My Open Letter to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

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Dear Hollywood Foreign Press Association,

Did you watch this season of Homeland? Like, actually, did you watch it? Even past the first seven episodes? It got better, you know. How about Game of Thrones? Does the phase “Rains of Castamere” not sing “Golden Globe nomination” to you? Oh, here’s another one: Did you watch Mad Men this season? It was a lot darker than usual, so maybe you turned it off because you got a little scared. The Hershey Pitch? Anyone? 

On the other hand, did you per chance watch Downton Abbey? Maybe you were just watching Joanne Froggatt’s heartbreaking performance in episodes 4-8. Because other than that, the season was shit (no offense, Downton, I still love you). And Masters of Sex? I know you like to give experimental shows a chance, but not this year. Not when the three most talked about dramas are left out in the cold. Just throw a nod at Lizzy Caplan and call it a day. Just kidding, you didn’t do that either. How about Anna Gunn? Wasn’t she great on this season of Breaking Bad? It’s like she was SO GOOD she won an Emmy for it, or something. I see you gave some love to Taylor Schilling for Orange is the New Black, but, as the also-snubbed cast of Arrested Development would say, “Her?” Really? You had an entire ensemble of amazing breakout artists (Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, etc.) and you only shed light on Schilling? Shame on you. Shame. On. You.

You’re lucky Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are hosting, because their comedic gold will make me forget about all the wrongdoings you have done this holiday season.

Best,

Rob Zappulla

 

Top Ten Entertainment Moments of 2013

The year was 2013 and madness ensued. Here’s yet another meaningless top ten countdown, where someone will bitch about how I didn’t include HBO’s “Enlightened” being cancelled.

 10. The Rise of the Mini-Series

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To start off the countdown, I’d like to take a moment to recognize a phenomenon that has captivated audiences in 2013: the mini-series. Unlike any year before, these productions have combined the high production value of films with the periodic elements of a television show. Most notably is FX’s American Horror Story: Coven, the third installment to Ryan Murphy’s anthology series, which follows the struggle between the witches and voodoos in New Orleans. Another popular mini-series this year was BBC’s Top of the Lake, starring Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss as a detective who uncovers the disappearance of a twelve-year-old pregnant girl. The story unfolds with strong cultural ties to the New Zealand landscape. BBC’s other masterpiece this year was Parade’s End, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a conservative aristocrat who falls in love with a progressive suffragette. So do yourself a favor and watch a mini-series! It’ll be worth your time.

 

9. North West

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At number nine is the baby of the year – and we’re not talking about the future heir to the English throne – we’re talking about North West. On June 15th, reality star Kim Kardashian gave birth to a baby boy, who, along with boyfriend and rapper Kanye West, named North West. As a nation, we gasped, thinking of this kid’s first day of Kindergarten as a confused schoolteacher takes attendance and calls out a compass direction, rather than a name. This was also a big year for Kimye as a couple. From Kanye’s music video for “Bound 2” was parodied by James Franco and Seth Rogan, to his public fight with Jimmy Kimmel, to his record smashing CD release of Yeezus, tabloids have been stocked with juicy stories about Hollywood’s newest power couple.

 

8. Lorde releases “Pure Heroine” 

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At number eight comes a young girl from down under – New Zealand to be exact. In the midst of the Royal Baby craze, she reminded us that, “We’ll never be royal.” This girl’s name is Lorde and her album, “Pure Heroine” hit shelves September 27 to critical raves and a whopping four Grammy nominations.

 

7. Jennifer Lawrence wins Oscar, trips

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Moving on to number seven, we take a trip back to February’s Academy Awards, where America’s budding sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence took a trip of own. On her way up to the stage to accept her award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, Lawrence stumbled up the steps – but still managed to make it look like a Chanel ad. The Girl on Fire has had a full year, starring in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the upcoming David O’Russell flick American Hustle, where another Oscar could be in store for Lawrence.

