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After Fox News airs video of man shooting himself, will TV finally stop covering live car chases?

carchase.jpgThis is why I've never been a fan about TV stations covering car chases live.

As anchor Shepard Smith just explained on air, Fox News Channel was following a car chase live earlier today when the driver stopped the car, ran out and shot himself in the head. (image at right is not of the car chase which happened today.)

Despite airing footage on the chase on a five-second delay, the newschannel didn't cut away from the visuals until the man put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

"We really messed up," Smith told viewers after returning from a hastily-called commercial break. "We're all very sorry. That didn't belong on TV, We took every precaution we knew how to take and I personally apologize to you that it happened...That was wrong and that won't happen again on my watch."

An Arizona TV station says the man, who allegedly carjacked the vehicle and shot at police during the chase, died as a result of his injuries.

It's easy to understand why news outlets air such chases. Most often, they are exciting, real-life events which look like scenes from an action movie. The driver speeds along until he or she tries to jump out, and the police usually swoop in.

But in an uncontrolled situation with an unpredictable criminal, anything can happen. A pedestrian can walk unexpectedly into the street, a horrific crash could occur with another vehicle or something even worse.

Gawker has called such coverage "mayhem porn," for the fact that the potential for mayhem is the only reason people watch the chases. In a weird way, I think people watch because mayhem is possible, but don't want to see it actually happen -- in the same way you watch a man walk a dangerous high wire but aren't really rooting for him to fall off.

Speaking of, Gawker and BuzzFeed have both been criticized for publishing stories on the mistake which includes clips of the shooting. I think that's a slightly different case; unless the clips start playing immediately, people have a choice about watching the video. And the only reason the video is on their site, is because Fox's action to air the footage made it newsworthy.

Still, I'm linking to a YouTube video of the clip, giving my readers access to clip if they like, but not actually featuring the footage myself. I think that's the best way to balance news access and purience.

I hope this inspires Fox to avoid providing such coverage in the future. Such chases have little impact for a national audience, beyond the thrill of seeing a chase on air.

And we just saw what can happened when the worst comes to pass.

Click here for a YouTube video of the chase if you feel compelled to watch it.  

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CBS reveals first scene from new season of The Good Wife: Kalinda handles her business

kalinda2.jpgCBS is known for being stingy with the online content, so it's exciting to see the old school network unveil a brief preview of The Good Wife's new season, which starts at 9 p.m. Sunday.

I'm a stone fan of the series, which always find new depths in characters we think we know.

The best of those journeys has belonged to bisexual investigator Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) -- who viewers learn had slept with heroine Alicia Florrick's husband years ago and last season was shown to have a ruthless ex-husband bent on tracking her down in Chicago.

This clip shows why that might bring a bit of trouble for Kalinda. Already we know everybody from Nathan Lane to Rita Wilson and ER alum Maura Tierney will pop up as guest stars.

But there's nothing like Kalinda kicking butt and taking names. Enjoy:


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Joe Gumm, author and commercial actor, is new morning anchor at WTSP-Ch. 10

joegunnhs-298x450.jpgSt. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10 has finally ended its search for a new morning anchor, hiring Joe Gumm from Oklahoma City Fox station KOKH-TV.

Gumm replaces morning anchor Keith Jones, who left WTSP in July for a job in Miami.

The new anchor has an eclectic and varied resume, including stints as an anchor/reporter for Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Oklahoma, eight years as an ESPN Radio anchor in Dallas, a travel series with his wife and four daughters dubbed Traveling with the Tribe and three books since 2005, including From Humor to Hormones: A Man's Guide to a Pregnant Wife and a New Life.

"He's got  real good personality, he understands news well and...that travel series stuck out for me when I saw it on his resume," said Peter Roghaar, news director at WTSP. "When he came in and did the run-throughs with (morning anchor Ginger Gadsden, they hit it off pretty well."

Gumm officially starts work at the station Oct. 15, but he may not surface on air until a few days later or the following week, Roghaar said. He'll join Gadsden, forecaster Bobby Deskins and traffic reporter Lorena Rabago.

