Alongside a record degree of mediocrity, the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards also marked a few records in some of its top competitive categories. Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston took home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series trophy last night: his fourth for the role of Walter White. With this latest achievement, Cranston has tied one Dennis Franz, who has held the record of four Best Dramatic Actor Emmys solo since 1999. The milestone begs us to look back through other Emmys records: Which stars have the most wins? The most nominations? And, perhaps tragically, the most nominations without a single win?
This bittersweet superlative goes to none other than Angela Lansbury, who never quite nabbed that trophy despite 12 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series nominations as Murder, She Wrote star Jessica Fletcher.
Not only does Lansbury claim ownership of the most nominations without a win, she also has the most nominations period in any acting category. Alan Alda, Ted Danson, and Kelsey Grammer have all earned 11 nominations in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category (for M*A*S*H, Cheers, and Frasier respectively), and Mary Tyler Moore snagged 10 Lead Actress in a Comedy nominations for her eponymous sitcom. As for supporting categories, David Hyde Pierce has taken 11 nods for his work on Frasier, while Rhea Perlman and Loretta Swit have each earned 10 comedy nominations (Cheers and M*A*S*H).
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When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas consists of six stories set in various periods between 1850 and a time far into Earth's post-apocalyptic future. Each segment lives on its own the previous first person account picked up and read by a character in its successor creating connective tissue between each moment in time. The various stories remain intact for Tom Tykwer's (Run Lola Run) Lana Wachowski's and Andy Wachowski's (The Matrix) film adaptation which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. The massive change comes from the interweaving of the book's parts into one three-hour saga — a move that elevates the material and transforms Cloud Atlas in to a work of epic proportions.
Don't be turned off by the runtime — Cloud Atlas moves at lightning pace as it cuts back and forth between its various threads: an American notary sailing the Pacific; a budding musician tasked with transcribing the hummings of an accomplished 1930's composer; a '70s-era investigatory journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot tied to the local nuclear power plant; a book publisher in 2012 who goes on the run from gangsters only to be incarcerated in a nursing home; Sonmi~451 a clone in Neo Seoul who takes on the oppressive government that enslaves her; and a primitive human from the future who teams with one of the few remaining technologically-advanced Earthlings in order to survive. Dense but so was the unfamiliar world of The Matrix. Cloud Atlas has more moving parts than the Wachowskis' seminal sci-fi flick but with additional ambition to boot. Every second is a sight to behold.
The members of the directing trio are known for their visual prowess but Cloud Atlas is a movie about juxtaposition. The art of editing is normally a seamless one — unless someone is really into the craft the cutting of a film is rarely a post-viewing talking point — but Cloud Atlas turns the editor into one of the cast members an obvious player who ties the film together with brilliant cross-cutting and overlapping dialogue. Timothy Cavendish the elderly publisher could be musing on his need to escape and the film will wander to the events of Sonmi~451 or the tortured music apprentice Robert Frobisher also feeling the impulse to run. The details of each world seep into one another but the real joy comes from watching each carefully selected scene fall into place. You never feel lost in Cloud Atlas even when Tykwer and the Wachowskis have infused three action sequences — a gritty car chase in the '70s a kinetic chase through Neo Seoul and a foot race through the forests of future millennia — into one extended set piece. This is a unified film with distinct parts echoing the themes of human interconnectivity.
The biggest treat is watching Cloud Atlas' ensemble tackle the diverse array of characters sprinkled into the stories. No film in recent memory has afforded a cast this type of opportunity yet another form of juxtaposition that wows. Within a few seconds Tom Hanks will go from near-neanderthal to British gangster to wily 19th century doctor. Halle Berry Hugh Grant Jim Sturgess Jim Broadbent Ben Whishaw Hugo Weaving and Susan Sarandon play the same game taking on roles of different sexes races and the like. (Weaving as an evil nurse returning to his Priscilla Queen of the Desert cross-dressing roots is mind-blowing.) The cast's dedication to inhabiting their roles on every level helps us quickly understand the worlds. We know it's Halle Berry behind the fair skinned wife of the lunatic composer but she's never playing Halle Berry. Even when the actors are playing variations on themselves they're glowing with the film's overall epic feel. Jim Broadbent's wickedly funny modern segment a Tykwer creation that packs a particularly German sense of humor is on a smaller scale than the rest of the film but the actor never dials it down. Every story character and scene in Cloud Atlas commits to a style. That diversity keeps the swirling maelstrom of a movie in check.
