The 2013 nominees for the Writers Guild of America awards have been announced. Writers, you say? Yes, writers! The people that make words dance on pages to create the worlds in which our favorite shows flourish. Some people, when confronted with a brilliant episode of television automatically assume the credit for its general goodness should go to the actors. But what about the writers? They are often just as (if not more so) likely to be the reason you laughed, cried, gasped, guffawed, or squirmed in your seat during last week's episode of your favorite show.
These makers of televised scripts carry a good chunk of a show's success (and failure) on their shoulders, and leading the pack of successful witty wordsmiths? Lena Dunham and her HBO darling Girls. Overall, it seems as though cable dramas fared better than broadcast (which, duh), but on the flip-side, broadcast comedies outdid their cable brethren. Breaking Bad cleaned up in the episodic drama category, and comedy lady hero Amy Poehler got herself a nod for the episode of Parks and Recreation she penned, "The Debate."
Check out the full list of nominees below!
Boardwalk Empire written by Dave Flebotte, Diane Frolov, Chris Haddock, Rolin Jones, Howard Korder, Steve Kornacki, Andrew Schneider, David Stenn, Terence Winter; HBO
Breaking Bad written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC
Game of Thrones written by David Benioff, Bryan Cogman, George R. R. Martin, Vanessa Taylor, D.B. Weiss; HBO
Homeland written by Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Meredith Stiehm; Showtime
Mad Men written by Lisa Albert, Semi Chellas, Jason Grote, Jonathan Igla, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Brett Johnson, Janet Leahy, Victor Levin, Erin Levy, Frank Pierson, Michael Saltzman, Tom Smuts, Matthew Weiner; AMC
30 Rock written by Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tom Ceraulo, Vali Chandrasekaran, Luke Del Tredici, Tina Fey, Lauren Gurganous, Matt Hubbard, Colleen McGuinness, Sam Means, Dylan Morgan, Nina Pedrad, John Riggi, Josh Siegel, Ron Weiner, Tracey Wigfield; NBC
Girls written by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Lena Dunham, Sarah Heyward, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Jenni Konner, Deborah Schoeneman, Dan Sterling; HBO
Louie written by Pamela Adlon, Vernon Chatman, Louis C.K.; FX
Modern Family written by Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Audra Sielaff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker; ABC
Parks and Recreation written by Megan Amram, Greg Daniels, Nate Dimeo, Katie Dippold, Daniel J. Goor, Norm Hiscock, Dave King, Greg Levine, Joe Mande, Aisha Muharrar, Nick Offerman, Chelsea Peretti, Amy Poehler, Alexandra Rushfield, Michael Schur, Mike Scully, Harris Wittels, Alan Yang; NBC
Girls written by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Lena Dunham, Sarah Heyward, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Jenni Konner, Deborah Schoeneman, Dan Sterling; HBO
The Mindy Project written by Ike Barinholtz, Jeremy Bronson, Linwood Boomer, Adam Countee, Harper Dill, Mindy Kaling, Chris McKenna, B.J. Novak, David Stassen, Matt Warburton; Fox
Nashville written by Wendy Calhoun, Jason George, David Gould, David Marshall Grant, Dee Johnson, Todd Ellis Kessler, Callie Khouri, Meredith Lavender, Nancy Miller, James Parriott, Liz Tigelaar, Marcie Ulin; ABC
The Newsroom written by Brendan Fehily, David Handelman, Cinque Henderson, Paul Redford, Ian Reichbach, Amy Rice, Aaron Sorkin, Gideon Yago; HBO
Veep written by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Sean Gray, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Tony Roche, Will Smith; HBO
“Buyout” (Breaking Bad), written by Gennifer Hutchison; AMC
"Dead Freight” (Breaking Bad), written by George Mastras; AMC
“Fifty-One” (Breaking Bad), written by Sam Catlin; AMC
“New Car Smell” (Homeland), written by Meredith Stiehm; Showtime
“The Other Woman” (Mad Men), written by Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner; AMC
“Say My Name” (Breaking Bad), written by Thomas Schnauz; AMC
“The Debate” (Parks and Recreation), written by Amy Poehler; NBC
“Episode 9” (Episodes), written by David Crane & Jeffrey Klarik; Showtime
“Leap Day” (30 Rock), written by Luke Del Tredici; NBC
