Aly Semigran
Staff editor Aly Semigran is a New York City native who grew up in Philadelphia and spent the better part of her youth trying to figure out what the Philly Phanatic was (an anteater?), quoting 'The Simpsons,' and learning all about movies from her dad. After graduating from Temple University, where she studied journalism, she moved back to NYC and began her career as a freelance entertainment journalist. Her work has been published in Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia City Paper,, and She is thrilled to be a part of the team and she is still quoting 'The Simpsons.' ('I'm Idaho!')
  • 'Louie' Recap: 40-Love
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 20, 2012
    As a woman, watching Louie serves as both a helpful and of times horrifying venture into the male psyche. Unlike Entourage, which was an unrelenting eight-season nightmare of feeling trapped in a boy's club house, Louie is a strange, enlightening peer into the mind of an adult heterosexual male, but one you actually want to revisit.  During last night's Louie, for instance, we learned the absolute worst thing a man can hear ("You're bad at sex") and the best ("Yes, I'll go out with you.")  Additionally, having sex with Scarlett Johansson would be the best thing to happen to them and the worst thing to happen to her. Now in its third season, we've had a pretty good idea of what's going on in Louie's head. That being, what's going on in the heads of most red-blooded heterosexual American males: women. We know that Louie can think, and say, some pretty wonderful things about women (Pamela, what were you thinking?) and some things you wish you didn't know.  In "Daddy's Girlfriend, Pt. 1" we figured out pretty early that Louie had love on the brain. Or, at the very least, getting back into the dating game. It's no surprise, really. During last week's episode "Miami" it was obvious Louie was looking for companionship in his life, to find someone to connect with. So, while having lunch with his daughters they ask him when he's going to have a girlfriend. "Come on, get yourself a girlfriend" Lilly insists in her adorably whiny way. (I loved the brilliant parallel of this scene from realism, like a father talking to his sharp, inquisitive daughter played by Hadley Delany about the pronunciation of "tyranny" to using them as the projection of his own thoughts when Lilly proclaims, "He's just gotta find the right girl.")  There's a line in the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind that's always stuck with me. When Jim Carrey "first" encounters Kate Winslet, his voice over asks "Why do I  fall in love with every woman I see that shows me the least bit of attention?" What perpetual heartache. Louie seemed to have the same syndrome, or at least sees every woman as a potential nice girlfriend to bring home to meet his kids.  Louie first has eyes for comedian Maria Bamford (best known for her outrageous voices and those ubiquitous Target commercials at Christmas) after watching her act at the Comedy Cellar. Mustering up the courage to stammer out an invite to get a drink, Maria obliges. Did anyone else catch that she wanted to meet him on the corner rather than in front of the club? Oof. Things don't exactly go according to plan after asking her, post-coitus, to come over for dinner and meet his kids. She tells him that's the last thing she would want to do and also, he's bad at sex. Oof.  Still, Louie is not thwarted by the rejection, instead he seems more than determined than ever to continue his quest to find a mate. Of course since Louie lives in Louie's brain, things go into overdrive. He fantasized about every woman he see, including every teacher at his daughters' school. Fate, as it would have it, then brings Louie to a quaint bookstore, where a lovely, kind woman (played by the great Parker Posey) catches his eye.  But Louie doesn't let his imagination run away with him, instead he finds a way to talk to her and soon he finds out that not only is she attractive (or as he later puts it "cute as hell") but incredibly sweet and smart and funny. Even better, she loves kids. Or, at least, can provide him with insight of what it's like to be a girl going through a phase. If it's scary peering into the mind of an adult male, Louie counter-argued there is nothing scarier than a father finding out what's going on in his daughter's head as a young woman. Say what you want about how "offensive" Louis C.K. is, but there's no question this guy, at the core, is a big ol' softie who loves his kids like crazy.  After their meet-cute and helping him pick out books for his daughter, Louie comes back and gets up the nerve to ask her out. Earlier in the episode, we cut to some of Louis C.K.'s stand-up. In addition to a segment about trying to teach a 10-year-old about prejudice, he did an almost Seinfeld-ian bit about the self-congratulatory fist bump one only does during a game of tennis, or when someone says yes to you asking them on a date. And Louie, because no matter how awkward he may make things, is a truly good guy at the core, soon has his own tennis victory.  If women learn something from this show, I can only hope men do, too. Particularly on the right way to ask a woman out, because Louie got that one down pat. At least if he's asking a delightful Parker Posey out. Louie marveled to her at how hard it must be for beautiful women, what with men always wanting one thing. (Or, as he put it, "torpedoing towards your vagina.") He sincerely told her she was "nice and decent and horribly cute." She, like any woman in her right mind, obliged him for a date. Louie wasn't the only one doing the tennis fist bump, I was doing one for him. In the words of Louie's new love interest, "Nice job on the asking out."  