10 Focus Points on the ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Premiere

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Are you ready for the show? The American Horror Story Freak Show that is. FX’s horror anthology starts up today and all of the regulars are back including Jessica Lange as the Impresario “Elsa Mars”, Evan Peters as the “Lobster Boy” Jimmy Darling, Sarah Paulson as the “Fearsome Twins” Bette and Dot Tatler, Kathy Bates as the “Amazing Bearded Lady” Ethel Darling, Frances Conroy as the “Socialite” Gloria Mot. The story is set in Jupiter, Florida in 1952. Elsa Mars owns the struggling show, and brings her band of curiosities to set ground and hopefully revive its popularity and fill the tents with money-spilling patrons. But there is darkness emerging from the flaps of the tents as well. After seeing the premiere, here are a few things we can tease and preview about the first episode and the season. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers.

1. Darker Tone and More Ambiguity
One of the things I enjoyed about Asylum (my favorite season so far) so much is it that it rarely showed its cards. Characters that were villainous eventually became heroes. Heroes had to do terrible things to survive and carry on. It’s been said prior to the season that Freak Show would be closer to Asylum but it is very much like that but you are assaulted with so much visually that you might not notice. Whereas Asylum was the end game where all that was misunderstood or mistreated was sent to. The Freak Show is the one fragile place where these people are either admired or accepted. Coven was so campy and Murder House was such a tip of the hat to horror films but when those seasons got derailed for an episode or two, you could really tell. The first and third seasons were so simple in their structure once the rules were laid out, especially Coven. But like Asylum, Freak Show will try to challenge you week to week. Sometimes you don’t know what to feel for a character. Sometimes you’ll be horrified and need a good break to walk away for a bit. You’ll need time to digest Freak Show as the more it sits with you, the more it blossoms.

2. Lots of Moving Parts
After seeing three seasons of American Horror Story, the premiere episode of each is filled with a lot of moving parts. This one is no different. There are lots of characters to introduce and this set is more complex than last year’s Coven, where characters were straight forward. What you saw is what you got. Don’t be surprised if the premiere of Freak Show is a lot to handle. There are character introductions, establishing motives and roles, and it’s all still unclear at the end and that’s an exciting place to be. Characters will be coming in and out as usual, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see all of the principal players yet. As for thematically, the freak show and its performers are definitely under the magnifying glass, but so are the outsiders who come to view it. Some are fascinated, others are there to break from the monotony of their day in Jupiter, but then there’s a level of judgement or worship that’s in play too. Again, it’s more complex like Asylum in that way.

The hashtag for the show is #WeAreAllFreaks and #SirWindAlleFreaks so keep that in mind as an undercurrent of the season.

3. Send in the Clown
From the new opening credits to the promos, it should come as no surprise that that clowns will be a big part of this season. If you are mildly frightened by the sight of clowns, then dig your heels in and prepare for some nightmares to haunt your sleep. You are going to be watching this season through the spaces in between your fingers as they try to shield your eyes. Another similarity to Asylum is the multiple layers that weave in and out of each other. Like the Bloody Face B story that ran simultaneously to the A story in Asylum, John Carroll Lynch is unrecognizable as an antagonist whose motives are unclear that will leave you shaking in the corner of your house.

4. Be prepared for a show
This is a freak show, with an emphasis on the “show”. So be prepared to see performances, including song and dance numbers. In the first episode, the Ethel Darling (Kathy Bates) tells another character, “We perform for our food,” and remember that Ryan Murphy is the creator of Glee. The impetus of this might have been born in Asylum when Jessica Lange led a memorable rendition of the “Name Game” in a hallucinogenic mind twister of an episode. Except it’s not just some mental fabrication, in Freak Show it is THE show, so if you love that stuff, you are in for a treat.

5. Pump Up the Volume
There’s a lot of whispering going on between characters in the first episode and Elsa Mars (Lange) speaks English with a German accent that can be hard to make out some words because she’s talking at such a low volume. I’m not sure if it was the audio mix that needs to be tinkered with but try to find that balance of James Levine’s eerily screeching score and being able to hear Lange’s soft spoken words.

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6. Coming of Age
This is Ryan Murphy we’re talking about so he will always put sex as one of themes of AHS, as it is something that can be both pleasurable and horrifying depending on the nature is it’s carried out. Here we aim to see what sex with a variety of freak show performers are like. Since these are social pariahs, many of them don’t get to experience love and sex in ways that is “normal” to outsiders. For some, their oddity is something that could pique the sexual curiosity of the outsider or tent fellows. So that is going to be explored for sure in both fascinating and arousing ways.

7. Yes, you will love Jessica Lange again
As if there was any doubt. Elsa Mars is harder to instantaneously embrace than Fiona, or feared as Sister Jude, or is as divine as Constance but she’s in full glamour and is the ring leader of this freak show. She’s a survivor though,  backs down to no one, and she is always in control of the scene, except when she’s not. You’ll see what I mean soon enough.

8. Jessica vs. Conroy
These two always have a relationship that’s full of friction and you can be sure to see it again in this season. It’s brief in the premiere, but I can’t wait for these two charging at each other with their horns again and again.

9. The Return of Pepper
One of the freaks of the show is played by Naomi Grossman, who reprises her role as Pepper who you might remember as one of the beloved inmates of Briarcliff Mental Institution is Asylum, which was set in the 1960’s. Well, Grossman underwent the massive transformation once again and it should be fun seeing what eventually got her landed in Briarcliff.

10. Two Sarah Paulsons for the Price of One
AHS showcases Paulson’s talent like no other show of movie and here we get double the dose as she plays the Tatler twins. While her characters typically have a duality or an internal struggle, it is personified into two separate people. There is a lot they play with when it comes to showing perspectives, framing Paulson in shot, depending on which twin is speaking or thinking or is looking.

We’d tell you more, but why ruin the fun? It’s filled with freaks, geeks, and creeps – both made up and real. One thing is made clear. Never underestimate anyone. That goes for seasons too. So the premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show is a lot to take in, but if it’s modeled after Asylum, we can’t to see it unfold further. Bring on the next act!

American Horror Story: Coven Finale – Who will reign Supreme?

With one more episode of American Horror Story: Coven remaining, the final piece to that story is who is the new Supreme? The one who becomes the new leader must pass the Seven Wonders or die trying. Those tests are: Concilium (Mind Control), Telekinesis (Moving things with Mind) Transmutation (Teleportation), Divination (Clairvoyance), Vitalium Vitalis (Resurgence), Decensum (Passing through Realms of the Afterlife), Pyrokinesis (Spontaneous Ignition). Here are those in play as well as their odds.

THE PLAYERS

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Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) – 3-5 odds
If we judged books by their cover then we would have had Queenie all wrong from the start. Even Fiona underestimated Queenie. The former fried chicken cook showed more potential in the last two episodes than the rest of the field for most of the season. She saw Laveau as selfish, Fiona too, early on. Queenie’s displayed an impressive new set of skills and her mastery of the voodoo magic gave her one power over all of the other witches including Fiona. She had compassion for Delphine LaLaurie when she had every reason not to. Sure Queenie had fun with her own personal slave, but she tried to use her time to do some good and redeem the monster. It wasn’t until she killed Hank and survived that she became a real threat to the other witches. She’s also impressed Papa Legba with her ability to bounce between realms and is taking an active role in learning other skills.

