Thursday, November 6, 2014

MIXED BAG BLOG #10: REALITY SHOW EDITOR'S STRIKE, NEIL PATRICK HARRIS TRIES TO BRING BACK THE VARIETY SHOW, and POSSIBLE HOMOPHOBIA AT THE EMMYS

Well, it's early Wednesday morning, right after the nation went to hell on Election Day today, and I'm mostly boiling in rage, and mass wave or insipid morons that apparently stepped into the voting booths with me yesterday and turned the complete Congress over to a bunch of people who think Puerto Rico is in Mexico, or rape is apart of God's plan, or whatever crazy-ass thing they'll say next. Ugh, per tradition I started in high school, whenever the GOP stole major elections, (Which happened often back then during the Bush Presidency, like everything about whole time, inexplicably) I'll probably be seen around town wearing caution tape as either an armband or a headband or maybe it'll be tied around my jeans. In this time of annoyance and frustration, I don't seem in the mood to discuss anything really in-depth at the moment involving film or television or whatnot, so, when those times come when there isn't anything going on in the entertainment industry that I think is worth devoting a whole blogpost about, once in a while, we do a little Mixed Bag Blog, where instead of a more in-depth analysis of a single subject, we simply touch lightly on a few different subjects perpetuating the modern entertainment world and news, and we're doing one of those today. Enjoy.


"SHAHS OF SUNSET" & "SURVIVOR" EDITORS STRIKES: A LOOK BACK AT- OH, YOU DIDN'T KNOW THERE WERE UNION STRIKES GOING ON, DID YOU? 

A lot of us missed one of the biggest stories of the year, and that was the multiple reality show strikes and disputes that went down between producers/networks and the MPEG, the Motion Picture Editors Guild. The most pronounced one, finally ended recently, when the Editor's of Bravo's reality show "Shahs of Sunset", walked out and went on strike for over a month. It cause Bravo to push back their release date of the season premiere, and Bravo even took over production of the show from Ryan Seacrest Productions, temporarily, and considered strongly to hire non-union scabs for the series. Eventually, "Shahs of Sunset" editors came to a deal, and got their Union contracts, and the show is back in the editing room to debut on Bravo shortly. This was the second strike this year, after a brief, almost one day strike from the editors of "Survivor", who also got their demands met, including Union recognition as well. On the surface, this looks like nothing in particular, but because it's reality television it's much more nuanced than it appears. No other genre really relies on great editing to produce it's product than reality television. No writers, mostly, no actors in the traditional sense, and whether it's reality-competition, structured-reality or unstructured-reality, editors are pretty much the storytellers of the genre. This is unusual compared to other films, usually editing is the last piece of writing, after the script, and then the directing, and then editing being the three stages of writing a film, supposedly, but on a reality program, like a cinema verite documentary or something of that sort, they have to comb through something hundreds of hours of footage, often on a very short turnaround and construct a story and narrative themselves. I've always said that if you want to find the best editors in Hollywood, look at the editors of reality programming, especially good reality programming (And no, I'm not calling "Shahs..." or frankly "Survivor" good, but still....) they have to use every trick up in an editors sleeve in the book sometimes to make something watchable; they're creating tension and drama out of thin air sometimes essentially. I found it noteworthy when the WGA East branch at least, came to their support during the strike, 'cause I think that means that they're art is getting the appreciation as writing that it really deserves. (Granted, Hollywood is the union town anyway, but still.) This has been something though, reality programming that some of the unions have had a hard time picking up on until recently, exactly where does it fit into the filmmaking community, on almost all production fronts, but with the editors especially, fighting their way into acceptance and into the unions, there's one new precedent set regarding them, one of many that have been already and still a few more to come, but still these are impressive major victories for the editors, and frankly, more legitimacy to reality television as an art form. It's a bit of a buried story, these strikes and disputes between editors and reality show producers, but remember, most reality shows are around, because they're capable of doing things on the cheap, and that's why they've become a good starting point for production careers for many. (Hell, even I have a reality show credit, I was a scriptee for the first "World Series of Golf" event. Yeah, I know, you never heard of it. It was a charity thing were people put up their own money and used a poker structure to play golf, it was actually entertaining. I was good, except for forgetting to write down what cameras were around on what hole and whatnot, which I'm sure pissed off the editors, 'cause that what I supposed to mark down most. Oops. Eh, $100, for a day in Mesquite, NV though and I got to see Phil Ivey and Phil Gordon.) Once the unions start getting more involved though, it could more expensive to make these shows in the future. Not a whole lot more expensive, but potentially enough to make a slight dip in the amount of reality television that's on the overall TV landscape. Don't be surprised if more successful reality shows in the future run into similar disputes, and you happen to see blurbs about union deals and disputes on the bottom of IMDB news pages in the near future though. If might've just been a "Shahs of Sunset" strike and a one-day "Survivor" dispute, but, they are the precedent now....; who knows where it'll happen next?


