A Little Less Conversation…

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I don’t like guns and I particularly dislike violence. Not in fictional movies or in real life. Death, murder and variations thereof scare me. So when there are mass murders in the U.S. every few months, usually at a school, I immediately wonder – what is the price of making it just a bit more difficult to buy an assault weapon or even a handgun.

There are many who disagree and I get it. It’s nothing for me to give up a bit of gun rights because I want nothing to do with them. Still, that doesn’t mean my viewpoint is wrong. For instance, I’d be happy to pay more taxes in exchange for universal health care. I already have health care so one could argue, using that line of reasoning, why should I volunteer to pay for it for someone else? Especially when it hasn’t been proven that it will absolutely reduce costs or save lives. Well, because it’s the right thing to do. And it has been proven theoretically.



In the case of guns, no theoretical proof is necessary to argue that at the very least 1 or maybe even 2 lives will be saved if we institute some sort of more stringent rules. It is self-evident the way one can assume a peach left out in the sun on a sweltering day will eventually rot. Well, I don’t know about you but 1 or 2 lives spared from a barrage of bullets are more than enough for me. Just as saving one or two more people from death due to some terrible disease because they can now afford to go to a doctor is enough for me to fork over just a little bit more to Uncle Sam.

This brings up an interesting question – how much time do I want to spend with those who have opposing points of view? I don’t mean in public discourse, at a party or among members of my extended family. Rather I wonder – what is the deal breaker for including people in our close-knit circles? Or even your extended perimeter?   I mean, as the victims of the latest shooter in Oregon might now say to us – “your time is limited. Make the most of it. “

So I ask again – how many hours, days, weeks or years do you want to expend on those whose viewpoints go against the core of what you believe?



And now bear with me – I’m getting to Pope Francis. Yes, I just can’t let it go.

He seems like a nice fellow and certainly SAYS all the right things. But as a very wise psychotherapist told me years ago – if you want to understand who someone is or what they want, look at what they do. Consider their actions.

This bromide has also served me well as a dramatic writer. The core of someone’s character is not what they SAY. People say all sorts of things. It’s easy – you just open your mouth, or write it down, and words come out. But doing takes a bit more effort. It’s harder to take an action – especially when you get past middle age, which my almost 87 year old father tells me all the time. So when a 78 year old man like Pope Francis takes certain actions I, in turn, take it very seriously.



It’s all well and good for this man to not openly condemn gays and lesbians on his recent U.S. trip but what he actively DID last week in the nation’s capitol was have a SECRET meeting with a Christian woman who broke the law by refusing to do her $80,000 a year job as county clerk and issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. This got the LGBT community up in arms because many assumed his recent words about us – who am I to judge – meant something. Well, they do. But his actions meant more.

Still sting, Frankie.

Still stings, Frankie.

In a p.r. counter punch to the backlash from his meeting with Clerk Davis was the Vatican announcing two days later that Pope Francis also met with a former student of his from many years ago who is gay – AND his partner of 19 years – on the same trip. Is this the equivalent? Um, well, not really. The equivalent would be him calling in, say, Dan Savage and his husband and child. Or perhaps talking with Edie Windsor, whose case in the US Supreme Court broadened the definition of marriage to include the LGBT community.

This is all to say that the Vatican’s some of my best friends are defense to counter the fallout from the SECRET Clerk Davis meeting where he told her to stay strong and gifted her with rosary beads – is really an offense towards the people who it seemed were finally being, if not officially befriended, at least not discounted and devalued.

Here’s a rule of thumb to consider: A marginalized person will most likely find it difficult to get beyond your “actions” by mere words of love and caring. So when Pope Francis declares publically that gay marriage is “the work of the Devil” and the Church gives money towards or campaigns for laws preventing the legalization of LGBT couples adopting children or tying the knot, well – that tells us A LOT more than mere words. It shows us who its leader and his organization really are beneath the words.

Oh dear

Oh dear

And – let’s be clear – this goes for Jewish leaders, Muslim leaders and all other religious bigwigs of any kind, shape or form. It just so happens Pope Francis is the Man (well, he is, sort of) of the Moment.

Praying is a personal choice but we don’t live in a magical world. You can’t pray cancer away without medical treatment just as you can’t “pray the gay away.” If you’re religious and believe this is so – knock yourself out. But we have moved on from a time where one’s country dictates one’s religious beliefs or requires that mainstream America or its laws accommodate the idea that praying alone is an acceptable antidote to homosexuality or cancer. There is a separation of church and state in the experiment that was the U.S. We can be religious but we work and live in secular society according to objective laws, medical science and intellectual ideas – in other words, empirical facts.

This goes not only for the Pope but the NRA and other supporters of the gun lobby. Doing NOTHING to modify our gun laws as of late has not decreased the violence. If anything, it has had the opposite effect. Ten people died at a community college in Oregon on Thursday and every Republican running for the 2016 presidency has said variations of continue to do nothing. Jeb Bush noted “stuff happens” and Donald Trump shrugged his shoulders and remarked there are always going to be “crazy people.” Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson were not as colorful but each made it clear that they were against stricter gun laws and believe they would do nothing to curb the bi or tri-monthly mass shootings we’ve grown used to. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes called their combined strategy a “language of futility” and that’s as good a definition as I’ve heard.

Ladies and gentlemen, the GOP strategy.

Ladies and gentlemen, the GOP strategy.