“Little Bo Bleep” (Modern Family), written by Cindy Chupack; ABC
“Mistery Date” (Modern Family), written by Jeffrey Richman; ABC
“Virgin Territory” (Modern Family), written by Elaine Ko; ABC
LONG FORM – ORIGINAL
Hatfields and McCoys, Nights 2 and 3, teleplay by Ted Mann and Ronald Parker, Story by Bill Kerby and Ted Mann; History Channel
Hemingway & Gelhorn written by Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner; HBO
Pilot (Political Animals), written by Greg Berlanti; USA
LONG FORM – ADAPTED
Coma, Nights 1 and 2, teleplay by John McLaughlin, based on the book by Robin Cook; A&E
Game Change written by Danny Strong, based on the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann; HBO
“A Farewell to Arms” (Futurama), written by Josh Weinstein; Comedy Central
“Forget-Me-Not” (Family Guy), written by David A. Goodman; Fox
“Holidays of Future Passed” (The Simpsons), written by J. Stewart Burns; Fox
“Ned and Edna’s Blend Agenda” (The Simpsons), written by Jeff Westbrook; Fox
“Treehouse of Horror XXIII” (The Simpsons), written by David Mandel & Brian Kelley; Fox
COMEDY / VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) – SERIES
The Colbert Report writers: Michael Brumm, Stephen Colbert, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Dan Guterman, Peter Gwinn, Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Tom Purcell, Meredith Scardino, Scott Sherman, Max Werner; Comedy Central
Conan writers: Jose Arroyo, Andres du Bouchet, Deon Cole, Josh Comers, Dan Cronin, Michael Gordon, Brian Kiley, Laurie Kilmartin, Rob Kutner, Todd Levin, Brian McCann, Conan O'Brien, Matt O'Brien, Jesse Popp, Andy Richter, Brian Stack, Mike Sweeney; TBS
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart writers: Rory Albanese, Kevin Bleyer, Richard Blomquist, Steve Bodow, Tim Carvell, Hallie Haglund, J.R. Havlan, Elliott Kalan, Dan McCoy, Jo Miller, John Oliver, Zhubin Parang, Daniel Radosh, Jason Ross, Jon Stewart; Comedy Central
Jimmy Kimmel Live writers: Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Joelle Boucai, Sal Iacono, Eric Immerman, Gary Greenberg, Josh Halloway, Bess Kalb, Jimmy Kimmel, Jeff Loveness, Molly McNearney, Bryan Paulk, Danny Ricker, Rick Rosner; ABC
Key & Peele writers: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Sean Conroy, Colton Dunn, Charlie Sanders, Alex Rubens, Rebecca Drysdale; Comedy Central
Portlandia writers: Fred R. Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Karey Dornetto, Jonathan Krisel, Bill Oakley; IFC
Real Time With Bill Maher writers: Scott Carter, Adam Felber, Matt Gunn, Brian Jacobsmeyer, Jay Jaroch, Chris Kelly, Mike Larsen, Bill Maher, Billy Martin; HBO
Saturday Night Live Head writer: Seth Meyers. Writers: James Anderson, Alex Baze, Neil Casey, Jessica Conrad, James Downey, Shelly Gossman, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Zach Kanin, Chris Kelly, Joe Kelly, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney, Christine Nangle, Mike O’Brien, Josh Patten, Paula Pell, Marika Sawyer, Sarah Schneider, Pete Schultz, John Solomon, Kent Sublette, Bryan Tucker, Additional Sketch By Emily Spivey, Jorma Taccone, Additional Material By Frank Sebastiano; NBC Universal
COMEDY / VARIETY – MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES – SPECIALS
66th Annual Tony Awards written by Dave Boone; special material by Paul Greenberg; opening and closing songs by David Javerbaum, Adam Schlesinger; CBS
2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards written by Billy Kimball, Wayne Federman; IFC
After the Academy Awards Head writers Gary Greenberg, Molly McNearney. Writers Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Sal Iacono, Eric Immerman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jeffrey Loveness, Bryan Paulk, Danny Ricker, Richard G. Rosner; ABC
National Memorial Day Concert written by Joan Meyerson; PBS
Days of Our Lives written by Lorraine Broderick, Carolyn Culliton, Richard Culliton, Rick Draughon, Christopher Dunn, Lacey Dyer, Janet Iacobuzio, David A. Levinson, Ryan Quan, Dave Ryan, Melissa Salmons, Roger Schroeder, Elizabeth Snyder, Christopher J. Whitesell, Nancy Williams Watt; NBC
One Life to Live written by Lorraine Broderick, Ron Carlivati, Anna Theresa Cascio, Daniel J. O’Connor, Elizabeth Page, Jean Passanante, Melissa Salmons, Katherine Schock, Scott Sickles, Courtney Simon, Chris Van Etten; ABC