NEIL PATRICK HARRIS ATTEMPTS TO BRING BACK THE PRIMETIME VARIETY SHOW!

Every so often, somebody new will try to bring back from the grave, the Primetime Variety show. I'have-v, seen this narrative once or twice before, so I'm not exactly more than, hopeful, perhaps that this dead genre can make a comeback in some form, and usually they do not do to well. In recent years, Maya Rudolph, Wayne Brady, and Rosie O'Donnell have been added to that long list of people who've tried and failed, some faltering really badly, ratings and critics-wise. Now, Neil Patrick Harris, who seems he can never do no wrong, is taking his shot at it. and NBC won the bidding war for at ten episodes of his version of a very popular British mainstay called "Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway." For some of you in Britain and Europe you're probably somewhat familiar with it, but for the rest of you, here's a recent episode of that show at the clip below:



Ant & Dec btw, are very famous in England, they're kinda hard to find an American equivalent to, but they're a multi-talented duo who's career has somewhat mimicked Ryan Seacrest's, and "Saturday Night Takeaway" was their big side project that's considered by many to be their greatest accomplishment. So anyway, NPH is gonna take a shot at adapting the format of "Saturday Night Takeaway", and he's clearly capable and talented enough to do this, and try to adapt it towards his skills and talents for an American audience, and that's interesting. It's possible it can work; and we're all gonna be paying, a little bit of attention, because if this one is successful, naturally there will be attempts at imitators, and soon enough, the variety show could make a true comeback.

Well, maybe not actually. I mean, we're never going to get back to this, Andy Williams, Ed Sullivan, Smothers Brothers, Carol Burnett era again; that's just a little too much of a past time. I mean, Ed Sullivan, all he actually ever did was introduce and point, you know; he wasn't an entertainer of any kind; but he had Elvis and The Beatles on famously, so he's remembered. Variety's a weird genre to begin with, but basically since Carol Burnett and "Saturday Night Live", the last incarnation of Variety is basically some form of subgroup of comedy that's not situation-comedy. Late night talk shows, sketch comedy, "The Daily Show", satires and they're acolytes. Even like the ideas of like, the juggler, the magician, the dancing bear act, then the comic or musician type, true variety shows, they've pretty evolved into some form of reality show these days, some took a detour through the "Star Search" talent show path to get there, but that's basically the status of variety and anything really outside of that, to some degree, really just feels like a remnant of the past. "Tony Orlando & Dawn"-type thing I guess, but really the classic variety show is such a relic; at the time when television was just looking for anything to put on the air, and the novelty hadn't worn off. That said, there's something interesting about Neil Patrick Harris's attempt. He's very selective in picking this show, which is basically a catch-all game show of numerous different forms  of entertainment, reality, sketch comedy, bits, game shows, hidden camera, a few other random ideas, and that's part of why he picked it. NPH is a Emmy and Tony winner, who's talented enough to be in musicals, comedy, drama, once upon a time, he always got a job that Donny Osmond inevitably got hosting a reboot of "Pyramid", he's capable at numerous skills and talents, and if anybody can be the center of a variety show that calls upon a host using all those abilities, it's him. Famous last words, I know, but that's why we're interested in seeing if, at least, this one Variety experiment will take off or not.