Stating publicly that the death of all of these people – young and old – over the last few years is a tragedy are nice words to hear but do nothing to address the issue if one refuses to take ACTIONS so less tragedies occur in the future. You can say some of your best friends are gun owners or that some of your best friends’ children were victims of gun tragedies but still, it means you are on the side of letting this continue. In essence, it means you’re okay with these and future deaths.

Similarly, if you are against LGBT people legally marrying or adopting children in 2015 it doesn’t matter how many of us you invite into your personal space or hotel suite. You are not truly our friend. You are part of our problem. Love us a little less. Accept us a little more. And do something about it.

Swinging from the Chandelier with the Pope

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When I was a young teenager I was 25-30 pounds overweight. It wasn’t a happy time in my life though I’m not sure if that’s why I was overeating. Maybe it was just adolescence. Or maybe I liked food. Or maybe, just maybe, it was all of the above.

I mention this because this week I watched a young man on NBC’s The Voice who was quite overweight who reminded me of an even heavier version of my heavy self when I was his age. Except he had one thing that I NEVER had – he could sing.

Wow – could he sing. If you imagine a cross between Adam Lambert, Mariah Carey with maybe even a little Mary J. Blige thrown in by way of Stevie Wonder, you get the picture. In fact, he himself joked that he often gets mistaken for a woman on the phone and at drive-thrus. He also admitted that his appearance and manner was clearly not what others are normally used to and that it took him a while to realize these were his special qualities, that he was born this way and that God didn’t mistakes.

Fight on, little monster

Fight on, little monster

In any event, this young man – whose name is Jordan Smith – was vociferously praised for his mind-bending talent by four experts. And he received a standing ovation from the audience. Not to mention, he was told repeatedly by the judges that he was not only inspiring but an important contestant for the world to see AND for the world to understand that talent and original voices – be it singing or original points of view – are what come from inside. How one looks on the outside has less than nothing to do with what is being expressed. (Note: This is, of course, a talent show and granted, has little to do with the music INDUSTRY, which is a whole other kettle of worms. Yes, worms).

Anyway, I found myself wishing two things after spending some time thinking about Jordan. One is that I grew up in a time when people would have said those things to his 1970s doppelganger (Note: Okay, Me when I was praised for my specific talents). And second, though infinitely more important, is that in 2015 I lived in a country where the political rhetoric being bandied about by THE most popular news network in the country (that would be Fox) and by many of the candidates in one of our two major political parties, reflected that kind of inclusion and understanding. Sadly, it does not. It’s exclusion of the worst kind – to gay people, to climate change believers and to Muslims – just to name a few of who at the moment seem to be the top 3. And those are just the groups that instantly come to mind.

This is not a diatribe against Evangelicals, Republican conservatives or even The Republican Apprentice, who I believe is neither of the above but simply an egomaniacal boor. Rather it is a recognition and reaffirmation of what exactly is going on in acceptable, seemingly intelligent public discourse these days.


Inclusion is seen as political correctness, political correctness is seen as coddling, and coddling is in turn seen as destroying the fabric of American society by overprotecting children (or even adults) at too young an age from the bullying they will unavoidably receive in the real world. As if we need to provide more of that in our language and conservations because the world isn’t already cruel enough.

Speaking of which… Pope Francis was in the United States for the first time this week – have you heard? Yes, I thought so. Well, these days you have to admire a religious leader – any religious leader – who spends much of his public speaking time emphasizing the brotherhood of man (which presumably includes women), reaching out to each other with love, and taking care of the poor and any of those less fortunate. Not to mention any person of the cloth at all who is humble enough to ask us to pray for him and inclusive enough to include this request to non-believers – who he merely asks to send good wishes and thoughts. The implication that he is not all-knowing and merely just another regular guy who needs all the help he can get in doing his job sounds unlike any religious leader I’ve ever encountered in my lifetime, either in synagogue, in books or even on the pages of the NY Times – which is where I get most of my religious leader info anyway.



On the other hand, if you are different the way I am, it’s sometimes a bit challenging to watch the absolute furor in which this particular Pope is greeted (24/7 news coverage, crowds in the tens of thousands, gesticulating, fainting and near hysteria) and not consider several thoughts. Among them is that he has publicly advocated against gay marriage, gay adoption and transgender rights. It is also difficult to ignore that he is the leader of an international religious institution – which make no mistake about it is a very wealthy, disciplined and doctrinaire organization – that believes any number of behaviors that fall within any of many mainstream activities among significant minorities (or even majorities) in everyday life are sins deserving of varying degrees of punishment – or illegalization.   If I were female I might bring up a woman’s right to choose, women being priests, divorce and any host of other subjects. And what about atheists? Do they have no moral standing on any grounds whatsoever? The list could go on and on.

Touche, CoCo

Touche, CoCo

Love is, well, lovely – and so are good thoughts. But when you are in a sub-group all the love in the world will not alone get you on an even playing field with others who have the majority amount of money, power or, let’s just say it, moral high ground. Religious leaders, especially the most popular ones, by definition own the moral high ground and are fronts for extremely large institutions that more often than not are responsible for maintaining the status quo, including the discriminatory parts of it. To do it in a nicer way is, well, nice – but none of us should be fooled – underneath the welcoming rhetoric it is merely a nicer variation of what we already have.

Or is it? Pope Francis seemed to acknowledge climate change in several of his speeches and appeared to be speaking almost directly to the flock led by The Republican Apprentice when he praised and reminded the U.S. that one of our greatest strengths is that we are and always have been a nation of immigrants. Perhaps gay marriage is next? On second thought (or even your 17th one) do not count on it.