Known Powers: Decensum, Vitalium Vitalis, Voodoo Magic

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Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) – 4-5 odds on spiritual merge with Fiona; 1-1 odds without Fiona
The baddest bitch of the bunch and Supreme in the mold of Fiona. Madison showed incredible telekinesis in flipping over the frat bus and Fiona feared her the most when she was able to pick up concilium and pyrokinesis without any effort. In fact all of her powers have been natural extensions of her cruelest and ruthless personality. But she was never destined to be the Supreme early on because of a heart murmur but Misty fixed that. It might not please many fans that Madison could win, but she gives a cynical ending that seems more in line with what Ryan Murphy or Brad Falchuk would want to leave us with. She’s the one witch to show off transmutation and has nearly performed all of seven wonders already with the exception of divination and decensum. Madison could be one of the many who die trying to perform decennium too. Or… perhaps Madison is so similar to Fiona that her spirit is able to take possession of her in some way and becomes a vehicle for the last Supreme.

Known Powers: Concilium, Transmutation, Telekinesis, Pyrokinesis, Vitalium Vitalis (through spell)

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Misty Day (Lily Rabe) – 3-1 odds
Misty was the early frontrunner and fan favorite to take the crown after displaying great powers of resurgence, but she is no longer unique as others have begun to find ways to resurrect the dead in their own unique ways. Myrtle Snow believed her to be the next Supreme but she might have been lost in one of her latest ramblings of fashion or food. Misty certainly deserves it because she is her own person, she went out of her way to help others, strangers even and she’s never been thirsty for the Supreme role, giving the coven an honorable leader. She’s just happy to be with others like her. If nothing else, Misty deserves it for kicking the crap out of Madison and she’s getting more protective of the coven. It’s hard to root against Misty since she’s a scene stealer and Rabe has yet to play a role that has seen the end of the season. Could the most innocent of characters be the Supreme? Well, she’s probably Stevie Nicks’ (who is coming back to likely perform Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders”) choice.

Known Powers: Vitalium Vitalis, Telekinesis

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Zoe Benison (Taissa Farmiga) – 10-1 odds
She’s made the statement that she is the next Supreme, but who actually believes it? Zoe’s toyed with witchcraft for most of the season, looking up spells and such but she’s spent most of the season as a peacemaker and righting her wrongs in fixing Kyle. She did bring back the Axeman back to the living and discovered the truths about who killed Nan, so she’s shown she is capable of more. She broke Laveau’s zombie spell and that took some serious power. The way the story has funneled from the premiere into the finale, the writers want us to believe Zoe’s the next leader but it would be disappointing considering how some of the other characters have been developed better throughout the entire season.

Known Powers: Vitalium Vitalis, Black Widow, toyed with Decensum through spell in bringing back the Axeman.

THE WILD CARDS

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Nan (Jamie Brewer) – 20-1 odds
Nan was the innocent sacrifice offered to Papa Legba in exchange for Marie Laveau’s immortality to continue. Her witch abilities and powers were growing in strength before she was murdered as shown in her controlling Joan Ramsay into poisoning herself with bleach. It would be a longshot for Legba to bring Nan back as an act of kindness but with the immortals imprisoned in hell with him, is there a reason for Legba to hold onto Nan? She’s the one witch who died and has yet to return, which that alone gives her some consideration for a grand re-entrance as a big underdog.

Known Powers: Concilium, Divination, Telekinesis

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Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) – 200-1 odds
It wouldn’t be too wild a finale if there’s a slaughtering of all of the young witches and the one left living is the most delightful of them all. We haven’t seen her unleash any major powers of late since she restored Cordelia her eyesight, but she’s always cooking up something. Secretly she probably wishes she could be the Supreme even for one day, but we see it happening only if there is a massacre. She’s unlikely to reign supreme, but she is expected to have a hand in the outcome once she decides who she wants as the next leader.

Known Powers: ??

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Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulson) – 100-1 odds
Her time was said to have come and gone. Fiona has said repeatedly that she has power but never pushed herself to use it correctly. That said, there’s little chance Delia is the one. She’s only recently discovered her abilities to see the truth and the future; she has also exhibited no signs that her power outside her divination is growing at the rate of the young witches. Like Myrtle, Delia would only be a candidate if everyone else is slaughtered. Plus, the few rules of American Horror Story are such that returning actors play a completely different role than the previous season. She was the last one standing in Asylum, so again, that’s another sure sign she’s not the next Supreme. But then again, her early dismissal makes her a big wild card if her ability to see the future allows her to invoke other powers. She is the daughter of the Supreme and there’s those who suspect clues in the opening credit sequence have pegged her Supreme from the start.

Known Powers: Divination, Telekinesis

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Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) – 15-1 odds
That’s right. We don’t believe that Fiona is completely dead, at least until we see her remain dead while the end credits roll. Now it would undermine the hack and slash job by the Axeman and the (debatable) integrity of the season, but we think there is still a strong possibility she returns in some form or makes one last attempt at coming through to the other side. Could she still be working with the Axeman in a way to have a spell be cast where they terrorize the competition? The Axeman is proof in coming back after being an unsettled spirit and might have shown Fiona how to stay in a state to watch over  the coven and figure out a way to possess one of our candidates (like the aforementioned Madison). Or she might have found a way to cleverly use her power of decensum while the Axeman chopped up her body.

Known Powers: All except voodoo

If the previous 12 episodes have shown us anything, it’s that anything can and will happen in the finale. There are sure to be twists and surprises and we’ll probably see the immortals, Laveau and LaLaurie at least once. Papa Legba is sure to weigh in. Spalding too. That’s what makes any of the above to be a potential Supreme witch. Who do you think will reign supreme? Watch tonight’s season finale, “The Seven Wonders” of American Horror Story: Coven on FX at 10pm EST/PST and 9PM Central.

‘American Horror Story: Coven’ 3.12 Review: Three Blind Mice

AHS 312 The Coven

With the showdown with the witch hunters behind them, the penultimate episode of American Horror Story: Coven, “Go to Hell” wisely put the focus on the search for the next Supreme. But before that could start, the series had to deal with Fiona (Jessica Lange), the current reigning leader of the coven and unresolved matters stemming from last week’s schizophrenic episode, “Protect the Coven.”

Saying this was a restoration to peak form for American Horror Story would be an understatement. This episode was full of the tight, seamless storytelling we’ve celebrated for much of the series, with plenty of in-your-face moments, gushing rivers of gore and intrigue into which one of the witches is powerful enough to pass the Seven Wonders or die trying and that’s exactly what Fiona wanted to happen. Plus Madison (Emma Roberts) got a royal thumping by Misty Day (Lily Rabe), fulfilling one of the most anticipated moments of he season.

On top of her weekly snooping, Fiona knew that the wonders would reveal her successor; if her cancer-ridden body could live to see the day, she would make sure that witch dies to absorb their power to continue on as the Supreme. But with the chance of losing the race with the reaper, Fiona was surprisingly admirable, and made an attempt to take care of her matters and that would ironically, be her downfall.

By affirming Cordelia’s (Sarah Paulson) powers were always within her and perhaps amplifying that act by passing along her mother’s necklace to her own daughter, Fiona helped restore Delia’s second sight. Not only could she see the truth with one touch, now she saw a future where Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Madison, Misty, Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), and even Cordelia herself were murdered at the hands of her mother. It took a long road to get here, but Cordelia was a player again.