HOMOPHOBIA CLAIMS AT EMMYS, AFTER "THE NORMAL HEART" AND OTHER UNEXPECTED LOSSES

Tom O'Neill from Gold Derby, shortly after the Emmy a couple months was the one leading the charge over many of the supposedly shocking losses of "The Normal Heart" "Orange is the New Black", and "Modern Family" among others, was because of the overt homophobia among the Academy members. Well, maybe not overt, and his claim, I don't know if it completely holds up, but he does have a point. He's not claiming that gay actors can't or won't win,The link to the Gold Derby video is below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk0lQ_wjwsA

 Jim Parsons winning his fourth Emmy in five years for "The Big Bang Theory", but he's talking about a more nuance distinction, in which it's more difficult for homosexual actors and performances to win, while they're playing more realistic gay characters, not the more flamboyant cliched roles. He talks on Ty Burrell winning his second Emmy for "Modern Family", for an episode where he was half in drag and being effeminate, while his openly gay co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson lost for the fifth straight year, despite the entire season practically being based around his character, while Eric Stonestreet, a straight actor who play his more caricaturishly homosexual husband on the show, has won two Emmys. And he constantly brings up the Matt Bomer incident where he lost and practically the rest of the cast of "The Normal Heart" lost to Martin Freeman for "Sherlock" in the Movie/Miniseries category. I would've voted for Parsons personally in that category, but Bomer probably gave the more regarded and dynamic performance as a gay man, who's dying from AIDS. "The Normal Heart" in fact only won for Make-Up and for Best TV Movie. Larry Kramer losing for writing, for his script also caused him attention, as the character was based on his famous more aggressive persona and base as a leader of ActUp in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. (Mark Ruffalo's performance as him also lost) Personally, I think part of "Sherlock" winning so much was probably just a pro-"Sherlock" bias, and while the film script for "The Normal Heart" is different than the original play, I tend to think he lost Writing because it was an easier writing assignment than some of the other nominees. It's a bit of an old joke, but he did essentially just kinda change formats really. He also points out Laverne Cox losing to her "Orange is the New Black" co-star Uzo Aduba, among other incidents, but basically, Sean Hayes can win for playing Jack MacFarland on "Will & Grace", a more flamboyant and cliched gay character while a character who happens to be gay, and is more realistic and toned down as a performer won't win, because it's nicer to think of homosexuals in a more cartoonish way than to think of the realities of them, that the audience is scared off by them. And how it's particularly hard to find a gay actor win by playing a gay role that isn't an over-the-top cliche or caricature. (Shrugs) I think he has a point at that it's worth noting, and he's right, if you go look through most of the awards through time finding that, and most of the main awards, incidents of gay/lesbians characters winning or losing, especially when it's known that the actor/actress playing them is gay, well, it's rather small, especially if they're not playing a cliched character. I do believe that he's right and that certain voters do indeed think that way, gay character, gay actor gay sex scenes, etc. etc. they'll vote for someone else, comparing it to the "Brokeback Mountain" losing to "Crash" incident at the '05 Oscars, (Which I also think was more overblown as I thought "Crash" was as good and worthy a winner as "Brokeback Mountain" was.) but to claim that's the only reason someone won or lost, that seems like a stretch to me. There might be an anomaly here and there, but in just as many instances, there's a decent or at least legitimate reason somebody loss, like someone else was better for instance. (That's the one Tom O'Neill refuses to accept, but it is that simple sometimes) Or that someone else had the momentum, or in the Emmys case, the people voting that year, seemed to be more "Sherlock" bias then they were anti-"The Normal Heart". I don't know all the answers, but there's been plenty of times where the Academy will honor a gay performance, actor or both, maybe they're exceptions, maybe there's a little homophobia, but overall, while we may argue or disrupt practically any award we can think of, more likely than not, their isn't one simple reason or answer for why something wins or loses, and even when it might seem obvious to some, why in one particular year something might win or lose, unless we have real proof, of some blatant attempt to scheme someone out of the award.
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