Well.. this is a good start, but let's not get too excited.

Well.. this is a good start, but let’s not get too excited.

This is not to say that there is always agreement within the subset of your special interest group. Speaker of the House John Boehner, a conservative from Ohio, resigned from his position Friday after 35 years in Congress, in large part because he was tired of fighting the shut down the government at all costs demands of the Tea Party ultra-right wingers of his group. And there is a pop culture fight going on within the gay community at the moment about the movie Stonewall, Roland Emmerich’s (Independence Day) new film about the 1969 uprising that is often cited as the birth of the fight for LGBT rights.

Because Mr. Emmerich chose to invent a young, white handsome male protagonist as the main character audience surrogate for his film, a very local group of critics are convinced that he sold out history by marginalizing the significant contributions of gay people of color, not to mention that of drag queens and transgender individuals. Never mind that all of these different types of people play significant roles in the film – none of them are THE star. On the other hand, each protestor at the time WAS the star of their own story of those riots and no one knows for sure who threw the first brick. Just as today we are all the STARS of our own lives, whether we know it or not, or choose to exercise it or not. It’s always a question of one’s POV and how one decides to frame their narrative. This is not only the mission of a very mainstream filmmaker like Mr. Emmerich, but the same challenge faced by the Speaker of the House – or by a Pope.

Well at least Emmerich acknowledges it!

Well at least Emmerich acknowledges it!

Which brings us back to young Jordan Smith. He will certainly have his haters, as well as lovers, as he goes through life. On the latter score lots of significant progress has been made since that time in the late seventies when I was his age. But let us be very clear, this progress was made not due to the benevolent language of any religious leaders or by any acts of Congress. Those are merely by-products of a hard fought fight led by a group of surly INSURGENTS. Decades of ACTIVISTS who died and/or risked their lives for a simple idea – equality. Among these activists were also lots of regular people who simply chose to live their everyday lives unapologetically and out in the open.

We all advocate for our causes and it’s nice to be loved. But it’s better to be accepted and included on an equal pay scale and rights scale. Not doing that for any one of our sub-groups – that’s the only real sin, in my mind. The original and ongoing one.

The Emmy Revue

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The results each year at major award shows in Hollywood are akin to what usually happens in major American elections – it takes a while to get there but eventually – eventually – voters do the right thing. I’m talking about the moments in Sunday’s Emmy telecast when Jon Hamm finally won best actor for the first time in seven nominations for Mad Men and Viola Davis became the first African American to take home best drama series actress for How To Get Away With Murder.

Mr. Hamm – though I feel after all these years of fandom I should call him Jon – or even Jonny – gave a modest, heartfelt speech. Ms. Davis – whom I will not refer to as Vi – gave a thoughtful, political one.

Right on!

Right on!

Which is not to say that this year’s three-hour program – which in my house felt more like seven and a half plus commercials – was not a languid, tedious misfire of an affair. It was. In fact, the prior week’s Republican presidential debate from the Ronald Reagan library was infinitely more entertaining for this liberal. And I’m only speaking just about the show itself – not the fact that I’m one of those liberals who doesn’t find this year’s best comedy series Emmy winner, Veep, even remotely funny.   Well, I suppose real life political events, especially those about-to-be for the next 12 months – are and will be infinitely funnier. Let’s face it, you couldn’t make The Republican Apprentice up, and even if you could, how much more irreverently meta could that character be?

Certainly he’d be funnier than Andy Samberg, a generally amusing guy who turned in a performance that could best be compared to a defanged Seth MacFarlane when he was hosting the Oscars several years ago. His opening taped bit about not having enough time to watch all of what was on TV had a few yuks but when he went live it was a bit like a deadly frat party where the guy everyone finds funny one on one is asked to entertain at an all-campus event. He’s jolly enough but he’s not in the right room or with the right crowd. One supposes it’s the same reason Seth MacFarlane can make you laugh almost anywhere but the Oscars.

You know you’re in trouble when your host turns in ad-libs like the one about best limited series winner Olive Kittridge that go like this: I didn’t see Olive Kittridge. I only saw half. Get it? Ol-ive (All-of) Kittridge – only Half (Half?).

Oh gawd, Andy.

Oh gawd, Andy.

In fairness, three hours is an incredibly long time to sit these days when you’re not choosing to binge watch your preferred series of choice via your favorite streaming service. It must have seemed even longer for good sports Tatiana Maslany (the long overlooked and finally Emmy nominated star of Orphan Black) and this year’s best supporting comedy actor, Veep’s Tony Hale – when they were doing some hackneyed bit mid-show on the empty red carpet where they found and fought over an open can of baked beans.   Baked beans on a red carpet? Really? How about…popcorn? Caviar? A tuna sandwich? I’ve probably been on about 50 red carpets in my day and there was nary a baked bean to be found.

No Gaga musical number? #thehillsareSTILLalive

No Gaga musical number? #thehillsareSTILLalive

No, I’m not being too literal. For it to be funny it has to be possible. Ugh, who really gives a darn, anyway? Samberg’s got a hit network show so he must know better, right? No. Remember, Alf was on TV for four years and Three’s Company was on for eight.

Which brings us to Mel Brooks presenting best comedy series. He just walks on TV – as he has on and off for 50 years – and he’s funny. Why? I’m not sure. Probably the same reason Amy Schumer slayed it in a 90 second acceptance speech where among other things she thanked her makeup person for her cool smoky eye or Jon Stewart made us laugh simply by jumping up and down amid a crowd full of his own writers when they won their final Emmy for their work on the last season of The Daily Show.

