would like to have channeled her in my real life because I think I could have had a much more successful love life. She had it going on and she really didn’t give a shit. What a great thing where you’re not really worried about what people think.

My Most Quoted Role You know, it’s so weird because there’s something about the Fourth of July line from Legally Blonde 2. I get so many DMs and texts and people leaving things

With Michael Angarano in Gentlemen Broncos.

From Top: As Stifler’s mom with Eddie Kaye Thomas as Paul Finch in American Pie; with the cast of Austenland; Coolidge and Jennifer Lawrence.

in my mailbox. And if I’m out on that day, people just go nuts. I don’t know, it’s probably that line Paulette said, where she goes, “You look like the Forth of July. That makes me want a hot dog real bad.” I hear that the most. [The ‘bend and snap’, also from from Legally Blonde] is a moment in moviemaking I would just totally disagree with. I’ve never had bending over work for me like it did in that movie. I think that the bend and snap is mislead-

ing. But I’d have to say when I did do the bend and snap, I was wearing my underwear and I feel like in real life you have to leave it off.

My Guilty Pleasure I like to buy a big bag of bubble gum and chew it for two seconds and then put it on my nightstand. I can go through the whole bag. I don’t know, it’s like it’s something really decadent. Double Bubble or whatever it is.

Who’d Play Me In My Biopic There are two different things, who would play you and who would you choose? If I could choose someone to play me, I think I’d have Jennifer Lawrence. I mean, I don’t know if she’d like it—she’d probably refuse it—but I really like her.

What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever done?

With Bob Newhart in Legally Blonde 2.

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When I was in Florida, I got a job as an undercover pregnant woman, looking for shoplifters at a maternity store. The irony of the story is that I caught the cashier stealing, not one of the shoppers.★

FOX S E ARC H L IG H T/CO U RT ESY E V E RE T T CO LLECT IO N /SO N Y P ICT U RES/ MG M

The TV Shows and Films That Make Me Cry


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THE FIGHT TO COMPETE Emmy-nominated documentary Changing the Game reveals how trans athletes are being demonized to score political points By Matt Carey

When wrestler Mack Beggs stepped onto the mat to compete during his days as a high schooler in Texas, he not only faced the opponent in front of him, but often a raft of adversaries in the stands. They booed and hurled invectives at him. “I do think people hate me,” Mack says in the Emmy-nominated documentary Changing the Game. The reason? “There was a huge uproar and controversy with me being trans.” Beggs found himself twisted into knots—not by another wrestler, but by a state imposing restrictions and regulations on the activities of trans athletes. Beggs wanted to compete against boys, but Texas refused and would only allow him to wrestle girls. When he did wrestle girls, crowds rained down abuse. Beggs said he tried to tune that out and keep focused on the match. “I was just like, why are you being malicious? I’m not going to feed into your negativity,” he recalls. “I know that whoever’s on the end of that mat, if they want to go against me, then it’s game on. It’s a sport and I love the competitiveness of it.” The documentary, directed by Michael Barnett, profiles three trans high school athletes: Beggs in Texas, skier Sarah Rose Huckman in New Hampshire, and sprinter Andraya Yearwood in Connecticut. Each one had to navigate a political climate that is becoming more and more hostile to trans athletes. In one tense moment in the film, Yearwood runs a race and is promptly

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accosted by an adult woman. “That is so unfair! It is totally a male biology!” the woman hollers within Yearwood’s hearing. “Women did not fight for decades for Title IX, for decades to have equal rights, to have them taken away by foolish policies that are discriminatory against girls and women. It has made a mockery of girls’ sports; it has made a mockery of women’s rights. It is a total sham.” Yearwood heard the woman but chose not to engage with her. “I actually remember that scene quite well,” she says. “I remember being in the moment and hearing her say it and at first it was kind of like, ‘Is this really happening? Is she really saying this and I’m right here?’ I was thinking, ‘Is it really worth my time, my effort, to respond to you, when what is that going to do?’” Barnett remains troubled by the aggressive nature of the woman’s outburst. “I was sitting right there with a camera. It didn’t feel like hateful rhetoric to me—it felt like assault,” he says. “It went past the line of whatever free speech is. It felt like, to me being there front and center, that this woman was assaulting a minor. She was at the event simply to do that. Didn’t have a child in the race.” The rhetoric has been amped up by conservative politicians who have discovered they can score points by raising alarms over trans people in sports. At the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in March, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., pressed the judge to address trans swimmer Lia Thomas, who won an NCAA women’s title. The senator wanted to know what message allowing Thomas to compete sent to “girls who aspire to compete and win in sports”. The senator proceeded to answer her own question: “I think it tells our girls that their voices don’t matter. I think it tells them that they’re second-class citizens.” Similarly, at a speech in Washington on July 26, former President Trump directed ridicule at trans athletes to rile up a crowd. “By the way,” he told his supporters, “we should not allow men to play women’s sports. It’s so disrespectful to women.” Apparently pleased by the audience applause, Trump went on to muse, “I’d be the greatest women’s basketball coach in history. I don’t like LeBron James; I like Michael Jordan much better. But, I’d go up to LeBron James... I’d say, ‘LeBron, did you ever have any desire to be a woman? Because what I’d love you to do is star on my team.’” Alex Schmider, an executive producer on the film and GLAAD’s director of transgender representation, calls this kind of rhetoric opportunistic and cynical.

CO U RT ESY O F H U LU

From left: high school wrestler Mack Beggs; Sprinter Andraya Yearwood.


“FASCINATING. AMANDA SEYFRIED GIVES A CAREER-BEST PERFORMANCE.” CH IC AG O S U N -T IMES

EMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS ®

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES LEAD ACTRESS AMANDA SEYFRIED


F E AT U R E

“The attention and focus on transgender athletes is a coordinated and very well-funded attack by politicians and organizations that have understood and done message testing that a lot of people just don’t personally know trans people in their lives,” Schmider says. “They have really centered in on this issue of sports because they realize that there is a lot of misinformation and there’s a lot of fearmongering and ability to capitalize on people’s ignorance and fears and then activate people around that.”

“ I’m a normal human being.

I’m not some monster.” — Sarah Rose Huckman

Schmider sees this in a larger context. “The attacks on trans kids in sports is not disconnected from the overturning of Roe v. Wade. It is not disconnected from trying to rewind and overturn marriage equality. All of this is concentrated and connected to ways that certain people and political systems want to continue regulating certain bodies and controlling certain bodies.” Schmider adds that this political strategy can only be effective “if you don’t see trans kids and trans people as human.” And that’s where Changing the Game comes in. Its very purpose is to put a human face on young trans athletes. Huckman, the high school skier, says in the film, “I’m a normal human being. I’m not some monster people make transgender people out to be.” In the last two years, 18 states have enacted laws or imposed rules that restrict or ban trans people from participating in sports. Late last year, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed a law that requires the state’s K-12 students to participate on sports teams according to the sex listed on their birth certificate, not their gender identity. A bill that failed in Minnesota called for criminal penalties against transgender girls who participated in girls’ sports. Clare Tucker, producer of Changing the Game, accuses politicians behind those efforts of not doing their homework. “It’s wild to me that people are going to legislate, create laws, with zero research. ‘I’m not even going to meet a trans person. I’m not even going to do a day of research, a week of research, a month.’ It’s just bonkers.” There is no official count of trans athletes competing in high school and college, but the number is certainly small. “No more than five students currently in Kansas, nine in Ohio over five years,” according to an Associated Press investigation last year. The AP reached out to lawmakers in 24 states who had proposed legislation restricting trans participation in sports, “Yet in almost every case, sponsors [of bills] cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems.” Beggs puts it this way: “I feel like this issue is being politicized by the United States, some people preying on people’s prejudices and fears.” “There’s this media narrative that trans people are just dominating sports and that’s simply not the case,” Schmider says. “There’s this skewed and false mental template that trans people are always winning in sports because those are the only stories we hear. People only have a problem with trans athletes when they’re winning.” Huckman, who came out as trans in seventh grade,

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competed at a high level in skiing and track, but her results would not put her in the category of a dominant athlete. She said she took part in athletics for larger reasons than simply trying to amass ribbons, medals and trophies. “By doing sports… I was able to express myself for who I am, especially in a team setting where it’s high competition, high stakes constantly,” she says. “Through all the hard work and drive, I was able to have just like an extra family, an extra group of people that would look after me and show me that I can be loved unconditionally.” Changing the Game raises the question of how we assess the value of athletics at the high school level. Are sports meaningful only for those who win, or is their function also to teach sportsmanship, camaraderie, and instill discipline and pride? “I think that Andrea’s coach really nailed it in the film,” Tucker notes, “when he says, ‘Of course, wins and losses are important, but they’re important because of what you learned from them.’” Changing the Game is nominated for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking, a juried award evaluated on a few criteria, including the work’s capacity to “inform, transport, impact, [and] enlighten.” The film accomplishes that not only through the artistry of the filmmaking team, but the testimony of its subjects, who have stood up for their own rights and the rights of other trans athletes, and refused to be demonized without a fight. “I am incredibly grateful,” Barnett says of the Emmy recognition. “I think it’s a real testament to these three humans sharing their courageous stories in really honest ways… the way they let us into their lives, bedrooms, living rooms, with nothing but trust.” There is no doubt that in the near term, trans participation in sports is going to be used as a political wedge issue to stir up voters. But the athletes in Changing the Game sound a more optimistic note for the longer term, based on their experience as members of a new generation. They say in high school the hatred they received came overwhelmingly from adults, not kids their age. “I think the younger generation realizes that we can’t keep repeating the same mistake and hopefully we can create a greater community, just more acceptance and realizing that we are all human,” Beggs says. “At the end of the day, we’re all trying to live here on Earth as best we can.” ★ Right, Mack Beggs; below, skier Sarah Rose Huckman.

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FIVE THINGS:

DANNY STRONG The Emmy-winning creator of Dopesick gives a five-point masterclass for budding screenwriters By Lynette Rice

Lean on the masters

Arthur Miller is one of my writing heroes, along with the films of Sydney Pollack and Sidney Lumet. They are big inspirations for me when I do these kinds of projects that are very intense and powerful, moralistic and about something. The perennial is All the President’s Men. The screenplay by William Goldman is sort of the North Star of powerful, immediate, true-life stories. It’s extremely tense and feels like a thriller without really having those thriller beats. Those four are definitely my biggest influences.

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Avoid ‘loosely inspired’ tales

I think there’s a buy-in with the audience that they know this is not a word-for-word, moment-by-moment reconstruction of what actually happens. But I think the execution needs to always feel grounded or they won’t buy it at all. I’m specifically referring to true stories. The second you undermine that sense of what really happened, even if it is dramatized, it undercuts the entire piece. I just watched a true-life story—I’m not going to name it—that was executed in a heightened way where they very

much wanted to make it fun and not make you feel like this is what really happened. It’s a heightened, dramatic retelling of events. I quite enjoyed it. But it lost the sense of dramatic tension because it had this underpinning of entertainment versus reality.

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Don’t sweat the small stuff

I’m not a perfectionist at all. I know I’m going to be rewriting a script 50 times, which I do. And then even on set, I don’t mind it when the actors sometimes tweak the dialogue or when it gets a little sloppy, as long

From left: Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All the President’s Men; Michael Keaton in Dopesick.

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as they don’t make it worse, and they usually don’t. I kind of like it when it feels a little loose. On Empire, the actors would tweak the dialogue all the time and I thought it sounded great. I don’t view it as generous. I just think the work is better and it can give it an edge of reality. I’m game unless there’s a hard joke written in there. Then I’d like to give the joke a shot before we start tweaking things.

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Remember what Jay Roach said

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Stick with your strengths

It was something he would say to me on Recount and Game Change, whenever he would get nervous in prep, and it was always prep. It seems to be the most nerve-wracking time because once you get on set and start going, you just go, right? Then it’s no longer theoretical, you’re actually doing it. But Jay kept saying, “Script and cast. Script and cast.” This idea that at the end of the day, all that matters is the script and the actors. That’s going to be the heart and soul of your piece. I’ve always really liked that.

I don’t think I would do a good job on a horror film. It’s not really my jam, which is too bad because I’m really good friends with Jason Blum. But I just got nothing to give him on the horror film front. Luckily, he also does prestige dramas, so I’m working with Jason there. ★

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WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

“In Lenora, CA the skin has a much more luxurious cinematic glow,” says department head makeup artist Amy Forsythe, “as if each character is its own ’80s pop culture icon they’re current with.” “When you do a wig that short, they have to put it in one hair at a time,” says department head hairstylist Sarah Hindsgaul. “The wig itself, when you hold it up, is completely transparent, you can see through it. That’s how little hair is actually on the wig. Millie’s buzzcut wig in the desert had to go through sandstorms, which was very difficult as sand gets attached to the lace wig in the front.”

The Stranger Things FX team reveal the secrets behind the biggest talking points of the latest season By Ryan Fleming Stranger Things earned 13 Emmy nominations this season, including Outstanding Drama Series, thanks to the unsung heroes of the show—the belowthe-line departments who put in the tireless effort to create the “surreal madness” of the series. From ‘de-aging’ Millie Bobbie Brown to building Vecna and his lair in the Upside Down, the collaboration of the craft departments continues to bring the series to new heights. Here, some of the craft department heads give insight into the most important aspects of this season.

Eleven’s New Look

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From Top: Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven seeing her past self in the mirror; Eleven gives a presentation at her new school; using her powers in the desert.

N E T F LIX

One of the most difficult tasks this season was de-aging Eleven for flashback scenes. “Before shooting we explored just about every option, including deepfake, full CG head replacement, smoothing and warping,” says VFX supervisor Michael Maher Jr. “Luckily, our experienced friends at Lola Visual Effects agreed to take on the work and help us out. They arranged a shoot with a special, proprietary camera and lighting rig called an egg. Using a combination of the 2D footage and projection, they were able to graft Millie’s performance onto a different body.”