The Young and the Restless written by Amanda Beall, Jeff Beldner, Brent Boyd, Susan Dansby, Janice Ferri Esser, Jay Gibson, Scott Hamner, Maria Kanelos, Natalie Minardi Slater, Beth Milstein, Michael Montgomery, Anne Schoettle, Linda Schreiber, Lisa Seidman, Sarah K. Smith, Christopher J. Whitesell, Teresa Zimmerman; CBS
CHILDREN'S – EPISODIC & SPECIALS
“The Good Sport” (Sesame Street), written by Christine Ferraro; PBS
CHILDREN’S – LONG FORM OR SPECIAL
Girl vs. Monster story by Annie De Young; teleplay by Annie De Young and Ron McGee; Disney Channel
Winners will be announced on February 17th at events in New York and Los Angeles. What do you think of this year's nominees? Let us know in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Jojo Whilden/HBO]
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Salt the propulsive new thriller from Phillip Noyce (Clear and Present Danger Patriot Games) has been dubbed “Bourne with boobs ” but that label isn’t entirely accurate. In the role of Evelyn Salt a CIA staffer hunted by her own agency after a Russian defector fingers her in a plot to murder Russia’s president Angelina Jolie keeps her two most potent weapons holstered hidden under pantsuits and trenchcoats and the various other components of a super-spy wardrobe that proudly emphasizes function over flash.
But flash is one thing Salt never lacks for. Its breathless cat-and-mouse game hits full-throttle almost from the outset when a former KGB officer named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) stumbles into a CIA interrogation room and begins spilling details of a vast conspiracy. Back in the ‘70s hardline elements of the Soviet regime launched an ambitious new front in the Cold War flooding the western world with orphans trained to infiltrate the security complexes of their adopted homelands and wait patiently — decades if necessary — for the order to initiate a series of assassinations intended to trigger a devastating nuclear clash between the superpowers from which the treacherous Reds would emerge triumphant.
The Soviet Union may have long ago collapsed (or did it? Hmmm...) but its army of brainwashed killer orphan spies remains in place and if this crazy Orlov fellow is to be believed they stand poised to reignite the Cold War. It’s a preposterous — even idiotic — scheme but no more so than any of our government’s various harebrained proposals to kill Castro back in the ‘60s. As such the CIA treats it with grave seriousness even the part that that pegs Salt who just happens to be a Russian-born orphan herself as a key player in the conspiracy.
Salt bristles at the accusation but suspecting a set-up she opts to flee rather than face interrogation from her bosses Winter (Liev Schreiber) and Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor). A former field agent she’s been confined to a desk job since a clandestine operation in North Korea went south leaving her with a nasty shiner and a rather unremarkable German boyfriend (now her unremarkable German husband). She’s clearly kept up her training during while cubicle-bound however and in a blaze of resourceful thinking and devastating Parkour Fu she fends off a dozen or so agents of questionable competence and takes to the streets where she sets about to clear her name and unravel the Commie orphan conspiracy before the authorities can catch up with her. That is if she isn’t a part of the conspiracy.
The premise which aims to resurrect Cold War tensions and graft them onto a modern-day spy thriller is absurdly clever — and cleverly absurd. But Kurt Wimmer’s screenplay isn’t satisfied with the merely clever and absurd — it must be mind-blowing. Salt is one of those thrillers that ladles out its backstory slowly and in tiny portions every once in a while dropping a revelatory bombshell that effectively blows the lid off everything that happened beforehand. No one is who they seem and every action every gesture no matter how seemingly trivial is imbued with some kind of grand significance. The effect of piling on one insane twist after another has the effect of gradually diluting the narrative. When anything is possible nothing really matters.