Gumm also appeared in an ad for Wingstop restaurants with Troy Aikman; check it out below:


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Besides his success as a crooner, Andy Williams was king of the TV variety hosts

andy-williams-456.jpgAs a kid, I never really knew Andy Williams as a pop music star; to me, he was always the nice-looking guy who sang a few tunes in-between the stars I really wanted to see on his variety show.

Airing on NBC through the '60s and in syndication at the first half of the 1970s, Williams' show was a tribute to old school, Las Vegas-tinged showbiz, with appearance by Nancy Wilson, Jonathan Winters, Anthony Newley, Bobby Darin and more. To my young eyes, it was like Sinatra's Rat Pack without the danger -- a bit of televised warm milk to usher you into the world of show people.

I can't imagine what the American Idol generation would make of Williams' show, which was deliberate as a Bing Crosby ballad and twice as wholesome. Those were the days when TV shows just aimed cameras at stage performers and let them do their gigs; no need to wrap great singing in a contrived contest or footage of backstage drama.

Our pop music critic Sean Daly has a wonderful tribute to Williams in today's newspaper, noting how he provided an "old fashioned stability" to a nation deep in the civil rights movement and Vietnam.

But it's also worth noting how his TV show brought a variety of entertainment to homes across the country, decades before The Voice and American Idol. Enjoy a few samples below; hat tip to my pal Roger Catlin, who let me know about this wild collabo between Williams, Ray Charles, Mama Cass and Elton John (!). 

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Fox & Friends to bring "Rebuilding Your Dreams" seminar to The Club at Treasure Island Thursday

bob_massi.jpgFox News Channel's popular morning show Fox & Friends will bring the first installment of its "Rebuilding Your Dreams" seminar to The Club at Treasure Island Thursday morning, featuring legal consumer analyst Bob Massi.

Massi will travel the country, talking on everything from loan modifications to foreclosures and rebuilding credit, focused on helping viewers recover from the recent recession. His first stop is in Treasure Island for segments expected to start at 6 a.m.

Organizers say Massi is also expected to talk about the rags-to-riches turnaround story of The Club, bought by St. Petersburg businessman Bill Edwards in 2009 and revamped into a Las Vegas-style entertainment facility with entertainers such as Ben Vereen and Wayne Brady

The event was rescheduled from a planned July 26 date before the Republican National Convention in Tampa. On Wednesday, Massi received the key to the city from Treasure Island which has renamed Sept. 27 Fox News Day.

Fox News originally planned to broadcast the segment from Miami, but was wooed to the Tampa Bay area by Edwards' people, eager to show off how they have upgraded The Club and bring his story to a national audience, said spokesman Scott Pinsker.

Local fans who want attend the broadcast at The Club, are asked to send an email to  [email protected]. Admission is free.


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Does request for zoning change indicate a sale of Tampa Tribune might be near?

the-news-center.jpgThe Tampa Bay Business Journal has an interesting story tonight asking if the request for a zoning change to the property in downtown Tampa which houses many of Media General's Florida news properties -- including NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8 and the Tampa Tribune -- might indicate a sale of the newspaper is near.

According to the Journal, the Richmond, Va.-based company asked to split the newer, five-story building housing the TV station, the newspaper's journalists and the website (known as The News Center) from the smaller building across the courtyard which houses the newspaper's printing press and assorted offices, along with a nearby four-story parking garage.

Rumors have been flying among Media General employees in Tampa that a sale might be announced this week for the newspaper to consummate the deal before or near end of the third quarter. Already, according to some talk, print staffers have made plans to move from the News Center into the smaller, older building. 

The News Center was once seen as the core of the company's convergence strategy, merging staffers and content from print, TV and journalism. But Media General has since created greater separation between the TV news-center-tribune-trucks.jpgstation and the newspaper's operations. 

There have been many such rumors since the company revealed plans to sell all its newspapers last year. During the week of the GOP convention, a rumor spread that the name of the newspaper was being taken off a sign on the five-story building; turns out, workers were just implementing some routine maintenance.

The Tampa Tribune was excluded from a $142-million deal announced in May in which superstar investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company bought all of Media General's other newspapers, 63 outlets in all, allowing the company to largely exit the newspaper business. (the company announced Tuesday that Buffett's company has executed warrants raising its ownership stake in Media General to 16.6 percent as part of an agreement including a $400 million loan and $45 million revolving credit line.)