Posey is, thank goodness, returning to the show next week for the aptly titled "Louie's Girlfriend Pt. 2." Judging from their wonderful chemistry and rapport with one another (serious kudos to Parker Posey who turned out a charming performance) and the fact that Louie does deserve a kind, clever woman, here's to hoping there's a part 3 or 4 or 5. Don't Louie this, Louie.  What did you think of last night's Louie? Were you just as charmed? Did you wish that reality show they were watching on TV was real? Did it take you until the stabbing to figure out that it was fake. (Guilty.) Does it amaze you that Louie can make a charming New York romance, on par with the likes of Woody Allen and Nora Ephron and then effortlessly throw in social commentary about the absurdity of reality television? It amazes me. Share your thoughts on the episode below.    More:  Louis C.K. Didn't Know He Was Defending Daniel Tosh's Rape Joke — VIDEO  Louie Recap: Welcome to Miami  Louie Recap: A Gorilla Walks Into the Ballet... Louie Parker Posey
  • Robin Williams to Play President Dwight Eisenhower in 'The Butler' 
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 19, 2012
    Robin Williams may seem like an unlikely candidate to play not one, but two, U.S. Presidents, but the Oscar-winning actor now has those bragging rights. Williams, who previously played President Theodore Roosevelt in the popular Night at the Museum films, will next take on the task of bringing President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the screen.  The 61-year-old will star as the 34th President of the United States in Lee Daniel's upcoming feature The Butler. Williams joins an impressive ensemble which includes Oprah Winfrey, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Terrence Howard, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, and Forest Whitaker. The film follows the true story of White House employee Eugene Allen, who worked for First Families over the span of three decades.  The Butler's writer Danny Strong (Game Change) tells, "It's inspired by [a true story]. You're also dealing with true historical events. It's kind of a sweeping look at the Civil Rights movement from Eisenhower to Reagan. There are the Freedom Writers, the March for Selma, the sit-ins. There are a lot of true story, true life events in it."  Williams isn't the only star to play a president this election year. Fellow (traditionally) funny man Bill Murray transforms into Franklin D. Roosevelt in this winter's Hyde Park on Hudson, while Daniel Day-Lewis will be the second actor to portray Abraham Lincoln this year (after Benjamin Walker's attempt in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) for Steven Spielberg's wildly anticipated biopic Lincoln.  Additional reporting by Matt Patches [Photo credit:]  More:  Spielberg Talks Lincoln Biopic  Hollywood Already Casting Their Votes for Obama, Romney  Rush Limbaugh's Dark Knight Rises/Mitt Romney Conspiracy Theory
  • Emmys 2012: 10 Burning Questions!
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 19, 2012
    The nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this morning, and while there weren't many major head scratchers on the list, there were still some things that could leave you scratching your head. Why wasn't Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman there this morning to announce the nominees? (Better yet, why wasn't he one of the nominees announced?) Why was American Horror Story in the Miniseries category? Why was Hemingway & Gellhorn nominated... for anything? Why is Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel in his pajamas?  Well, we've got the answers to all your burning Emmy questions right here! (Except for "Can you give Jon Hamm my number?" No, no we cannot.) Check them out below and if you've got any other 2012 Emmy questions, leave them in the comments section!  1. Why wasn't Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman there this morning to announce the nominees?  There's a reason why Mother Nature isn't on Ron Swanson's Pyramid of Greatness: it keeps Nick Offerman from getting to Los Angeles to announce the Emmy nominations. The actor, who was slated to do the honor, got stuck on the East Coast after the area got slammed by a massive storm and "regretfully" had to miss out on his duties. (For the record, the storm was not a meat tornado.) This year's host Jimmy Kimmel — who showed up in his pajamas. Why? Because it's too damn early — stepped up to fill in alongside actress Kerry Washington (pictured) All for the best, really, as Kimmel got to hear his show get a nod for Best Variety Program, while Offerman inexplicably did not get a nomination, yet again, in his category.  2. Why did American Horror Story get placed in the Miniseries category?  While Ryan Murphy's twisted FX series was eligible to compete in both the Drama Series and Miniseries categories, they wisely chose the latter to avoid competing in the already tight Drama Series race. (Seriously, nothing was getting past Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Homeland, and Mad Men.) The same strategy paid off for star Connie Britton, who earned a nomination in the Best Leading Actress in a Miniseries or Movie category. So why was AHS allowed to compete as a Miniseries? The 12-episode first season was actually an anthology (Season 2 will be an entirely new storyline and cast), technically making it a miniseries.  