The Supreme was going to stay the course and use the Axeman (Danny Huston) to carry out her dirty work once again. But what Coven showed us thus far, is that people do not change, (as we’ll delve into Delphine later) and no one escapes punishment. Fiona was irresponsible, selfish and negligent as a mother and Supreme. For someone who could contemplate killing their own daughter, her followers, and leaving behind her psychopath lover, she is not only a witch, but a wicked one at that. And in passing on her mother’s necklace to Cordelia, she may have passed on her taste for vengeance.

As far as we know it today, Fiona’s final moments included fixing herself a drink and about to go into another story of yesteryear while arrogantly turning her back on a broken-hearted axeman. It encapsulates everything she did to the coven for all of those years after being absent as a leader. I won’t say it’s the last we’ve seen of her. There’s always that possibility given the power of the Supreme, but if not, it would be a fitting end.

AHS 312 Queenie

Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) reinvented herself as a tour guide to her own home after knocking out Marie (Angela Bassett). It’s amazing what a makeover and some revisionist work can do! In that period, she might have made a sequel to About Schmidt. Ironically, no one commented on the striking resemblance of the tour guide with the painting of the madame of the house. So much for being immortalized.

Was LaLaurie’s tale supposed to be redemptive? I doubt it. Check the title of the series. Isn’t it more of a “horror” story that after a repugnant character is shown their crimes, ignorance, and monstrous acts against humanity, she refused to change?I think the line where the tourist asked, “When do we get to see the attic torture chamber?” it’s shows that people don’t want to hear about the good stuff. No one cared to see Delphine redeem herself. People just want to remember the bad. Delphine may have made a point that repenting for one’s sins are a modern day joke, but sadly, there are still many that live their life this way:

LaLaurie: I won’t profess to be sorry, because I’m not! You made me weep… for the state of this world, a world of lies, that makes promises it cannot keep–to tell a colored man that he can be equal to a white man? There’s a cruelty, I’m not going anywhere.

Ignorance can be tolerated. Intolerance is another thing. At that point, Queenie used her growing powers to reach out to Papa Legba (Lance Reddick) and most of all, her smarts, to figure out that the most vile character on television was vulnerable.  Queenie tried though, and that showed great strength on her part to try and save Delphine’s soul. At some point though, a lost cause, is a lost cause. But I believe her story leaves a greater impact than Delphine’s mutilations.

Some would say that there was no growth to Fiona, Delphine, or Marie, and I’d acknowledge that to a degree, but I would rather look at the honesty maintained by each character rather than being overcome by some epiphany of sudden saint hood. The day we met Fiona, she was looking for a way to escape aging and death. Yes, she was already dying of cancer, and tried to give up control of her life for love, but dammit, this woman wanted to live, and live life hard – by any means necessary.

Delphine was a miserable excuse for a human being, and all of the centuries of hate and torture couldn’t be erased with movie marathons to cleanse one’s soul. Delphine’s eternity spent in hell with Papa Legba and Marie might be enough for viewers, but anything imaginable is letting her off too lightly.

As for Marie, she was clouded with her own desire to live forever, as the other women who we believe to have perished in this episode. She protected her own unlike Fiona, but suffered the consequences of being too proud. Her ongoing act of kindness could not outweigh the annual heinous act of sacrifice.

Chasing immortality and arrogance made the three mice blind, so it’s only right that Cordelia and Queenie make it right. There’s no telling if any of them will stay dead, but the finale could be the cattiest royal rumble we’ve ever seen and before we lay down our bets on who comes out on top, we’ll leave with a quote from the former Supreme.

Fiona to the Axeman: You have been the most delightful distraction

‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Episode 3.11 Review: Toil, Tone and Trouble

American Horror Story: Coven Season 3 Episode 11: Protect The Coven

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The battle between the witches and the witch hunters shook down in “Protect the Coven” and it was over before it started. Fiona (Jessica Lange) and Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) managed to arrange a meeting with Harrison Renard (Michael Cristopher) and his firm at a posh executive conference room. Sitting across from Renard and flanked by four of his goons, they offered the witches a 100-year truce with no hunting during that time – a laughable insult to the Supreme and her new bestie.

Their counter-offer of an indefinite cease-fire, plus mansion and private jet service were disregarded quicker than you can peel-and-eat a Louisiana crawfish, prompting the Axeman (Danny Huston) to make short work of the conference room. It was one of the goriest scenes you’ll see this winter–and it was such a guilty pleasure play out. Seriously, how rare is it that we get to see a man hack the hand off of one guy, and then use severed hand, which is still armed, to shoot another? And I couldn’t be the only one to hoot when the 64-year-old Lange swung the final blood-gushing blow. It was par for the course for the episode, which included the creepiest scene to date with Spalding (Denis O’Hare), Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) gouging her eyes out with pruning shears and not just the sight of Madame LaLaurie’s (Kathy Bates) very first “human experiment” but her latest with one of Fiona’s hired helpers.

I guess the 1900 minutes of watching Roots (original + Next Generation), Mandingo, and B*A*P*S did nothing to persuade our dear Delphine to see the light. Admittedly though, these scenes are getting harder to sit through and maybe that shakes out any hope for redemption for LaLaurie. She’s done too much and could live her entire immortal life never seeing the wrong she inflicted on so many. Watching those films might have enlightened her and make her less ignorant, but that doesn’t absolve her of her sins nor does it change the way she thinks. I can buy that, but what consequences has she suffered for her horrible acts? Getting to kill her zombie-fied daughter?

Finding new and indelible ways to make soup? Maybe whatever change we thought we might be seeing probably evaporated when Queenie turned her over to Laveau. Seeing the reversal in LaLaurie isn’t a surprise, but it was deflating, especially when we had to sit through another torture scene, but this wasn’t the only problem with this episode.

“Protect the Coven” was so schizophrenic, as if it were a composite of several short films from different directors. In addition to the above, there was the recurring jazzy noir scene between Fiona and the Axeman plotting against the other witches, then the aforementioned board room massacre. But in the episode’s second segment, we stepped inside Madame LaLaurie’s mind–for the first time in the series–as she narrates and details both her depressing existence and how her habit of dismembering blacks goes deeper than skin color. A greenhouse scene between Myrtle Snow (Frances Conroy) and Zoe (Taissa Farmiga) continued some of the fabulous work by Conroy from the previous episode, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks,” and sounds of the theremin. Let me stress that nothing was wrong with any of these scenes separately, but there was no connection to one another, which tends to happen occasionally when you have two dozen ongoing subplots.

But that isn’t new to Murphy and company (in particular, the usually excellent Jennifer Salt who wrote this episode); it’s common place to have a lot going on, but there’s usually a tighter or more artful composition in editing. So like Kyle, all of the parts work, but it’s all been put together haphazardly.

Then there was the final scene which was an emotional tug of war between Zoe and Kyle on their bed as she was trying to persuade him to runaway with her on orders by Myrtle. The oddest thing about this scene is it ends with Peters grabbing Farmiga at the head forcefully, and as she’s calming him down, it cuts to a scene styled after a Danny Boyle film, complete with electronica booming and no dialogue; the lovebirds sprint through a transit station to board a bus to Orlando. Fade to black. There are no happy or sugary sweet endings to any AHS character, so this wasn’t just some false sense of security, you can almost count on something terrible to happen next. Like what you may ask? I don’t know… maybe this?

Madison: As for you, Ken Doll. Putting you together was fun, but taking you apart is going to be even more fun.

But it never did, so it’s sure to be saved next week, but the tone of that scene as compared to everything else was so… off.

