6 items from 2016
With 34 nominations and six wins, Alan Alda is an Emmy institution. He even won an Intl. Emmy in 2012. His first win came in 1974 for his iconic role as “Hawkeye” Pierce in “Mash” — when he triumphed over “Kojak” star Telly Savalas in an “Actor of the Year” showdown for a “Super Emmy” pitting the drama series winner against the comedy series champ. (The first, and last, time the Emmys ever tried that.) This year, Alda is in the running as part of the ensemble cast of Louis C.K.’s drama “Horace and Pete.”
After so many awards, what’s your best advice on giving a speech?
The only thing you have to be careful of is not to say “I thoroughly agree with you.” You can’t let that creep in. It is hard. The show business awards are different from most other awards. In most other awards they actually expect you to say something that’s worth listening to and they give you more than 30 seconds. The hard part is to think of something short enough to say that expresses something you mean.
Do any Emmy wins stand out more than the others?
The writing one meant so much. I wanted to be a writer and a good writer since I was 8 years old. To get an Emmy for writing meant so much that that was really spontaneous when I did the cartwheel on the way to the stage. I guess it’s stuck in my mind because, I’m 80 now, but a couple of months after my 80th birthday, I was on the beach in the Virgin Islands and I said, “I’m gonna see if I can still do a cartwheel.”
How did it go?
It doesn’t look a lot like a cartwheel, but it technically was a real cartwheel. I landed on my feet, staggered around a bit and pumped the air as if I had done something spectacular.
Has anything changed for you about going to award shows over the years?
I don’t think there’s been any change except as my grandchildren have got older they’re always rooting for me to get an Emmy or an Oscar nomination so they can come. They want to walk the red carpet with me. They were very funny when I was nominated for an Oscar [for “The Aviator”], they were doing the interviews instead of me.
What’s the best part of being recognized with something like an Emmy?
It can help the project you’re doing. I hope [“Horace and Pete”] gets nominations and wins some Emmys because I think it’s such a powerful piece of work that it would really benefit from attention being drawn to it by an Emmy or two. Of course, you can’t take it too seriously, because I think it’s true the day after an award show it’s very hard to remember who won, except the person who has the trophy to remind him or her. Still, it’s a wonderful thing. When I think of the surprise I felt the first time and I think of the amazement I felt as I got more. You can’t not feel terrific about it.
- Geoff Berkshire
There’s a lingering perception in pop culture that drug use is glamorous and au courant, something that builds character and renders a person sexy and intriguing, like an advanced degree in comp lit or the ability to acquire foreign languages easily. See Don Draper with a martini in one hand and a beautiful mistress in the other. Or Jessa on “Girls,” whose bohemian clothes and Rapunzel hair perpetuate the illusion that cocaine-cum-heroin junkies forever maintain the appearance of a Free People catalogue model. In real life, heroin junkies develop abscesses and hacking coughs, sores on their lips and acne. They look like ghosts. Even on “Nurse Jackie,” one of the decade’s most convincing portraits of drug addiction, there were just so many episodes where you had to suspend your disbelief — Jackie should have been dead by season two. Of course, then we would have missed out on five more seasons and Edie Falco’s most dynamic career performance, for which she won the 2010 Emmy for lead actress in a drama.
Because of addiction’s prevalence in our society — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014 there were 10,574 heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. — TV is teeming with characters struggling with drugs and alcohol, from “Shameless” to “Mr. Robot” to IFC’s “Maron” and the sobriety sitcom “Mom.” And some shows do it well; if ever a series unflinchingly — if, occasionally, satirically — captured the gory violence of the crystal meth trade it’s “Breaking Bad,” for which Bryan Cranston pretty much monopolized the actor in a drama series category, winning the Emmy an astounding four times.
The Television Academy, in fact, has a history of rewarding small-screen lushes. For his iconic turn as the perpetually soused Hawkeye on “Mash,” Alan Alda won two actor Emmys. Candice Bergen won the Emmy for actress in a comedy series five times for playing a recovering alcoholic on “Murphy Brown,” and Ted Danson scored two Emmys for playing sobered-up baseball player-turned-bar proprietor Sam Malone on “Cheers.” Even Jim Parsons, who plays socially challenged theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper on the “The Big Bang Theory,” nabbed his first Emmy win for an episode in which he gets sloppy drunk. Hollywood, it seems, loves a character who can’t handle his booze.
But rare is the series that deals with addiction in a way that accurately depicts the frustrating, oft fatal, and sometimes even boring reality of what it is — a disease. There’s a general tendency among critics to assess shows on the strength of their entertainment value, and not how truthfully they convey what it’s actually like to be an addict — or live with one. “Ray Donovan” tackles heady addiction-adjacent subject matter like molestation and Irish-Catholic broods, and “Orange Is the New Black” features a cast of addict convicts, but there isn’t a small-screen counterpart examining, say, the lives of depressed, college-educated worker bees quietly dependent on benzodiazepines. And there are millions of those people.