3. How many nominees were also nominated last year? Comedy was king when it came to repeat nominees. 54% of this year's nominees in the comedy categories were also nominated last year. Of course, Modern Family is largely to thank for that bragging right, as the show itself, as well as all of its adult actors (Ed O'Neill, Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, and last year's winners Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen) are all nominated again this year. Melissa McCarthy will vie for another win in Best Leading Actress in a Comedy Series, as will returning nominees Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie), Tina Fey (30 Rock), and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation). The drama categories saw 40% of last year's nominees return, including four-time Best Drama Series champ Mad Men. (The show will try and win its fifth consecutive Emmy, while up against fellow returning nominees Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones.) The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies will try and follow up her 2011 win in the Best Actress race, as returning nominees Kathy Bates (Harry's Law) and Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) aim for their first.  4. What the heck is House of Lies?  Glad you asked! Much like last year when Matt LeBlanc earned Best Leading Actor in a Comedy Series nomination for a show on Showtime that not many people watch (in his case, Episodes), Don Cheadle's star power and general awesomeness earned him a slot for his performance on the series about a group of cutthroat management consultants. 5. Why was Downton Abbey a miniseries last year and a series this year? Well, it was quite the scandal, darling! Hup hup cheerio! British things! The PBS series ran, and won, in the Miniseries category last year, even though it was widely considered to be a drama series. Having grown immensely in popularity this year, Downton Abbey decided to play in the big leagues this year and try to stop Mad Men from earning the first-ever Best Drama Series five-peat.  6. Why was Hemingway & Gellhorn nominated? Wasn't it widely panned by critics?  Never underestimate the power of star power. While the Emmys aren't typically as swayed by nominating big stars in mediocre projects as the Golden Globes often do, it seems they were drawn in by the magnetism of Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen. Even with critics unimpressed by the movie (including's own Matt Patches, who called it "a major missed opportunity") it had a lot of factors in its favor: it aired on HBO, it starred an Oscar winner and an Oscar nominee, and its a biopic. All the ingredients for a nomination. Still, even with the surprise nomination, the only surprise would be if it actually won. The film is going up against critical and ratings darlings such as Game Change, Hatfields & McCoys, and Sherlock.  7. Besides perennial nominee The Amazing Race, how many years in a row have the other reality competition nominees been nominated? Since the inception of the Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program back in 2003, The Amazing Race has been nominated and won every year, with the exception of Top Chef taking the title in 2010. In fact, the only other show in this category to be nominated every year since 2003 is American Idol. Nay, was. The series was bumped from the race for the first time by newcomer and rival The Voice. Elsewhere, Survivor had a run of return nominations, from 2003 to 2006, while Dancing with the Stars picked up from there and has been continually nominated since 2006.  8. How many other Saturday Night Live stars have been nominated in the acting category in the past? First things first, let's point out that Bill Hader has made Emmy history today. The SNL MVP has earned the first-ever Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in the show's illustrious 37-year history. Yay Stefon! This being her final season, Kristen Wiig has nabbed a spot in the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series once again. Aside from Amy Poehler, no other SNL actresses have garnered acting nominations for SNL.  9. Egads, Modern Family! Has any other comedy in history had every single one of its cast members nominated?  Nope! But Cheers got awfully close back in 1990 when Kirstie Alley, Ted Danson, Rhea Pearlman, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelsey Grammer, and Woody Harrelson were all nominated across Supporting and Lead acting categories. (If John Ratzenberger and George Wendt had also earned nods, they would have earned that bragging right.)  10. What happens if Desperate Housewives star Kathryn Joosten wins?  A month and a half after losing her battle to lung cancer, beloved actress Kathryn Joosten earned a posthumous nod in the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Desperate Housewives. (It is the only major Emmy nod for the dramedy's final season.) Joosten was nominated three times, and won twice, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her performance as Mrs. McClusky. If Joosten were to win the Emmy, she would be the second posthumous Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series winner, alongside Bewitched star Marion Lorne in 1968.  [Photo Credit: Getty Images]  More:  2012 Emmy Awards: See the Full List of Nominees!  2012 Emmy Awards: Snubs and Surprises!
  • 'Big Brother' Recap: Ain't That a Kick in the Head?