The witch hunter thread had hit a dead end, it was one of the least likable things about this season, and hopefully with it out of the way, Coven can use the final two episodes to get back to the real intrigue. Maybe we’ll find one of these witches to hitch our wagon onto that we’ll truly care about to pass the Seven Wonders. We all know there’s no hope for the coven–it’s a dysfunctional house full of immortal freaks (LaLaurie, Spalding, Laveau…) and selfish, but lovable catty bitches (Fiona, Madison, Queenie, and Myrtle Snow). Those who are on neither side–Cordelia, Zoe, and Misty– have been underdeveloped thus far. One bit of business that must be done immediately in the penultimate episode, “Go to Hell,” is to get Misty May out of that tomb.

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Double Toil and Trouble

• Marie Laveau’s inappropriate’s “Amens” get me laughing every time.

• This catty exchange at Nan’s funeral was one of the best recaps of the entire season:

Fiona: You’re alive?
Queenie to Laveau: Bitch! You left me for dead.
Laveau: Ohhh, girl, I thought you were. Oh, get yo ass over here!
LaLaurie: [Spits at Laveau] That’s for dismembering me!
Laveau: [Slaps LaLaurie] And that’s for coming back!

• I’m torn between choosing my favorite character this season but Conroy has made a strong push at the end with lines like these:

Myrtle Snow: Oh, figs are mother nature’s brown diamonds. In the fall, the rotting leaves smell like an Olympian’s ejaculate. Figgy pudding clears the blues and cures acne. I’m mad for it!”

• There’s a millinery shop in New Orleans that is making a fortune from making the variety of black hats for the show. At Nan’s burial, everyone sporting a new black hat, even Kyle who had a winter skull cap.

• The face that Evan Peters makes as Zoe was trying to find out what happened to Nan (above), is sure to become a fan favorite animated gif.

11 Focus Points on ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Episode 10: The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks

American Horror Story: Coven is shaping up to be one of the best seasons of AHS anthology so far – and, for some, a nice palette cleanser to Asylum.

Tonight, the series returns from its winter hiatus. All eyes are on Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) and Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett). There’s lots to look forward to after the mid-season finale. Hank went on his killing spree at Marie’s salon, which ended in a heroic farewell to Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe). Then, Marie took herself to see her sworn enemy – Fiona. The voodoo priestess has come to realize that the hunters are problems for both white and black witches.

Is the world ready for a Fiona-Marie team-up?

We’ve had a chance to check out Episode 10, “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks,” and a lot of questions have been answered, while more questions have opened up. Here are 10 Focus Points, spoiler free, from tonight’s episode:

– Get ready to learn a little more about Marie. Is she immortal? Why does she always seem angry? What torments Marie when she goes to sleep? “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” serves as a mini origin tale into the life of Marie. Plus, expect to see Marie flex her powers in a startling new way.

– Bargains will be made and prices will be paid. That’s all we’ll say about that.

– Stevie Nicks guest stars as the white witch. It’s like the Chronicles of Narnia converging on the Coven – well, not really. We’ll get two songs from the famed singer.

– Who is the next Supreme? It seems like every witch thinks that the next Supreme could be her. However, the main two candidates still appear to be Misty (Lily Rabe) and Madison (Emma Roberts). While we’re sure that Madison is not the next Supreme, she’s not letting it go – especially with everyone showing favor to Madison. The title of Supreme may come with a lot of gifts, but one thing’s for sure, the title of Supreme also comes with a giant target on your head. Queenie was misled by Fiona into believing that she was the next Supreme, and you saw what happened to Queenie.

– Mother and daughter drama continues to grow between Fiona and Cordelia (Sarah Paulson). Cordelia may have got her eyes back, but she’s got a whole slew of other problems now.

– You’ll see mice in a whole new way after this episode.

– Death will come from an unlikely source.

– The word “innocent” will be stretched, tarnished and broken.

– Expect a startling revelation about Fiona when she gets her Breaking Bad on.

[MINI SPOILERS BELOW]


– Harrison Renard may be gunning for the witches, but is he really safe in that big corporate office of his?

– A Civil War is brewing in the ranks of our young witches. And you can’t have a war without…

FX’s ‘Louie’ will make historic run at Emmys; ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’ earns 17 noms

Maybe, just maybe, Louis C.K. can do it. Bring home the Emmy for Best Comedy Series, that is.

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Comedian Louis C.K.’s free form FX show, Louie, got six Emmy nominations with its biggest score in the category for Outstanding Comedy Series. It was also nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor a Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (Melissa Leo) and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series (Susan E. Morse, A.C.E., Editor – (“Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2”).

This was the first time any basic cable show has been nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series and for once stop the domination of network comedies like Modern Family from taking all of the major awards in the comedy categories. Other basic cable comedies like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Psych, and Archer have long been ignored. Louie could bring some much needed attention to what basic cable has been churning out for years.

Louie wasn’t the only successful FX show to make a dent at the Emmy Nominations. American Horror Story: Asylum earned the most nominations of any show, with 17 nominations; nearly every major character was recognized. While many will debate its place within the “Movie or Mini-Series” categories, AHS: Asylum was one of the most cinematic series from this past year in television and Sarah Paulson was a breakout star, and of course, Jessica Lange was magnificent. The Americans also snagged two Emmy nominations, including Margo Martindale for Outstanding Guest Actress.

As usual there were plenty of shows that were overlooked especially Justified, Archer and Sons of Anarchy, but Netflix was a force this year with House of Cards, Hemlock Grove and Arrested Development in the comedy categories. The online streamer and movie mailer company garnered 14 nominations for their original content and have made a statement in the realm of original scripted content. None of the major networks (Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS) got a Emmy Nomination in any of the drama categories. PBS as a network earned 12 nominations, mostly for Downton Abbey.

Below are a list of the major acting categories and other major categories in Reality and Variety television.

DRAMA

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, Breaking Bad
Hugh Bonneville as Robert, Earl of Grantham, Downton Abbey
Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody, Homeland
Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood, House Of Cards
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Mad Men
Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy, The Newsroom

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates, Bates Motel
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, Homeland
Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, House Of Cards
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson, Mad Men
Connie Britton as Rayna James, Nashville
Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, Scandal

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Michael Douglas as Liberace, Behind The Candelabra
Matt Damon as Scott Thorson, Behind The Candelabra
Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock, The Girl
Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens, Parade’s End
Al Pacino as Phil Spector, Phil Spector

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
House of Cards
Mad Men

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Bobby Cannavale as Gyp Rosetti, Boardwalk Empire
Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut, Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage as Tyiron Lannister, Game of Thrones
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson, Homeland

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Anna Gunn as Skyler White, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess of Grantham, Downton Abbey
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockheart, The Good Wife
Morena Baccarin as Jessica Brody, Homeland
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris, Mad Men
Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney, 30 Rock

 

COMEDY

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Adam Driver as Adam Sackler, Girls
Jessie Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett, Modern Family
Ed O’Neill as Jay Pritchett, Modern Family
Ty Burrell as Phill Dunphy, Modern Family
Bill Hader as various characters, Saturday Night Live
Tony Hale as Gary Walsh, Veep

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler, The Big Bang Theory
Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester, Glee
Sofia Vergara as Gloria Pritchett, Modern Family
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy, Modern Family
Merritt Wever as Zoey Barkow, Nurse Jackie
Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer, Veep

Outstanding Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Girls
Louie
Modern Family
30 Rock
Veep

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth, Arrested Development
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory
Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan, House Of Lies
Louis C.K. as Louie, Louie
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, 30 Rock

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Laura Dern as Amy, Enlightened
Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath, Girls
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Parks And Recreation
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, Veep

REALITY & VARIETY

Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance
Anthony Bourdain, The Taste

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef
The Voice

Outstanding Variety Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show with Jon StewartJimmy Kimmel Live
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

MINISERIES OR MOVIE

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story: Asylum
Behind the Candelabra
The Bible
Phil Specter
Political Animals
Top of the Lake

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Jessica Lange as Sister Jude Martin, American Horror Story
Laura Linney as Cathy Jamison, The Big C
Helen Mirren as Linda Kenney-Baden, Phil Spector
Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish Hammond, Political Animals
Elisabeth Moss as Robin, Top Of The Lake

American Horror Story’s Franka Potente Says ‘Asylum’ is ‘Sick Stuff’

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Two weeks ago, Franka Potente (Copper) entered the Briar Cliff Manor, claiming to be Anne Frank (yes, THAT Anne Frank) and that Dr. Arden (played creepily by James Cromwell) was a Nazi war criminal, who performed experiments on young girls. That’s just a sliver of this wild, disturbing and unsettling season of American Horror Story: Asylum has in store for viewers.