Back then, Media General insisted several companies were also interested in purchasing the Tribune, but would not name them. 

Expect more tales to fly around until an official sale is announced. 

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ABC names Sean Lowe star of 'The Bachelor,' continuing long streak excluding bachelors of color

sean-lowe-article.jpgNot even a lawsuit alleging the company has systematically excluded people of color from its biggest role could force ABC to name a non-white person to lead its next cycle of The Bachelor.

That much is apparent after today's announcement that Sean Rowe, runner-up in the last cycle of The Bachelorette and hunky ex-Kansas State football player, would be the next bachelor cast in the romance "reality TV" series, airing in January. (as a clue to his ethnicity, note that ABC's own press release calls him an "All American" type.)

Creator Mike Fleiss, ABC and the studio which makes The Bachelor and Bachelorette were sued earlier this year by two African American men in Nashville, who filed a federal lawsuit saying they tried out for the show in August 2011 and were not give the same consideration as white applicants

Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson filed the suit, sparking headlines worldwide. "I only wanted a fair shot at the part," said Claybrooks, 39, according to the Associated Press. "Looking back at how I was treated at the casting call last year, it was clear that that wasn't possible. I never even had a chance."

Since the show was established in 2002, there has never been a person of color in the power position; allowed to be the man or woman who picks a mate, either on The Bachelor or its female-centered spin-off, the Bachelorette.

whichbachcontest.jpgThere have been only two non-white people picked as "winners" on both shows; Mary Delgado, a native of Cuba living in Tampa, was selected by Bachelor Byron Velvick in 2004; Roberto Martinez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, won Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky’s heart in 2010. Both couples have since broken up. (Curiously, both Delgado and Martinez, who played for University of Tampa's baseball team, have ties to the Tampa Bay area)

Rumors flew earlier this year that producers were courting Martinez hard to join the show. Such casting would likely help insulate the show from discrimination charges while giving the series a soapy new storyline; Martinez trying to move on after splitting with a Bachelorette.

But some gossip sheets say Martinez is already in love with a model, turning down something like a $500,000 payday.

So today's announcement confirms more recent rumors that Lowe would be the new man, choosing a recent fan favorite over any risk taking newbie -- even if that risk might involve opening up the contest to a wider array of people.

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Dancing with the All Stars: Will a show filled with great dancers still be compelling?

pamela-anderson-dwts.jpg(UPDATE: Looks like my prediction from this morning was pretty accurate; ex-Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson became the first celebrity ejected from the show's all-star season Tuesday night, joining Nick Lachey in the bottom two dancers. The female viewers on Team DWTS do not appreciate competitors who look like the girls who stole their boyfriends in high school.)

Usually, the formula for guessing the first competitor booted off Dancing with the Stars is pretty easy.

Take the least famous "star" onstage who delivers the worst performance and figure in whether they appeal to the show's middle-aged female fans. If not -- like, say, eccentric NBA star Ron "Metta World Peace" Artest -- say goodbye before the credits roll.

That's why Monday's debut of Dancing's all-star competition was so interesting. All the competitors, including many who have won previous cycles of the show, have some measure of appeal to fans and some level of dancefloor skill.

The judges were a little less accommodating and now they can give .5 levels to their scores for more varied totals in a close competition. And the show's singers were particularly screechy and unappealing. (in a town full of studio aces, they can't find three people who can hit a note together?)

But I sensed a bigger question after watching all 13 stars hit the floor for the first time:

Will it really be interesting to watch celebrities who already can dance compete for weeks on end?

The remedial dancers stood out Monday: Pamela Anderson, Kirstie Alley, Drew Lachey and Bristol Palin are going to be working hard to keep up with their more talented co-stars. But Palin and Alley are among the stars with the most appeal among the show's core viewers, so expect them to stick around, even as more talented dancers are sent packing.

I'm thinking Anderson is the most in danger of getting the boot; she's sexy but intimidating in a slutty way, which DWTS fans don't necessarily love, and her dance routine mostly consisted of slinking around behind partner Tristan McManus and striking poses.

(Technically, Alley did the same thing Monday, but she has the advantage of embodying many of the show's viewers; Anderson is the girl most DWTS viewers hated in high school.)