67th Annual Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theatre Featuring: Amy Schumer Where: Los Angeles, California, United States When: 20 Sep 2015 Credit: FayesVision/WENN.com

Slay gurl, slay.

It was, indeed, inspiring to see Tracy Morgan seemingly recovered from a near fatal auto accident more than a year ago as he walked onstage, made a few irreverent jokes that landed, and presented the final award of the night for best drama series. No joke here – it was.

These are the moments award shows are about. But there can only be a few of those per program. The rest is up to the host and the writers, the winners and the non-winners (Note: Let’s try to avoid losers) to keep it going.

One may ask: Chair, why do you even watch award shows if you dislike them so much

Answer: I love award shows. I just dislike dull, unfunny ones.

P.S. – Especially when the best-written and acted series on television – Mad Men– doesn’t win the final award of the night. No, I don’t watch the winner, Game of Thrones. And now I don’t plan to. Unless Jon Hamm is planning to guest star.

Hey... it could happen. #Emmys2016

Hey… it could happen. #Emmys2016

Relive the Chair’s Emmy twitter feed, and join in on the post Emmy convo.

Sitting Down with the Emmys

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RE: LET’S HAVE SOME FUN….please?????

Given the week we’ve just had it feels exactly right to spend a bit of time concentrating on an event that has pretty much zero affect on our everyday lives – the EMMY Awards.

This is not to say we don’t care at all or as fans, or friends of nominees, or of people who work on shows that are nominated – or – as possible nominees ourselves, (Note: Uh, no – not me) we think they are unimportant.   Actually, in point of fact they are very, very, very American.

We in the U.S. of A. love a good competition – how else can you explain why a liberal like myself actually spent 32 hours Wednesday night watching 11 Republican candidates gumming each other to death from a stage at the Ronald Reagan presidential library? No, I certainly wouldn’t do it for a football game (Note: Except the Super Bowl because its half-time show usually features either a gay icon or a band from the seventies) but then I never said we all like every competition. This is still, for the time being, a country that is pro-choice. Which brings me back to the topic at hand – television.

Lonely Island Emmys

Lonely Island Emmys

The Oscars might still have the classiest statue but the Emmys are more intimate and ultimately more fun. These shows and the folks who create them, star in them and actually make them, come into our homes. They’re not so much royalty but pseudo friends. We don’t spent a mere two hours or so in their company as we do with our filmmakers but rather upwards of two years or more doing all kinds of things while viewing them that we don’t need to go into here. I don’t know about you but for me that makes it a lot more familial and certainly much homier.

Not to mention – I can’t spend another evening obsessing about the14 year old Muslim boy who was handcuffed in Texas for bringing a clock to school, the apocalyptic El Nino weather warnings that everyone keeps saying will destroy my newly purchased home, or the unavoidable rantings and ravings of The Republican Apprentice on just about every topic and airwave imaginable.


On that minor point let me say this: If you’ve had your scalp reduced and hair plugs inserted in your head, the rat’s nest that rests on top of it certainly doesn’t count as ALL YOURS. Could you imagine having to look at that from the Oval Office for the next four years???

And no – I didn’t accuse anyone of anything so I don’t have to apologize.

In any event, Sunday’s festivities officially begin now with some major category predictions for your betting pool at home. A warning upfront: No one really has idea who is going to win for sure. Well, except when it comes to Jon Hamm. He WILL WIN for best dramatic actor this time out. This is not only true but it is one more reason to objectify him.

I. Can't. Even.

I. Can’t. Even.

He’s an actor. Trust me, he doesn’t mind.

And every time Jon Hamm’s name is mentioned or the camera is on him – DRINK!

The nominees/winners are below:


It's Maura's night!

It’s Maura’s night!


“Modern Family”

“Parks and Recreation”

“Silicon Valley”


“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”


Prognosticators are divided on this category, giving a slide edge to “Veep.” I don’t think so. This has been a defining year for the transgender community and thus it feels like Hollywood will give the award to “Transparent.” The story of how a family reacts when its patriarch comes out as a transgender woman has been universally praised and let’s face it – “Veep” will be even better in a presidential election year.

Winner: “Transparent”



Emmy Winner? Yes, that's me.

Emmy Winner? Yes, that’s me.

Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”

Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”

Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”

Will Forte, “The Last Man On Earth”

Louis C.K., “Louie”

William H. Macy, “Shameless”

Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

There are few sure things in an entertainment awards show but Jeffrey Tambor’s win for his performance as said patriarch in “Transparent” is about as close you you’ll get. Whatever one’s possible gripes with the series, Tambor’s work is exceptional. Go back and watch him on “The Larry Sanders Show” and figure out how it could be the same person. Besides, the industry loves when a character actor finally gets the breakout role they always deserved.

Winner: Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”



A truly meta moment

A truly meta moment

Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback”

Lily Tomlin, “Grace And Frankie”

Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer”

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”

Amy Poehler, “Parks And Recreation”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

There is only one person deserving of the award in this category – Lisa Kudrow in “The Comeback.” In fact, it is one of the best female performances I’ve ever seen in a comedy series – equal parts hilarious, cringe worthy, heart-breaking, sad and joyful. The odds are that Julia Louis-Dreyfuss will win for the 80th time (Note: Yes, she’s won 80 times, you go figure) or the beloved Amy Poehler will get it for her last season on “Parks and Recreation.” Still…

Winner: Lisa Kudrow “The Comeback” (because I say so).