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Visions of Vecna “Vecna’s Mind Lair is a testament to how the Art Department can come together with Special Effects, Camera, and Visual Effects to seamlessly create a psychedelically horrifying space that is practical at its core but extends off beautifully into an otherwise impossible distance,” says production designer Chris Trujillo. The Mind Lair included a “myriad of different kinds of visual effects,” says Maher, “including the CG vines on Max and Vecna, a complicated set extension with full CG floating objects, exploding debris, impacting CG blood simulations on the ground, and the smoke effect simulation of the portal.” Maher, who worked on Vecna’s concept design in 2019, worked closely with prosthetics designer Barrie Gower to bring the villain to life. “Although Vecna was predominantly a practical character makeup on set, it was decided early on that he would have digital elements—some beautiful, undulating tendrils, which would have been impossible to achieve in the same way practically. They moved so organically,” Gower says.

Jamie Cambell Bower as Vecna.

“After everything was shot practically, VFX worked with our vendors to create the moving vines on his body and remove his missing nose and pupils,” Maher says. “We were very careful to retain as much of Jamie [Campbell Bower]’s performance as possible when augmenting the vines. On several occasions we slowed the crawl speed of the vines in order to preserve what was happening in the shot.” ★

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Vecna approaches a kidnapped Max (Sadie Sink) in the Mind Lair.

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INCLUDING

OUT TANDING DRAMA ERIE

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WINNER

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SCREEN ACTORS GUILD AWARDS®

WINNER GOLDEN GLOBE AWAR D ®

WINNER

WINNER

CHOICE AWARDS 2 CRITICS

A F I AWA R D S 20 2 1 SPECI A L AWA R D

CHANGING. TRAILBLAZING. HISTORY MAKING.

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EMMY AWARD NOMINATION ®

FYC.NETFLIX.COM


Always the also-ran in the Emmy’s Variety Talk Series slot, Late Night with Seth Meyers earned its first nomination after the pandemic provided its host a chance to rethink his show. Peter White asks him about his Emmy milestone and the seismic changes happening in late-night PHOTOGR APHS BY L LOY D B I S H O P/ N B C

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Seth Meyers was trying to avoid being disappointed in front of his children on Emmy nomination morning, so he went for a run around New York City. He needn’t have worried. For the first time since he took the reins, Late Night with Seth Meyers earned a spot on Emmy’s Outstanding Variety Talk Series ballot. Perversely, it was the pandemic that helped the former Saturday Night Live star find his groove. Forced to produce his show from the attic of his in-laws’ house for long stretches with only a painting of an old sea captain and worn copy of The Thorn Birds for company, Meyers ditched his suit and tie and took his show, which launched in 2014, to a more relaxed level. Audiences, and evidently Emmy voters, noticed. Meyers returned to 30 Rock in September 2020, and a studio audience followed just over a year later in October 2021. But he has kept the more informal attire and a way of telling jokes that work in both an empty room and a packed space. He says that the pandemic gave him and his staff, which includes executive producer Mike Shoemaker, a “window of opportunity” to make “massive creative changes”. It seems to have paid off. He will now compete with the likes of John Oliver, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert for the top late-night prize in September. However, Meyers is convinced that it nearly didn’t happen after it initially emerged that there would only be four nominations in the main late-night category. Only 19 late-night shows were submitted in the category, which according to Television Academy rules, would have meant only four nominations, down from six in 2019. This led to some lobbying from the late-night community, which was able to get a rule change to keep it at five. There’s no way of telling which spot Late Night with Seth Meyers was in, but Meyers jokes, “That's not to say we were definitely the fifth one, but we were definitely the fifth one in.” Ironically, a move that Meyers and Shoemaker made last year nearly meant that there were only four nominations this year. In 2021, they lobbied the Academy to submit Peacock’s The Amber Ruffin Show, which they exec produce, in the sketch category rather than in late-night, even though the organization believed it should be considered a late-night show. Had Ruffin’s weekly show been considered a late-night show, there would have been no need for a last-minute rule change, guaranteeing five spots. Meyers believes Late Night is an underdog in the category, although given that Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has won six years in a row, many of the other shows similarly believe that it’s HBO’s to lose. That said, with his first nomination, Meyers is incredibly pleased to be in the running. The former Weekend Update anchor, in the middle of his latest bout of Covid, speaks to Deadline about this journey and his thoughts on the latenight landscape, which is currently in the middle of a new wave of changes.

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CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP Seth Meyers instituted “massive creative changes” to Late Night that led to a milestone Emmy nomination.


“IF THERE WAS NO PANDEMIC AND I WENT TO NBC IN MARCH 2020 AND SAID, ‘I THINK WE NEED THREE MONTHS IN AN ATTIC,’ I DON’T THINK THEY WOULD HAVE RESPONDED WELL.”


“WHEN A BABY IS BORN AND YOU DON’T MONETIZE IT, THAT’S JUST FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE ON YOUR PART. I WILL EXPLAIN THAT TO AXEL. HE DOESN’T HAVE TO PAY FOR HIS OWN COLLEGE.”


I noticed that your latest positive Covid case came just as we were entering Phase 2 of Emmy voting. Coincidence or a ploy to get you some attention from the Academy voters? Oh, absolutely. I went to my doctor. He’s not in show business, but he did say sympathy is as good a play as any. Congrats on getting nominated in the main late-night category. How did it feel? It was a wonderful morning. I’ve certainly come to use most of those mornings, if you use history as a judge, to prepare ourselves for disappointment. It was a lot of [Mike] Shoemaker and I emailing back and forth about how lucky we are, no matter the outcome. Were you pessimistic? I don’t think I’m a pessimist. I’m more someone who analyzes data well. It’s more that we get our hopes up, we’re optimistic. But then we wrap our heads around the fact that it hasn’t happened before. The nicest moment is that when you don’t get it, you get about five to 10 texts. Very sweet, very necessary texts, telling you things along lines of “Go get them next year,” or, “You were robbed.” When you do get it, it’s a great number more texts. That was the nicest part of the day. Where were you when you found out? I was on hiatus, so I was with my family. I actually didn’t want to have to be with my kids when I found out because, as we’ve established over a long and lengthy career, I’m a terrible actor. I didn’t want to be with my kids pretending like I wasn’t bummed out, so I went for a run, and I put my phone down so I could use that time to once again [think] none of this matters. Then when you find out you’re nominated, and you’re so happy, you realize that mostly what you’ve been doing is telling yourself lies about how little it matters, because it has such a positive effect. My wife literally threw up her hands, because she’s had to deal with me finding out in real time all these years, and then one time I finally get it, I’ve literally run away. This year’s late-night nominations were unusual because the TV Academy changed the rules. Do you think that helped? It should be noted that that’s maybe one of the reasons we weren’t so bullish to begin with. For years, we weren’t getting the nom and there were six slots. Being realists, when it went down [to four] before, it was almost a relief. That’s not to say we were definitely the fifth one, but we were definitely the fifth one in. When it went down to four, we almost thought, “well, gosh, now we don’t even have to worry about it, we don’t even have to get our hopes up at all.” When it went back to five, I will admit that was when we thought maybe. Were you aware of the fact that by putting The Amber Ruffin Show in sketch, you might have been responsible for cutting the number of nominations? Yes, we were hyper aware of that. When I found that it was 19 nominations, I really thought that was by our own hand. TAKING A BREAK Meyers, chatting with The Bear star Jeremy Allen White during a commercial break, has ditched the suit and tie for a more casual comedy experience.

Somewhere in LA, The Late Late Show with James Corden team is cursing your name. I would say that would be true, except that I can attest for the record that [Corden and exec producer Ben Winston] both reached out, and it certainly seems like sincere congratulations. It feels like there’s a changing landscape in late-night. James Corden is leaving, Desus and Mero have split up, Samantha

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IN THE BEGINNING Meyers arrives at the Golden Globe Awards with his wife Alexi Ashe; on the SNL set with Bobby Moynihan and Cecily Strong.

It seems like a blow for diversity. It also feels like the last wave of traditional, linear late-night shows and streaming hasn’t quite figured out how to handle this genre. I think that’s right. One thing I should really stress is how bad I am at predicting the future based on the present. I would have told you five years ago, certainly, late-night is back and better than ever. I’m so obviously grateful for the people that do watch the show when it airs. But I think that becomes a smaller percentage every year. It still feels odd to me that any show would start at 12:30 a.m. It’s even weirder because it’s 12:37 a.m. You and I both know that 12:30 a.m. is wrong. I would still say 12:30 a.m. When you tell someone you have a show on at 12:37 a.m., I’m bending over backwards trying to explain why you’ve never seen it. Some shows struggled during Covid while others, I believe, like Late Night with Seth Meyers, actually prospered during the pandemic. Why do you think that is? Our initial approach to it was just figuring out a way to keep producing our show. But then we did see this window of opportunity to make the kind of massive creative changes that you wouldn’t have made independent of a pandemic. It wasn’t staff changes or anything. But without an audience there for almost 20

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months, we really did just get to drill down and do the show that was the most authentic to us. That just gave us more confidence to continue down that path. If there was no pandemic, and I went to NBC in March 2020 and said, “I think we need three months in an attic,” I don’t think they would have responded well. But it turned out, we did need three months in an attic. If you lose one of your senses, the other ones get a little stronger, and that kind of felt like what the pandemic was. We lost the suit and the studio and good cameras. But we managed to figure out how to do a show that we’re proud of. We’re doing things the way we used to, but with this new philosophy about the way we want to tell jokes.

Do you think you were able to take more risks than perhaps shows like The Tonight Show or The Late Show? When you look back and see what the three [Late Night] hosts before me did with it, you realize that there was always a little bit more space to do your own thing. It only works if you’re lucky enough to follow somebody like Jimmy [Fallon] at 11:30 p.m. Late Night was created by David Letterman. Were you a Letterman guy growing up? I was. I have sort of grown into having a far larger appreciation for Johnny Carson as I’ve gotten older and seen more of the stuff he did. But when I was a kid, and first turning myself on to the late-night shows, Letterman was the one that appealed to me. Having him on the show in February was a real trip, especially for the anniversary. That Letterman era didn't just influence the late-night shows that followed, but comedy in general. I hope when you eventually leave Late Night, you’ll grow a beard as big as his. That’s what they promised me. That was part of the deal. How are you feeling about your timeslot rival James Corden leaving? Have you considered who you might come up against next year? I’m most curious for what it means [for] what direction late-night is going. The turnover happens so rarely so it will be fascinating

D E E C ERCON E / EV ER ET T CO L L ECT I ON / N BC

Bee’s show was canceled, and there are rumors about Jimmy Kimmel leaving. What’s your take on the current situation? It’s notable that when we started, around eight and-a-half years ago, it seemed like there was this massive wave of new shows, and that seemed like the last inflection point. What was really exciting about that wave is you have someone like me, who looks a lot like people who’ve had these shows in the past, but then there was a group of people who hadn’t had shows like this in the past. That was really fun. That’s one of the heartbreaking parts about Samantha Bee and Desus & Mero coming to a close, because they represented a really new, exciting chapter in late-night. I would just hope that it’s not as negative a bellwether as it seems. But it was sad to read about.


to see what the data point on the axis is. I’m glad it’s not happening this summer and that we get another year of James. It’s truly stunning what someone who was so little known when he got the job has done with that franchise in the last seven or eight years. The craziest thing they could try to do is try to hire the next James Corden. I’m obviously hyper aware of the fact that that Jimmy left Late Night and they gave it to the next guy who hosted Weekend Update. I would think that James’s path would be a far harder thing to replicate, and they’re probably smart enough to know not to look for someone who is Tony-nominated and not well known in America. It just strikes me that he might have been a one in a million.

THE

COMPETITION Late Night with Seth Meyers is battling for viewers in a very tough space, facing reigning champ John Oliver and formidable foes Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah.

I would take a guess that when you eventually leave, they won’t bring in Colin Jost and Michael Che. They’re probably looking at their watches. Hey, it’s my time. Do you remember when you won the Emmy in 2011? Yes, for music and lyrics for Justin Timberlake [on SNL]. I think that we were helped a great deal that three of the other nominees in our category were Lonely Island songs. All three are more memorable than what we won for, but I think it might have been a case of classic votes winning. I was with [ John] Mulaney. Justin Timberlake for some reason didn’t show up. I feel like it might not have been the most important award for him, which is why I have not written a song with him since. One of the things I remember is, it was like one of those robotic microphones where they raise it to where you are, and nobody could figure out that the mic would find you when you talked. I was cracking jokes about people’s inability to figure out the mic, and then I won and went up and immediately leaned down to the mic, which was rising up anyway. I just avoided getting a concussion.

R AN DY H O L MES/ RI CH FU RY/JE FF SCH E AR/SCOT T KOWALC HY K /GE T T Y IM AGES

Where do you keep the Emmy? The Emmy is on a bookshelf in our apartment. The Emmy is a beautiful award, but the more children you have, the more you just start picturing the injury. I just feel like one day I’m going to come home and the Emmy’s going to be in bubble wrap. One of my kids is going be wearing an eyepatch and it’s going to be very clear that its future is in storage.

Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

You also hosted in 2014, what do you remember of that? It was very early days of my own show. I think when we left to do the Emmys, they rebuilt our set because [someone] said it looked like the side of a sushi restaurant in Burbank. I had hosted events in that room before, like the ESPYs, so I knew the room. Yet it was it was one thing to walk out and see all the athletes you know and love and tell jokes to them. It was another to see comedians. It immediately felt like higher stakes and less chance of reward. Do you think that was the last time you'll do it? I feel as though just in general, that might be how I feel. The last big thing I hosted was the Golden Globes, and that felt like a nice final thing to host. I would certainly like to think so.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Lorne Michaels is an exec producer of the show. How much involvement does he have? Lorne’s great. Mike and I worked so closely with him at SNL, so he’s seen and trusts how we make decisions. There’s not a lot of handholding. But as far as when you step back and ask the bigger questions about the show and which way it’s headed, that’s where Lorne has an eye like nobody else. It’s a quarterly check-in and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.


then you’re lucky enough to get to go have dinner with Lorne, who remains one of the best anecdotalists I’ve ever been lucky enough to sit down with. The only tricky thing is when you realize that maybe somewhere within the story he told you about Lenny Bruce was a note he was giving you on the show and you can’t quite figure it out.