But most of the other competitors are different levels of good, from Disney star Sabrina Bryan's youthful power to actor Giles Marini's smooth elegance. So I wonder: Will it be as compelling to watch these pretty good dancers try to top each other with no Jerry Springer or Tom DeLay to serve as comic relief?

That may be the real gamble of this all-star season.


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Curious about Showtime's Homeland? Check out first 20 minutes of Season Two here

no-end-in-sight-for-showtime-s-homeland-says-showrunner.jpgAfter its massive success at Sunday's Emmy awards, Homeland is the series poised as Showtime’s future, earning the premium cable channel its first acting statutes in top categories and first honor as best series in drama or comedy. And it doesn't hurt to have an endorsement from President Obama, who admitted he was a fan.

Homeland's action focuses on an American soldier rescued from captivity in the Middle East who has secretly become a conflicted covert agent for the terrorists who once held him prisoner. British actor Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers, Life) is the kinetic talent who helps makes such an outlandish storyline seem plausible – leveraging a note-perfect Yank accent he sometimes maintains offscreen just to stay in practice.

Lewis plays rescued Marine-turned-Congressman, Nick Brody, as an earnest man who converted to Islam after befriending a boy killed in a U.S. drone strike while in captivity. As tonight’s episode opens, he’s a heartbeat away from being a heartbeat away from the presidency, asked by the vice president (Law & Order: Criminal Intent alum Jamey Sheridan) to consider joining him in a run for the White House as the new VP candidate.

“Brody made mission statement at the end of the first season, saying he wanted a non-violent political subversion of American policy,” Lewis said. “he would like to think He’s in control of his own destiny…but essentially, he’s everybody’s b----.”

The wildcard for Brody is the ex-CIA agent Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes – perhaps the only other actor on this show who outshines Lewis. Danes’ Mathison is an obsessively dedicated, yet-bipolar analyst who kept her illness secret for much of the show’s first season.

homeland-showtime-clip.jpgBy the end of the run, she realized Brody had been turned by his captors. But her illness flared just as the Marine decided against blowing himself up with the vice president. After undergoing electro shock therapy in the final episode of last year, she seems to have little memory of why she concluded Brody was a danger.

“Carrie represents a sort of broken, slightly sort of hobbling West at the moment,” Lewis added. “Your country is rebuilding itself, as is mine. The glory years are gone, but she represents the best hope. Brody represents a strong anti-war message; the effects of war on an individual, how that can poison and individual and then poison people around them.”

But the best series ask larger questions, and Lewis suggests a ton of them have surfaced in Homeland. “Can nation states commit acts of terrorism?” he asked. “Do you believe they can? How do we perpetrate our war on terror? Was it justified? It just goes on and on.”


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Talking Fall TV on NPR: Even when people of color star, they rarely see others who look like them

the-mindy-project-fox-2012-season-1-poster.jpgFor me, about halfway through the pilot episode of The Mindy Project, it was official: I love watching Mindy Kaling.

It's not just that her new Fox sitcom nails a pop culture-savvy, fresh comedic voice looking at life and love for young thirtysomethings, focused on a hopelessly romantic doctor struggling to make reality match the rom coms she grew up on.

It's that, as an Indian American woman of a certain shade and body type, she looks so different from the Katherine Heigls and Jennifer Anistons who came before her in the romantic comedy world. 

But I also noticed something else about the world Kaling, a former writer on NBC's The Office, built for herself on Fox.

There's no one else who looks like her in it for very long.

In other words, the show's core cast -- the characters we'll see each week and the guys who pop up as her various love interests -- are all white. Which makes you feel as if diversity can only go so far -- even in a sitcom executive produced by and starring a woman of color.

I noticed the same situation in CBS' new show Elementary, a revamp of the Sherlock Holmes legend starring Lucy Liu as a new school Dr. Watson. But when I asked the producers if we might see storylines referencing Dr. Joan Watson's ethnicity as well as her gender -- there's a bit of early sexual tension played up in the pilot -- producer Carl Beverly told me this:

"I think you maximize diversity by not speaking to it," he said. "Our society reflects all kinds of cultures and all kinds of people. We coexist, and I think by putting her, by putting Lucy in the show and not speaking to it, it just speaks to the way that we live our lives in society."

elementary-liu.jpgUm, not really. What not referencing her ethnicity maximizes is the comfort of TV producers, who don't have to worry about offending viewers by getting something wrong or putting too many people of color in a show playing to audiences which are still predominantly white.