But spy thrillers by definition trade in the preposterous and the principal function of the summer blockbuster is to entertain. In that regard Salt more than fulfills its charge. Noyce wisely keeps the story moving at pace that allows little time for asking uncomfortable questions or poking holes in the film’s frail plot. And he has an able partner in the infinitely versatile Jolie who having already exhibited formidable action-hero chops in Wanted and the Tomb Raider films proves remarkably adept at the spy game as well.
It’s well-known that Jolie wasn’t the first choice to star in Salt joining the project only after Tom Cruise dropped out citing the story’s growing similarities to the Mission: Impossible films. But she’s more than just a capable replacement; she’s a welcome upgrade over Cruise not least because she’s over a decade younger (and a few inches taller) than her predecessor. Should Brad Bird require a pinch-hitter for Ethan Hunt he knows where to look.
Wednesday night's presentation of the Academy of Country Music Awards featured a showdown between Faith Hill and relative newcomer Lee Ann Womack. Hill wound up with only one statue, Womack racked up three and the Dixie Chicks took home the top award, Entertainer of the Year. Here's the complete rundown of winners:
Entertainer of the Year: The Dixie Chicks
Male Vocalist: Toby Keith
Female Vocalist: Faith Hill
New Male Vocalist: Keith Urban
New Female Vocalist: Jamie O'Neal
Vocal Duo: Brooks & Dunn
New Vocal Duo or Group: Rascal Flatts
Vocal Event: "I Hope You Dance'' (Lee Ann Womack with Sons of the Desert; Mark Wright, producer)
Album: "How Do You Like Me Now?!'' (Toby Keith, artist; James Stroud, Keith, producers)
Single Record: "I Hope You Dance'' (Lee Ann Womack with Sons of the Desert, artists; Mark Wright, producer)
Song: "I Hope You Dance'' (Lee Ann Womack with Sons of the Desert, performers; Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, writers)
Vocal Group: The Dixie Chicks
Video: "Goodbye Earl'' (The Dixie Chicks, artists; Keely Gould, producer; Evan Bernard, director)
Career Achievement Award: Kenny Rogers
Pioneer Award: Barbara Mandrell
You can just imagine the meeting of NBC executives as they contemplate making a dent in the game-show-fueled ABC juggernaut: "What can we do to really lay the 'Smackdown' in the ratings? Who or what is big enough, tough enough, 'electrifying' enough to send Regis Philbin into the kitchen to open up that fridge and pour himself a nice tall glass of SHUT-UP JUICE?!"
The answer? "Freaks and Geeks" is back Mondays! And The Rock is hosting "Saturday Night Live"! Who is The Rock, you ask? He is only the World Wrestling Federation's "People’s Champion," as well as the self-proclaimed "most-electrifying man in sports entertainment." (Duh.)
Back to those guys in a second. But, first, in the action-packed TV week ahead, we also get: Cody Gifford! Yes, you’ve been hearing about him for years, and now is your chance to finally get to see little Cody struggle to entertain you (with an assist from mom Kathie Lee, of course). Cody co-stars with Mom and 'N Sync heartthrob Justin Timberlake in ABC's "Wonderful World of Disney" TV movie "Model Behavior" (7 p.m. EST/PST on Sunday). Just to recap then: The stars of this film are (a) a singer/talk-show host; (b) her child; and (c) another singer. So at least the acting should be first rate. Kathie Lee, by the way, plays an overbearing stage mother. You know that’s so funny, and yet so disturbing at the same time, we’re just going give it a no comment.
All right, that’s it. We’ve had it with campy and/or insipid made-for-TV movies. This week the Channel Surfer goes highbrow. And it all starts at 8 p.m. EST/PST on Sunday, when the Discovery Channel premieres the intelligent and thought-provoking documentary "Raising the Mammoth," which we have been repeatedly assured is in no way associated with the adult-film industry. The doc is about an amazing scientific discovery -- the first-ever, fully intact Woolly Mammoth, found frozen in the ice of Siberia just a few months ago. They raise it up, thaw it out, and you can actually smell the musky scent of Mammoth fur. Well, you can’t smell it because it’s on TV, but the scientists could. Mmm … mammoth fur. …
Well, that was draining. OK, let’s get back to the campy and/or insipid made-for-TV movies. Aaron Spelling’s "Satan’s School For Girls" premieres (and not a minute too soon) Monday at 8 p.m. EST/PST)on ABC. Shannen Doherty (who is, coincidentally, an actual graduate of Satan’s School for Girls) stars along with former "Charlie’s Angel" Kate Jackson. This movie is a long overdue remake of the 1973 demi-classic. Jackson was in the original, which was also scripted by Spelling. Does this mean he’s finally run out of ideas?