Potente who is still fondly remembered for her starring role in Run Lola Run, saw more exposure with roles in Blow and the Jason Bourne films. Brief stints on The Shield, House M.D. and Psych opened television to her and she is currently a regular on BBC America’s Copper, which just got picked up for Season 2. Potente is also working on her first fiction novel. We recently spoke briefly with Potente on a conference call about this juicy role and some of the elements about AHS that make it so compelling. (This is a warning if you’re not caught up on American Horror Story: Asylum)

EDITOR’S PICK: Why the AMERICAN HORROR STORY Season 3 Renewal Should Inspire more TV Anthologies

Potente found out she would be playing Anne Frank if she had survived the Holocaust in Asylum just a week or two before she shot her scenes. Creator Ryan Murphy wanted to create something out of nothing, based on the thought, ‘what would Frank be like if she was alive, if she had survived, and what would drive her?’ She’s not sure why Murphy chose Frank, but if someone came back a was accusing Dr. Arden of being a Nazi, Potente said, “It couldn’t be anybody.  It had to be Anne Frank.” We all found out last night that she was actually a woman suffering from schizophrenia, and was deeply affected by the Diary.

BuzzFocus: Franka, could you talk about the ambiguity of the characters on Asylum and that theme. What’s your take on that switch (in trust or faith) for the audience as well as an actor playing out the role? Characters come into Briar Cliff and then are not what we think they are.

FP: That’s the fun of it of course, you know. It’s kind of the Hitchcock moment of, “is it possible?” and then you feed the audience some seemingly plausible reasons, and within all that madness, anything is possible and this is what I think is great.

You have to keep in mind the title sequence. What that does to you invites you into a world, which the texture of it is like a nightmare, and that’s so well done. We’ve already seen glimpses of an alien, weird creatures in the park– So, anything is really possible, and I think if you keep watching the show, you’re open to anything, which I think is beautiful. That’s what you want in horror or suspense or this kind of supernatural environment. Otherwise, it’s a different show.

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BF: So you’re kept in the dark as far as knowing those turns in characters?

FP: I don’t know who Bloody Face is [we know now]. For the other characters, I don’t know. I’ve seen them now, but I didn’t read the scripts before my shows and I don’t know the lines [that come] after. I have ideas about it, but I really don’t know. The cool thing is I think the actors don’t even know.

I knew the outcome of my character, and obviously, Anne Frank is proven historically–even though there’s a tiny question mark, a little window–she did not survive the concentration camp because she died of typhus or something.  But I love the idea and this is what movies and movie magic are about that what ifWhat if she was still around?

She would be my age and what would she be like, and to kind of indulge in that for a little bit until we learn, “well, too bad it’s not Anne Frank.” It’s someone who took over that schizophrenic episode. Actually a lot of women I guess did that at the time, but for that moment, to indulge in the possibly–that’s what TV or movies are made of.

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BF: Did you do any personal study on people who were admitted into asylums or go some extra mile on the trying to accurately portray the atmosphere or state of mind?

FP: Many years ago, for a German film that I did with Tom Tykwer, The Princess and the Warrior, I actually worked at an insane asylum for two weeks. I have very vivid memories of that awkward time. On the other hand, American Horror Story: Asylum is set in the 60s. All of those experiments that they conducted with patients were very new at the time and stuff was very different.

So, I’ve spent quite some time that was very intense many years back in an institution like that. But on the other hand, it’s always nice to have a fresh take on it. This is at the end of the day, a normal person that she of course thinks she’s not insane. That’s the one thing especially that I remember. The beauty about insanity is that nobody who is insane runs around thinking, ‘Oh my god, I’m really insane.’  So, you have to play into that as normal as possible.  Everyone else is insane but the insane person. Then, you take it from there to be honest, and in this case especially, the setting that’s already there does a lot. If the series was just about this one case, I would have to put a little bit more work into it for mood and all that kind of stuff, but it’s so loaded at episode four already with all the creepiness and all these things that, to be honest, I don’t have to play into that.  It’s already there anyway.

BF: Well, it was a wonderful two-episode arc, and we hoped your version of Anne Frank would’ve stuck around longer but we hope to see you come back in some fashion. Nonetheless it was a great appearance!

FP: I hope so too, thank you!

Here are some other tidbits Franka Potente shared about American Horror Story: Asylum.

About the set:
“The set is pretty eerie, which is great for an actor because we basically we need to step in and the mood is already created. We say our lines and that’s that.  [The set is] definitely half the magic. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw it, was if you’re a Catholic, it’s kind of intimidating, dark, strict and regal; it’s very impressive. So, you get to really play with everything that’s there.”

On why people love watching American Horror Story: Asylum
“If you commit yourself to watching something like this, you want to be creeped out.  I saw some stuff online where people are like, “This is so gross! It’s so creepy!” What do you think you’re watching?  This is not a cooking show or a book club.

People watch this because it’s like this weird, ambivalent, naughty feeling of I’m watching these sick things and there’s sick stuff on this show, but people are intrigued and I think they feel bad at the same time, I can’t believe I’m watching this! There’s a scene of a guy masturbating and another puking. Oh my God, people went crazy online about that scene.  What a great scene that is.  People were almost offended, but I think that feeling comes from a weird feeling of “I can’t believe I just watched that and I have to watch. I can’t look away.” That’s what this plays into and why there’s a great attraction to it too.”

On the audience reaction and hoping Anne Frank’s story would go longer:
“I kind of wished for a second they’ll think maybe it is Anne Frank.  Let her linger a little longer and be Anne Frank.  I kind of liked that idea.  It’s like with a lot of historic figures, you sometime think, what if they weren’t dead, what would they be like now?  If you put them into new historic context, how would that work?  It’s a very intriguing thing to think about.”

On working with Jessica Lange:
“When I went to work I would tell my husband I’m going to take some acting lessons now.  I think in the beginning, it was a little bit intimidating.  I remember my very first day of work was only scenes with Jessica and I think I had about 20 pages of lines.  So, I was very, very nervous.  I didn’t want to mess up.”

What she hopes for Eva on the second season of Copper
“She’s such a fun character being this brothel owner at the time, not having so many boundaries.  So, I would love to explore that a little bit more and have her be like more of an active part in what’s going on in the men’s world, like in the tough business and all these things.  There was one episode where she killed someone.  She was like cutthroat and this is the side I would like to see a little bit more.”

