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The Rough Cut: Emmy’s new faces are a start

July 22, 2011 - Keith Frederick
It seems someone is growing up. A bit.

Last week’s Emmy nominations had a variety of familiar faces and names, but that’s no surprise.

What is a surprise is the new blood.

There were best drama nods for “Friday Night Lights” and “Game of Thrones.” A best comedy nomination for “The Big Bang Theory” and acting nods for both of its wonderful leads, Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki. And a slew of acting nods for “Justified.”

But the Emmy voters are still missing so much good TV. There’s no “True Blood,” no “How I Met Your Mother,” no “Walk­ing Dead,” no “Fringe,” no “Community,” no “Bones” ... it’s a long list.

TV’s annual awards show has been stuck in a well-known rut for a long time. You know the reputation: The Emmys nominate the same shows and actors over and over, won’t recognize anything “different” and look at most shows on Fox or non-HBO cable with disdain.

For the last decade or so, the Emmys have been dealing with both the positive and negative repercussions of what I’ll call “The Sopran­os Effect.” “The Sopranos” was a landmark show, both for the way it dealt regularly in violence and sex and in the way it approached the unique family unit it profiled. It woke people up in the TV wasteland that was “The West Wing” era. It was shot, written and performed spectacularly.

It made the Emmys realize that it was OK to honor cable television shows and paved the way for shows like “Boardwalk Empire” and the reigning Emmy champ, “Mad Men.”

No longer did quality cable series like “Oz” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” need to remain overlooked for years.

That’s the good part. Now for the bad part.

“The Sopranos” opened cable TV up to the Emmy voters, and the Emmy voters did what they always do — they overcompensated. During its six seasons, HBO’s juggernaut won approximately 362 Emmy Awards and was nominated 1,235 times. (I may be off by a bit.)

By nominating the same cable shows again and again, Emmy voters could feel like they were hip. So you have 25 nominations for “Entourage” — a show I’ve never heard anyone outside of Hollywood compliment. You have “The Closer” — a show that is as basic as procedurals get — grabbing Kyra Sedgwick best actress nominations every year.

What it all comes down to is this: The Emmys will never be taken seriously again until they break two habits.

Those habits are:

* Giving awards and nominations to the same shows year after year. In the past 11 years, just five shows have won the Emmy for Best Drama series. That’s it. “The West Wing,” “The Sopranos,” “Lost,” “24” and “Mad Men,” which has won three years running — and will probably win this year, too.

The comedy awards have been a bit better, but “30 Rock” and “The Office” have dominated in recent years, only to give way to “Modern Family” and their ridiculous number of nominations the past two seasons.

* Giving awards to movie stars — just because they’re movie stars. The Emmys have a simply EPIC inferiority complex.

If a movie star — even a minor one — goes to TV, they are going to get a nomination. No matter how the show performs, or even if anyone sees it.

This year, Kathy Bates got a best actress in a drama nomination for something called “Harry’s Law.” I didn’t even know that show existed. Laura Linney, whom I love, got a best actress in a comedy nod for “The Big C” — which isn’t a comedy. The best guest performance Emmys should just be called the “Do You Think This Guy Will Come To Our Show!?” Award. Look, I want to like you, Emmy Awards.

You just make it so hard.

Staff Writer Keith Fred­erick’s column runs monthly in Go. You can contact him at 946-7466 or by email at kfrederick@altoonamirror. com.

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