 

6. Deaths of James Gandolfini and Cory Monteith

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For number six, we take a somber moment to remember two great men gone too soon. In June, news broke that Sopranos front man James Gandolfini had died of a heart attack. Gandolfini had just wrapped up filming of a recently released film Enough Said alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which has gained a lot of critical attention. Then in July, we learned the passing of Glee star Cory Monteith. The show postponed the start of their fifth season in order to properly pay tribute to Monteith’s legacy in an episode entitled “The Quarterback.” At the 2013 Emmy Awards held in September, Edie Falco and Jane Lynch paid tribute for their respective co-stars in a tearful in memoriam.

 

5. Sandra Bullock Brings The Heat and is Suspended in Gravity

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Number four on our countdown goes to Sandra Bullock, whose films this year brought audiences to tears of laughter and desolation. First, in her summer blockbuster, The Heat, Bullock stars as a ridged, by the books FBI agent from Manhattan, who is tasked to work with a Boston cop, played by Melissa McCarthy, to take down the nation’s most notorious drug dealer. Then in October, Bullock captivated audiences as Dr. Ryan Stone in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity. Bullock’s character goes through a range of emotions in the ultimate “stranger in a strange land” film. The only thing in the way of Bullock’s second Oscar is Cate Blanchette in Blue Jasmine, but my vote’s for the lonely astronaut.

 

4. “Rains of Castamere”

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Have you heard someone say “Spoiler Alert!” at all during the past year? If so, chances are pretty good that that someone was about to talk about Game of Throne’s “Rains of Castamere” – which comes in at number three on our countdown. In one of the bloodiest hours in the history of television, the HBO fantasy drama unexpectedly killed off a slew of protagonists, as jaws dropped around the globe. Like clockwork, fans took to the Internet to vent their concerns, leading to dozens of viral “reaction” videos to the episode’s infamous moment, now known as “The Red Wedding.” Basically, if you haven’t started watching television’s most expensive drama, you should probably make that your New Year’s Resolution.

 

3. Miley Twerks at the VMAs

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She’s still just being Miley. At number two on our countdown comes Disney star turned provocative twerk-er. In August, Miley Cyrus performed a rendition of “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke, and proceeded to do the “Twerk Seen Round the World.” Was it a publicity stunt? Probably. Did it work? Definitely. Before the year was up, Miley had hosted SNL, performed a head-scratching rendition of “Wrecking Balls” at the AMA’s, and released a relatively successful album, Bangerz, all while sporting her now iconic short hair-do. Say what you will, but she’s just being Miley.

 

2. Breaking Bad Finale

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At number five, America said goodbye to its favorite meth cook – Walter Hartwell White. AMC wrapped up the fifth and final season of Breaking Bad on September 29th, as audiences packed auditoriums and movie theaters around the nation to view the shocking conclusion to one of the greatest television dramas of all time. To honor the show’s legacy, the Emmy’s awarded Anna Gunn with Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama, and the Outstanding Drama award went to the cast and crew of Breaking Bad.

 

1. Netflix Produces Original Content

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For my number one moment in entertainment for the 2013 year, I log onto my Netflix account to view their new, original content. Racking up an impressive fourteen Emmy nominations and one win, the online streaming site has become a television network in its own capacity. From reviving fan-favorite Arrested Development, to the political drama House of Cards, Netflix is doing everything right. Over the summer, Netflix added yet another outstanding show, Orange is the New Black, which has demolished all notions and prejudices America has had about female correctional facilities. At $8.99 a month, Netflix is more than just entertainment – it’s an experience.

Do you agree with my top ten? Let me know in the comment section. Be civilized, people.

My Take on the 65th Emmy Award Nominations

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Earlier today, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) announced the nominations for the 65th Emmy Awards. Like I tweeted earlier, nothing irks me more than Emmy snubs. Below is my reaction to the various categories from this year’s nomination list. Enjoy and argue with me. I dare you.