Granted, most facets of addiction probably wouldn’t make for good television. Comedies like “Broad City” and “Freaks and Geeks” aside, in the real world there is nothing less interesting than watching potheads get stoned.
A life of abstinence, however, can be hilarious, which is why comedies like “Mom” and “Catastrophe,” with all of their off-color, self-effacing wit, so successfully chronicle the journey of the addict in recovery. On “Mom,” Emmy-winner Allison Janney and Anna Faris play a sober mother-daughter team coping with booze cravings, romantic dysfunction, and the daily challenges of being sober physically — but not necessarily emotionally. On Amazon’s “Catastrophe,” Rob Delaney nails the part of an affectionate and loving but also conventionally narcissistic man-child who quit drinking after he “shit at [his] sister’s wedding.”
What’s especially refreshing about both of these shows is that they debunk the myth that once you get clean you’re suddenly “fixed.” Instead, they’re predicated on the fact that addiction is a disease that people live with for their entire lives, whether or not they’re actively getting wasted. What’s so commendable about “Mom” especially is that it examines what most people do not understand — that sobriety can be the most difficult aspect of alcoholism.
On the flip side, Freeform’s now-canceled “Recovery Road” was a show that missed the mark entirely, serving up a candy-coated rendering of rehab that belies most everything we know to be true. The series’ collective flaws are best summed up in one line, said by a high school guidance counselor to Maddie (Jessica Sula), a strung-out party girl she’s threatening with expulsion unless she moves into a sober living facility: “You can go to school by day and spend your evenings getting sober.” As if sobriety is a part-time job. Maddie tries to keep her situation a secret, and the surrounding adults seem Ok with that — even though honesty is one of the primary tenets of recovery. You can tell what the network was trying to do — create a show about addiction that parents could watch with their kids. But that’s a pointless task if it doesn’t ring true.
“Shameless,” for all of its outlandishness — patriarchal drunk Frank Gallagher (Emmy-nominated William H. Macy) has survived liver failure, a kitchen fire, and being tossed over a bridge into a river — is the series that perhaps most accurately captures the pervasiveness with which alcoholism wreaks havoc on a family. Everybody suffers. Everybody is powerless. Denial rips through the family line. Whether they are using or not, all of the Gallagher kids are living with the –ism.
When it comes down to it, no fictional TV series can definitively capture the brutal truth of how drugs and alcohol destroy people’s lives. Rather, it’s documentaries like Steven Okazaki’s brilliant and harrowing “Heroin: Cape Cod” — which focuses on eight young addicts — that paint the starkest, most blistering, and most realistic portrait of addiction. Because addiction isn’t pretty, and it’s often not something that you want to tune in to watch.
- Malina Saval
The woman who says late "M*A*S*H" star Wayne Rogers fathered her son is now going after his estate to get the huge sum she says she's owed ... a whopping $3.4 million. Melinda Naud filed a creditors claim this week against Rogers' estate ... a follow-up to the civil suit she filed back in 2013. Naud claims Rogers begged her to keep it quiet after she gave birth to their kid, Luigi Calabrese, back in 1985. Naud »
- TMZ Staff
He appeared on “M.A.S.H.” for only the first three of 11 seasons, but the army surgeon was one of the most popular characters on the show, known for his repartee with Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce. He was reportedly frustrated by the show’s focus on Alda when he quit after three seasons, with Mike Farrell replacing him as B.J. Hunnicut.
Despite Rogers’ departure from the show, he remained friendly with Alda, who saluted his Rogers in a Twitter message: “He was smart, funny, curious and dedicated,” Alda wrote. “We made a pact to give Mash all we had and it bonded us.”
He was smart, funny, curious and dedicated. We made a pact to give Mash all »
- Pat Saperstein
Wayne Rogers, best known to TV audiences for playing Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre on M*A*S*H, died on Thursday after suffering complications from pneumonia, his family told Entertainment Tonight. He was 82.
Rogers’ first major acting role was on the ABC Western Stagecoach West, which debuted in October 1960 and ran for 38 episodes. A little over a decade (and numerous gigs) later, he was cast as Trapper John on CBS’ TV adaptation of M*A*S*H, assuming the role played by Elliott Gould in the 1970 film.
Bidding M*A*S*H adieu after three seasons, Rogers went on to »
Actor and entrepreneur Wayne Rogers, best known for playing Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre from 1972-1975 on the long-running CBS dramedy "M.A.S.H." has died today following complications from pneumonia. His publicist confirmed the news to Deadline: he was 82. Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1933, he was a graduate of The Webb School in Tennessee and earned a history degree from Princeton, then served in the U.S. Navy before embarking on his career as an actor. Acting on both… »
6 items from 2016
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