We’re heading into summer. Many of your peers have negotiated quite a generous summer holiday. Have you? We’re going to have a fair amount of time off in August. History has shown time and time again, people watch a little bit less network TV in the summer. I’m going to try and hustle back [from Covid] and do [shows] because otherwise this would have been a really long break. We’d like to get back and see everybody’s faces one more time before we push off. John Oliver has won six years in a row for Last Week Tonight. As a Liverpool fan, I’m sure John would have preferred his team to beat your West Ham last year to win the English Premier League over another Emmy win. Have you discussed that with him? I think he would have taken that, and I think he also would have taken West Ham holding on to a two-nil halftime lead over Man City, which we had. However, I would say West Ham holding on against Man City has about the same outcome of success as anyone other than John Oliver. Last year, there was a groundswell for Conan to win as he was exiting late-night. If anyone could topple John Oliver, it was probably him. I think John was feeling very cinematic about it. Not that he would be felled by the future, but by the past.

You still perform stand-up regularly, right? I do it as much as I can, which isn’t a great deal. It’s like a Gift of the Magi situation where the more you have kids, the more jokes you have to tell. In order to tell them, you have to abandon those children. Does it help you keep the show fresh? I think the show helps the stand-up. Getting an hour every night, telling jokes and interviewing guests, you get more comfortable with your own voice. If you have a writer’s mind, you’re always going to come up with things, and a lot of them don’t fit neatly into late-night bits. Things like your wife having a baby in the lobby of your apartment building, that’s good stand-up fodder. That’s just capitalism, a gift like that. When a baby is born and you don’t monetize it, that’s just fiscal irresponsibility on your part. I will explain that to Axel. He doesn’t have to pay for his own college. I’ll tell the other two, “Neither of you got born in a way that was interesting to Netflix.” You’ve also been nominated for your YouTube series Corrections. Last year when I was nominated, I’ll admit that I was probably more disappointed that the show didn’t get nominated than I was excited that Corrections did. This year, without that disappointment, it’s sunk in how surprised I am that Corrections was nominated. But now I realize that this was a funnier way for it to happen and I should embrace it. James Corden got his own back by winning for Carpool Karaoke. James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke might be the John Oliver of shortform. There’s also I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. I will say right now that I think that should win. Are you going to take your whole team to the Emmys in September? The only thing we’re waiting on is to see what sort of restrictions there are. But certainly, the plan is we’re going to roll in. ★

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OUTTAKE Meyers shares a moment with Katie Holmes during a break in a recent show.


“WHEN I WAS A KID AND FIRST TURNING MYSELF ON TO THE LATE-NIGHT SHOWS, LETTERMAN WAS THE ONE THAT APPEALED TO ME. HAVING HIM ON THE SHOW WAS A REAL TRIP.”


personally get yourself to that incredible level of intensity? It goes back to me being able to allow a character to just affect me. I truly believe when they call action, I am now Cassie. And when they call cut, I’m Sydney. Anything that is happening [in between], whether it’s the scene partners, the atmosphere, anything in a moment—like a conversation you are having, I just truly listen and feel what Cassie is experiencing. I don’t like to plan it. I don’t do line reads. I just truly allow myself to live in my characters.

SW E E N E Y

The star of Euphoria and The White Lotus reveals what it’s like to play a walking woke Twitter account B Y C A R I TA R I Z Z O

As a rule, Sydney Sweeney is drawn to characters that are nothing like her. “I find that challenge interesting,” she says. But playing Cassie Howard, the LA teen who wears her emotions on her sleeve in Sam Levinson’s Euphoria was a welcome exception for the 24-year-old. “Cassie is one of the most relatable characters to me, because I search for love and acceptance, and I’m scared of being alone.” Here Sweeney talks about embodying the intensity of her character, bringing real depth to Cassie and what makes her character Olivia on Mike White’s black comedy The White Lotus so terrifying.

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Going into Season 2 of Euphoria, how was it different for you? It’s the first time that I’m able to revisit a character. I was really excited because it was the longest time I’ve ever spent with another character— another person. So being able to go back into her shoes and learn more about her and grow was truly an experience that I’ve always dreamt of. How did Sam prepare you for the intense arc that was coming? He gave me a heads up of Cassie and Nate’s love affair in between Season 1 and Season 2. But other than that, I was just along for the crazy rollercoaster ride. The bathroom scene is so powerful and disturbing. How do you

Was there a specific scene that really opened Cassie up to you in Season 2? Something that made you understand her better? Yes there was. It was a scene where she’s sitting in her bathroom and she’s surrounded by all the flowers. I don’t know what it was about it, but that scene just completely broke me—or Cassie. After that moment, I just knew that I had so much sympathy for her and empathy for her, even though she was making so many terrible decisions. I hoped that maybe there was an ounce of the audience that would be able to feel empathy for her as well.

E D D IE C HE N / H BO

Sydney

Which is interesting, because sometimes that means that the body doesn’t know the difference between reality and fiction. Is she hard to shake off? No. Before I even come to set, I am able to flesh her out so much as her own individual that I know her memories, the way that she moves and the way she talks, to the point where what you see on screen is Cassie. I don’t put my own memories and my own life experiences into a character. So, I’m able to separate myself as completely as I need to.


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Was there a scene or a sequence that you were particularly nervous about this season? One was the hot tub scene, because I had to have a tube in my mouth and it was filling my mouth with disgusting chunks of food and I don’t even know what, and then I had to hold it in my mouth while the scene was happening and act as if it wasn’t happening and then throw up everywhere. And then the sequence where Cassie goes up on stage and ruins her sister’s play, because I have terrible stage fright and there was an actual audience in the auditorium that we built. So, I was very nervous, but Maude [Apatow] and I, we had a great time together. She made it more enjoyable for me. How do you think Cassie has stretched you as an actor? I think that she has taught me to let go of insecurities that I may have. And she has taught me to fully allow myself to just engulf myself in her emotions. It’s been a really beautiful experience to be able to play out all of her different, crazy emotions that she’s been having to deal with. It’s been really fun. Then there’s Olivia in The White Lotus, a character who really holds it in. When you read it, what felt unique about Mike White’s script? When you read it, you know it’s Mike White. That was just unique in itself. And I felt like I knew exactly who each one of these characters was. But I was so nervous and I was so scared because I’ve never done comedy quite like that. When I realized that I was nervous going into the

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audition process, I really wanted it, because I knew it was going to be a challenge. And if something challenges me, then I’m going to go for it, full force. That was the case with Euphoria as well, right? You’ve said that you weren’t a lock for Cassie, but you fought for it. Because it was the first [role] where I felt like I knew exactly who Cassie was and I was worried that someone else might just come in and play her as the blonde girl and the sex symbol, because there’s so much more to her. I wanted people to be able to see that there is so much more depth to characters like that. And I knew I’d be able to find the depth in a character like that. And I hope people have seen that. And with White Lotus, it was because Olivia is terrifying, and it was a challenge for me to play comedy and I wanted to make sure that I was challenging myself. How is Olivia terrifying? I mean, look at her [laughs]. She’s like a walking woke Twitter account. Terrifying. What’s the challenge in portraying her, as opposed to Cassie? Olivia thinks that she knows everything, and you have to fully allow yourself to think that you know everything. She’s expelling who her mother is. She doesn’t want to be anything like her mother, but in doing so, she’s becom-

ing exactly like her. Having to allow that to happen was a fun process. How does one portray that kind of outright confidence? I had a lot of amazing co-stars. Being able to work with Connie Britton, Steve Zahn, Jennifer Coolidge—when I was working opposite them, they helped me have that confidence through my character because they allowed themselves to fully become the characters that Mike White created. And Mike White was like, “Don’t even try to be funny.” I’m like, “OK.” So, they truly helped me find the confidence within my character. What is unique about Mike White as a director? Mike White was the first director where I’ve never changed his words. Everything he wrote, I truly believed that Olivia was there and I was like, “How many people do you have inside you, Mike?” Is Euphoria more collaborative? Sam is very, very collaborative. We always talk through every scene and our characters. Because, in a way, I feel like we are closest to our characters and we’re living our characters’ lives. So, if we feel like, “So-and-so wouldn’t say this,” Sam’s very receptive and he listens to all of our thoughts. As someone who knows Cassie best, what have you imparted?

Especially with her relationship with Nate, there was so much that we were finding as we were going. We wanted there to be different beats that we thought our characters deserved to have. We would sit and work on a scene and Sam would allow Jacob [Elordi] and I to find different moments that grew the scene even more. So, we had the scene, but he allowed us to live in it even longer than what was on the page. Doing that was an amazing experience because he allowed Jacob and I to find even more dynamics throughout the characters. Would you say it’s the way they care for each other? The care and also the struggles that they were having to go through, because it wasn’t all just a beautiful dream. We wanted to show that there still was a bit of toxicity and control over who actually was playing with whose strings. I really loved finding that Cassie was learning how to use her power and manipulate Nate as well. I wanted to show that shift of power dynamics in it and not just show that she’s his puppet. The White Lotus must have been such a fun juxtaposition to Euphoria. Do you wish you could have gone back for Season 2? I am so excited for Jennifer and her season. Of course, I love everyone involved, but who knows? Maybe later on. And how about Marvel’s Madame Web, which you’re currently working on. What can you tell us? Well, I think it’s challenging me in new areas. It’s something I’ve never quite done before and it’s physically and emotionally challenging in new ways that I can’t wait for everyone to see.

From left: Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O'Grady in The White Lotus.

Is the secrecy hard? Yeah. Because I’m a pretty open person, but I’m learning. I really can’t wait until I can actually talk everything through. ★

M AR IO P E RE Z / H BO

That scene is so quiet compared to how Cassie is usually reacting. What did it mean to you? I think that it was the fear of being alone. She went so deep inside herself that she’s worried that she’ll never be able to come back from it. And I think that she knew that she was falling down this path and she is willing to continually fall.


OVER FLOW

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D O NG - H Y U K

The Squid Game creator explains how breaking the golden rules of Hollywood led to a meeting with Steven Spileberg BY S T E V I E WO N G

Back in 2008, Hwang Dong-hyuk never imagined that his feature script, about a group of desperate people playing a game of life or death, would see the light of day. But a decade later, his idea for Squid Game was pitched as a series to Netflix, and much to his surprise, the thriller quickly turned into a global phenomenon with 1.65 billion views only four weeks after its launch. The milestones continue as Squid Game has crossed over successfully into awards season, culminating with a record 14 Emmy nominations, making it the first non-English language series up for Outstanding Drama Series. Congratulations on all the Emmy nominations. They celebrate both the actors and the team behind the scenes, like production designer Chae Kyoung-sun, art director Gim En-jee, set decorator Kim Jeong-gon and editor Nam Na-young. Yes, I’m very happy that, not only the show and the actors, but as you said, our behind-the-scenes crew members got nominations. I understand that we’re probably the first show of our kind to get a nomination in most of the categories, so it’s very, very exciting. I think all of these nominations prove what a good job we did and how much love and support we received all over the world.

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But at the same time, I’m a bit sad to hear that our costume designer, Jo Sang-gyeong, who I admire very much, didn’t get a nomination. But in every sense, I think we’re making history and we’re writing a new chapter in history. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite opened the doors for international cinema to break through the Oscars Best Picture ceiling. You’re now creating a pathway for non-English titles to have a place at the Emmys. How does that feel? When Parasite was not only nominated for the Oscars, but also won four trophies, I was so surprised. Those wins gave me a lot of confi-

dence and motivation to go forward. And it made me realize that, from now on, if we make really good shows, we can be acknowledged in Hollywood and in other parts of the world. I thought that more opportunities would be opened and waiting for us in the future, but I never expected that it would happen to me. I hope that the new history that Squid Game is writing will provide inspiration and motivation to my fellow international creators of non-English shows. I think if we tear down these barriers and walls, one by one, we’ll be living in a world with no barriers at all, where an international audience can completely and fully exchange their culture.

You got your Master of Fine Arts at USC. What do you think your studies in the U.S. taught you as a filmmaker back then and do you still agree with what you learned? Twenty years ago, when I went to study in the United States, people really thought that in order to become a famous director and a creator, you had to make a show in English for people around the world to be able to watch it. And that was the golden rule of sorts. I personally believed that was true, but I no longer think that. No matter which language a show is in, as long as it is centered on a theme and a message that everybody around the world can resonate with, everyone can have access to that.

N E T FL IX

Hwang

The concept of watching foreign content with subtitles might be less foreign for those who grew up in places like Asia, where everyone grew up reading subtitles to their favorite non-locallanguage movie. In the end, a good story is a good story no matter what the language. For those of us who were born in non-English speaking countries, we really grow up watching foreign films, mostly American films, but also Hong Kong and Chinese films in subtitled versions, even TV series. We are very used to watching these shows in foreign languages. For us, it was just something that’s very natural. But only later did we realize that people who were born in Englishspeaking countries are not so used to watching non-English content. I hope that our show will help make people in English-speaking countries enjoy more non-English content, just like we did in subtitled versions. I do really feel that we’re gradually sparking more interests in other parts of the world to non-English TV series. I think this really goes to show what a global and international world we’re living in, where people have no barriers in terms of language and culture.