We're past the days when most new TV shows had no people of color in them. But most series still only feature characters of color as buddies or sidekicks; the starring role remains a glass ceiling for many.

I pulled together a commentary on this for NPR, just to talk about how the struggle for ethnic balance in television is sometimes about encouraging producers to go beyond casting one character of color isolated from others like them.  Sometimes, it's about using that character to pull in a whole host of characters to add a new flavor to the storytelling and bring a different culture into the spotlight.

Check it out below.


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Showtime's Homeland becomes Cinderella story of Emmy awards; see my snark here


ap18815561587-460x307.jpgWho knew the Cinderella story of the Emmy awards would center on a drama about a U.S. Marine turned into a double agent by terrorists in the Middle East?

But Showtime’s Homeland managed to run the table at Sunday’s Emmy awards in its first eligible year, winning the first best drama series award in the premium cable channel’s history and keeping rival show Mad Men from a historic fifth honor in the category.

(In fact, Mad Men set a record for Emmy losses, failing to notch a single win in 17 nominations. Is there any series which fell out of love with the academy so quickly?)

Besides the best drama win, Homeland also took home trophies for best writing, best actress (Claire Danes as a bipolar CIA agent) and best actor in a drama, London-born Damian Lewis, who plays the marine double agent.

“I’m one of those pesky Brits,” cracked Lewis, noting Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel had already cracked wise about how many British actors were up for awards. “I don’t believe in judging art. But I showed up just in case.”

Kimmel needn’t have worried. Homeland’s success kept the British actors of Downton Abbey from nailing many awards, limiting the tally to Maggie Smith’s win as best supporting actress in a drama (the Dame Smith didn’t even show for her award.

la-st-emmys-2012-julie-bowen-talks-broken-emmy-001.jpgBut even as the Emmy academy was honoring new names in its drama categories, it returned to the tried and true in comedy, handing ABC’s Modern Family its third consecutive award as best comedy series, while stars Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen got their second consecutive awards as best supporting actor and actress in comedy.

“My job really amounts to me falling down while wearing lipstick and nipple covers,” cracked Bowen during her acceptance speech; Stonestreet, who isn’t gay but plays a gay man on the show, thanked his fans for” the pictures of the hairy chests you’re sending me.”

Here's some more high and low points for me:getty-sofia-vergara-coco__opt.jpg

-- Comedy wunderkind Louis C.K. got just the right amount of dap -- two awards, both for writing in comedy and variety -- so that he would be honored for his fine work but wouldn't feel overexposed. These days, it seems he most fears getting too big too fast.

-- Cool as Aaron Paul is on Breaking Bad, it was a little bit heartbreaking to see him win another best supporting actor Emmy when two great performers, Paul's former co-star Giancarlo Esposito and Mad Men co-star Jared Pryce, got snubbed.

-- Close as any people of color seemed to get to the big awards this year was Claire Danes shouting "holla" at Homeland co-star Mandy Patinkin from the stage. Much as the Emmy academy loves Modern Family, it has been odd to see them pass up Sofia Vergara, the show's clear breakout star, to give Bowen a statue. Twice.

-- Even Daily Show host Jon Stewart couldn't believe the show has won as best variety series ever year since 2003, dropping an f-bomb in a joke about how aliens from the future will marvel at how predictable the awards are.

-- As a pal on Twitter noted, yellow seems to be the color of victory Sunday, with Bowen, Danes and Game Change star Julianne Moore all decked out in the color.

-- I could decide if Kimmel's bits were inspired or just plain weird -- from a naked Lena Dunham punching him in the open of the show to a fake In Memoriam for himself with music by Josh Groban. Twitter couldn't decide, either -- with half of the folks I'm following taking either side.

See more snark below from my Storify collection of live tweets:


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Upshot of covering race seminar at SPJ/RTDNA: Journalists who get race right, get more accuracy, fairness

eijlogo2012.jpgI just finished co-leading a fun seminar on issues of covering race with Poynter Institute instructor Kenny Irby at the Society of Professional Journalists/Radio-Television Digital News Association conference in Ft. Lauderdale.