Real life win

Real life win

Andre Braugher, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Adam Driver, “Girls”

Keegan-Michael Key, “Key & Peele”

Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”

Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Tony Hale, “Veep”

There is no stopping “Veep” in certain categories. All of these guys do excellent work but there is something about Tony Hale’s performance that woos Emmy voters. Possible spoilers are Andre Braugher or Titus Burgess for “Brooklyn” or “Kimmy.” Still, who in Hollywood will resist the aide to a delusional, clueless egomaniac?

Winner: Tony Hale “Veep”


Can you deny the Notorious RBG?

Can you deny the Notorious RBG?

Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”

Niecy Nash, “Getting On”

Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”

Allison Janney, “Mom”

Kate McKinnon “Saturday Night Live”

Gaby Hoffmann, “Transparent”

Jane Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”

Again, the supporting category is awash with great work. How much would I love to see Kate McKinnon pick it up for her rapping version of my Aunt Ruth (Bader Ginsburg). Quite a lot. But this town often ignores me. It’s going to be Allison Janney in “Mom.” Truth be told, she’s great playing the alcoholic mother of Anna Farris. And besides, she only has 75 Emmy statuettes for “West Wing.” She needs another.

Winner: Allison Janney “Mom”


David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik for Episodes, “Episode 409” from Showtime

Will Forte for The Last Man On Earth, “Alive In Tucson” (Pilot) from FOX

Louis C.K. for Louie, “Bobby’s House” from FX Networks

Alec Berg for Silicon Valley, “Two Days Of The Condor” from HBO

Jill Soloway for Transparent, “Pilot” from Amazon Instant Video

Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche for Veep, “Election Night” from HBO.

It’s really hard to compete with a well-written television pilot because it has to be a great episode and has the added degree of difficulty of introducing you to the characters and the world of the series. “Transparent” feels like a lock given it is unlike any comedy series ever on the small screen and it comes from a streaming service. Still, the writing award is, for some reason, often seen as a consolation prize for a show that is bypassed in other areas. Nevertheless —

Winner: Jill Soloway “Transparent”


Cmon guys... THIS HAPPENED!


“Better Call Saul”

“Downton Abbey”

“Game of Thrones”


“House of Cards”

“Mad Men”

“Orange is the New Black”

A REALLY tough one. Many people I really respect swear this was THE season of “Game of Thrones.” More importantly, it led the pack this year with 24 Emmy nominations. So you can pencil it in on your own ballot. I’m going with the last season of the best-written show on television – “Mad Men.” Screw the rest of the field. And the Academy if they don’t vote my way.

Winner: “Mad Men”


You know Cookie will be throwing shade no matter what

You know Cookie will be throwing shade no matter what

Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”

Claire Danes, “Homeland”

Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”

Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”

Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”

Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

The best roles for women have for some time been on television. This is an impossible category of excellence. But it’s going to be Viola Davis. Brilliant, frightening, frail and bold. It should also be noted that an African American woman has never one in this category. Yeah, it’s true.

Winner: Viola Davis “How to Get Away with Murder”


No nomination? Was it the moustache?

No nomination? Was it the moustache?

Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”

Ben Mendelsohn, “Bloodline”

Jim Carter, “Downton Abbey”

Peter Dinklage, “Game Of Thrones”

Alan Cumming, “The Good Wife”

Michael Kelly, “House Of Cards”

My spies tell me this it will be Jonathan Banks in “Better Call Saul.” Loved him playing the same character in “Breaking Bad.” It’s not unprecedented to get recognition the second time around. Baby boomers will instantly remember Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman winning for their work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” only to go on to great acclaim in solo series bearing their characters’ names (Note: Okay, “Rhoda” and “Phyllis”). Banks doesn’t have his own show but lucky for “Saul” he’s on someone else’s.

Winner: Jonathan Banks “Better Call Saul”


Holloway-Harris for the win

Holloway-Harris, your Emmy is calling.

Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”

Lena Headey, “Game Of Thrones”

Emilia Clarke, “Game Of Thrones”

Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”

Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”

Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is The New Black”

It is a fact that no series regular on seven seasons of “Mad Men” has ever won the Emmy. Really? Yes. That’s why it seems as if the much deserved Christina Hendricks will pull it out of this really close competition. Also, because I’m willing it. If you have reservations, Uzo Aduba is a close second. But remember, Joan always gets exactly what she wants in the end.

Winner: Christina Hendricks “Mad Men”


Leonard for the win!

Thanks Leonard!

Joshua Brand for The Americans, “Do Mail Robots Dream Of Electric Sheep?” from FX Networks

Gordon Smith for Better Call Saul, “Five-O” from AMC

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for Game Of Thrones, “Mother’s Mercy” from HBO

Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner for Mad Men, “Lost Horizon” from AMC

Matthew Weiner for Mad Men, “Person To Person” from AMC

It could easily be “Game of Thrones” – that’s what the smart money says. But, uh, no. The final moment of “Mad Men” is yet another image in the annals of TV history, even for those non-fans of the show. Yes, I’m biased. But what else is new.

Winner: Matt Weiner, “Mad Men” “Person to Person”


Is the Chair hitting the bullseye?

Is the Chair hitting the bullseye?