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What was it like to see your imagination come true in front of you? Well, a million thoughts and emotions crossed my mind because this was a scene that I had percolating in my mind for such a long time. We filmed it in four days with so many actors and the giant doll, of course. When we were editing the scene to “Fly Me to the Moon”, which is also a piece of music that I had in my mind for a long time, it made me so emotional and overwhelmed. I was very happy that it turned out to be so spectacular. I think it gave me a sense of the fact that this show could really become something big. You initially wrote this as a feature film, how was it to expand the story and characters into an eight-hour series? This was my first time doing a series, so I wasn’t really sure if I could pull this off. But as you said, I had to make a two-hour film into an eight-

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L to R: Hwang Dong-hyuk on the set of Squid Game, with lead actor Lee Jung-jae.

hour series, and new characters that didn’t exist in the two-hour version were added, and of course that was a very tough process. At the same time, two hours was simply not enough to tell each and every story that I wanted to deliver, and I’d be remiss not to tell those stories. In a way, it gave me more freedom and more room to tell these other stories, so in that sense, I was happy. You created the character of Jiyeong, played by the nominated guest actress, Lee Yoo-mi. How pivotal was she as a character for the larger picture of Squid Game? When I first wrote the script in 2009, that character was a handsome man who fell in love with Sae-byeok [Supporting Actress nominee, HoYeon Jung] at first sight and decided to sacrifice himself to help her. But when I took another look at the script in 2019, after 10 years, I just felt that the whole thing was really old, because those days—when a man who would arrive in shining armor to save the girl— have passed. So I changed the name, which was originally Ji-yong—that’s a man’s name in Korea—to Ji-yeong, and that simple change in the name seemed like the character was really brought to life, and all of a sudden, the scene felt completely new and now. By that change of gender, it also wasn’t about romance, just solidar-

ity and that bond that they were forming in a very brutal situation. It seemed beautiful to me, and it made the Sae-byeok character even more fascinating as well. O Yeong-su is also recognized for his role as Oh Il-nam (Number 001). Why did you choose a revered theater actor with very few film or TV credits to play this key role? O Yeong-su has been doing theater for almost his whole life and I had watched a film that he appeared in 10-plus years ago titled, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring, by director Kim Ki-duk. He played a monk and his performance and presence really left a big impression on me. When I came up with the character Oh Il-nam, I instantly thought of him. More than anything, he was an unknown actor, even in Korea. So I think he really embodied that new and mysterious vibe that Il-nam had. And this would also go a long way in highlighting that surprise reveal at the very end of the series. The fact that he had little to no experience in television and film helped him become really free of those cliches in his way of speech, his voice, and his bodily gestures. He had that aura and that vibe of seeming to hide a secret, and yet he looked vulnerable and pitiful at the same time.

Will you expand the Squid Game universe to other countries? That was actually part of my intentions from the outset. I wrote the script in a way to hint that the Squid Game was happening in other parts of the world. As you can see from the conversations that the VIPs are having, they say the Korean game this year is spectacular, which means that there are other games as well. So this was also intended, because I thought that if the show did well, I wanted to expand the universe further, so that other countries could have their own version of the Squid Game. Talks regarding this are ongoing and not only that, I heard that they were doing a reality show, even receiving applications right now. So as a creator who makes original series, the fact that my story is going global and that people are making different interpretations of it, it’s very exciting and I’m honored to see this happening. During this awards season, have you encountered any of your own idols yet? Steven Spielberg was my idol filmmaker growing up. Who doesn’t admire his work? We all grew up watching E.T. and Jaws. And he was also the director of the board of directors at USC that I went to. So meeting him and sharing a conversation was the most memorable moment for me in this entire promotions and the awards season. And he said that he watched Squid Game and finished it in three days and enjoyed it very much. So I was really happy to hear that. I heard Young-hee (the doll) will have a boyfriend in Season 2. Who manages to kill more people, Young-hee or Cheol-su? Young-hee. She’s the killer. Cheol-su is only a sidekick [laughs]. How will you bring him into Season 2? I’m still writing... [laughs]. ★

N E T FL IX

Before you even started writing Squid Game, was there an idea or vision that you used as your kickoff point? The thing that always kept me curious to bring that to screen was the very first game that came to mind, Red Light, Green Light. I thought of this very large, gigantic barren field or playground and a giant doll standing at the very end and this massive group of people trying to escape the eyes of this giant doll while they’re trying to get closer. However, when they’re caught, they’d be shot to death and it’d be a massacre. I thought if this kind of thing appeared on the screen, how would it strike the viewers? Would they feel surprised or blown away? I think that was the starting point of my ideation for the production. Because I had been picturing the scene in my head for more than 10 years, when we finally pulled it off, it brought back a lot of memories and emotions to me because of the fact that I had finally realized this vision that I had in my head.


OVER FLOW

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Christina

R I CC I

The Yellowjackets star explains why she will always root for the underdog—even if it bites her BY DA M O N W I S E

At 15, Christina Ricci appeared in a PG-13 comedy called Now and Then, in which four middle-aged best friends meet up to reflect on their teenage selves. Nearly 30 years later, Showtime’s Yellowjackets is that film’s hard-R evil twin, in which the fortysomething members of a New Jersey school’s female football team are haunted by memories of a traumatic plane crash that left them stranded when they were kids. It’s hard to pick a single performance from a terrific ensemble, but Ricci’s portrayal of the twisted Misty Quigley, played in flashback by Sammi Hanratty, is a standout in a series that shocks and surprises. What initially inspired you to take on Yellowjackets? I loved the idea of it—the premise in general. But then I read the pilot script and the only scene I had in the whole episode was such an incredibly well-written, succinct, informative, evocative scene. It was about a character type I’ve always been fascinated by—petty, small people who are so powerless in the world that their only way to fight back is through these tiny little instances of being able to force their will onto someone else. I’ve always been fascinated by that character type, and I was excited, because I really, really, really enjoy playing characters that do bad things. Then I was told that, later on in the show—if we were picked up—Misty would do

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some pretty terrible criminal things, and I was completely intrigued. I’m referring more to the murder she commits [laughs]. Kidnapping, torture, that kind of stuff. The show is unusual in that its weaving of the past and present gives both timeframes equal weight. Did you always know that would be the case? I knew after the pilot and I loved that as well, because it’s so helpful for my performance. Frankly, it allows me to start from a further along place than I would if I was the only person playing the character—it’s a real luxury to not have to worry about showing the past. Especially with Misty. She’s such a proactive character, she just goes, goes, goes. The past doesn’t

really seem to have had much effect on her. Obviously, it’s shaped her and formed her, but, intellectually, I don’t think she ever looks back. What does a typical script look like? Do you get the whole episode or just your timeline? We read the whole script and we have a Zoom table read, or at least we did last year. Actually, seeing what happens in the flashback scenes is very important, because a lot of times in the script there’ll be scenes that mirror things that happen in the past. So, I learned to look out for those things, to make sure that I could do them the way that Sammi did, or make sure Sammi did it the same way that I do it in the present.

How much interaction did you have with Sammi? We didn’t have that much interaction before the pilot—we met very briefly. And then when we finally went to shoot the season, we had a lunch and discussed the character. Obviously, neither of us are doctors, so in terms of diagnosing Misty, it’s a little more complicated. But with a character that is so extreme, you do have to have a specific take on her, and rules for her, because she’s still a person. How much research can you do into a character like Misty? You can’t do any, really, because when you’re doing TV, it’s not set in stone what this character will be doing. You have to have a concept that can evolve and stretch, but you also, as an actor, have to feel confident that you know your parameters. They intentionally put a scene in there when Misty’s a child, where she stares at an animal drowning and dying. To me, that speaks to a lack of empathy, and, as

SH OW T IM E


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a sort of dime-store psychiatrist, I’d think that they were saying that she’s a bit of a sociopath. From there, what I do is just try to take everything I see written for her and really ground it in reality. And also, with such an extreme character, you never want her to be purely comic relief. I was always like, “I just don’t want her to be a clown. She can’t be the clown.”

It’s so nice to see good parts for women in this series. There’s you, Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Tawny Cypress… And you’re playing great characters, with not too many men to clutter the horizon. You’re right. I mean, all the parts on this show are just some of the best examples of characters for women right now, because they are so specific and unique and individual and not just types. That’s something I think that is only now starting to be the norm—that we don’t treat women as tropes or props, and they don’t have to be specific types that we recognize. It’s very strange now. If you read a script or you see a show where women are treated in that way, it’s so glaring. It’s like, “Ooh, that feels dated.”

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Where does that interest come from? I’ve always been like that. I’ve always been that person who stands too close to the abandoned dog and then gets bitten. I’ve always really over-empathized with, maybe, the wrong types of people, because I’m fascinated by deviant behavior. In a weird, Pollyanna-ish way, I have that optimism of thinking that people are good deep inside, even when they’re really not.

Christina Ricci as Misty in Yellowjackets.

How much have you seen the industry change since you started acting? For me? Well, when I started, I was a child and just happy to be in that environment and away from home and working. It was exciting and fun, so all I focused on was being really well-behaved so that I would get more jobs. But now that I’m past my difficult 20s, and all of the distraction that goes on in that time, I feel like I can really look at my work from a creative, artistic, intellectual standpoint, with all the calm that comes with age. How did you find the transition from child acting to adult acting? I didn’t have too much of a hard time, because, just as I became 17, independent film became a huge thing and for the first time, filmmakers wanted to cast actual teenagers to play teenagers. Did casting agents have preconceptions about you? At that time, I did a lot of indies because, in mainstream movies, there was still a lot of leading-lady standards that I didn’t fall into. You’ve certainly seen that change. Well, yeah. But I’m not at that age anymore. I’m not in my 20s and it’s not the 2000s, when you were either a leading lady or a character actress,

and there was no in-between. Now they’re melding and blending. I’m not sure what it’s like to be in your 20s now, as an actress. But I do think, from what I see as a TV- and film-watcher, that they’re also benefiting from playing much more complicated, interesting women. Tell me about your production company. How does that work? Well, I spend a lot of my time mining for material, articles. One of the pieces I have is an obscure piece of true crime that I found. Another piece is an article from Vanity Fair about old Hollywood lore. I spend most of my time looking for IP and material and then trying to package it, find partners. And I’ve been successful with a few things. What kinds of stories appeal to you? I usually look for something that’s a little bit different. I love a story; I love an antihero. I love it when the protagonist is just a scumbag, but you’ve got to follow them anyway and figure out why. And I like being challenging—I like the idea of the audience having that sort of emotional character arc experience. You know what I mean? I like turning the tables. I don’t know how to really eloquently describe it, but I like the idea of people seeing something that they think they couldn’t possibly

Which of your roles do you think comes closest to achieving what you’ve just been talking about? I don’t know how to answer that question, but I do feel that in terms of putting something really offputting in front of people and then ultimately making it compelling and interesting enough that they want to dive in and end up actually even liking the character, Misty is a very good example of that. What has the reaction been like on a personal level? Well, people really like it. I mean, everyone I talk to loves it. I have friends who genuinely love it, and they aren’t just saying that because they’re my friends. I have a lot of trouble [processing success]. I’ve always been like that, since I was young and super-famous. I don’t feel famous—I’m just home, doing my day. It’s hard to actually feel this ephemeral thing, that somewhere out there, hanging above us, there’s a hit show and everyone’s crazy for it. I can’t feel that. But it is very, very exciting to be in the position I’m in now, and for the show to be so nominated and for people to really love it. Because it is a bit of a risk in a lot of ways, in the way it deals with women and their characters. And so if it had failed, or been stupid, that would’ve been really a shame for women. ★

K AI LE Y SC H W E R MA N /SH OW T I ME

But she’s still very funny and in a very elevated, witty way. Well, I don’t think she’s stupid. She’s learned a lot of coping mechanisms, survival skills, methods of getting ahead, manipulative tactics that involve pretending to be as innocuous as possible. I always describe her as a murderous golden retriever [laughs]. It’s how I describe myself, actually. Inside she’s seething, but she has to cover it all the time with this very innocuous, adorable kind of thing. But that means that her main form of hostility is passive aggression, and usually through the things she says and the things she does, you can tell she’s actually very smart and understands everything that’s going on, even if somehow, she just cannot do the right thing.

relate to—but then being intrigued enough to want to understand it and follow along with it.


OVER FLOW

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How did you find out about the Emmy nominations? I had a flight, so I was up. I was in glam and was editing videos. I’m always editing some TikTok video or something for social media. My manager called me mid-edit and I was like, “What’s going on here?” I ignored the call and kept editing. “I gotta finish this TikTok before I get on this plane.” Then he called my assistant, and he was like, “Put her on the phone now!” I found out that way. So that was pretty awesome. Great way to start the day. So, you not only created a hit TV show, but you have made a difference with that show. What does that feel like? I’ve seen it within the group of girls that were featured on the show. I mean, it’s incredible to watch their careers take off and blossom. They’ve been dancing with me and performing on SNL and awards shows. I don’t know how the industry’s changed yet, but we’re definitely waiting to see that change, for sure.

The rapper turned reality TV star on leading the revolution for plus-size dancers and wanting to the belle of the ball B Y LY N E T T E R I C E

Lizzo may not want to show her face when doing an interview via Zoom but there’s no doubting the pop superstar is actually on the call. After all, who else would have a screensaver that says ‘100% That Bitch’? Here, the creator and host of Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls—an unscripted series for Amazon in which the pop superstar searches for fly backup dancers—talks about the freshman show’s six Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Competition Program and Outstanding Directing for a Reality Program, and how she plans to prepare for the big night.

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When you were casting, was it overwhelming? Were there way more talented gals than you could include in the series? It was hard. There were so many talented girls, but eventually what it came down to was talent, their stories, and who they were as individuals. We were making a television show and it was important to me to tell stories that the world hadn’t seen or heard before.

G I LBE RT CA RRASQ U IL LO/G C IM AG ES

L I ZZ O

You’ve said in the past that you've had the idea for this show for a while. Was there a reality show that inspired you? No. I was more inspired by needing dancers than a show. I wasn’t like, “Oh my gosh, I need to make a show.” It was more like it would be incredible to document this and have a platform to raise awareness. I had had open calls for dancers in the past that weren’t on a hit television show, and I didn’t get as many girls as I needed. I knew there was raw, untapped talent. I just needed to find it.