American Horror Story

Her thoughts on the last scene reveal that Arden is indeed a Nazi criminal:
“So, we just got the confirmation that he is a Nazi, and he’s already involved in so much horrible stuff. That’s going to be interesting. He’s obviously protected by the Monsignor and other people.  So, I have no idea where this is going to go.”

5 Reasons why ‘American Horror Story’ Season 3 should inspire more TV Anthologies

american horror story season 3

Ever watch a TV series and think, “wow, this is really ambitious, but can it really last more than a few seasons?” While some series are drawn out to slow deaths, others struggle to get the handful of seasons they need to tell their story in full. Yet, somehow, FX has created a home for anthology television with American Horror Story, where the first season introduced and ended its story at the close of Season One and Season Two (differentiated by the title, American Horror Story: Asylum) picked up with a whole new setting, location, characters, and themes.

The only thing that was retained were some of the main actors like Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters and Lily Rabe. Tone and visual style were maintained too. FX announced today that AHS will be picked up for a third season with 13 episodes, ensuring that the conversation, speculation and chatter for that new season will begin at the end of Season 2. Before you ask, the answer is yes, Jessica Lange will return, likely as a different character.

Could more series be structured like this? You bet. And more should and here are five reasons why:

Introductions and Salutations
American Horror Story: Asylum was put into question right away by those trained in the multiple season ritual. Many feared they wouldn’t have these characters they quickly fell in love with and yes, Jessica Lange’s Sister Jude is nowhere as delicious of a role as Constance, but we all watch movies don’t we? We all are introduced to characters for the span of 90 minutes to three hours and hopefully (if the writing and acting allow it) as viewers, we become invested enough in the story, the situations, and/or the characters to stay on the ride for its duration. At the end of it, we say goodbye unless there are sequels. Anthology television is the same way. And for those who need the proof that it’s working, Season Two of AHS is charting +19% above Season One in the 18-49 demo, and +22% in persons 18-34. It’s #1 in its Wednesday 10pm time slot for five straight weeks and should keep the momentum going through its January 23, 2013 Season 2 finale.

EDITOR’S PICK: American Horror Story Interview with Franka Potente who says the ASYLUM is “Sick Stuff!”

Easy to catch up
For those late to the party, they don’t necessarily need to feel the burden of watching 50 episodes before getting that great payoff. They can try 13 episodes and see if they want more, and they don’t necessarily have to watch the seasons in order.  If you didn’t like one season, maybe another is to your liking? It’s just easier to digest that for new audiences and even longtime fans. It’s like reading a comic book series. New readers are inclined to choose a story where they can get a great story rather than being told they need to read 100 issues in order. That’s not to say one experience is better than the other, but in the business of trying to grow its audience, the anthology or limited series model is set up better in today’s fickle TV market, despite its challenges at the start of each season in establishing the new story.

Shorter is sometimes better
Not all the time, but no one can say that Denis O’Hare, Frances Conroy, or Morris Chestnut weren’t great in Season One or Franka Potente in this current season despite only being sprinkled in a few episodes. It keeps the pacing up tempo and racing to it’s singular season ending rather than laying hints and dropping seeds for something that will happen two seasons away. Each episode is important in that respect. There’s simply no guarantee that seasons 3, 4, or 5 exist for many of these shows. Now shows like Breaking Bad or Fringe certainly build off of one another but shows like these often struggle before they can begin to find an audience. If enough people don’t discover it early enough, like FX’s Terriers, the end could be much sooner than deserved. I fear that may be the case for ABC’s Last Resort–a show worthy of more seasons, but the ratings put it on the early chopping block if it can’t turn it around. I wanted to see Community for six seasons and a movie but after creative changes, I would rather seen it end on three strong seasons than drawn out just to hit a syndication mark or see a dip in creativity. And in the case of Ryan Murphy, shorter stories seem to work better. See how Ryan’s Nip/Tuck came out strong for three seasons and then it all just fell apart year after year.

american horror story season 3

Keeping it Fresh
With new stories every season, the story never gets old enough to be a slug and crawl a slow death. For the returning actors it feels like a new beginning at start  of each season, no need to worry about being typecast or forever remembered as one character. As for those actors who aren’t recurring, they can move onto a new gig like Connie Britton with Nashville. No problems or obligations are needed to be fulfilled but the door is always open for a cameo or short arc. This season we’ll see Dylan McDermott reappear as a guest star but maybe you didn’t like him in Season One. He may find some redemption in Season Two. We’ll see.

Resolution
Renewal or no renewal, we’ll never feel like the story wasn’t told in full. Now something could string all of these seasonal arcs still, but endings don’t feel artificial, rushed, or abrupt, nor do they hang in the balance of future seasons.

Again, we’re not saying every show should be treated as such, but nothing disappoints TV fans more when fantastic shows are cancelled earlier than deserved. For example, I wouldn’t have a problem if the makers of Revenge said from the beginning that they want to tell their story in two seasons and then move on. Would you? What would be wrong with that? In fact, if I knew there was only a limited time to see that story, I would make sure not to miss an episode.

Now FX isn’t the first to succeed in this structure, BBC, HBO and PBS have been doing it for years, offering many original series that are seen as mini-series but in general, the goal in American television always feels as if the target is an ambitious destination several years away. Look at the UK version of Ricky Gervais’ The Office, which was two short series and a special compared to the US version of The Office which should have been put out of its misery long ago. The model of American TV is to shoot for 100 episodes and figure out along the way how to get there, logistically or not.

So we congratulate American Horror Story because not only is it a worthwhile show to see given more life, but hopefully other networks see how they’re succeeding and give these creators the freedom to tell a shorter story–if they want.

American Horror Story: Asylum airs on FX Wednesday nights at 10PM.

2012 Creative Arts Emmys: ‘Justified,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘American Horror Story’ and ‘Downton Abbey,’ Among Winners

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A week before the big awards are doled out at the Emmys, the technical awards and guest actors are being honored Saturday at the Nokia Theatre LA for the Creative Arts Emmys, which will air an edited special on the Reelz network, Sept. 22 at 8pm.

Among some of the winners already announced are HBO’s Game of Thrones for Outstanding Costumes for a Series, Showtime’s Homeland for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, Girls for a Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, and HBO’s Game Change for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or Special.

AMC’s The Walking Dead and Greg Nicotero‘s team of makeup artists for Outstanding Prosthetics and Makeup, Hatfields & McCoys for Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or MovieDownton Abbey for Hairstyling for TV Series, NBC’s Smash for Outstanding Choreography, Downton Abbey for Outstanding Music Composition Dramatic Score and American Horror Story for Hairstyling for a Miniseries.

Shocking many was Jeremy Davies who took home an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his work as Dickie Bennett in Justified. He beat out stiff competition from Breaking Bad’s Mark MargolisParenthood’s Jason RitterThe Good Wife’s Dylan Baker and Michael J. Fox, and Mad Men‘s Ben Feldman.

Kathy Bates took home the Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for her work in Two and a Half Men. She beat out Elizabeth Banks in 30 RockMargaret Cho as Kim Jong-il in 30 RockDot-Marie Jones in Glee and Melissa McCarthy and Maya Rudolph who each hosted Saturday Night Live.

HBO’s critical favorites, Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones tied for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera Series; both series also took the Hollywood magic awards Thrones for Special Visual Effects and Empire for Visual Effects in a Supporting Role. 

2 Broke Girls won Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series, and there was another tie for Art Direction for Variety or Nonfiction Program by The 54th Grammy Awards and the 65th Tony Awards.