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory

Girls

Louie

Modern Family

30 Rock

Veep

The nominations this year are exactly what I pictured. While I’m pulling for a Veep sweep, the voters made a huge mistake in passing on the three most talked about comedies of the year: New Girl, Parks and Recreation, and the Netflix Semi-Original Series, Arrested Development. All of these shows are CONSISTENTLY funny, where as the sloe of nominees have been spotty in their respective past seasons.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Laura Dern, Enlightened

Lena Dunham, Girls

Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie

Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

While Lena Dunham is coming off her Golden Globe win, I think the prize will once again be rewarded to last year’s winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as a part of the Veep sweep. Dreyfus made history this morning by scoring her thirteenth nod, surpassing Lucielle Ball’s record of twelve, making her the most-nominated comedic actress at the Emmys. Although I’m content with this year’s crop of nominees, I would have liked to see a little loving for the FOX Tuesday girls, Mindy Kaling and Zooey Deschenel. Both of their shows WEREN’T canceled *cough* Laura Dern *cough* and they were both hysterical.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jason Bateman, Arrested Development

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Don Cheadle, House of Lies

Louis C.K., Louie

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

With the many snubs Arrested Development suffered this year, I’m pulling for Jason Bateman. Other than that, no real surprises or snubs here.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory

Jane Lynch, Glee

Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Julie Bowen, Modern Family

Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie

Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock

Anna Chlumsky, Veep

My jaw literally dropped when I saw that both Jane Krawkowski and Anna Chlumsky were nominated, but, once again, I’m pulling for the Veep sweep. But where is The Office star Jenna Fischer? She did some of her greatest acting and really held the show together in its final season. And that monologue she had that closed the series? Beautiful, and nominated in the writing category. Also, what happened to everyone’s thought that Jessica Walter would for sure take the prize for Arrested Development?

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver, Girls

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family

Ed O’Neill, Modern Family

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

Tony Hale, Veep

Is it really necessary to have all these Modern Family guys here? I think not. Again, I’m loving Tony Hale and I’m pulling for the Veep sweep. But it would be shocking and painfully awkward if the award went to Adam Driver, whose controversial sex scenes caused many to question the validity of Girls as a television comedy. The guys from New Girl, Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield, deserve some recognition for their roles, especially after the “TinFinity” episode. Also, where’s Will Arnett from Arrested Development?

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes

Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, Louie

Greg Daniels, The Office

Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock, 30 Rock

Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock

I was shocked to see that Lena Dunham did not get the trifecta of nominations here, as she scored acting and directing nods as well. I’m pulling for The Office here – specifically for the final testimonials of the show. Grab a few tissues and watch the ending.

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad

Downton Abbey

Game of Thrones

Homeland

House of Cards

Mad Men

This is the first time I have seen all the nominated dramas in their entirety. I’m not sure if I’m proud of that or not, but, alas, I would have to say that Homeland will have a very tough time reclaiming their title. I’m thinking Game of Thrones may steal the crown. But what about The Newsroom and The Americans? There’s just too much good television, I guess.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey

Claire Danes, Homeland

Robin Wright, House of Cards

Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

Connie Britton, Nashville

Kerry Washington, Scandal

Why did I just read Vera Farmiga’s and Connie Britton’s names on this list? Pissed. Anyway, it’s looking like another victory for Danes is slim and Robin Wright just might be the one to snag it from her. Regardless, I’m still rooting for Danes here.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Hugh Bonneville, Downtown Abbey

Damian Lewis, Homeland

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom

Jon Hamm FINALLY deserves a turn to take the prize, and if you don’t believe me just watch this clip.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Emilia Clarke, Game of Throne
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Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

Morena Baccarin, Homeland

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

I am ecstatic about Anna Gunn, Maggie Smith, and Emilia Clarke, but the other three need some replacing. The talented Michelle Fairley led the water cooler episode of the year, Game of Thrones’ “Rains of Castamere,” and her snub was just not “fair.” Also, Kate Mara’s eye-opening performance as a corrupt reporter in House of Cards definitely deserves some recognition.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire

Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Jim Carter, Downtown Abbey

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

Last year, Downton Abbey dominated this category and I am kind of upset that they didn’t do it again, given the amazing performances by Rob-James Collier and Alan Leech. Also, where are the Mad Men? John Slattery deserves better than this.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

George Mastras, Breaking Bad

Thomas Schnauz, Breaking Bad

Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones

Henry Bromell, Homeland

Much like The Office writing nod redeemed Jenna Fischer’s snub, the Game of Thrones writing nod redeemed Michelle Fairley’s snub. If the words “Rains of Castamere” or “Red Wedding” mean nothing to you, you should reevaluate your life by starting here. But Julian Fellows may take the prize for also killing off an important character… No spoilers, of course.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