AD

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The women were very candid about the whole process, including their injuries and their insecurities. Did you encourage them to let it all hang out? They were definitely down for the ride. They were very brave about being vulnerable and open. I think they all were very aware that this was their actual dream coming true, and they didn’t take that for granted. Reality shows can definitely veer in different directions because of onscreen drama. Were you worried it would devolve into that? Did you set down any rules? I think when you put rules in place, it makes things kind of contrived. I didn’t want to over-produce the experience these girls had. I think we cast it very well, and the relationships these girls had were very authentic. They formed beautiful bonds. And no, there were no rules. Come as you are, act how you want. We did want people to treat each other with kindness and I think that everyone did.

This is your first TV show. What did you learn about the process and yourself? I learned that relationships are very important. And not just the relationships on screen, but the ones with those who are working on set behind the scenes. It was important to me that everybody

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From left: Big Grrrls dancer Shirlene Quigley with Lizzo.

It was important to me that everybody felt seen and heard. When I make shows that's a very important factor.

felt seen and heard, that everybody felt respected. When I make shows, especially from here on out, that’s a very important factor. This show has such an incredible feeling because people cared. Is there anything you would like to change about the show if there is a second season? I’m definitely all about changing things up. It’s exciting to think about how far we could go with a Season 2. The sky is literally the limit. What’s it like juggling this with your music career? Is it spreading you too thin? I created and produced and started this show. This isn’t, like, something that I was forced to do. I make time for the things I love and the things that I really want to do. So, no.

So, you have your overall deal with Amazon. You have teased the potential of doing a scripted project. Is there anything more you can say about it? Everything is just ideas right now. When things start to get greenlit and more concrete, I can talk about it then. But I don’t want to get people excited about something I haven’t pitched yet. Have you written your Emmy acceptance speech yet? I don’t plan on things like that. I think I’m more excited about what I’m going to wear. Like it’s just a big deal to be there. This is going to be my first Emmys, my first Emmys carpet. I want to feel like the belle of the ball. So, I think I’m more excited about planning my look than a speech. I think I’m just going to drink champagne. ★

AM AZO N ST U D I OS

The athletic feats performed by some of the women were pretty awe-inspiring. Did any of them scare the bejesus out of you? Well, we’re talking about dancers here. That is what they were on here to do, to be incredible and do incredible physical feats. There were a few moments where, you know, like Moesha slipped and fell when performing and Jayla did a flip off of the stage and tripped. I was worried, but this is an occupational hazard. Honestly, your job is so physical when you’re a dancer.


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EMMY HANDICAPS 52

AS THE TELEVISION UNIVERSE RETURNS TO NORMALCY, PETE HAMMOND DELIVERS HIS INSIGHTS ON THE EMMY RUNNERS AND RIDERS

AFTER STRUGGLING the

past couple of years with Emmy campaigning in virtual lockdown, and with no in-person events or Q&As allowed by the Television Academy, things have gone back to ‘normal’. The pandemic protocol meant the 20,000- some voters in the Academy were relegated to participating in virtual online sessions where the opportunity for networking and wordof-mouth was greatly reduced. This season, however, it was back to old times, with the shackles taken off studio and network consultants in terms of bringing voters out of the house and back into the swing of the very long TV season. Still, we saw the nominations tend to favor a handful of shows, and all those contenders associated with them, in a very big way. So, the campaigns didn’t really widen the field in a way the Academy might have hoped they would. For instance, nominations leader Succession saw a whopping 14 of their actors nominated, thus pretty much sucking the air out of the room for shows that might not have had quite so many Academy eyeballs on them. If you were in that show—or Ted Lasso, or The White Lotus, or Hacks to name four with huge hauls for performers—then well, welcome to the 74th Emmy Awards. But with the absolutely enormous amount of content for members to absorb and watch, it should really come as no surprise that they couldn’t get to it all and instead went for familiar favorites, or others like Squid Game that managed to cut through the clutter by becoming viral sensations that were impossible for the Academy to ignore. With the race down to the wire, let’s not cry for those who came up short, but rather handicap the chances of winning for those who didn’t.

D E A D L I N E .C O M /AWA R D S L I N E


“CAPTIVATING...DEEPLY MOVING” VANITY FAIR


EMM Y 2 02 2 H AN DICAPS / BY P ETE H A M M O N D

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES Better Call Saul

Euphoria

Nominated for the last five seasons, but always a bridesmaid, this brilliantly crafted spinoff of past Drama Series winner Breaking Bad is looking for its first win. With a series finale of 12 episodes divided evenly into two different Emmy seasons, this batch of six becomes the penultimate goodbye to Saul, so voters might just wait until next year to finally honor it. However, the actual final episodes of the series, not eligible until the 75th Emmys, are airing now, possibly delivering an advantage since the show is all anyone is talking about this summer. Clever, AMC.

This edgy and popular series scored a big win at the 72nd Emmys when in its first season voters delivered star Zendaya a surprise Lead Actress Emmy over stiff competition. However, the series itself had to wait until its Covid-delayed second season debuted, and now has landed a coveted spot here in the marquee category as one of its impressive 16 nominations. As a first-timer, it looks like enough voters overall have now become fans to put it here, but it still feels like a longer shot to actually win, especially since it is not the only dog HBO has in this fight.

AMC

Well, this almost never happens. With an expanded field of eight nominees, not a single one of this year’s nominees was invited to the party last year. This is a completely different field than the eight nominees from last season. That doesn’t mean this is a lineup of all newcomers. Half of the nominees have in fact been here before but simply didn’t have new seasons ready to be considered for the 73rd Emmys. With that in mind, veterans of the category, Better Call Saul, Ozark and Stranger Things will try to finally win the elusive crown, just as last year’s victor—uh, The Crown—finally managed (it is not eligible this time). There is one—and only one—among the nominees that knows what it is like to win here—2020 champ Succession. Can it prevail again or will a past nominee or a newcomer to this race go all the way instead?

HBO

Ozark

Severance

Squid Game

Stranger Things

Succession

Yellowjackets

Like Better Call Saul, this is the only other nominee this year with an announced end to the series. In this case, however, the split-in-half final episodes all aired within the eligibility period, so this becomes the only nominee for Drama Series giving voters their absolutely last chance to honor it. A past winner in select categories like Supporting Actress (twice for Julia Garner) and directing for star Jason Bateman, can it at last nab the big one? Netflix, which finally conquered the category with The Crown last year, is certainly hoping so.

With an excellent showing of 14 nominations in only its first season, this Apple TV+ breakout instantly becomes the one to watch as a possible upset. Its diverse list of nominations, coupled with a series that clearly has grabbed the attention of the industry (just talk to anyone who has seen it), I have to think if frontrunners like Succession and Squid Game split votes, this one may just surprise. At the very least I think it may well win both of its writing and directing noms, in the same way Hacks came out of nowhere to do that last year against Ted Lasso. In fact, bet on it.

One of three entries in the Drama Series race from Netflix, this one has the most heat as a true global sensation and watercooler series that represents the first ever foreign-language nominee in this category. The Korean series has made waves earning 14 nominations overall, the same number as Severance, but is it too violent for some voters? Hard to say, but it certainly is riveting to watch. It could continue to make history here with a big win, but no matter what happens it has already made its mark.

With another 13 nominations to add to its previous 38 and seven wins, this enormously popular sci-fi series from the Duffer brothers has proven its worth and consistency, and delivered its most critically acclaimed episodes yet. And like Better Call Saul, it seems to be peaking at the right time. The problem is it has only won belowthe-line Emmys, despite being nominated in the top category three times previously. After a gap year in 2021, it is now back in the fold, but will voters still be excited? Stranger things have happened at the Emmys.

With 25 nominations— 14 for acting, three for directing—and the distinction of being the only nominee this year to have previously won this category (in 2020), the wind appears to be at the series’ back. With the bulk of its support coming from acting and directing branches, that could drive it to a second Emmy win here. But the competition is fierce and you can make an argument for some of the others. I wouldn’t count on that. This is clearly the frontrunner.

It isn’t really a total surprise that this firsttime nominee broke through and landed not only seven nominations, but particularly this one. Showtime has been snubbed quite a bit lately, so this is very important for them even if, along with Better Call Saul, this is the least-nominated series of the bunch. The offbeat premise is unique as it switches between the story of a girls’ high school soccer team trying to survive a devastating plane crash and their lives decades later. It is the longest shot here, so the nomination is probably the win for Yellowjackets.

Netflix

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Apple TV+

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Netflix

Netflix

HBO

PETE’S

WINNER PICK

Showtime



EMM Y 2 02 2 H AN DICAPS / BY P ETE H A M M O N D

OUTSTANDING

LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Like the Drama Series contest, none of the nominees for Lead Actor or Actress were in the race last year. Four of the six actors nominated this time around have been to this rodeo before, even if only one of them has a lead actor Emmy to prove it. Interestingly, though, Jeremy Strong won this two years ago, and Brian Cox, Bob Odenkirk and Jason Bateman all have at least one Emmy at home for other categories. This quartet of veterans face off against two newcomers to the race, including the first-ever Korean actor to be nominated here.

Bob Odenkirk

Adam Scott

Jeremy Strong

Interestingly, Odenkirk created this character on Emmy-darling Breaking Bad but never got recognition for it until he landed his own show. Even then, it still took a couple of years. This is now his fourth nod as Jimmy/Saul and his 17th overall as a producer, actor and writer with two wins for the latter on SNL and The Ben Stiller Show. The sheer fact that he had a wellpublicized heart attack while shooting the show could lend some sympathy toward a win, but let me tell you, the guy deserves it no matter the reasons voters have to give it to this iconic character.

Scott is one of those actors who seem to turn up everywhere but never get noticed come awards time. His edgy and mesmerizing role in this weirdly inventive and important series finally did the trick and plucked him out of the pack into a key Emmy race. The fact that voters recognized him with a nomination could well mean he has a much more serious chance of an upset to win, since few were expecting him to get this far. The proof is in the pudding though, and if enough watch, he has a real shot.

As noted, Strong was the big acting winner of the Roy clan the last time they were all up for Emmys, and he could well be again as Kendall Roy has ratcheted up the drama this season and put it in overdrive. This has become perhaps the showiest part in the series and that can only be good for an Emmy repeat, that is if his TV dad doesn’t steal the thunder this time around. Or, if they don’t cancel each other out.

Better Call Saul

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Severance

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Succession

Jason Bateman

Brian Cox

Lee Jung-jae

Bateman has 12 nominations overall, including an Emmy win for directing an episode of Ozark in 2019. He is once again a double nominee this year in both acting and directing and he has pulled off multiple nominations in each of Ozark’s four seasons. As an actor, though, he still has yet to conquer the Emmy winner’s circle. With this as his last chance for this series at least, can he finally do it? As a former child star, he certainly has earned his veteran status.

Speaking of veterans, this great star’s only previous Emmy win came way back in 2001 for the TV movie Nuremberg. As patriarch Logan Roy in Succession, he has his second Emmy nod for the role. Two years ago, he lost to Jeremy Strong who plays his rogue son. Will Cox turn it around this time, even with the same face-off with his co-star? He certainly had a vivid season, so the goods are there, but Emmys don’t always play fair. We have many examples of voters rewarding the same star over and over.

A veteran of the Korean acting community, and a winner at the SAG Awards earlier this year, Lee Jung-jae is the history-maker in the category, the first foreign-language actor nominated. That could give him a distinct advantage in this competitive contest as he is also truly memorable in a role like no other. My guess is there is a lot of good will toward him, and a win here could be a way of rewarding the series as well.

Ozark

Succession

Squid Game

PETE’S

WINNER PICK

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR

IN A DRAMA SERIES Three actors from Succession return to the same race they populated in 2020 when Nicholas Braun, Kieran Culkin and Matthew MacFayden squared off against each other. Now in 2021, they are joined by more conflicting interests, as both Park Hae-soo and Oh Yeong-su compete against one another in Squid Game and screen icons Christopher Walken and John Turturro compete in Severance. What a quandary voters have. But sitting all by himself is the guy who won this thing in 2020, and he’s looking very good again, especially since he has no co-stars splitting the vote. Billy Crudup in The Morning Show won last time while competing against fellow cast member Mark Duplass who isn’t in the race this time. Can he do it again, playing the kind of slippery TV executive with whom so many Emmy voters are familiar?

The Winner: Billy Crudup, The Morning Show



EMM Y 2 02 2 H AN DICAPS / BY P ETE H A M M O N D

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS

IN A DRAMA SERIES Two past winners, both considered upsets in their respective victories, are back to square off against four veteran stars looking for their first win in this category. Three of the nominees are on their last chance for their popular series but, with no one from last year mucking things up, this race looks too close to call, a real freefor-all that just might result in a major twist.

Jodie Comer

Laura Linney

Melanie Lynskey

Comer nailed a win on her first try with this richly-drawn character. And like Jeremy Strong, she did it against her better-known and much Emmy-nominated co-star, Sandra Oh. Her win in 2019 did prove voters really watched the show, and she is now back in contention for the same part for the third and final time, once again facing her co-star. The finale was wild so you can bet voters were watching, but the question is whether the heat is off the series, and thus its stars.

After curiously being overlooked for a nomination in the show’s first year, Linney has now received her third consecutive nod for Ozark but has yet to win. Don’t cry too many tears as she already has four Emmys on her shelf including three for Leading Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, and one for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. A win would put her in rare company as someone who has won in three different acting categories and has five Emmys covering four different characters.

Perhaps the most criminally overlooked star in terms of awards, Lynskey finally gets her due for this complex and fascinating turn as a woman still scarred from the horrors of a plane crash when she was a player on a high school girls soccer team. Already the winner of two Critics Choice Awards for the same role, Lynskey was equally as memorable in the limited series Candy earlier this year, for which she wasn’t nominated. Has her time finally come? We can only hope.

Killing Eve

Ozark

Yellowjackets

PETE’S

WINNER PICK

Sandra Oh

Reese Witherspoon

Zendaya

Someone whose time should definitely come, Emmy-wise, is Sandra Oh, who has just received her 13th overall nomination, and the third consecutive nod for Killing Eve. The big drawback is she has to compete again with co-star Jodie Comer who already beat her once. That also means there is the possibility they both cancel each other out if the voting is close among their other competition. Can Oh be helped by the fact she was also excellent in the shortlived Netflix series The Chair this season?