Cloud Atlas poses big questions without losing track of its human element the characters at the heart of each story. A slower moment or two may have helped the Wachowskis' and Tykwer's film to hit a powerful emotional chord but the finished product still proves mainstream movies can ask questions while laying over explosive action scenes. This year there won't be a bigger movie in terms of scope in terms of ideas and in terms of heart than Cloud Atlas.
Mariah Carey's lawyer said recording companies have already shown interest in the pop diva since speculation of her breakup with EMI surfaced several weeks ago. But while label executives agree Carey is still marketable, most admit they would not pay the terms she received at EMI.
Music lawyer Kenneth Freundlich told Reuters that Carey would do well to sit on the sidelines: "She's been through all the turns, has a lot of money and a tremendous fan base. She could just tap into that. That fan base is what's going to sustain her. The fans will excuse the bad movies and the breakdown, but the corporations won't."
While Mariah Carey was being bought out by EMI to the tune of $28 million, several stars, lead by rocker Courtney Love, lobbied legislators to free artists from what they claim is unfair record company control. The action has the backing of Democratic state senator Kevin Murray, who has introduced a bill to overturn a 1987 exemption that allows record companies to sue musicians and singers for albums not produced over the course of seven-year contracts.
Al Pacino will make a cameo appearance in the caper picture Gilgli, Variety reports. The movie is set for release in 2003 and stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
Sylvester Stallone told Britain's Mirror newspaper that he would like to revive Rocky and Rambo, but it was unlikely the pictures would get made. Stallone said he approached Hollywood studios about having Rambo go into Afghanistan and rescue five girls, and about Rocky VI. "I would love to have one more shot at getting that right, even if people say I am a little old for it, " he told the tabloid. "I know I'd have fun trying."
T-shirts with the slogan "Free Winona" are popping up in many of Los Angeles' trendiest spots, Reuters reports. They refer to Winona Ryder's arrest on suspicion of shoplifting from a Beverly Hills store in December. The T-shirts, created by L.A. gift shop owner Billy Tsangares, are printed with jail-issue style block letters and don't actually feature Ryder but a picture from a wig ad. The actress is due in court again on February 11.
Director Frank Oz has been voted the Art Directors Guild's award for Contribution to Cinematic Imagery, Variety reports. Oz voiced the Yoda character from Star Wars and directed Bowfinger and The Score. The award will be presented at the Guild's Feb. 23 awards ceremonies at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Katie Couric, who recently signed a new $65 million deal with NBC, is apparently having trouble getting into the Burbank studio without her ID. According to PageSix.com, Couric forgot her NBC credentials while covering the Golden Globes and was not allowed entry until someone came to vouch for her.
Donny and Marie Osmond will be among those carrying the Olympic torch on the final stage of its relay to Salt Lake City for the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games, Reuters reports. Officials have not yet disclosed the identity of the person who will carry the torch into the stadium on Feb. 8.
Telepictures Productions announced that the eight key ABC affiliates currently carrying The Rosie O'Donnell Show have approved Caroline Rhea as Rosie O'Donnell's replacement. According to Reuters, the Canadian-born Rhea will take over the show at the end of this session.
Dawn Tarnofsky-Ostroff, who was named entertainment president at UPN Wednesday, said her first order of business would be to unify the network's programming. UPN currently runs urban-themed comedies on Monday, sci-fi on Wednesday and wrestling on Thursdays. According to Variety, Tarnofsky-Ostroff wants to turn the all-over-the-map programming into a more consistent image to broaden viewership.
Celebrities with bad habits will now have more variety when it comes to rehab clinics. Mision Korian, a privately funded $2 million walled compound, is now open for business in Durango, Mexico. The drug and alcohol treatment center will eventually house 42 patients and will charge a maximum of $3,000 for five weeks of treatment, but fees for locals will be as low as $100, the Associated Press reports. The center's spokesperson said he plans to market the clinic to Hollywood studios, agents and Beverly Hills doctors.
Gammy-nominated singer Tamia and Orlando Magic star Grant Hill are parents of baby girl. Myla Grace Hill was born at 9:22 a.m. Wednesday, and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. This is the couple's first child.