“American Crime”

“American Horror Story: Freak Show”

“The Honorable Woman”

“Olive Kitteridge”

“Wolf Hall”

This is tricky. Long-form, limited and mini-series categories tend to reward the unexpected.   It could easily go to any of the five but I think it will be “Olive Kitteridge” because you’ve seldom seen a less sympathetic yet compelling dramatic female character on television that is not a vampire, lawyer, stuck in medieval times or a sex goddess. She’s just a plain woman who is really, really difficult. That’s tough to do and make compelling over several nights.

Winner: “Olive Kitteridge”


Timothy Hutton, “American Crime”

Ricky Gervais, “Derek Special”

Adrien Brody, “Houdini”

David Oyelowo, “Nightingale”

Richard Jenkins, “Olive Kitteridge”

Mark Rylance, “Wolf Hall”

I’ve had to do reading on this one since I’ve only seen a few of the nominees. The overwhelming consensus is…

Winner: David Oyelowo “Nightingale”


Wore denim to win her Tony #badassforlife

Wore denim to win her Tony #badassforlife

Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”

Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story”

Queen Latifah, “Bessie”

Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Honorable Woman”

Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge”

Emma Thompson, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street”

The winner should be Frances McDormand and hell, I’ll be honest, I’d bribe voters to make it so just to hear another one of her outrageously honest acceptance speeches. If you don’t know what I mean, pray that she wins. Though don’t be shocked if either Queen Latifah or Maggie Gyllenhall snatches it away at the last minute. But also pray they don’t.

Winner: Frances McDormand “Olive Kitteridge”


No arguments here!

No arguments here!

Richard Cabral, “American Crime”

Denis O’Hare, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”

Finn Wittrock, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”

Michael Kenneth Williams, “Bessie”

Bill Murray, “Olive Kitteridge”

Damian Lewis, “Wolf Hall”

Everyone seems to believe it’s going to be Bill Murray and having watched “Olive” I would not be disappointed. But I’m going out on a limb here and say any straight actor who can pull off playing a repressed gay effete homicidal killer named Dandy and not come off as an inaccurate and/or offensive stereotype deserves this award and more. Not to mention, he was hilariously awful.

Winner: Finn Wittrock “American Horror Story: Freak Show”


For the Emmys.. two heads may be better than one

For the Emmys.. two heads may be better than one

Regina King, “American Crime”

Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”

Angela Bassett, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”

Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Freak Show”

Mo’Nique, “Bessie”

Zoe Kazan, “Olive Kitteridge”

In the spirit of the above, any actress who can play conjoined twins and not only believably evoke two very separate personalities but endure all of the green screen and body doubles she undoubtedly had to contend with needs this statuette. Not to mention, Sarah Paulson has been one of the unsung heroes of each season of “American Horror” and has never gotten the award.

Winner: Sarah Paulson “American Horror Story: Freak Show”



“The Amazing Race”

“Dancing With The Stars”

“Project Runway”

“So You Think You Can Dance”

“Top Chef”

“The Voice”

How do you resist this category? I have no idea. So here’s the thing – “The Amazing Race” usually wins though 2 years ago “The Voice” deservedly stole it away. Fine, then considers most of the voters are in the industry and in their hearts become insecure again once they make the bolder choice, let’s go back to –

Winner: “The Amazing Race”


Really Chairy?

Really Chairy?

“The Colbert Report”

“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”

“Jimmy Kimmel Live”

“Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”

“Late Show With David Letterman”

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”

All the usual suspects – which is why I believe the freshest and least usual will win. John Oliver is not only funny and smart but the unlikeliest of hosts to not only be able to substitute for Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” while he was away directing a movie but to front his own once a week comic news commentary on HBO – not Comedy Central.

Winner: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”


All Hail Amy!

All Hail Amy!

“Drunk History”

“Inside Amy Schumer”

“Key & Peele”


“Saturday Night Live”

I’m only including this category for one reason. To give my vote to our much deserved comic gal of the moment –

Winner: “Inside Amy Schumer”


“Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Curtain, Poirot’s Last Case”


“Grace of Monaco”

“Hello Ladies: The Movie”

“Killing Jesus”


Should the television movie and limited series (which are often movies in several parts) be separated in different categories? Oh, who knows. Well, it’s not going to be “Grace of Monaco,” that much is for sure. The Academy has traditionally always loved a good Agatha Christie – which is why my vote goes to the Bessie Smith biopic. Queen Latifah playing the bisexual blues singer, a topless scene of her sitting at her makeup table and Mo’Nique playing her best frenemy Ma Rainey – are you surprised this gets my vote???

Winner: “Bessie”

… and you didn’t think I forgot…



Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”

Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline”

Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”

Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”

Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”

Uh, seriously?


(Note: He’s been nominated all 7 years of the series and has never won for breathing life into one of television’s most complex and iconic characters – Don Draper. This is the voting morons’ last chance to make good. And THEY WILL).



And no – I didn’t include the directing categories. The list got too long and writers too often get dropped in favor of directors on these lists.   Don’t feel bad. The directors have a much more powerful union and better residuals.

Okay – will check back after it airs. And remember:



The End of the World As We Know It…

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It was 103 degrees in Los Angeles for several days this past week – a kind of hot, humid and stagnantly breezy heat we softies out on the left coast are unused to. Take a scalding, steamy shower with the door closed and then put your blow dryer on high and walk into it. That’s the best way I can describe it. And if you’re a young guy who can’t relate to blow dryers because you have one of those stupid side buzz cuts, just take my word for it and wear a hat. Please.

How do we make this go away?

How do we make this go away?