Well, in the show’s first season her co-star and co-producer Jennifer Aniston got the Lead Actress nomination. This time the fates have been switched, and it is Witherspoon who scored the nod, despite a juicy storyline for Aniston. Both are terrific in this guilty pleasure of a series that if you ask me deserves a lot more Emmy attention than just the three acting nominations it managed this year. It all probably means Witherspoon, the only Oscar winner among this bunch, may be a longer shot to actually win.

It was Zendaya who upset Aniston, among others, two years ago in a stunning win in this category. She is back now with not one, but three nominations (two are for co-writing songs used in the series) and the underdog now finds herself the favorite to repeat. Clearly her role has gotten even more intense, but will voters think they have already been there, done that?

Killing Eve

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The Morning Show

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Euphoria

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS

IN A DRAMA SERIES

If Emmy voters want to go back to the well, count on Julia Garner as Ruth in Ozark to keep her winning momentum alive. She’s already won two Emmys for the role. It’s the kind of part that is just catnip for this sort of award. The only other of the eight nominees with a past winning hand is two-time Emmy and one-time Oscar winner Patricia Arquette for the hot new series, Severance. If there is a Squid Game wave, Jung Ho-yeon could ride in with it as she did at SAG. Christina Ricci can’t be counted out for her amusing turn in Yellowjackets, and neither can the pair from Succession, Sarah Snook and J. Smith Cameron. Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney certainly is grabbing attention as a double nominee (also for The White Lotus). And then at last, in the show’s sixth season, the egregiously overlooked Rhea Seehorn is also double-nominated and might be the sentimental favorite, although you have to wonder why it took this long. This is a tough call as it could split any number of ways.

The Winner: Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul



EMM Y 2 02 2 H AN DICAPS / BY P ETE H A M M O N D

OUTSTANDING

COMEDY SERIES

Abbott Elementary

Barry

This newcomer, and out-of-the-gate hit, has the dubious distinction of being the only broadcast network show to break through this year in any of the three top program categories. It also has by far the most diverse cast and behind the scenes talent of any of these nominees. Starring and created by Quinta Brunson, it is a show that has much to say about the education system and that gives it added gravitas. It certainly would be quite the feat to land a win on its first time around.

The hitman and wannabe actor, as filtered through the mind of Bill Hader, is back in the race for the first time in three years, certainly not because voters ignored it, but simply because of a long spell between seasons. The show, first nominated in 2018, has won six Emmys for its initial two seasons, and has 14 nominations in its third, where it seemed to get even darker. The show has not had any less critical acclaim than it always had despite the hiatus. The big question might be if enough voters actually believe this darkly unique series is really a comedy anymore.

Ted Lasso

What We Do in the Shadows

ABC

Six of the eight nominees in this category have been previously nominated, but only two, Ted Lasso and Hacks, were among the nominees last year. The shows dominated the comedy categories with Lasso picking up seven Emmys including the top one, and Hacks emerging triumphant in the all-important writing, directing and Lead Actress contests. With six more contenders, will Lasso and Hacks be dominant on Emmy night once again, especially now that they are in their second seasons and no longer the new guys on the block? Both Barry and Curb Your Enthusiasm are, like Hacks, also from HBO/ HBO Max, making that premium network/streamer the only outlet with multiple nominations. That could be a plus for the other networks as they don’t have to compete against themselves, but this kind of dominance still is a nice problem to have for HBO, which has a combined 35 nominations in the Comedy categories.

Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO

If any show is overdue for an Emmy victory here, it is this gem from Larry David which has been turning it out so consistently since 2001. This is the show’s 10th Outstanding Comedy Series nomination, among a far-toosmall total of four nominations overall this year. In all that time, it has racked up 51 nominations but only two wins. If you ask me, it is high time for voters to give this hilarious show a closer look. Still basically improvised and then crafted into classic comedy, I find it hard to curb my own enthusiasm for what it continues to achieve.

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Hacks HBO

It isn’t always easy for a series to find its groove right from the start, but Hacks knew what it was all about immediately after sneaking on the air just under the wire for the 2021 Emmy eligibility and hasn’t let up in its second season. Proof of its success was coming right in and taking Emmys for writing, directing, and, of course, Lead Actress for Jean Smart, even when it appeared Ted Lasso might prove too stiff a competitor. I have a feeling Hacks came closer to a win in this category as well, and might be primed with its 17 nominations to do just that now.

D E A D L I N E .C O M /AWA R D S L I N E

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Amazon Prime Video The only series other than Ted Lasso to actually know what it is like to be named Outstanding Comedy Series—it won on its first try in 2018—has since been nominated here an overall four times, and this year has 12 nominations to add to its previous 54 nods and 20 wins. The bigger question though is can it find its way back to the winner’s circle four years later or has this Prime Video hit already had its moment?

Only Murders in the Building Hulu

With 17 nominations on its maiden Emmy voyage, voters are clearly loving this teaming of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez—although the snub of Gomez in the Lead Actress category is a big miss. Along with Abbott Elementary it is the only other first season series to make the cut here, but can it do what Lasso did last year and win right off the bat? The cast, and the cleverly constructed comedic mystery format, makes me think it has a real shot to do just that.

Apple TV+

With 20 nominations, matching its first season, the Ted Lasso Emmy express shows no signs of slowing down. It once again leads the pack in this category and probably has to be considered the frontrunner. It’s a show about kindness, and one Emmy voters have shown enormous kindness toward themselves. If Season 2 was not quite as bewitching as Season 1, it still delivered that Emmy love, and a recent packed campaign event showed industry fans are still numerous. PETE’S

WINNER PICK

HBO

FX

This wacky vampire comedy is up for its second shot in this category having been previously nominated in its first eligible year of 2020. The gap year did no harm as it added another seven nominations to its lifetime total of 17, and it proves viewers and voters love the pure insanity of its humor. In some ways a newage Addams Family or Munsters, I have to say I would be stunned to see it win, so we will put it squarely in the dark horse category, but whatever the results, the series is a definite winner when it comes to pure comedy chops.


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OUTSTANDING

LEAD ACTOR

IN A COMEDY SERIES The winners in this category for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 are once again in the race. The only catch is it could be one of three people: Donald Glover who took it in 2017, Bill Hader who nabbed it twice in 2018 and 2019, or Jason Sudeikis who won last year in 2021. Voters have given us all sorts of reasons to make a prediction for one of this trio. The other three are all first-time nominees in the category, but two of them are true veteran showbiz icons. This group of heavy hitters presents us with a category that is not at all easy to prognosticate, one that could go any which way.

Donald Glover

Bill Hader

Nicholas Hoult

Glover’s series Atlanta brought him Emmys in its first season in 2017, for directing and for this category. The next year he received five personal nominations, including four for doing everything on Atlanta. But since then, Atlanta has been on hiatus, only to finally return this season. Is the love still there? Indications are it may have been away too long, but Glover did manage to at least find himself back in this race once again. I find it hard to believe that allimportant momentum for another win hasn’t been lost.

Hader has an astonishing 24 total nominations over the course of his career, and he won back-toback Emmys in this category for both previous seasons of Barry in 2018 and 2019. The critical reception for the long-delayed third season has been exceptional, and he is currently rocking a total of four nominations this year; writing and directing mentions for Barry, as well as a Guest Actor nod for Curb Your Enthusiasm. Hader is certainly a hit with the TV Academy.

Hoult is an attractive prospect for this category, its youngest nominee and the only one who has never been nominated for any Emmy, here competing against a quintet of veterans with Emmy cred not just as actors, but in other categories as well. This is a tall order, but Hoult is delightfully matched with Elle Fanning in this period romp loosely based on Russian Empress Catherine the Great, and he certainly has his fans.

Atlanta

Barry

The Great

PETE’S

WINNER PICK

Steve Martin

Martin Short

A showbusiness legend by any definition, you might be surprised to learn Steve Martin, though nominated 12 times for an Emmy in various capacities, has only won once, for his first nomination in 1969, more than a half-century ago, as one of the writers of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. This year he is also nominated as a producer and writer of Only Murders, so he has three chances to finally get a bookend for that aging Emmy, a good thing because in this category he has to face off with his good friend and co-star Martin Short.

Another icon, he has had 13 nominations over his Emmy lifetime and two wins, his first also coming as a writer in 1983 for SCTV Network. Short is terrific at just about anything he does, and if you have to choose between him and Steve Martin, I would say Short is the kind of scene-stealer who could also steal an Emmy from his good buddy. The likelihood is that they both may just cancel each other out, making this a much easier situation to call.

Only Murders in the Building

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Jason Sudeikis Ted Lasso

Sudeikis took this category, and rightly so, last year for Ted Lasso’s first season. He has won just about every award in the book for the role and there is little doubt he has strong momentum to make it two in a row, but as we noted, another ex-SNL castmate named Hader could stand in the way. It might be the battle of the undefeated, and which way it will go could get very interesting.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES There are three Ted Lasso co-stars—Toheeb Jimoh, Nick Mohammed, and reigning winner Brett Goldstein—competing against each other here. Goldstein proved sheer numbers didn’t mean cancelling each other out, at least the way it came down last year. Past rivals in the category, including a win for Barry in 2018 for Henry Winkler, finds him and Anthony Carrigan facing off again as well. SNL’s popular Bowen Yang has his third nomination, while Mrs. Maisel’s Tony Shalhoub is back in familiar territory looking for another Emmy win in this series, just one of his overall 12 lifetime nominations—four wins—proving he can never be counted out. Finally, another new first-time nominee for the upstart Abbott Elementary, Tyler James Williams looks to break out and take it away from this whole formidable mob of talent represented here.

The Winner: Brett Goldstein, Ted Lasso


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OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS

IN A COMEDY SERIES Two past winners compete against four challengers with varying degrees of Emmy history. The main question hovering over this entire category is just how much of a lock Jean Smart is, and if there is possibly anyone who can beat her to what would be a fifth overall Emmy win and second in a row for Hacks. The untried contenders are Elle Fanning and Quinta Brunson, the latter possibly in the same boat as Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who knocked it out of the park winning four Emmys for Fleabag, including this one. Can Abbott Elementary’s star/ creator/writer Brunson achieve a similar feat?

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS

IN A COMEDY SERIES Alex Borstein is up again for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in a role she already won for three times. Is she unbeatable? Voters obviously love her, but with the series out of commission last year, Ted Lasso’s equally irresistible Hannah Waddingham swept in and took the honors. Logic would say it comes down to these two past winners. Except 2022 also marks the end of another two-time winner here: SNL’s Kate McKinnon. Waddingham, despite that great funeral episode, could be hampered by the fact she is competing against two of her own co-stars, Juno Temple and Sarah Niles. Another Hannah is once again in the hunt—Hannah Einbinder of Hacks—and she is certainly formidable. I would also caution that first-time nominees Sheryl Lee Ralph and Janelle James of Abbott Elementary are each very possible despite facing off against each other. A tough call.

The Winner: Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso

Rachel Brosnahan

Quinta Brunson

Kaley Cuoco

Brunson is a delight in the lead role of her own creation, and might benefit from previously being the least known in this excellent group of women. But might voters think they could give her a prize in one of the other categories where she is nominated, or can she pull off a personal sweep? Precedent shows a recent Emmy trend rewards those in a role nominated for the first time in the category, like Jean Smart, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Catherine O’Hara and Rachel Brosnahan. If that vibe continues, Brunson might be advised to make lots of room on her shelf.

Cuoco, a TV veteran, is back in the Emmy hunt for this globetrotting series that isn’t your traditional sitcom. The best thing she has going for herself this year is clearly the continuing love voters and audiences have for this star, even if the show itself failed to find its way back into the Comedy Series race. She lost last year to Jean Smart and I’d bet on that exact scenario playing out once again, no matter how deserving Kaley might be.

Elle Fanning

Issa Rae

Jean Smart

Well, voters are finally discovering how great The Great really is, and even if the show didn’t find its way into the top Comedy category for Hulu, Fanning and her co-star Nicholas Hoult have both become firsttime Emmy nominees for this frothy and witty period comedy series set in 18th Century Russia that allows the wilder and funnier side of Fanning to be on full display.

Yet another star whose show didn’t make the cut for Comedy Series this time around, but who has received her third Emmy nod in this category. She’s still without a win, but with seven nominations overall, including three for her other series, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Rae is highly deserving, and this nomination represents the last chance to honor her for this acclaimed HBO series. Will that be enough?

As Deborah Vance, the Joan Rivers-style Vegas stand-up comic, this veteran star and four-time Emmy winner found the role of her career and instantly became unbeatable in the category last year. That’ll most likely be the case this year, too. Smart, who also benefits from being a beloved figure in the industry, simply has such command of this showbiz character that it is hard to imagine that voters are going to stop rewarding her achievement anytime soon.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

She started her Emmy history with a Guest Actress nom for House of Cards in 2015, but it has been steady-asthey-go ever since she won for Mrs. Maisel in 2018, and she has been nominated for the subsequent three seasons she has spent playing the irresistible role. The first season of the show just blew the roof off the Emmys, but others have been dominating ever since, suddenly making Brosnahan looks like she has an uphill climb to regain the winning mojo.