And after sharing thoughts and tips with about two dozens journalists from as far away as Idaho and California, we learned a few important things:

True objectivity may be impossible, but fairness is essential.

A focus on journalism values of accuracy, fairness and open-mindedness can make coverage better.

The four biggest obstacles to quality journalism across difference -- fear, lack of understanding, avoidance and reflex -- work to cloud those issues, especially for journalists who haven't thought a bit about these issues in advance.

Working with Kenny, who leads the diversity programs at Poynter, we looked at a news story from Baton Rouge Louisiana, where a man was charged with a hate crime after yelling racial slurs at a black woman who was monitoring cleanup after Hurricane Isaac.

I noted that the story didn't say what nationality the man was -- he looks white, but the story never says so. I also noted that there was initial confusion over George Zimmerman's ethnic background when he was first arrested for shooting black teen Trayvon Martin, because police assumed the Hispanic man was white.

Look over video of the spitting story, aired on WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, and ask yourself, what racial issues and journalism codes come to mind while watching this?


We also talked about coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, noting that many outlets were scrambling to cover his death many days after the shooting, mostly due to comments from his family. I noted that, in missing person cases, people of color sometimes seem to have trouble getting attention from the press, except in stories about how the media is ignoring the story.

Sherri Williams, a multimedia journalist and adjunct professor at Syracuse University, was kind enough to live tweet the session. I pulled her tweets into a Storify document you can read below: 

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Enough about Sunday's Emmys; it's time for the Deggys

jimmy-kimmel_320x240.jpgI played it straight in my Emmy preview in Sunday's Latitudes section, focusing mostly on the ascension of host Jimmy Kimmel - a guy who has clawed his way from producing comedy bits on WRBQ-FM in Tampa to hosting Tv's biggest bout of self-congratulation.

But that meant I couldn't really cut loose the annual event I love to present at this time: The Deggy Awards.

These are the awards I wish the academy would hand out, instead of some picks we get every year. Mad Men is great, but four straight Best Drama wins? And isn't it time to stop nominating the nerdy guy from Big Bang Theory? (I mean, the MOST nerdy guy.)

And it’s always great fun to see how badly I can screw up Emmy predictions, given how the academy can be spot-on hip one year and so clueless you wonder if they own televisions in the next.

So here's my take on who should be winning this stuff. Bet my Deggys would be a lot more fun.

Drama Series: Boardwalk Empire, HBO; Breaking Bad, AMC; Downton Abbey, PBS; Game of Thrones, HBO; Homeland, Showtime; Mad Men, AMC.

breaking4.jpgAnd the Deggy goes to: Breaking Bad. It’s, hands down, the best show too many people still have never seen on TV, showcasing a high school teacher’s slow slide into life as a ruthless methamphetamine manufacturer.
Will win: Mad Men. Because its season this year was almost as good as Breaking Bad’s and it has won this award four times before — every year it has been eligible.

Comedy Series: The Big Bang Theory, CBS; Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO; Girls, HBO; Modern Family, ABC; 30 Rock, NBC; Veep, HBO.

And the Deggy goes to: Girls. Not just because it’s the shiny, new kid on the block. HBO’s comedy captures the voice of the Great Recession generation in a singular way, in a TV season when much of the other nominees were off their game.
Will win: Modern Family. Because the academy loves this comedy almost as much as it loves Mad Men.

Actor, Drama Series: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire, HBO; Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad, AMC; Michael C. Hall, Dexter, Showtime; Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey, PBS; Damian Lewis, Homeland, Showtime; Jon Hamm, Mad Men, AMC.

And the Deggy goes to: Lewis or Hamm. I’m cheating here; Lewis’ take as an American P.O.W.-turned-terrorist was mind-boggling. But it’s a crime Hamm has been a bridesmaid in this category so many times. He needs to win one.
Will win: Cranston. Because the academy seems to make up for snubbing Breaking Bad as a series by handing awards to its star.

claire-danes-homeland-emmy-noms.jpgActress, Drama Series: Glenn Close, Damages, DirecTV; Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey, PBS; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife, CBS; Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law, NBC; Claire Danes, Homeland, Showtime; Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men, AMC.