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 19, 2012
    It always amazes how much Big Brother can fit into an hour. This show is absolutely nothing more than a house full of attractive lunatics who scheme, play deranged Field Day games, and slowly descend into full-fledged paranoia on national television for money. (Man, this show is the best.)  So how much, really, can they fit in an hour? Tons! And I'm glad you asked because last night's Big Brother had plenty. Broken alliances! Innuendo! Bath suds! And, my favorite redundant reality television tactic — whispering!  We jumped right into Day 5 and things are right where we left off, with likable curly Frank going up against person in existence Kara. Boogie is "super disappointed" in Willie's decision (imagine the life choices that lead you to someone named Boogie being disappointed in you) and needed to win the power of veto in order to keep Frank around to keep a full team. "Lying in the Big Brother house, it happens," marveled Boogs, "Here's what you don't wanna do: Lie to me."  Except Boogie wasn't really the coach with something at stake in the battle of Frank v. Kara. If Kara is sent packing, that leaves Dan with just one player. This will serve as a reminder to all those playing: This coaches thing is really, truly stupid. Then again, without the coaches, we would have never had that moment between Britney and Janelle in the bathroom in which they wore bikinis for no apparent reason, drank wine, and giggled about having already outsmarted Dan and Boogie. Britney and Janelle are like the Peggy and Joan of Big Brother if Peggy and Joan wore bikinis to work and did s**t like this for a living.  But the girls weren't wrong. While Janelle and Britney had a celebratory dance party with Willie and Wig (what he lacks in shirt, he makes up for in ridiculous hair), Dan and Boogie went into full panic mode. Boogie talked to Frank, Frank talked to Willie, Dan talked to Frank, Frank was instructed by Dan to "pull a rabbit out of a hat." Magic! This episode had everything. Including Ian, who sent nerds back a couple of centuries by wearing a shirt that read "Thermodynamics Gets Me Hot"and kicking himself in the face to the amusement of people who would have made his high school life hell. There's no way Big Brother screens the mental stability of these people. And why would they?  After watching Ian's party trick, Boogie cries, "Hey America, please kick me in the face." Oh, don't tempt us, Boogs. Of course, the rest of the house was already aiming for Boogie's face, and, well, just about every other part of him. Willie wants him out, Britney wants him out, Janelle wants him out, and soon enough, Dan wanted him out once he learns that Boogie threw him under the bus to save his own ass. Pssh, that Boogie. He thinks he's the Pope of Chilltown.  It wasn't boding well for poor Frank who had a Boogie-sized target on his back. Ew. It got even more dire when Danielle, Shane, and Wig got called to compete in the veto competition. Frank and Kara quickly saddled up to the biggest threat, Shane. While Frank is "jacked" (according to Shane), has a trustworthy demeanor, and angelically curly hair, you know what he doesn't have? Lady bits. Kara has lady bits. "We're alone together in the room," says Shane, creeping us all out for good, "You never know what could happen." Ew. Kara promises she is a women of her word, but she could have simply blurted "vagina" and saved us all some time.  How loathed is Boogie, dear reader? So loathed that he makes the guy wearing a pooka shell necklace, aching to be alone with a girl in a room that encourages getting dizzy, look like the least horrible person. Boogie did math (25 percent turns into 33.3 percent), turned his back on a renegade (which Dan explained meant he is "gonna get stabbed"), and used the phrase "draw a line in the sand." Ew.  (Quick sidebar: 1,000 Zingbot points are rewarded to Janelle this week for her Boogie zinger, "I thought Boogie was supposed to be good at this game?" Zzzzzzzing. End of sidebar.)  After a cultural linguistics lesson from Jojo and Danielle (people from New Yawk say "cawfee" and people from the South say "y'all" and I'm fixin' to fuhgeddaboutit), it was finally time for the veto competition, which was laundry-themed. Much to the delight of Spray Tan Ashley ("I love bubbles!") and veto competition host/JWOWW spirit animal Jojo who "knows a thing or two about laundry," if you catch her drift and most certainly shouldn't.  The game? Loose change. The object — in the midst of the soapy, slippery obstacle course — is to find various coins and throw it at the giant vending machine. The first player to get $1.30 into their vending machine gets their dignity back. Just kidding! They get the power of veto. It was a fierce, slippery competition between Wig, Danielle, Shane, and Frank, but as expected, it came down to Frank and Shane. A sud-den death, if you will. Shane, despite the odds of being someone who wears a pooka shell necklace, emerged the winner.  Shane had some thinking to do. (Hey, there's a first time for everything on Big Brother.) Does he use the power of veto to take Frank off the block and and keep the target off him, despite the fact that Shane's a very real threat? Or does he do that for Kara because... lady bits? Kara, bless her heart (or something), even tried to play that card, telling Shane in her plea for veto, "You look really good today." But Kara had to eat a piece of humble pie (which sounds infinitely better than the Have Nots menu this week), because Shane decided to not use the power of veto, leaving them both on the block. You better apreesh! Is Frank doomed to go home? Or can he best Kara in tonight's competition to stay alive another week? Is Boogie actually the villain from an '80s comedy who somehow wound up on this show? Find out on the next Biiiiiiig Brother.  [Photo credit: CBS] More:  Big Brother Recap: A Night at the Races  Big Brother Recap: 10 Lessons Learned  Here is Who is Going to Win Season 14 of Big Brother (Maybe)
