Congratulations to all of the 2014 Emmy winners, with special kudos to those who spent time with us over the past year: Allison Janney, Jessica Lange and Jim Parsons.
Every year, like clockwork, Emmy’s red carpet is laid out, the golden statuettes are polished and feelings of excitement and anticipation fill the air. As we celebrated our 10th year in public television in 2013, we shared the same feelings as the guests who helped us get there.
And with this post, we toast our visitors whose work has been recognized as contenders for the 66th Annual Emmy Awards. [Click on the guest name/image to go to his/her show page on this site, which includes video of our conversation.]
Comedy, drama, miniseries, TV movie—each of these genres is proving more and more how much television content is evolving, taking audiences where they’ve never gone before. Our guests have taken us from a woman’s federal prison in New York to a witches’ coven in Louisiana.
This year, comedy definitely has some stiff competition, and it starts with…a big bang. The Big Bang Theory continued to hit funny bones and earned yet another Emmy nomination for outstanding comedy series, as well as lead actor and guest star. Nominated for comedy lead actor, Jim Parsons sat with us and talked about his hit TV show, as well as his supporting role in HBO’s The Normal Heart, which earned him a second Emmy nod—this one for reprising his Tony-winning turn on Broadway.
Comedic giant Bob Newhart also stopped by, shortly after taking home a 2013 Emmy—his first after more than 50 years in the business—for his work on the show as Arthur Jeffries. This year, he picked up another guest actor nod.
Also in the comedy race is a real unconventional family, the Emmy-nominated Modern Family. We were privileged to welcome versatile actor Ed O’Neill, who earned recognition as on-screen father to the Bundys in Married…With Children and, now, to the Pritchett family. This past season, Modern Family‘s characters were tested, and, in the moments when not everything was funny, O’Neill shined through and demonstrated that that’s what makes shows memorable.
In the past year, comedy took on a new look—the color of orange. Since its debut, Orange Is the New Black has garnered attention for its mix of comedy and drama. The characters on the series, nominated for best comedy, have taken us behind bars—teaching us lessons and survival tips about the ins and outs of the world. One of its co-stars that’s familiar with comedy and stories is Jason Biggs, who visited us and recounted what it’s like working on the hit show.
Included on the list for leading actor in a comedy is Don Cheadle, who checked in with us just in time for the season three premiere of House of Lies. He explained his character Marty Kaan, an antihero who brings edge, but is still mysterious to the story. It’s no surprise that his character and work ethic as an actor continue to bring him award nominations, as his film roles have done in the past.
While the ability to balance comedy and drama is a strength for any actor/actress, to do so simultaneously is a force. This is the case with two guests who dropped in to discuss their work on both a comedy and a drama series in the same season.
One of these talents is Allison Janney, who’s nominated in two categories this year: supporting actress in a comedy for her role in Mom and guest actress in a drama series for her turn in Masters of Sex. She described what it was like playing two very different roles at the same time. [NOTE: During the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony, Janney picked up the statuette in the drama series guest actress category for her performance in Showtime's Masters of Sex.]
Beau Bridges also received two nominations. This past season, he not only played a funny dad in The Millers, but also a struggling husband (opposite Janney) in Masters of Sex. Coming from a family of actors, Beau has mastered balancing comedic timing and drama. Our chat included his take on family life, work and even mixing the two!
From the drama world, we welcomed actor John Slattery and writer-producer Matthew Weiner for a conversation of their hit AMC series, Mad Men—nominated again this year for outstanding drama.
When Slattery visited, he updated us on his character in the period piece, which is in its final season, and outlined his film, God’s Pocket, and what it was like putting together his first feature and directing Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last roles.
Weiner, the man behind Mad Men, shared the journey of the series—its evolution, characters, content and what makes it a hit.
And, though Jessica Lange has played different characters in the American Horror Story anthology, her different roles keep her as a fresh choice. This year, her portrayal as the Supreme Witch of the Coven, earned her an Emmy nod for lead actress in a miniseries/movie.
When Lange visited our set, she also opened up about one of her many other talents—writing—and her children’s book, It’s About a Little Bird, which was written for her granddaughters, and talked about religion, family, photography and all that keeps her the woman we know and love.
One actor not only pulled on audiences’ heart strings this past year for his film role in 12 Years a Slave, but also captured their attention as Louis Lester in the British TV miniseries, Dancing on the Edge. While Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s conversation with us focused on his performance in the Oscar-winning film, he took us into period pieces, from the 1800s to the 1930s, bringing to life the reality that they were and yet inspiring us to see growth and beauty, and earned an Emmy nomination as lead actor in a miniseries/movie.
Over the years, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner Mel Brooks has experienced all of the nerves of nominations for outstanding work. When he honored us with a sit-down, he made us laugh not just one night, but two in a row. The body of work of the comedian-producer-director-writer dates back to the late 1940s and resulted in a televised AFI tribute, which earned an Emmy nod best variety special. [NOTE: The tribute show was awarded the Emmy during the Creative Arts ceremony.]
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is best known as an actor; but, this year, he made his debut as a feature film director-screenwriter and shared his experience with us. He also created, hosted and directed a critically acclaimed variety series, HitRECord on TV—an extension of his online collaborative production company—on the new Pivot network and picked up an Interactive Media Emmy Award for Social TV Experience during the Creative Arts Awards ceremony.
After the awards ceremonies and parties and the reading of new scripts, every actor starts again. Sometimes it’s just as nerve-racking as the shows they are in, but by the end of their new beginnings, they present a wonderful feast. This is what makes awards ceremonies like the Emmys exciting and new—nothing is the same every year, and, by the end of the night, we reflect on past work and look forward to new ones.
For their Emmy nods, we congratulate the guests that sat on our couch this past year, reflecting on their work in TV series, telefilms or miniseries, and we thank them for letting us help get the word out on their various projects!