Editing Awards went to Homeland (for Drama Series beating Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Downton Abbey), Curb Your Enthusiasm (for Single-Camera Comedy beating Modern Family and 30 Rock) How I Met Your Mother (for Multi-Camera Comed), and Hatfields & McCoys (for Mini-Series or Movie). Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming went to Deadliest Catch.

Fans of animated series might be surprised to see that Penguins of Madagascar won for Outstanding Animated Program, beating out American Dad, The Simpsons, Futurama, and Bob’s Burgers. Futurama’s Maurice LaMarche took home another Emmy for Outstanding Voice Performance.

Commercial nerds will be a bit disappointed to know that Target’s “Color Changes Everything”, Chrysler’s “It’s Halftime in America” and Volkswagen’s “The Bark Side” and “The Dog Strikes Back” Star Wars parodies were beaten by Procter & Gamble’s “Best Job” commercial.

Other awards given out were:

Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series: Jeff Greenberg (Modern Family), Jennifer Euston (Girls), Julie Tucker (Nurse Jackie), Benard Telsey (The Big C), Seth Yanklewitz, Michael Nicolo, Anya Colloff, and Juel Bestrop (New Girl), and Allison, Jennifer Euston, and Pat Moran (Veep).

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series: Jimmy Fallon for Saturday Night Live, Bobby Cannavale for Nurse Jackie, Will Arnett for 30 Rock, Greg Kinnear for Modern Family and Jon Hamm for 30 Rock.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series: Kathy Bates for Two and a Half Men, Melissa McCarthy for Saturday Night Live, Maya Rudolph for Saturday Night Live. Margaret Cho for 30 Rock, Dot-Marie Jones for Glee and Elizabeth Banks for 30 Rock.

Outstanding Cinematography for Multi-Camera Series: Gary Baum for Mike & Molly, Steven V. Silver for Two and a Half Men, Gary Baum for 2 Broke Girls, Chris LaFountaine for How I Met Your Mother, and John Simmons for Pair of Kings (Disney XD).

Outstanding Single-Camera Editing for Comedy Series: Ryan Case for Modern Family, Steven A. Rasch for Curb Your Enthusiasm, Steven A. Rasch for Modern Family, Ken Eluto for 30 Rock and Leap Day for 30 Rock.

Outstanding Multi-Camera Editing for Comedy Series: Peter John Chakos for The Big Bang Theory, Joseph Bella for Two and a Half Men, Darryl Bates for 2 Broke Girls, Mark Alan Dashnaw for Hot in Cleveland, and Sue Federman for How I  Met Your Mother.

Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Half-Hour Comedy or Drama Series: Tom Stasinis, Dennis Kirk, and Todd Orr for Entourage; Stephen A. Tibbo, Brian R. Harman and Dean Okrand for Modern Family; Jan McLaughlin and Peter Waggoner for Nurse Jackie; Robert Palladino, Martin Brumbach, Josiah Gluck and William Taylor for 30 Rock; and John Cook, Steve Morantz, Peter Nusbaum for Parks and Recreation.

Emmy Nominations – Who Got Served and Who Got Screwed Again

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The 2012 Emmy nominations have been announced and we’ve got all of the major categories listed as well as our initial, emotional reactions.

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Boardwalk Empire
Homeland
Mad Men
Game of Thrones

Reaction: What’s to debate here? All deserve it to some degree. Even in a down season, Downton Abbey is still phenomenal television, even if it’s not your cup of tea. My only gripe is that last year Abbey was considered a Miniseries and now they take the place of an equally deserving show. Nothing is budging Breaking Bad or Mad Men, and there’s no one else more thrilled to see Homeland and Game of Thrones included. Boardwalk Empire belongs too, but again, Sons of Anarchy will sadly never be in the Emmy conversation for whatever reason even though this past season wasn’t its most consistent. There were series that were going to be left on the outside looking in and SOA, The Good Wife, The Walking Dead and Justified were left out this year.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife
Elizabeth Moss – Mad Men
Michelle Dockery – Downton Abbey
Kathy Bates – Harry’s Law
Claire Danes – Homeland
Glenn Close – Damages

Reaction: There is nothing but rage, absolute rage. Someone please take Bates out and place Sons of Anarchy‘s Katey Sagal! It’s absolute B.S. And where’s Sarah Michelle Gellar for playing dual roles in Ringer. I’m kidding about that last comment, people, I’m kidding.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Anna Gunn – Breaking Bad
Archie Panjabi – The Good Wife
Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt – Downton Abbey
Christina Hendricks – Mad Men
Christine Baranski – The Good Wife

Reaction: It’s a glorious day to see Anna Gunn break into the category and get some recognition for Skylar White. It’s well-deserved and been a long time coming. Downton Abbey was a bit too soapy for me this past season but I can see why Smith and Froggatt are nominated. The Good Wife is filled with great actresses up and down that cast so there was no doubt that Baranski and Panjabi were going to be nominated. No Joelle Carter this year, but if all goes right, next year could be her year knowing her potential storylines in Justified.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Joan Cusack – Shameless
Uma Thurman – Smash
Julia Ormond – Mad Men
Loretta Devine – Grey’s Anatomy
Jean Smart – Harry’s Law
Martha Plimpton – The Good Wife

Reaction: Good choices, especialy with Plimpton and Cusack. Thurman was one of the few memorable things about Smash, but does anyone believe that show qualifies as a Drama series? It’s more like a comedy…

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville – Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi – Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall – Dexter
Jon Hamm – Mad Men
Damien Lewis – Homeland

Reaction: This is one of the toughest categories year in and year out. Anything Homeland is hot, but Cranston is putting on a clinic each week on Breaking Bad. Hall is getting a bit long in the tooth in this category and is a bit outclassed, so I would have cheered more had Fringe’s John Noble took his place who is long overdue for some recognition for playing a dozen versions of his character Walter Bishop. We still love you, John. And Timothy Olyphant was also left out for what was his finest season as Raylan Givens.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito – Breaking Bad
Brendan Coyle – Downton Abbey
Jim Carter – Downton Abbey
Jared Harris – Mad Men
Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones

Reaction: Again, a knockout category and I’m glad I don’t have a vote for this one. Harris had a season to remember, and I’ve never rooted for an antagonist before like I did with Esposito’s Gus Fring. What’s not to love about Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister? And both Carter and Coyle are strong on Abbey but I’m surprised not to see Alan Cumming from The Good Wife, also no Walton Goggins for Justified? Bah!