I suppose anyone with my receding hairline shouldn’t be criticizing the hip and happening pate of the moment, but someone has to. It’s like you all started shaving your head from the sides on the go with a portable electric razor but then, while walking by Nordstrom’s men’s cosmetics counter, a rack full of product fell off a loose shelf onto your head and all of the remaining hair on the top that you didn’t get to. Forget what the stylists are saying. In 20 years you will look back at these photos with a horror that we men of a certain age (Okay, me) now reserve for snapshots of us in leisure suits and Nik-Nik shirts. Trust me.

Dear God.

Dear God.

If I sound a bit annoyed, well – perhaps I am. It’s tiring to see the Republican Apprentice being cheered by yahoos at pep rallies all over the country as simultaneously one of the most brilliant and experienced women to ever surface in American political life gets pummeled daily in the public town square for using the wrong email. Why so many people have such a hard time believing a 67-year-old couldn’t quite understand the process of wiping her personal server clean (Note: Her “with a cloth?” answer sounded right to me), much less compute ahead of time the ramifications of owning one for convenience is beyond me. I’m not quite her age but at this point I’d buy almost anything for convenience – especially if I had a job where I had to deal with one commercial airliner, much less all of them, as I traveled all over the world on a daily basis. And that’s without even factoring in hair, make-up or jet lag. What a frickin’ nightmare.

Let’s face it, contemporary life has become a nightmare. Summer is winding down, we’ve just passed the 14th anniversary of 9/11 and the Presidential race, still a year away, has surpassed the reality show Paddy Chayefsky warned us about in Network. To make matters, worse, this is happening in 100 plus degree September weather all over the country as newscasters gleefully warn us of mammoth storms and tides and floods and pestilence and maybe even showers of frogs to come.


Sidebar: My favorite part of the ongoing political fights these days are the tweets and comments pop songwriters are sending out when the likes of The Republican Apprentice or Kentucky’s own new favorite daughter, born-again, gay marriage eschewing country clerk Kim Davis, dare to appropriate their material as theme songs. When Kim flounced out of jail to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” current frontman Frankie Sullivan posted on the band’s Facebook page:

NO! We did not grant Kim Davis any rights to use ‘My Tune – The Eye Of the Tiger.’ I would not grant her the rights to use Charmin!

A cease and desist letter from the group’s lawyer followed.

But even better was what happened after the R.A. (that’s Republican Apprentice, again) decided it would be the height of irony to walk out to one of his frenzied crowds as REM’s “It’s End of the World as We Know It” blared.

Said REM guitarist Mike Mills: Personally, I think the Orange Clown will do anything for attention. I hate giving it to him.

To which REM frontman Michael Stipe added: Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you–you sad, attention grabbing, power-hungry little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.

But imagine a world where one’s choice of entertainment has to coincide with your political and social beliefs? Well, frankly, I’d be fine. I could happily give up Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Chuck Norris and Kid Rock. Yes, I’d miss the occasional Meat Loaf (Note: The singer, not the roast) but other than that – really, I’d be good.

You can go too (we'll keep the Chair)

You can go too (we’ll keep the Chair)

As for the other side – well, stop to think about it. How much would THEY miss? How much would you pay NOT to have to go a fundraiser where Ted Nugent plays the main stage and Jessica Simpson does the lounge show? Or even vice-versa?

To my friends on the other side (yes, I do have some) – think about this. You’ve got Vince Vaughn and we have Tom Hanks. Doesn’t that tell you something? Did you even see the second season of True Detective?

Not to mention, we have Cate Blanchett brilliantly playing a lesbian in the upcoming love story Carol, along with Eddie Redmayne portraying Lili Elbe, one of the first transsexuals on record (in the early 1900s) in the soon-to-be-released The Danish Girl to look forward to. Of course, this has to counter our most public transgender woman in contemporary life, Caitlyn Jenner (Note: Though actually, she’s yours), going on Ellen DeGeneres’ show last week and not quite fully committing in favor of gay marriage and the R.A.’s continued national bashing of one our most famous contemporary lesbians, Rosie O’Donnell, in a presidential debate non-sequitur weeks before. Is there a yin and yang to all of that?



Well, one can only hope that Lily Tomlin wins the Oscar for her terrific performance as a deliciously bitter lesbian poet in Grandma to put us one step ahead on that score. And yeah, it can happen – go see the movie. And if you’re still not convinced and have already decided to root for Cate in a film you haven’t yet seen, why don’t you table it for just a few more years and give it to her for portraying Lucille Ball in the upcoming Lucy-Desi biopic Aaron Sorkin is writing. No, I’m not kidding.

I suppose this disproves the idea that it’s all a nightmare, even though sometimes it can seem so. Speaking of which, there are only two movies among the thousands I’ve seen (Note: I use to be a film critic) that have ever given me nightmares.

One was Requiem for A Dream, a harrowing tale of drug addiction based on the novel by Hubert Selby, Jr. and co-written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Mr. Aronofsky is for my money one of the 10 best American directors working today and if his first film Pi, a thoroughly original visual masterwork of paranoia in black & white, was too esoteric for some he proved with Requiem that by using more recognizable characters from everyday life in a realistic yet still somewhat stylized setting he could disturb us even more.   The image of Jennifer Connelly rolling around in a boxing ring will haunt me till the end of my days – of that I am at least 98% sure of.