  • Rush Limbaugh's 'Dark Knight Rises'/Mitt Romney Conspiracy Theory 
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 18, 2012
    There's still two days until The Dark Knight Rises arrives in theaters and already everybody's got an opinion on it. (Not to mention an opinion about those opinions.) Also contributing to the shouting match, as he so often does, is conservative talking head Rush Limbaugh, who said during his syndicated radio show on Tuesday that Christopher Nolan's hotly anticipated film isn't the final installment of his Batman trilogy, but left-wing propaganda aimed at making "brain-dead people...the pop culture crowd" (hey, that's us! Shout-out!) not vote for Mitt Romney.  Limbaugh, who says an awful lot of things, told his listeners that he thinks it's no coincidence that a movie in which the menacing villain is named Bane (Tom Hardy) is coming out at the same time questions about circulating about Romney's time at the investment fund Bain Capital. Coincidentally, the character of Bane has been around for nearly 20 years and the choice to use him as the baddie for The Dark Knight Rises was made in early 2011.  "Do you think it is accidental that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?" Limbaugh — who took some artistic liberties by adding two additional eyes and a fire-breathing skill for Bane — asked his listeners on Tuesday. "So this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane," Limbaugh said of the film, which has previously drawn comparisons to the Occupy Wall Street movement, "And there's discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters. It's going to have a lot of people. The audience is going to be huge. A lot of people are going to see the movie. And it's a lot of brain-dead people — entertainment, the pop culture crowd — and they're going to hear Bane in the movie and they're going to associate Bain." Or, Rush Limbaugh just made the association for them.  "The thought is that when they're going to start paying attention to the campaign later in the year," Limbaugh continued, "and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital but Romney and Bain, that these people will start thinking back to the Batman movies, 'Oh yeah, I know who that is!'" You know, how people are always confusing Tom Hardy and Mitt Romney and unable to decipher fiction from reality.  Of course, this isn't the first time that the right has theorized that mainstream movies are propaganda being mitigated from the Hollywood elite liberal left. As The American Conservative pointed out in 2008, the Oscar-winning animated masterpiece Wall-E was called out by conservative critics for its vision of a post-mass consumption Earth and heralded it as "a 90-minute lecture on the dangers of over consumption, big corporations, and the destruction of the environment," "leftist propaganda about the evils of mankind," and "an insult to its customers."  Kid-friendly fare like Wall-E often at the forefront of liberal brainwashing theories. In 2006, then-Fox News pundit Glenn Beck cried that the dancing penguins feature Happy Feet was "animated version of An Inconvenient Truth." Six years later his Fox News cohort Lou Dobbs warned that The Lorax and The Secret World of Arrietty were trying to "indoctrinate our children" with their messages about "sharing" and "anti-industrialism." And don't even get them started on those pinko commies The Muppets.  But no film may have felt the scorn from the right quite like James Cameron's Avatar did. In 2010 Slate discovered that the movie was called everything from "a big, dull, America-hating, PC revenge fantasy," "abhorrent New Age, pagan, anti-capitalist worldview that promotes Goddess worship and the destruction of the human race," and, of course, "cinema for the Hate America crowd." Somewhere, a VHS copy of Ferngully is tremendously relieved it came out in 1992. What do you think of Rush Limbaugh's stance on The Dark Knight Rises? Do movies really have an "agenda"? Sound off in the comments section.  Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran [Photo credit: Bros.]  More:  Hollywood Already Casting Their Votes for Obama, Romney  Rush Limbaugh Nicknames the President 'Barack Hussein Kardashian'  Brad Pitt's Mom Writes Anti-Gay, Anti-Obama Plea
  • Sarah Silverman's Indecent Proposal for a Romney Supporter — VIDEO 
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 17, 2012
    There's just a few weeks left until the unbearable onslaught of political attack ads and commercials all but take over our lives, but Sarah Silverman has decided to get a head start on the upcoming election and make a campaign ad that I can almost completely assure you no one else will. The actress/comedian — who previously did her part for President Barack Obama back in 2008 by recruiting your adorable, influential Jewish grandparents in Florida — is back at it to help the POTUS stay in power by attempting to sway one of Mitt Romney's biggest campaign contributors.  Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is giving a lofty $100 million to Romney's already lucrative campaign, but Silverman is willing to sweeten the deal for him if he gives the money to Obama instead. Her promise? Well, she's not going to have sex with him (she is a good girl who once had her own show on Comedy Central, after all) but she will scissor Adelson while wearing a bikini bottom. Everybody wins! Watch the very funny, but very NSFW, video here:    Time to step up your game, Sarah Jessica Parker! More:  Sarah Jessica Parker Supports Obama in New Ad — VIDEO  Sarah Palin, Michael Moore, Other Celebs Tweet About ObamaCare  Hollywood Already Casting Their Votes for Obama, Romney