American Horror Story: Asylum

Behind The Candelabra

The Bible

Phil Spector

Political Animals

Top of the Lake

Holler at AHS for collecting seventeen nominations, topping the list of nominated shows this year. Kind of upset that Parade’s End didn’t make the cut, but it is well represented elsewhere.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum

Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter

Helen Mirren, Phil Spector

Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals

Elisabeth Moss, Top Of The Lake

This nomination should read, “Jessica Lange for The Jessica Lange Show,” because she truly stole the small screen as Sister Jude in American Horror Story: Asylum. Elisabeth Moss, a double nominee, took the prize from her at the Critics’ Choice Awards, so anything is possible.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie

Michael Douglas, Behind The Candelabra

Matt Damon, Behind The Candelabra

Toby Jones, The Girl

Benedict Cumberbatch, Parade’s End

Al Pacino, Phil Spector

The Internet’s Favorite Son, Benedict Cumberbatch is nominated once again, but has traded his get-up as a modern Sherlock Holmes for a World War I uniform in Parade’s End. He won’t win, but he should.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Asylum

Imelda Staunton, The Girl

Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals

Charlotte Rampling, Restless

Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias

Sarah Paulson must win.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie

James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum

Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story: Asylum

Scott Bakula, Behind The Candelabra

John Benjamin Hickey, The Big C: Hereafter

Peter Mullan, Top of the Lake

Likewise, Zachary Quinto must win. Also the men of Top of the Lake took over the Critics’ Choice nominations, but only the Emmy voters only invited Peter Mullan to their show.

Netflix Pick: HOUSE OF CARDS

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“Give and take. Welcome to Washington.” These words, uttered by the ruthless and cunning Congressman Francis “Frank” Underwood, the anti-hero of House of Cards, perfectly sums up the  first season of the political drama.

Congressman Underwood, played by Academy Award winner Kevin Spacy (American Beauty), and his wife Claire, played by Golden Globe nominee Robin Wright (Forrest Gump), are a conniving duo that plot to take the White House by any means necessary. But, of course, they have to use discretion in D.C.

The show also follows budding journalist Zoe Barnes, played by Kate Mara (American Horror Story). Barnes begins a work-and-play relationship with the Congressman, who toys her into leaking groundbreaking stories to advance his own career and eliminate his competition.

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On a separate, but related, note, they should cast Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) as Barnes twin sister, because the two are practically identical in appearance and demeanor.

One aspect I love about this show is the abundance of dark symbolism. From Frank’s rowing machine to Claire’s eye-opening encounters around the city (the homeless man giving her a paper crane made out of a $20 bill, the widow screeching at her in the cemetery, the older Starbucks employee who doesn’t know how to use the touch-screen register, Adam’s photographs of her, etc.) the cinematography is captivating and haunting.

House of Cards is a Netflix Original series, created by Beau Willmon. It is adaption of a BBC miniseries, which can also be found on the site’s “Watch Instant” feature.

Between this show, Arrested Development, and the newly buzzing Orange is the New Black, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Netflix crew representing at this year’s Emmy Awards in September.

Netflix Pick: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

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After more than a month of fighting the urge to binge on the fourth and final season of Netflix’s “semi-original” series, I finally finished all fifteen new episodes of Arrested Development.

From mastermind Mitchell Hurwitz comes the final installment of the Bluth family saga, set five years after the show was “abruptly cancelled” by Fox, after winning multiple Emmy’s, including Outstanding Comedy Series in 2004.

Each of the fifteen episodes in this season follows a specific character, as Ron Howard notes in the opening credits, “It’s (insert character’s name)’s Arrested Development.”

Because this season spans five years and follows the separate journeys of all nine Bluths (and Fünkes) to their ultimate meeting point at the “Cinco de Cuatro” festival, it takes a few episodes to kick into the fast-paced gear that veteran Arrested Development fans are used to.