And the Deggy goes to: Danes. Because her take on a secretly schizophrenic CIA agent who guesses Lewis’ secret and forgets it after electroshock therapy is the only performance on that show better than Lewis.
Will win: Close. She’s a movie star vying for the award on a canceled show in the last year she will be eligible.

veep2.jpg_width612.jpgActor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory, CBS; Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO; Don Cheadle, House of Lies, Showtime; Louis C.K., Louie, FX Networks; Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock, NBC; Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men, CBS.

And the Deggy goes to: Louis C.K. Yeah, I’m on the bandwagon for the New York comic’s creative, compelling indie comedy. If Woody Allen was a overweight, ginger-haired guy 20 years younger working in TV, he’d be making Louie.
Will win: Parsons. See my wisecrack above about his three past nominations and two past wins.

Actress, Comedy Series: Lena Dunham, Girls, HBO; Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly, CBS; Zooey Deschanel, New Girl, Fox; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie, Showtime; Parks and Recreation, NBC; Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation, NBC; Tina Fey, 30 Rock, NBC; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep, HBO.

And the Deggy goes to: Louis-Dreyfus, who also will actually win. Because her performance pretty much is Veep, and the academy loves her as much as anyone.

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See University of South Florida students make the case for Today show this afternoon

usf-today-visit.jpgThey plied them with promises of body paint and marriage proposals, as nearly 200 students at the University of South Florida gathered near the campus' Marshall Student Center to make the case that NBC's Today show should come to Tampa and feature the school for an hour on the show.

One student promised to gild hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb in body paint reflecting the school's color.

Another 21 year old offered a marriage proposal to Kotb, assuring her "I gotta great GPA...I think I've got a great future ahead of me," he told correspondent Sara Haines, who herself was festooned in USF headgear and facepaint.

Click here to vote for USF to win the college challenge and check out the segment, broadcast earlier today, below:


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Thursday night comedy returns to NBC tonight: Why it can still matter

tv_header.jpgThis used to be the main event for comedy on TV: Thursday nights on NBC.

The names showcased on this night are iconic. Jerry Seinfeld. Friends. Kelsey Grammer. Cheers. Bill Cosby. And on.

Even tonight, some of the most brilliant comics working on TV will hit the spotlight once again, from Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman and Rob Lowe (NOT a misprint) on Parks and Recreation to Rainn Wilson on The Office and the cast of Saturday Night Live.

So what happened? Why are these shows now mostly a haven for comedy nerds and critics, with numbers so narrow even NBC's typical argument that they do well with young men or rich viewers doesn't hold weight?

theoffice-2012.jpgStart with The Office. Hobbled by the loss of its leading man/schlub in chief Steve Carrell, the show never really found a new heart. Ed Helms' hapless a capella music lover Andy Bernard has always felt a bit like a watered down, less likable version of Carrell's Michael Scott, and James Spader's twitchy CEO Robert California was too strange, even for a show featuring Wilson's beet farmer/martial arts expert/paper saleman Dwight Schrute.

Too many of NBC's Thursday comedies have become closed loops; still entertaining for longtime viewers, but of limited appeal to folks parachuting in for a first-time visit.

officecrop.php_.jpgTonight's comedy debuts may help with that a bit. The Office, in particular, is funny as it has been in a long time, starting a victory lap of a final season aimed at saying goodbye to the network's biggest Thursday comedy in top form

Wilson's Schrute turns on a new employee who shares his drab, nerdy appearance but is actually much more normal (he winds up dangling from a high wire suspended over the company parking lot; how he gets there involves the typical mix of embarrassment and oddity that Wilson has turned into an art form over the series' run).

We see a cameo from departing co-star Mindy Kaling -- headed to her own buzzed-about sitcom on Fox -- who thinks a move to Miami University (in Ohio) means she's headed to the Sunshine State. And there's trouble brewing with John Krasinski's Jim Halpert, who feels boxed in by his married-with-new-baby life, taking a chance that wife Pam (Jenna Fischer) may not understand.

Coupled with an election-centered Saturday Night Live and a spunky Parks and Rec, its a game effort to try turning the lights back on Thursday nights.  


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