NBC’s February ratings stunt of replacing one of the better shows on TV with a low-rated game show was a rousing un-success. But the sweeps are over and, "Freaks and Geeks" (8 p.m. EST/PST on Monday) is back, baby! We know this thing's ratings were about as lousy as "Twenty One's," but we still like it and don’t want it to die, so let us fill you in. No show on TV captures its subject matter better than "Freaks and Geeks." Each little moment seems to carry the weight of the world, but by the end of an episode, nothing has actually happened. In other words, it’s exactly like high school! The show has a fine pedigree, executive produced by Judd Apatow ("The Larry Sanders Show"), but it’s not quite like anything you’ve seen before (outside of real life). It’s funny, though not likely to make you fall off the couch from laughing, and it’s poignant, though not likely to make you cry. It’s a lot like just hanging out with friends in somebody’s basement. But in a good way.
How many times can we use the word "Smackdown" in one column? And can it ever really be enough? WWF femme fatale Chyna invades NBC's "3rd Rock from the Sun" on Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST/PST. Another William Shatner guest spot last month did very little to change the sinking ratings of this still pretty funny show. Maybe a special guest appearance by a giant hot babe who frightens men will be the right formula. Question: Do they ever have just regular episodes of this show?
If anyone out there is interested in having ABC’s best sitcom, "Sports Night," come back next season, now is the time to watch it. The cast recently grabbed the cover of TV Guide on account of they belong to "the best show you're not watching." That’s great publicity, but if a ton of people don’t get curious and tune in to watch this week’s new episode (9:30 p.m. EST/PST on Tuesday), it could also be the kiss of death. If you haven’t seen "Sports Night," it’s funny and smart and different. That "smart and different" part is probably why critics love it, but it’s also probably why it’s taking audiences so long to figure out what to do with it. Which is strange because you never hear people saying, "Forget smart and different -- give us dull and typical!" But then again, if nobody is saying that, then how can you explain …?
"Son of the Beach," (10 p.m. EST/PST, on Tuesday on F/X). The idea here is to do "Baywatch" as a comedy by removing David Hasselhoff and putting a pasty white guy in his place. Two questions spring immediately to mind: (1) Isn’t David Hasselhoff already a "pasty white guy"? and (2) You mean "Baywatch" isn’t a comedy? "Son of a Beach" is a Howard Stern production, so expect to see a lot of surgically amplified girls in swimsuits (again, have you seen "Baywatch?") and fart jokes. Stern can be really funny when he’s doing the comedy, but what is a show that has all of the Stern style but no Howard going to be like? "Son of the Beach."
College basketball's so-called March Madness explodes into your living room starting at noon EST on Thursday on CBS. This a good thing, if you like basketball. If you don’t, well, it’s going to "explode into your living room" anyway, so you’d better Scotch Guard the furniture.
One of television’s classiest news personalities classes things up a little more this week, as Barbara Walters squeezes extra mileage out of the JonBenet Ramsey murder case on "20/20," with an exclusive interview with JonBenet's parental units John and Patsy Ramsey (10 p.m. EST/PST on Friday on ABC). Not to undermine what will undoubtedly turn out to be a fine hunk of journalism, but shouldn’t that film clip of that poor little kid parading around in a pre-school beauty pageant be enough to lock up her parents?Just a thought.
And … "Finally, The Rock has come back … to New York City!" Look for NBC's "Saturday Night Live" to get a ratings boost as WWF superstar and best-selling author (really) and "People’s Champion" The Rock hosts the venerable sketch-comedy show (11:30 p.m. EST/PST on Saturday). Also of note on this broadcast, NBC reports that "rock legends AC/DC will make their network television debut as the musical guest." Wasn’t it Confucius who said: "There will come a day for all people, when a band that was cool when they were in junior high school will be referred to as a 'rock legend,' and they will know that life is truly short." Yeah. Life is short, people. Life is short.
Oh, and one more thing we almost forgot to say …