  • 2012 Emmy Longshots: True American Jake Johnson, The Unsung Hero of 'New Girl' 
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 17, 2012
    You love them, we love them, and it's high time Emmy recognized them. We're talking about the TV actors and actresses who have yet to be recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, despite drawing us in week in and week out with their awe-inspiring ability to make us laugh, cry, or a weird combination of both. So every day here at, we're going to be saluting those on the small screen who deserve an Emmy nomination, longshot status be damned. Today, we cast our ballot for New Girl star Jake Johnson.  Playing the straight man in comedy is one of the toughest tightrope walks to maneuver as actor, not to mention one of the more underappreciated skills. A great straight man can stand out by effortlessly standing in the background as their "funnier" counterparts hog the screen. A great straight man transforms subtlety into an art form and can turn a relatable, everyday character into downright compelling. In which case, Jake Johnson may just be the greatest straight man working on television today.  On Fox's New Girl, which evolved from cutesy and somewhat gimmicky to one of the funniest, sharpest shows out there, Johnson plays Nick Miller, a hapless good guy aimlessly floating through life in a sea of plaid shirts. On paper, Johnson's Nick Miller sounds like every television watcher's (not to mention single women's) worst nightmare: a financially unstable (see photo) L.A. bartender who lives in a trendy loft with his three best pals and is even more inept at relationships than he is at growing tomatoes on the roof of his building. But Johnson has crafted a lovable, flawed, and relatable (seriously, doesn't every group have a Nick?) guy you really root for.  While John Krasinski proved himself early on as a great straight man on The Office with the sweet everyman Jim Halpert, he had something less of a challenge than Johnson has with New Girl. In The Office's large ensemble, Krasinski's Jim automatically seemed normal against the likes of a Dwight or a Creed or a Michael. While Johnson's "normal" guy Nick is certainly surrounded by his own set of kooky characters (namely, Zooey Deschanel's quirky heroine Jess and Max Greenfield's scene-stealing Schmidt) he actually lets his freak flag fly. Jim may have been perfect, but at the end of the day, where's the fun in that?   Like Krasinski's Jim Halpert once did, Johnson's Nick Miller finds himself in a television will-they-won't-they romance, here with the titular New Girl Jess. The show's writers have wisely opted to draw out the tension between the two a little longer, which is hell for anxious fans, but heaven for TV fanatics who get to watch Johnson work his magic. With just a furrowed expression or a crestfallen look in his eyes, we can see that Johnson's Nick feels the connection, understands that a romance is burrowing under the surface, but that he's too scared to do anything about it. Having already had his heart shattered by his ex, Nick is a man down. He knows he deserves good things, and is entirely capable of it, but he's just not there yet. Johnson has created a character we want to stick it out with until he gets there, and stay with him long after the fact.  Of course, for every perfectly nuanced, small detail of Nick Miller, Johnson can just as easily go in for the kill to get a big laugh. While Deschanel and Greenfield often get the showier, more slapstick-y material (which they both pull off near flawlessly) Johnson had some of the outright funniest pure comedy of New Girl's freshman season. From his drunken stumble out of Russell's car to his embarrassing reggae striptease, Johnson has proven time and time again he can run the gauntlet from subtle and seriously (the season-best "Injured," in which Johnson made a cancer episode touching without it being schmaltzy) to downright hilarious (his butt-shaking fight with Jess in the finale.)  Nick, for now, is a lost cause, but Johnson is anything but. It won't be surprising if Deschanel and Greenfield earn Emmy nominations, and it will be deservedly so. But Johnson deserves a Best Supporting Actor nod, not just because of his layered performance as Nick, but because without him Deschanel's and Greenfield's performances wouldn't have the same impact. Without Nick's slacker/loner "normalcy" to balance out Jess and Schmidt, they simply would not work on the same level.  A great straight man stands back and lets the leading lady or pratfall man take the center stage, an unsung hero who effortlessly elevates the material with a biting quip or thoughtful detail. He is the ultimate secret weapon to making an ensemble tick, something Jake Johnson most certainly does every week on New Girl. It's not as obvious or sexy to nominate or reward subtle work, but if anyone is a testament to be an unassuming, unexpected delight, it's Jake Johnson.  Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran [Photo credit: Greg Gayne/Fox]  More:  2012 Emmy Longshots: Nick Offerman Had Us At "Meat Tornado"  2012 Emmy Longshots: Happy Endings Bear-in-Winter Adam Pally  2012 Emmy Longshots: Shameless Star Emmy Rossum, the 20-Something Matriarch Jake Johnson Emmy
  • Jennifer Westfeldt Talks 'Friends with Kids' Blu, 'Bridesmaids' Comparisons, and Jon Hamm 
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 17, 2012