I bet you thought I was going to post a picture of Jennifer.. nope... Jon Hamm is single #couldntresist #myhappyplace

I bet you thought I was going to post a picture of Jennifer.. nope… Jon Hamm is single #couldntresist #myhappyplace

The second was the original The Last House on the Left. It came out in 1972 and was a graphically nasty little movie about two girls who decide to get stoned on the way to a rock concert and are brutally tortured by a gang of escaped convicts, who in turn get brutally tortured by the grieving parents of one of the gals. It was so real and so horrible my group of friends who I dragged to it on the basis of an over-the-top ad my teenage self spied in the newspaper in 1972 wouldn’t talk to me for a week.

Notably, that movie was the first feature directed by the late West Craven, who went on to direct some of the most famous horror franchises of our era, including the original Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies. Mr. Craven, by all accounts a gentle, intelligent and quite erudite person in real life, died several weeks ago at the age of 76 – which might seem old to some of you but no longer feels ancient to your average baby boomer (even someone on the very low end of boomer status such as myself).

The twisted and delightful legend.

The twisted and delightful legend.

In any event, among Mr. Craven’s many other credits was 1999’s Music of the Heart, which starred Meryl Streep in the real life story of a schoolteacher who struggled to teach the violin to inner city kids in Harlem. Yeah, it was a bit old-fashioned but despite what you might have heard it’s watchable, sincere and sweet. It also goes to show that even those who create the sickest and most diabolically twisted images dialogue and manufactured story lines in the zeitgeist could have the potential for a sweet, sincere and inspiring side.

One wishes Mr. Craven was still around for many reasons – but one of them being to scare straight some of the sickies among us now polluting the public square and monopolizing the airwaves as they jam up the zeitgeist with a newer and more potent brand of their own toxicity. He could explain to them that just because the public is buying the crap that you’re making and selling doesn’t mean that you can’t evolve to something a little bit better that will last longer and that you can be proud of.

That Ole’ Time Religion

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 11.31.30 AM

This will be brief.

Kim Davis, the county clerk from Kentucky who went to jail for contempt of court rather than to do what her job required her to do – issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples that bear her name and job title – was released from jail on Tuesday. To a big crowd of supporters waving large white crosses and chanting hymns. And in the presence of both her lawyer and the potential Republican presidential candidate and former AK Gov. Mike Huckabee. The latter could be seen standing behind Ms. Davis, lightly touching her shoulder periodically as she stood next to her attorney, lest anyone not be entirely sure of his unyielding support.

Oh, and this was all done as Eye of the Tiger played in the background.

What a world we live in.


I watched this late Tuesday morning from the chair in my dentist’s office as he was preparing to finish doing a root canal on a badly infected tooth I came in with last week. My dentist, whose family is from the Middle East and who has a Muslim background, was too busy taking care of his two Jewish patients – myself and the woman who came in right after me – to notice what CNN was broadcasting. When I brought it to his attention he shook his head in disgust and said, you know this is all the same – Christians, Muslims, Jews all have these reactionary people who think they have the answer and have the right to dictate to everyone else.

I’ve heard my dentist’s thoughts uttered many times – by ME (not only a Jew but a gay Jew to boot). I have the sense that the straight Jewish woman in the next room – with whom I exchanged eyeglass stories with only minutes before – has also spoken similarly. As have numerous observant Christian friends of mine (Note: Imagine that, I actually have some observant Christian friends). Not to mention a few Conservative people I know and like who have gone out of their way to say this kind of stuff to me – lest I think even for a second they’re buying the nonsense Ms. Davis and Mr. Huckabee are peddling.

Can't fight the facts Ms. Davis

Can’t fight the facts Ms. Davis

This fight is not about religious freedom, try as they might to make it so. It is about an obstinate, publicity-seeking woman whose archaic point of view has been marginalized to the point of being irrelevant to the more inclusive changing tides of American society. This, of course, is being shrouded in knee-jerk reactionary rhetoric by Ms. Davis, her like-minded, dwindling minority of compatriots and political opportunists like Mr. Huckabee and current Texas senator and otherwise presidential candidate Ted Cruz. (Note: He was also at Ms. Davis’ rally but was iced out of her nuclear family photo-op circle by Mr. Huckabee’s advance team).

I know I’m on the winning side of a fight when I find that the views of myself and other liberals – which in this case are as mainstream as a Spielberg movie – coincide with yet a third potential Republican presidential candidate – the quite conservative Carly Fiorina.


I actually contributed money some years ago to the senate race in California for Barbara Boxer just to ensure in my small way that there was no way she could lose to her challenger, Ms. Fiorina – a woman whose views on finance, labor and pretty much everything in the world at large I loathe. Still, anyone can surprise you at any moment and I certainly was surprised when I heard Ms. Fiorina say that Ms. Davis’ issue came down to whether or not she would do the job she was hired to do.

To paraphrase – and this is me taking the ball from Carly – Ms. Davis’ religious beliefs are irrelevant here. Her employer is the government and she was elected as county clerk to uphold government laws. The law of the land is that gays and lesbians are allowed to get married across the U.S., including in her state and district, and thus her office is in charge of issuing marriage licenses to them. These official licenses require the signature of the county clerk so Ms. Davis has two choices – to do her job or not to do her job. If she believes she is unable to fulfill the duties of her office then she needs to find another employer – not sue said employer for requiring her to do what she was hired to do.

Societal laws are fluid and always changing. Presumably, so are we as human beings. This is the nature of life. If Ms. Davis finds this not to be in her nature, this does not make her a courageous warrior in the name of God. It makes her an intransigent, irresponsible bigot who refuses to live in reality and prefers to hold the rest of her state – and country – captive in the name of a false idol. Herself.