The Spice Girls lost their legal battle over a sponsorship deal with Italian scooter firm Aprilla, Sky News reports. Posh, Scary, Baby and Sporty sued the company for withholding some of its sponsorship money for their 1998 Spiceworld Tour. Aprilla claimed they were left with many unsold "Spice Sonic" scooters after Geri "Ginger Spice" Halliwell quit the band at the end of the European leg of the tour. A judge sided with the scooter company and ordered the Spice Girls to pay a hefty 1 million pounds in fines and fees.
With sales nearing a half-million, country crooner Alan Jackson's album Drive has removed Creed's from their eight-week stay at the top of the pop album charts, Variety reports. Sales were powered by Jackson's hit single "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." Creed's Weathered slipped just one notch, to no. 2.
Where were you at 5:30 a.m. PST on Tuesday? If you're an Academy Award nominee, you were hounded by media anxious to get a first-hand reaction.
Michael Clarke Duncan and Haley Joel Osment had camera crews sitting with them to watch the nominations. While the 11-year-old "Sixth Sense" star, the third youngest Best Supporting Actor nominee ever, gave his gentlemanly "it's an honor to be nominated" sound bite, "The Green Mile's" Duncan, 42, whooped, hollered and sobbed in one breath, so excited that he couldn't remember his mother's phone number and had to get his Rolodex.
"Yesss! I am in there!" the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Duncan yelled.
Other nominees were just as excited for their collaborators. Best Actor nominee Russell Crowe was first to call his "The Insider" director Michael Mann, congratulating him on his three nominations (Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture).
"The Cider House Rules" sribe John Irving, who was in Manchester, Vt., was ecstatic over his adapted screenplay nod but shouted for joy when director Lasse Hallström received a nomination as well. And "American Beauty's" producers and writer Alan Ball assembled for a pre-dawn breakfast in Hollywood Hills, while director Sam Mendes nervously ate in a London restaurant before the announcements.
Nominees Michael Caine, Jude Law and Hilary Swank were all on location on their next project. Swank didn't have a television, so husband Chad Lowe held up a phone to their set at home so they could both listen to the announcements.
As for leading actor nominees Richard Farnsworth and Annette Bening, their post-Oscar plans will include a little bed rest: Farnsworth is awaiting hip-replacement surgery, and Bening is expecting her fourth child terribly soon after the ceremony. "It's either the hospital or the ceremony," Bening quipped. "I'll be wearing a tent."
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Oscar producers are planning the March 26 program right this second and are promising a really good show. But according to Variety's Army Archerd, telecast producer Richard Zanuck finds it "disturbing" that stars that are neither nominated nor presenting don't show up, particularly the younger generation. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, for instance, have already said they are "unavailable." That sound you hear is the gaggle of females backing out of seat-filling signups.
PUMPKIN PATCHED: Ex-Smashing Pumpkins bassist D'Arcy (full name: D'Arcy Wretzky) has agreed to take drug-prevention classes in exchange for the dismissal of cocaine possession charges. She appeared in a Chicago court Monday, accused of buying crack cocaine Jan. 25 at a building under surveillance for suspected drug sales. "I didn't do it," Wretzky said outside court. She agreed to attend four Saturday classes on drug awareness and prevention -- an option available to first-time offenders. The charges will be dropped if she completes the classes by May 19.
A REAL GOOD 'PIE': There's a new pop version of Don McLean's classic "American Pie" floating around the radio waves, sung by none other than Madonna for her upcoming film "The Next Best Thing." What does McLean think of the Material Girl's cover? "Her version ... is sensual and mystical. I hope it will cause people to ask what's happening to music in America," McLean said in a statement. But what we're wondering is, is that a good thing? Madonna's version "is a gift from a goddess," McLean continues. Oh. Question answered.
QUICK TAKES: Screen veteran Gregory Peck, 83, will reportedly make his final stage appearance Saturday with "A Conversation with Gregory Peck" in Salem, Ore. ...
... Elizabeth Taylor will be the third recipient of the Marian Anderson Award, which honors artists who work to benefit humanity. Taylor will accept the award June 25 and 26 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The award is named after the late opera singer and Philadelphia native who was the first black performer to sing at the White House ...
... Caroline Rhea ("Sabrina, the Teenage Witch'') will host the 52nd annual Writers Guild of America Awards on March 5. Presenters at the event, which will take place simultaneously at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the Plaza Hotel in New York City, will include Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Haley Joel Osment, Michael Clarke Duncan and Dylan McDermott.