    When Jennifer Westfeldt's Friends with Kids, a movie about three sets of longtime friends (played by Westfeldt, Adam Scott,Maya Rudolph, Chris O'Dowd, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm) in their 30s grappling with the ups and downs of friendships, relationships, and parenthood hit theaters last September, it was hailed as the thinking (wo)man's romantic comedy.  It was smart, sexy, funny, and most importantly, relatable.  The release came just four months after another little romantic comedy that was smart, sexy, funny, and relatable called Bridesmaids. It also happened to share four of its talented cast members: Wiig, O'Dowd, Rudolph, and Hamm, Westfeldt's real-life love.  During an interview with, Westfeldt, 42, the star, writer, producer and director of Friends with Kids, explained that the release dates of R-rated comedies were nothing short of crazy cosmic timing. "Honestly, the Bridesmaids thing is such a strange coincidence for us because Kristen was attached to do our film before she even shot Bridesmaids."  "The rest of the cast came together right before we were putting the movie together and we wrapped before Bridesmaids came out," Westfeldt explained, "We hoped Bridesmaids would be successful, but I don't think we could ever have known the incredible, brilliant, epic success that film has been."  But even with all the right ingredients, Friends with Kids didn't see quite the same level of mainstream box office success as Bridesmaids. Whether it was because it was wrongly shrugged off as a Bridesmaids spin-off ("Our film is about something very different, which is facing that next phase, whether to have kids. Or when your friends are having kids and you're left behind," Westfeldt said) or because much of the target audience, ironically enough, couldn't find a babysitter in time to see it, that may all change with the film arriving on DVD and Blu-ray today.  "Films for really is about word of mouth, and I hope that being able to buy it on DVD or Netflix it, [people will see the movie]," Westfeldt said, "I certainly noticed it with the rest of my films. With my first film [2001's indie darling Kissing Jessica Stein] it wasn't until a year after it had been in theaters that I felt like people really started to recognize it."  Of course, good things happening to those who wait is a feeling she and Hamm are both quite familiar with. The pair, who have been dating for nearly 15 years, both found success later in their careers. "Certainly, we watched it [happen] with Mad Men. The fifth season just finished....the first two years it was a much slower burn, and obviously the word of mouth was amazing, but it took a solid years for everyone to get on board," Westfeldt acknowledged.  "I think you appreciate successful moments more, and I think you take it all with a grain of salt because you know one moment you can have success and the next it can go away," Westfeldt said, "It makes you humble and it makes you appreciate great things a little bit more, because you know how rare they can be."  While Hamm and Westfeldt are nothing short of a rarity by Hollywood standards, both in terms of their careers and their relationship, the multi-tasking star insists they are going through the motions of life like everybody else. "A lot of people ask 'How do you make it work?' We never know what to say, we're the same as everyone else. Relationships take commitment and work, and a lot of time put in. And I think it's the same for everyone in a long relationship."  With Friends with Kids, Westfeldt takes the complexities of long-term relationships, particularly those with children in the picture, and gives it a new twist. In the film, her character Julie and best friend Ben (Scott) decide to break with convention and have a child together, but not be together so they could date other people. In their cases, Edward Burns and Megan Fox, respectively. As Westfeldt joked, "I mean who wouldn't want to have a kid with their best friend, and then be with Megan Fox? Who wouldn't want that? That's awesome! I want that!" But then, as is the case with most things in life, things don't go quite according to plan. "I think if there's a message to this film, their grand idea is flawed in the sense that if you're trying to avoid the messiness and the complications in life, you're never going to be able to avoid all of those things if you want to have anything worth having."  One aspect of the messiness of adult life, particularly parents whose relationships and friendships can fall by the wayside, is something Westfeldt could draw from her own experiences. While she and Hamm are not married and don't have children, plenty of their friends do, including their long-time pal and co-star Adam Scott. (Scott is married to Naomi Sablan, with whom he has two children.)  "Certainly it was helpful that in life Adam was one of our friends with kids. We went through that ride with them and lost them for a while, you know? And then they came back and they were very candid about the highs and the lows of it," Westfeldt shared. "I think having friends like that in your world, who can talk to you really openly about the duality of [parenthood], the great, tremendous love and joy, as well as the more stressful, challenging dynamic, is a gift." Unfortunately, Westfeldt and the rest of the cast and crew learned the hard way that  there's an unpredictable force even stronger than love and babies and friendship: weather. Filmed in the bone-chilling December of 2010, Friends with Kids had less than desirable conditions. "It was a nightmare!" Westfeldt recalled, "We had to shoot it in 24 days, in the dead of winter. It was the worst winter in New York in 25 years. It was terrible because of the snow and the sleet and the ice and the kids everyday. We were using all of Kristen's days off from SNL so the schedule was crazy. It was so hard, in every way." But like any labor of love, they nurtured their indie baby. "Of course, I wish we'd had more time...but luckily with this wonderful crew and incredible cast, I think we just pulled it off."  