The Great

Abbott Elementary

Insecure

The Flight Attendant

Hacks

PETE’S

WINNER PICK

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OUTSTANDING

LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES, ANTHOLOGY SERIES, OR TELEVISION MOVIE

In what is often the case, a group of actors known perhaps more for their work on the big screen than on the small screen managed to land most of the six slots here. With a past Spider-Man, a past Batman, and a past denizen of the Star Wars galaxy, not to mention a Best Actor Oscar winner, we have a lot of big names who also spent time in some unique television projects that called upon other acting skills. Only two of them are in Limited Series that also landed a nomination for the show itself in the main category, so voters clearly did a lot of sampling. Four of them got their first Emmy nomination ever, and none have ever won.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES, ANTHOLOGY SERIES, OR TELEVISION MOVIE

Seth Rogen, as the shady contractor who steals the sex tape in Pam & Tommy, has the unique advantage in this category of being the single nomination for a show; The White Lotus and Dopesick each took three of the seven overall slots. Logic might say that Murray Bartlett, Jake Lacy and Steve Zahn split the difference as part of the Lotus cast, while an imposing trio of Will Poulter, Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg do the same from Dopesick. However, it doesn’t quite work out that way at the Emmys, which doesn’t hold multiple nominations from the same show against the actors competing with their castmates. With that in mind, the supporting acting Limited Series categories seem ripe for the showcase of the White Lotus stars who should blossom at the Emmys. In this category, my bet goes for the beleaguered hotel manager played by Murray Bartlett, who already won the Critics Choice Award and looks like a winner here as well, with what is really a leading role in terms of its weight.

The Winner: Murray Bartlett, The White Lotus

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Colin Firth

The Staircase The Best Actor Oscarwinning star of The King’s Speech found another juicy role as a crime novelist accused of killing his wife, resulting in a battle for justice that lasted 16 years. Based on a notorious real-life case, it landed Firth only his second Emmy nomination ever, and the first in more than two decades. His hopes lie in the show itself—which has only two nominations (the other for co-star Toni Collette)— being widely-viewed enough to encourage votes.

Andrew Garfield

Under the Banner of Heaven Garfield comes off a banner year himself after an Oscar nomination for tick, tick…BOOM!, an acclaimed turn opposite Oscar-winner Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and a return to the Spidey multiverse in last year’s No. 1 movie, Spider-Man: No Way Home. He now lands his first Emmy nomination ever as a devout detective caught up in a vicious murder case that tests his own faith. Repping the show’s only nomination, he is a long shot here.

Oscar Isaac

Scenes From a Marriage This American adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s classic film—and before that a Swedish limited series—offered plum roles to Isaac and co-star Jessica Chastain. Surprisingly, she missed out while he got the glory of a first-ever Emmy nomination that, like Garfield’s, serves as the sole nod for the show itself, meaning the odds are long that he will be able to pull out a win. His starring role in Disney+’s Moon Knight gives him further exposure this season— the show landed eight tech noms—but a win seems unlikely here.

Michael Keaton

Himesh Patel

Sebastian Stan

With the highest-profile show among these contenders, Keaton got a head start winning the SAG and Critics Choice awards for his performance as Dr. Samuel Finnix in this highly regarded show. Clearly all that gold means he is a definite frontrunner to take the Emmy as well, and quite frankly anyone else’s name in the envelope will be considered a bit of a shocker. This represents only Keaton’s second career Emmy nomination, the first coming for a non-fiction special on Fred Rogers.

In a series that follows a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly flu pandemic has wiped out most of humankind, Patel lands his first Emmy nomination. Coming off a string of impressive films like Don’t Look Up, Tenet and Yesterday, this role represents another step forward for this talented actor, but though the series took six other nominations it might just be too big a hill to climb to beat out Keaton.

Stan deserves an Emmy just for the level of exposure he had to endure in bringing Tommy Lee to life, and that includes working opposite his talking male appendage. Stan was all in, going for it and bringing some nice poignancy and even human dimension to this offbeat relationship, On top of everything else he had to be thoroughly convincing as a rocker and play the drums. He pulled it all off—and out—in style, and if anyone can stage an upset here it has to be this guy.

Dopesick

PETE’S

WINNER PICK

Station Eleven

Pam & Tommy



EMM Y 2 02 2 H AN DICAPS / BY P ETE H A M M O N D

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES, ANTHOLOGY SERIES, OR TELEVISION MOVIE

This is a choice category this year that leans, like its male counterpart, to some heavyweight names playing other heavyweight names. It has clearly been a great year for female roles in Limited Series if you simply consider some of the women who didn’t make the cut, including Julia Roberts who was sensational as Martha Mitchell in Gaslight, Jessica Biel as the murderous Texas housewife in Candy, Elle Fanning as the conflicted Michelle Carter who talked her boyfriend into suicide in The Girl From Plainville, Oscar winners Anne Hathaway, Renée Zellweger, and on and on. But let’s now take the contest to those still standing in this highly competitive category.

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES, ANTHOLOGY SERIES, OR TELEVISION MOVIE

Like those in the Supporting Actor category, this seems to be a big valentine to HBO’s The White Lotus, as well as setting some sort of single category acting record with no less than five of seven slots going to this show. If you were in The White Lotus, you are probably on your way to the Emmys. Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario and Sydney Sweeney all play vacationers with a deal of wacky complexity that floors you. Natasha Rothwell runs the hotel spa with heartbreaking authenticity, but it is her No. 1 customer played by the inimitable Jennifer Coolidge who steals this show and will take the Emmy. Dopesick’s Kaitlyn Dever and Mare Winningham nab the only other two slots left, but it’s not enough to ruin Coolidge’s vacation.

The Winner: Jennifer Coolidge, The White Lotus

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Toni Collette

Julia Garner

Lily James

As the wife who became a murder victim, Collette is a past winner at the Emmys and has been a multiple nominee so she can never be counted out of the race. Playing opposite Colin Firth, the pair received the only two nominations for this handsomely mounted and suspenseful series, but her reputation precedes her, and she could well triumph in the end, although it is a long shot.

This young star seems to have the Midas touch at the Emmys. She has already won twice as Ruth in Ozark and finds herself doublenominated this time, not only for that show’s final season, but also stepping up to a leading role as the shady Russian-born pretender Anna Sorokin, who tries passing herself off as a rich German heiress, managing to invade New York society circles. If Garner is simply an Emmy magnet, kind of like Regina King, we will find out with a win here, but it is doubtful as the series doesn’t seem to be as popular with voters as some others in the game.

Pamela Anderson has never managed an Emmy nomination in her own career but, in one of life’s amusing ironies, she could prove just the ticket for James, who delivers such a dead-on brilliant and three-dimensional performance as the blonde bombshell star of Baywatch, and could well take this prize. She’s that good, and you have to hope that Anderson would agree if she bothered to watch it—she claims she didn’t. It is a risky, brazen star turn and she delivers in every way.

Sarah Paulson

Margaret Qualley

Amanda Seyfried

Qualley is quietly powerful as this young mother running from an abusive relationship and trying to start a new life as a domestic cleaner in order to give her daughter the chance she never had. It is only a shame that voters couldn’t find their way to also nominate Andie McDowell for her career-best performance as her wayward mother, and the series as well, but Qualley ably carries the flag in an impressive turn that brought her a second career nomination.

There is perhaps no real-life figure as uniquely fascinating, complicated, and downright strange as Theranos founder and fraudmeister Elizabeth Holmes, whose own story is still raging after being convicted of some very bad business practices as she tried to pass off a false medical miracle. She will be sentenced in September and could receive up to 20 years in prison right around the same time that, if my prediction is correct, Seyfried will be collecting her first Emmy.

The Staircase

Impeachment: American Crime Story This riveting retelling of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky political scandal provided several juicy acting opportunities among its huge cast. But it is eight-time Emmy nominee and past winner Paulson who brought it home with an all-in portrayal of Linda Tripp, the friend and colleague of Lewinsky who turned on her and ignited a huge mess all around. Paulson eerily brings this woman to life, layering in empathy and understanding that she is indeed a human being, though one who made big mistakes. It’s a performance that’s hard to turn away from.

Inventing Anna

Maid

Pam & Tommy

The Dropout

PETE’S

WINNER PICK



EMM Y 2 02 2 H AN DICAPS / BY P ETE H A M M O N D

WHAT SHOULD WIN?

OUTSTANDING

LIMITED OR

ANTHOLOGY SERIES Without question, the Limited Series area has become perhaps the most prestigious, and certainly the richest, of all the Emmy program categories. There can also be no question that the range of Limited Series nominees—with only five allowed rather than the eight in expanded Comedy and Drama Series—is also limited, and there is a movement to bring it in line with those categories. They should definitely do that, as it is a category that continues to explode with contenders representing the best work on television today. Four of the five nominees—three of them from upstart Hulu—revolve around real people. And then there is the outlier, which stands out as the total opposite of the others but earned the most nominations—by far.

Dopesick Hulu

Danny Strong’s critically acclaimed look at the opioid crisis in America, and the corrupt Big Pharma company behind much of it, is certainly powerful television, a project that its creator says has turned him from simply TV writer/ producer to activist. A Peabody Award winner with a slew of nominations from the major guilds and critics groups, it amassed 14 nominations here. It is considered a frontrunner to win big but it has killer competition. PETE’S

WINNER PICK

The Dropout

Inventing Anna Netflix

Pam & Tommy

Hulu

The White Lotus

Giving Dopesick a run for its money is another Hulu crime story, this one centered on Elizabeth Holmes who faked her way to the top. She not only bilked millions from her many backers but also, as in the case of the story behind Dopesick, created a danger to public health. Liz Meriweather was the showrunner who zeroed in on this complex woman, a Stanford dropout determined to be the next Steve Jobs. It is a tricky show to pull off, as the Holmes story is still being told.

Another devious crime is depicted in this Limited Series where a Russian-born woman posing as a wealthy German heiress is at the center of a scheme to bilk the rich out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in pursuit of her own ambitions in New York’s upper crust. Shonda Rhimes created and produced this series which starred Julia Garner in the title role and was perhaps the most surprising entry here, as it edged out another Netflix Limited Series, The Maid, to gain this slot. With only three nominations it is probably the longest shot of the five.

This Hulu entry is the well-received series that veers between comedy and drama as it tells of the whirlwind courtship, marriage and life of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. And, of course, of the notorious sex tape they made that became a global viral sensation and the subject of a criminal case when it was stolen and distributed. With superb performances from Lily James and Sebastian Stan, this highly entertaining series perfectly hit its marks and landed a prime spot in the Emmy race. It also landed another nine nominations.

Although it premiered a full year ago, this quirky and wickedly amusing eight-part limited series from writer/ director Mike White immediately became a much-watched and talked-about smash hit both in and out of the industry. Focusing on a group of selfobsessed vacationers at a Hawaiian resort, it not only provided choice characters for a crackerjack cast—eight of whom landed their own Emmy nominations—but also the biggest haul of any nominee in the category this year with 20 nominations. But does this seem too light to win in the end?

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Hulu

HBO

There is simply so much good content out there—in fact, way too much—that picking nominees that deserve to win is a tough job indeed. If they have gotten this far, with this level of competition, then they have to be good. I have seen much of what voters have to sift through to fill out their ballots and it becomes a Solomon’s choice in many instances, this—and every—year. How can we compare the joys of watching The White Lotus, for example, against the harrowing truths of Dopesick? Both deserve Emmys for exceptional storytelling and craftsmanship in very different ways. I am thrilled HBO ordered up a second season of The White Lotus, moving to Sicily but still being driven by the brilliant Mike White, who I hope finds some love on Emmy night. The one actor from the Hawaiian-set original that will be returning with an all new cast of characters is the inimitable Jennifer Coolidge. I can’t wait to see where she takes Tanya McQuoid in the next edition, but I certainly hope the first one takes her straight up to the Emmy stage. More than ever, shows like this one prove it might not be a bad idea for the Television Academy to add a couple of ensemble categories. It is hard to decide who should win with so many forced to compete against each other.

The White Lotus

I am also rooting for Korean sensation Squid Game to score major Emmy love for its startlingly original television achievement. It would be so cool for that group to find their way to the winner’s circle. My real guilty pleasure, however, is still the one that has been going this entire century and never gets old. Wouldn’t it be swell to see Larry David’s (continued next page)



EMM Y 2 02 2 H AN DICAPS / BY P ETE H A M M O N D (continued from previous page)

OUTSTANDING

TELEVISION MOVIE Chip ‘n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers

Curb Your Enthusiasm finally win the Comedy Series Emmy that has long eluded it? This past season was every bit as sharp as it has always been. I can’t wait for the next batch of new shows in this series.

Disney+

This is a category that has clearly fallen on hard times. Once a prestigious Emmy category, and a point of pride for the broadcast networks, the definition of a Television Movie is a gray area these days. The streamers turn out movies weekly, but very few of them are even entered in this race, with their filmmakers preferring to think of them as theatrical-style movies. In recent years Netflix has instead put up their Dolly Parton films (one won last year) or episodes of their Black Mirror franchise, successfully turning them into wins here until the TV Academy tried to redefine what a TV movie is, mostly referring to length rather than quality, or even intention. That leads us to 2022 and its mixed bag of nominees, four of which have received their one and only Emmy nomination this year, while the fifth managed two noms. Whereas you have nominees in Limited Series gaining big numbers across the board, this group appears to be barely watched by voters.

Ray Donovan: The Movie

Reno 911!: The Hunt For QAnon

The cancelled series is now played out as a ‘movie’ in order to land an Emmy nomination here where it couldn’t in the Drama Series category. With the familiar beats of the actual series this is a bit of a cheat, but it isn’t an unusual gambit by producers to stretch out their series fodder as a bit of one-off event programming to qualify here. Its chances lie with voters reacting to its instant name recognition, which is a plus to be sure.

Yet another castoff from the familiar antics of the Reno 911 gang. This is the kind of comedy fodder that would rarely get any attention in a serious ‘movie’ awards category, but with the paucity of entries and quality on tap this year, it made the final cut, no doubt largely due to the instant familiarity with the title and the show. A zippy 90 minutes of silliness, its chances for a victory seem laughable.

Showtime

Paramount+

The Survivor HBO

The one entry that seems to belong here is a harrowing Holocaust drama from Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson (Rain Man). It features an exceptional lead performance by Ben Foster as a boxer who fights for his survival in matches set up for the entertainment of Nazi concentration camp commanders. A true story designed for theatrical, it was bought by HBO after premiering at the Toronto Film Festival. Powerful stuff.