While Hurwitz brings back fan favorites like Lucille (II) Austero (Liza Minnelli), Berry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler), Ann Veal (Mae Whitman), and Kitty Sanchez (Judy Greer), he also added some scene-stealers in this new season. Kristin Wiig and Seth Rogen joined the cast as Young Lucille and Young George Sr. in this season’s many flashbacks. John Slattery (Mad Men) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) are hysterical as Doctor Norman and his spiritual partner, Heartfire, a mute whose thoughts float across the screen.

Likewise, the writers were able to incorporate the many recurring jokes from the original series, like “I’ve made a huge mistake,” “I’m afraid I blue myself,” and, my favorite, “…her?” While I was glad the writers continued with these jokes, it was clear that the new season did not use the first three as a crutch to get pity laughs.

Looking forward, both Hurwitz and Ron Howard have alluded to a possible Arrested Development film in the coming years. In the meantime, I’ll be reevaluating my life to the tune of “Sound of Silence.”

Wisdom Teeth

In a little under an hour I will be heavily sedated, under the knife. When the procedure is completed, I will be four wisdom teeth lighter and will return home with pain meds on pain meds on pain meds. Because of this, there are two equally likely outcomes. One, that I will not blog about the many shows I will be watching on bed rest. Or two, that there will be an abundance of incoherent rants posted in the coming days. Again, equally likely outcomes.

My television goals for my four day post-op recovery are:

-to finish the fourth season of Netflix’s Arrested Development 

-to finish season one of FX’s The Americans

-to start and finish the short-lived high school comedy Freaks and Geeks on Netflix

-and if I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll throw in some of HBO’s The Newsroom.

Also, I finished Game of Thrones season 3 just the other day, so I’d like to share my thoughts on those as well.

 

Flashback: GIRL(S) Season 2

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Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have way too much time on my hands. And as I pace my way through the new season of Arrested Development, I have had time to binge on shows that I lost throughout the school year. One of which is HBO’s Girls, and if you could guess by this post’s title, the second season isn’t so much about the “girls” as it is a girl – Hannah.

While I fully support Lena Dunham in being the actor/writer/director she is, I feel as though season two of the Golden Globe winning and Emmy nominated series turned into a one-woman show, rather than an ensemble piece.

For example, in the episode “One Man’s Trash,” Dunham puts Hannah inside a forty-something’s brownstone and they begin an elongated (in terms of a thirty minute episode) affair for the day. Now, where was the sweet-loving Shoshanna in this episode? What was the beautiful and lonely Marnie up to that day? Was Jessa doing something intelligently stupid? If the show is called Girls, I want to see all the girls, darn it!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but did season two have a scene with all four of the girls? They have a dinner party in one of the earlier episodes, but Jessa is off with her husband.

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I still remember the image (shown above) that really intrigued me about the show. It comes from season one and the four friends are sitting uncomfortably on a New York City bench – their postures clearly define their personalities and the huddled mass reveals something completely innate about the relationship that they have with one another.

Despite my one complaint, the second season did not flop entirely. I will say, however, that the first five episodes show much more creativity and vigor from Dunham than the later five.

The introduction of Donald Glover and Andrew Rannells into the cast as Hannah’s new boyfriend and roommate certainly added some new angles for the show.

Both Marnie (Allison Williams) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) show tremendous character growth in this season. Marnie, who has it all during season one, essentially loses it all at the season’s turnover and is left to pick up the pieces in season two. Her instability drives her into an indescribable relationship with artist Booth Jonathan –arguable the most brilliant character Dunham created – and comes to the conclusion that she wants to be a singer.

Shoshanna, on the other hand, gets it all in season two. However, her thirty-something boyfriend is in a deadbeat job and she begins to question the world as only the fast-paced, innocent Shoshanna could.

Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is the only girl that has no character development. Actually, she disappears in the fifth episode – quite literally, too. This contributes to my whole Girls vs. Girl argument. Why did Dunham bother introducing this interesting-minded character only to have her disappear for half of the season? I hope it wasn’t to give Hannah more airtime picking at her ears with a Q-tip.

In the end, there is something that keeps me watching. Maybe it’s that image from the first season of the girls on that city bench. Maybe it’s Marnie’s singing of Kanye West’s “Stronger.” Maybe is just Shoshanna. Regardless, bring on season three, Lena Dunham!