And much like Friends with Kids makes us laugh at the things in real-life that typically make us want to scream (there's a particularly brilliant dinner party scene in which Rudolph and O'Dowd have the kind of fight every couple has), the extras on the Friends with Kids DVD and Blu-ray helped Westfeldt and co. do the same.  "There's a commentary track with me and Will Rexer, my cinematographer and Jon and we sort of go through all the epic things that went wrong daily, and why we had to change certain things. All the nightmares, when the kids melted down, and ad libs and people losing it. It was kind of fun and funny putting that stuff together because we were just reliving every daily crisis that we had." Sounds like adulthood, alright.  Friends with Kids is available on DVD and Blu-ray today, July 17, and includes special features such as a blooper reel and making-of featurette. A special edition version at Target, which features additional commentary from Jon Hamm and Adam Scott, is also now in stores.  More:  Friends with Kids: Bloopers at the Grown-Ups Table  Friends with Kids Trailer — WATCH  Jon Hamm's Girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt: 5 Things to Know
  • No Doubt's New Single "Settle Down" — LISTEN
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 16, 2012
    It's been over a decade since No Doubt released their last studio album Rock Steady, which featured such Top 40 ear worms as "Hella Good" and "Hey Baby," but it doesn't really feel like they've gone anywhere. Between the ubiquitous (both on the radio and doing things just like us regular folk do in the tabloid pages) Gwen Stefani and the fact that, even though the '90s are long gone, eccentric, sherbet-haired girls can still rule the charts (cue: Nicki Minaj). On September 25, the SoCal-formed group will release their sixth studio album Push and Shove. On Monday, the band released their first single off the record, titled "Settle Down," and it seems like they've done just that. No Doubt has adapted to the times and fans from their Tragic Kingdom days might be a little disappointed to hear the tamer 2012 version of the group.  Granted, Stefani is now a mom and No Doubt was never really hard music per se, but any trace of edgier, more daring songs like "Spiderwebs," "Just a Girl," and "Ex-Girlfriend" all but evaporate in the chorus to "Settle Down" in which Stefani sings, "I'm hella positive/For real." It's certainly not a bad song (the breakdown at the end is worth listening for) and it should do remarkably well on any DJ's summer playlist, it's just something that No Doubt wasn't for a very long time: sort of forgettable.  Take a listen to "Settle Down" here and feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments section below. [Photo credit: Billy Kidd/Interscope] More:  No Doubt's Next Album Finally Has a Release Date No Doubt
  • 'Breaking Bad' Pulls in Record Viewers, Possibly With "Magnets, Bitch!" 
    By: Aly Semigran Jul 16, 2012
    On Sunday, 2.9 million people ended their weekend the best way possible. If we want to get more specific, on Sunday, 2.9 million people ended their weekend with Walter F**kin' White, man. According to TVByTheNumbers, the Season 5 premiere of AMC's so-great-it's-kinda-hard-to-wrap-your-head-around-it drama Breaking Bad had its most-watched episode to date. Even with the Dish network squabble that left many fans AMC-less (in turn, the network mercifully offered to stream the premiere online for subscribers left in the dark), the show still pulled in staggering ratings.  To get technical here, "From 10pm – 11pm, the network earned a 2.2 HH rating delivering 2.9 million viewers. This marks an increase of +22%/ +14% respectively. Even more impressive is the exceptional growth among the coveted 18-49 demo, which saw a +34% increase versus last season’s premiere." To put it in the simplest terms, Breaking Bad, like its fellow AMC darling Mad Men, gradually earned ratings hikes as they went thanks to strong word of mouth. Interestingly enough, Mad Men also saw their best ratings yet during their fifth season opener back in March when they drew in an even more amazing 3.5 million viewers after their 18-month hiatus from the air.    If there's any testament to the power of DVD marathoning or catching up online (your move, Hulu) these shows are the proof of that. While a heavier show like Breaking Bad or Mad Men may not have staggering viewership right out off the gate, what they do have are avid fans dedicated not only to watching the show, but getting the word out about it. It's easy to understand the hesitance from networks to hope a show takes off two or three seasons in, but a solid fan base can keep a show with respectable numbers. Strong word-of-mouth, loaned DVD box sets, and the glory of Netflix streaming can catapult it to can't-miss-programming.     And with certain programs, this sort of viewing actually makes the most sense. Watching the first two or three seasons of Breaking Bad or Mad Men feel like they should be watched alone, to take in everything that's going on and form your own connection to the show and the characters. As they go on, all you want to do is share that bond with everyone else who has a connection to it and talk about it as much as possible afterwards. (No talking during, for that is a television cardinal sin.) Mad Men and Breaking Bad may be slow burns, but they're quality appointment television and they're miles ahead in the race.   [Photo credit: AMC]     More: Breaking Bad Recap: Live Free or Die  Breaking Bad Season 5 Premiere To Stream Online For Dish Subscribers  The Final Season of Breaking Bad is a Giant Lie