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Mark Margolis – Breaking Bad
Jeremy Davies – Justified
Jason Ritter – Parenthood
Ben Feldman – Mad Men
Dylan Baker – The Good Wife

Reaction: How the hell do you leave Neal McDonough off this list? What an absolute crime! He deserves the spot more than fellow Justified guest, Jeremy Davies who is great on the show, but McDonough was riveting. We’ll be rooting for Breaking Bad‘s Mark Margolis (DING! DING! DING!) who got to finally step out of the wheelchair and show people a great performance in the Breaking Bad episode, “Hermanos.” Ritter who got no respect in The Event, did remind people of his talent in Parenthood.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story
Game Change
Hatfields and McCoys
Luther
Sherlock

Reaction: Even with Downton Abbey leaving this category, it still stacked. BBC is well represented with Luther and Sherlock. American Horror Story qualified and that helped it not to get lost in the Drama series. I’m glad it’s recognized. Hatfields and McCoys made a late charge and it’s fresh on voters’ minds.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Connie Britton – American Horror Story
Ashley Judd – Missing
Nicole Kidman – Hemingway & Gellhorn
Julianne Moore – Game Change
Emma Thompson – The Song of Lunch (Masterpiece)

Reaction: Lots of reliable Academy and fan favorites make this category extremely competitive this season, but something tells me that Moore will get it for portraying Sarah Palin. Judd’s action role in the canceled Missing, AKA TV’s Taken, is a bit of a odd pick.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Kevin Costner – Hatfield & McCoys
Idris Elba – Luther
Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Woody Harrelson – Game Change
Bill Paxton – Hatfield & McCoys
Clive Owen – Hemmingway & Gellhorn

Reaction: – Connect yourself to Ernest Hemmingway in any way, shape or form and you will get attention. I’ll be rooting for either of the BBC representatives in Elba and Cumberbatch because both are so clearly distinct in the massive sea of good television.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Ed Harris –  Game Change
Denis O’Hare –  American Horror Story
David Strathairn –  Hemingway & Gellhorn
Martin Freeman – Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Tom Berenger – Hatfields & McCoys

Reaction: I’ll admit to seeing only Freeman and O’Hare, who I both enjoyed for different reasons. Knowing this Academy, Harris is the front runner in portraying McCain.

Outstanding Host in Reality TV
Tom Bergeron – Dancing With the Stars
Cat Deeley – So YOu Think You Can Dance
Phil Keoghan – The Amazing Race
Betty White – Off Their Rockers
Ryan Seacrest – American Idol

Reaction: I’m rooting for White. I am not afraid to admit that I watch this show and yes, I do think it’s funny. Also, does anyone really care about the rest of these puppets?

Outstanding Reality – Competition
Dancing With the Stars
The Amazing Race
Top Chef
So You Think You Can Dance
The Voice
Project Runway

Reaction: If we’re talking reality here, why is Dancing with the Stars here? The Voice could be roped into that strange celeb/reality blend too because in all honesty, our eyes are on what Christina Aguilera will wear and say next. The Amazing Race will be the odds on favorite, as usual, especially with Survivor being absent. I’ll still be rooting Top Chef and Project Runway but again, Survivor’s absence is a big surprise. Let’s just be thankful that American Idol wasn’t nominated.

Outstanding Variety Series
The Daily Show
Colbert Report
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Saturday Night Live
Real Time with Bill Maher
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Reaction: It’s the usual suspects except Conan O’Brien is missing. That move to TBS has not done much for Conan outside of security. It seems like everyone’s forgotten what network he’s moved to. I also don’t think this was one of SNL’s better years either.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Zooey Deschanel – New Girl
Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey – 30 Rock
Julia Louise-Dreyfus – VEEP
Lena Dunham -Girls
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
Melissa McCarthy – Mike and Molly

Reaction: The Academy is in love with Fey, Poehler, and McCarthy. Fey can do no wrong despite 30 Rock not currently being as great as the earlier seasons. Poehler and Parks and Rec probably had its best season, and it’s probably no coincidence that both that and Veep’s  leads were nominated in an election year. Well played HBO and NBC. I like Deschanel, but I’m surprised she got nominated, then again, I’m not. Dunham and Falco are no surprises here after their seasons but I feel like this category is missing some stronger candidates.  Also no Alison Brie and no Krysten Ritter… double sigh. Waitaminute, does anyone else notice how they got seven nominations when most others had only six? Lots of gripes are going to come at this one…

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik – The Big Bang Theory
Merritt Wever – Nurse Jackie
Kristen Wiig – Saturday Night Live
Sofia Vergara – Modern Family
Julie Bowen – Modern Family
Kathryn Joosten – Desperate Housewives

Reaction: When is the Academy going to grow some balls and nominate Kaitlin Olson for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? I’m eye-rolling at the Modern Family nods but mildly applauding Bialik’s nomination. Wiig is the only thing that saves SNL half the time and I have to admit that I never been desperate enough to tune into Housewives since the first season. Where are the girls of Happy Endings? Cheryl Hines or Allie Grant of Suburgatory? Bah! The comedy nominations get me pissed every single year.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Don Cheadle – House of Lies
Louis C.K. – Louie
Jon Cryer – Two and a Half Men
Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock

Reaction: People need to stop recognizing Two and a Half Men, seriously. Every time Cryer and this show are recognized, it shows why Hollywood keeps making brain dead comedies for the networks. Parsons, Baldwin, and David were almost written in months ago. Snooze. Here’s where Louis C.K. gets his nomination along with his writing and directing. Him winning would be an incredible upset knowing these voters, but there’s no one else who actually deserves it more than him.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ed O’Neill – Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson – Modern Family
Ty Burrell – Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family
Bill Hader – SNL
Max Greenfield – New Girl

Reaction: Again, no disrespect to MF, but the Academy should be ashamed at nominating four goddmamn actors from one show in one category. There are other shows out there you know. Damon Wayans Jr. should be on this list. Also Nick Kroll from The League should be here and I also think that Garrett Dillahunt deserves a nomination for Raising Hope. Want another diss? How about James Van Der Beek on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23. Hell, anyone but a Modern Family cast member–this season anyway.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Big Bang Theory
Curb Your ENthusiasm
30 Rock
VEEP
Modern Family
Girls

Reaction: Wow, Curb Your Enthusiasm made a resurgence in the comedy awards. Was hoping Louie would crack this category once and for all but somehow 30 Rock got yet another nomination even though it’s been sitting in park for the last few seasons. The same could be said about Modern Family. I’m not sure if Archer entered as a comedy or animated series, but it should be here nonetheless. Wilfred is a cutting edge show that requires more thought than just laughing straight jokes but it seems to go over many heads. Episodes was another snubbed victim. VEEP and Girls took away spots normally held by network comedies and that’s nice, but Louie still deserves to be in this category and so does Community. Booooooo!

Outstanding Animated Program
American Dad – Hot Water
The Penguins of Madagascar – The Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole
Futurama – The Tip of the Zoidberg
Bob’s Burgers – BurgerBoss
The Simpsons – Holidays of Future Passed

Reaction: Where’s Archer? One episode of Archer is more entertaining than all of the nominees back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program
Regular Show – Eggscellent
Adventure Time – Too Young
Disney Phineas and Ferb – The Doonkleberry Imperative
Robot Chicken – Fight Club Paradise
Mad – Kitchen Nightmare Before Christmas / How I Met Your Mummy

Reaction: Knowing that Adventure Time, Regular Show, Mad and Robot Chicken all have nominations this year but Sons of Anarchy doesn’t sums up the type of twisted turmoil happiness and anger bestowed on people like us who follow television.

 

Other notable nominations and notes:

  • In the comedy writing category, both Community (Remedial Chaos Theory) and Louie (Pregnant) got nominations. So essentially the Butterfly Effect and TV’s longest fart joke got nominated. See how random the Emmys can be?
  • Louis C.K. also got a directing nomination for “Duckling” which may have been the greatest half hour of television last year.
  • Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan got a directing nomination for the series climax, “Face Off”
  • Mad Men dominated the drama writing category with three nominations; Homeland picked up one too for its Pilot.
  • Nominated for Main Title Design: FX’s American Horror Story’s creepy opening, Cinemax’s Strike Back, Starz Magic City, PBS’ Great Expectation, and Fox’s New Girl that lasts less than 10 seconds. How is Game of Thrones not nominated?
  • Burt Reynolds did not get an Emmy nomination for Voice-Over performance in Archer. Dammit!

Well, those are our initial reactions, want to share yours? For a complete list of the Emmy Nominations including the technical categories, click here.