PETE’S

WINNER PICK

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This charming live action/animation hybrid using classic Disney cartoon stars as its calling card might be better suited to the Children’s category, but somehow it qualified here instead, the first animated movie of its kind to ever receive an Emmy nomination in this category. As such, it could actually turn out to be a surprise winner, not only for its mirthful entertainment value, but also because the competition is pretty weak.

Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I do think Ben Stiller is going to take an Emmy statuette home for Severance. The industry loves the show, and he deserves it for tapping into our post-pandemic zeitgeist, even if it was incidental (the show has been in development since at least 2017). It is a show of its time, and its time has come. I know it is not exactly hip in critics circles to sing the praises of The Morning Show, although I don’t know why. It is one of the most watchable shows on the air. I can’t get enough of it, and in addition to Billy Crudup repeating his 2020 Emmy win, I would love to see Reese Witherspoon take Actress in a Drama Series. As far as Emmys go, this show is the most underrated in my view.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas Roku

Roku breaks into the Emmy race, picking up this offshoot from NBC’s cancelled and short-lived musical series Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, that actually won an Emmy a couple of years ago for its choreography. But it is more of the same, just an elongated holiday special that now qualifies as a ‘Television Movie’ thanks to the reinterpreted Emmy qualification rules.

The Morning Show.

Wouldn’t it just make the night if somehow Steve Martin and Martin Short could tie for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series? That would be fun. And though it didn’t make the cut for Comedy Series, I want to see the wonderful musical takeoff Schmigadoon! win in every one of the four categories for which it has been nominated and then next year get nominated right where it belongs as Outstanding Comedy Series. I just know the sun will come out for you one day, Schmigadoon!


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No.

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on a road trip to a Monster Jam rally back in 2015. It was during the drive that couple Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello and their close friend Jen Statsky discussed the relative invisibility of female comedians compared to their male counterparts. Having bonded as co-writers, producers, and in the case of Aniello and Downs, directors and actors on the Comedy Central series Broad City, together the trio cooked up HBO Max’s Hacks. In its first season, which also stars Downs as agent Jimmy LuSaque, the show’s depiction of female comedian Deborah Vance ( Jean Smart) and her protégé Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder) won Emmys for writing and directing, and acting for Smart. Now, its second season boasts 17 nominations, among them, Outstanding Comedy Series. It has also been renewed for a third season. In conversation with Stevie Wong, the three creators discuss their decision to take Deborah’s show on the road in Season 2, and how a series that gives nuanced voice to women and the LGBTQ community is more important than ever right now. From left: Jen Statsky, Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs on the set of Hacks.

Season 1 created a very successful backdrop of Deborah ruling over Vegas and Ava finding her place in all of it. You could have easily continued on in that world since it was so popular with the fans, instead you decided to take everyone on the road. What brought on that decision and how did it expand the Hacks universe? DOWNS: We knew in Season 1, at the end, that we were going to be going on the road. I think the reason that we felt emboldened to do that— because like you say, we had established a place

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Hacks was first born

You guys make your creative collaboration seem very smooth. As a trio that produces, writes and directs Hacks, how do you break down the workload? LUCIA ANIELLO: Well, it isn’t really separated to be honest. It’s not like this person’s responsible for the story and this person does dialogue and this person’s on set or anything like that. All three of us are always in the writers’ room and we’re all three on set at all times. We really do discuss a lot of stuff. And I think the thing that we’ve always worked on, is to have a really honest, open collaboration. Honestly, we don’t have to debate too often because 90 percent of the time, we just are always in agreement. I do credit that to us being really committed to our communication and making our relationships as friends and as a couple before our relationship as collaborators. And, if there ever is a disagreement, number three is amazing because it’s a quick vote and you get to just say, “Well, these two people think this and this person doesn’t.” But honestly, if there ever is that breakdown where two people think one thing, one person thinks another, we most often than not say, “Let’s just try and find something else that we all agree on.” And that, honestly, often pushes us up to find a better solution. JEN STATSKY: I was just going to add that making this show about a creative collaboration has made me very interested about other past collaborations and how people navigate them. I do think what Lucia said is true, it’s this ego thing. It seems that ego can often be the death of creative collaboration when you start asking, “Is it my idea?” versus what is for the good of the show. I would say that Paul and Lucia are very good at celebrating ideas and I aspire to be as good as them. PAUL W. DOWNS: Yeah. When Jen or Lucia have a great idea, I feel like it’s my idea anyway [laughs]. STATSKY: I think that also goes for people in the room or actors on set. Whoever has something that makes the show better, we’re excited to use it. To us, we’re all making it together so it doesn’t really matter if the idea comes way above the line or way below the line. We’re just happy to share that with everybody.


New this Awards Season is Deadline Sound & Screen: Film, a two-night musical showcase featuring composers and filmmakers from the year’s most celebrated films. This live in-person event features a 50-piece orchestra performing original songs from the films, plus discussions with the songwriters.

129(0%(5 ƃ Żź Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N P L E A S E V I S I T :

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and a setting and people responded to that, so it was in a way a risk, to just get on the road and go all over the country—but I think it reflects the central idea of the show, which is about these two women who have been cast aside by the industry, who have had to make a name for themselves in the Nevada desert. By putting them on the road, we got to do that even more intensely because not only was it them against the world, but when you travel with someone, there is a microscope on everything you do, for better or worse. It actually was a great way to do the same thing, even though it looked like it was totally new. So it was kind of a ‘both ends’ scenario. ANIELLO: We always try to be very grounded and truthful in the storytelling of what happens to our characters. The truth is, Deborah advances as a stand-up. Stand-ups, when they need to work something out, they go on the road to do it. As Paul said, it deepened the relationship, it presented new challenges, it brought them closer and further apart in some ways. But also, it is just the real-life thing of what stand-ups do when they have a new hour that they’re trying to craft and work out. So we also wanted to portray that creative endeavor truthfully.

There were more moments of broad comedy in this season, was that something you wanted to explore more of? DOWNS: Yeah. One of our bigger challenges was how can you tell stories when you’re in a tour bus? It’s not Deborah’s mansion, but it also allowed us to do those things where Ava’s stuffed into a tiny bunk bed and hits her head anytime the bus goes over a pothole. Or Deborah’s able to toss anything she wants out a window at any moment. So, it was both a challenge and a gift because we got to write for that particular weird space, which is something that you just don’t see that much.

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Because Deborah is trying out new material that doesn’t always work, what was it like to watch Jean Smart portray a comedian going through a transformative makeover on stage? ANIELLO: We knew what was going to be challenging is to make somebody struggling with their new stand-up watchable. Because watching people bomb or fail on stage is so hard to watch. But for us knowing that Jean is so charismatic even when her character isn’t winning, we got to make those moments more than just failure. It was saying something about where she’s gone to in her stand-up, where she’s realized stand-up isn’t just about the jokes, it’s about her own vulnerability and her own self-awareness. And as that self-awareness grows throughout the season, you see her character start to find her footing. What was really exciting and fun to watch Jean do is the moment where it all clicks, in episode six. It is one of my favorite moments of the whole season, which Paul brilliantly directed. And I think you don’t have that moment if you don’t have Jean. DOWNS: That was the most revelatory thing for us in Season 1, seeing Jean on stage and inhabiting the character. It really is alchemy you can’t cast, we just got so lucky that Jean is such a commanding presence as an actor. To be a good stand-up is to be in the moment and commanding and charismatic, all at the same time. And she is all of those things. Ava is basically on a ‘tail between her legs’ tour. What did you want her to experience this season? STATSKY: It’s very much what we have planned out from the beginning of the series and continuing in Season 2. Ava starts very resistant to working for Deborah and ends up betraying their difficult friendship by the end of Season 1. So we wanted to play with the idea of what happens when conflict is intimacy. We wanted

Einbinder as Ava in the Season 2 finale epsiode.

to take this relationship that had deepened and become very important to the both of them and bring in this transgression of Ava’s and show how they would both deal with it. Ava would do her penance, and ultimately that would bring them closer together. So crafting Ava’s arc, we just wanted to continue developing this character and deepening her appreciation for Deborah and their love. And for also just figuring out, “What does it mean to have this conflict with someone? How can I make up for it? How can I be better? How can I serve this woman?” And as the season goes, [she] kind of loses herself in the devotion to Deborah, which is ultimately why Deborah says, “I have to let you go and you have to go pursue your own things.” Hannah is such a brilliant actor and we are very lucky because there are so many little nuances that she can play in terms of Ava’s sensitivity and how she’s responding to Deborah.

Because Season 2 was on the road, it also allowed for guest actors to come on for an episode. Did you have a wish list of people you wanted to bring on? DOWNS: It is the dream of making the show and getting to work with so many talented people, who often times are prolific and have nonstop work and are really wonderful, but sometimes are underappreciated. I think that speaks to the purpose of the show. And so for us to be able to, not only write for, but work with people like Harriet Sansom Harris or Laurie Metcalf is really the biggest reward for us because we are such fans of comedic women. Or someone like Kaitlin Olson, who plays Deborah’s daughter DJ. Everyone knows she is funny, but because DJ is such a tragic character, it was great to see her delivering on the emotional scenes. It’s so gratifying to see that she is recognized [with a nomination] this year too.

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From left: Carl Clemons-Hopkins, Jean Smart, Paul W. Downs and Hannah Einbinder.


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In both seasons, you’ve done this thing where you blow everything up, whether positive or negative, and then rebuild the journey for the characters. Is that a planned approach for every season? DOWNS: It’s true. We want to get to a place where, whether it’s a reset, because of the email that was hanging over Ava’s head in Season 1, or it’s Deborah letting Ava go, we do want there to be kind of like a reset. We thought of the show in 2015 and have mapped out what we want the series to do. We know our big tent poles, but it always means that we have that real challenge of being like, OK, what did we do now? We have to really make sure that we are rebuilding the Hacks cinematic universe. And so it always presents a challenge to us, but we have an amazing group of writers we work with, and we have a cast that can kind of do anything, so it is exciting. We get to jump without a net. The world of Hacks includes supporting characters the fans love. If there were talks of a spinoff, who would you like to see get their own show? DOWNS: When we pitched the show, it was very much about this larger-than-life character and this younger person that she’s forced to work

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From left: Statsky, Aniello and Downs at the Emmy Awards last September.

with. But we did always say that we wanted to have an exploration of the ecosystem of someone like a Deborah Vance, someone who’s had a lot of money and a lot of success, and what does it take to have that machine keep going? We really want to continue to not only write toward the ensemble, but also highlight the great actors we have in this ensemble. Whether it’s someone like Rose Abdoo who plays Josefina the maid. She is so fantastic and she’s someone that we keep talking about wanting to see more of her. Whether it’s getting Damien [Mark Indelicato] and Marcus [Carl Clemons-Hopkins] on the bus, or weaving Jimmy (Paul) and Kayla [Megan Stalter]’s storyline into the special taping for Deborah, I think we’ve been able to do it. Our ensemble is very important to the show.

Lucia, it’s been said that while you were going through contractions, you were giving notes on an episode. That sounds like a comedy scene in itself. ANIELLO: Oh yeah. DOWNS: Lucia woke up and said, “I’m so sorry, but I am in labor.” And I was like, “What?” And she’s like, “But you should go ahead, direct and act today.” Because labor can be a long time, she’s like, “We may have days. Who knows? You should go to work.” So I went to work and she did, between contractions, give me notes. Now luckily, it was the scene where I tell Deborah I’ve left [the agency] Latitude and I have to be intimidated to do so. So, looking nerve-wracked was really simple. The acting was easy that day, because I was freaking out as Lucia was in labor. ANIELLO: Honestly, it was a bit of a distraction because I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through labor, but you have these contractions, and in between the contractions you have a couple

minutes of normalcy. I just wanted something to distract me in between the contractions. So they so nicely set up a system where I could watch takes from home. So for me it was a way to keep my mind off of the pain, and also calm me down. STATSKY: If Lucia texted a note to give to an actor and they’re a little fuzzy on it, you say, “It’s from Lucia, she’s in labor.” You can’t say no to that [laughs].

Because the show has become so beloved in such a short time, how do you avoid the pressures of success when you’re trying to make the best possible show? DOWNS: I think it’s a little bit like taking a note from Deborah Vance. Her mantra would be, “It’s about the work. Do the work, work hard.” And so we try and make it about output. Because people have really connected with these characters, I think the pressure we feel is mostly in delivering for them the show that they’ve come to love and to do it better than we have before. You’re in a race against yourself, and for us we just want to make the next season even better. I think the other reason that there’s a lot of pressure for us is because it’s a show about women who have been cast aside and mistreated. With what’s going on in our country for women and potentially the LGBTQ community, especially with Supreme Court decisions, I feel like we feel even more pressure because this show represents queer people and women so much. We really try to make it as good as we can be because we want to be pushing culture and we want the show to resonate with people. Especially people who might not have an access point to women like this, or queer people like you see on our show. And so I think that makes us want it to be even better every time we do it. ★

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What made you write a stand-alone episode where Deborah and Ava go on a gay cruise? ANIELLO: Well, there are two separate stories to tell. One is it was a very, very, very difficult thing to shoot in terms of getting a cruise to let us shoot, but Royal Caribbean allowed us to do it for two half-days. Between them loading passengers on, we would jump on, shoot, and then leave [laughs]. The other story is we talked a fair amount about orientation. Deborah sees orientation as quite binary, while Ava obviously sees it in a far more nuanced way. But we hadn’t really had a serious conversation about it. One of the things that inspired us to make that episode was the conversation that they have in the bedroom. And the other thing is, we think it was just really funny that Deborah has this slightly internalized misogyny in terms of how her gay fans love her, but not the lesbians. Just the fact that she has that kind of old school perspective was interesting to us. STATSKY: Tonally the cruise episode may be a little campier for us, but in the end, it made us realize that there are ways we can push things in terms of what our audience wants to see. We can have an episode that goes there and is maybe a little different in tone, but then also allow for Deborah and Ava to have this extremely nuanced conversation about gender and sexuality where they’re expressing their different generational perspectives. I think people love that about the show at its core.


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