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SAG Award TV nominations: Snubs and surprises

During an awards season that’s dominated by talk of movies — all a gradual buildup to the biggest awards show of them all — it’s easy to forget that some winter prize distributors recognize TV shows as well. And once you remember that TV shows are also being lauded, your thoughts naturally turn to which nominations seem like a surprise, pleasant or otherwise — as well as the deserving series that have been overlooked.

And for today’s SAG Award nominations, each of these qualifies for one of those categories:

Snub: Mad Men
Matthew Weiner’s seminal series was passed over completely, even though it’s won two SAG ensemble awards before. What will it take to get Jon Hamm some individual recognition at an awards show? (After playing Don Draper for six seasons, he’s won a grand total of one TCA Award and one Golden Globe for the role, not counting the SAG Awards he shared with the show’s cast. That ain’t right.)

'The Good Wife' and the problem of too much good TV

The moment I finally became a fan of The Good Wife occurred just about three weeks ago. It came in the current season’s widely praised fifth episode, “Hitting The Fan.” This was the one where Will (Josh Charles) and Diane (Christine Baranski) fired Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) for plotting to start their own firm. As Will progressed from betrayal (his reaction, a symphonically-performed shock-face culminating in a downbeat “what?!”, was priceless) to “commando mode” (rallying emergency quorums; hustling clients to keep them from bolting), and as Alicia progressed from resolute yet regretful to full-on “Oh, it’s so on!” (countering Will’s counter-attacks; wooing Chum Hum; an adrenaline rush quickie with Governor Hubby), it was thrilling to watch them find new energy and purpose in their lives amid the crisis, if slightly heartbreaking to watch the former lovers, now former colleagues, become enemies. It was impossible to take a side; I wanted both to win. In a story full of such grand drama and significant developments, it was a smaller, funnier exchange between Alicia and Will that grabbed me. As a contentious phone conversation came to a close (“Go to hell!” “No, you go to hell!”), Will remembered something very important. “Oh, your daughter called,” he said, suddenly civil. “She needs you to call her school to let her go on a field trip.” “Oh. When was this?” Alicia asked, equally pleasant. “About 40 minutes ago.”  “Thank you.” “You’re welcome.” Click. And then war resumed.

Not a terribly ingenious scene, I grant you. It hewed to a familiar screwball comedic structure. The whiplash tonal shift; two rivals abruptly making nice or banal in a way that almost feels out of character. Except here, the moment felt true to the characters, at least as I understand them so far. It was an effective way to dramatize that their relationship was more complex than their current conflict, to show that neither of them should be defined by the crisis/concerns consuming them at present; and it was a moment that was representative of all of everything else in the show that was converting me to rabid Good Wife fandom. READ FULL STORY

Elisabeth Moss on her 'Simpsons' guest spot -- and the final season of 'Mad Men'

Before Elisabeth Moss returns to Manhattan, she’s making a pit stop in Springfield: The actress who stars as Peggy Olson on Mad Men is lending her voice to Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons (Fox, Nov. 17, 8 p.m.). Moss will play a pregnant woman named Gretchen whose baby Homer winds up delivering in an elevator. (Spoiler: It’s not Pete’s.) But when she names the baby Homer Jr. to recognize his good deed, Homer gets a little too attached to the little tyke. EW asked this unabashed Simpsons fan all about her big guest spot — and tossed in few Mad Men questions as well.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is this your animated debut?
I have done a few things, but when I was really young. There was a Batman show. And I did a Hanna-Barbera film called Once Upon a Forest.

Was this something that you’d been hoping they’d ask you to do for awhile? How would you assess your level of Simpsons fandom?
I’m 31. It’s been on for 25 years. It’s been on for most of my life. It’s so a part of my world that I don’t remember a time when The Simpsons wasn’t on television. For my generation, it’s a huge part of our upbringing. It’s just a staple. [Being asked to guest-star] is not even something I would necessarily even dream of. Obviously that’s something you’d love to do but you think, “Oh, that’s really cool and important. Nobody’s ever going to ask you to do it.” I couldn’t have been more excited. You would have thought I had won an award or something. It really was such a honor, honestly, and it was one of those moments in your career, like being on Saturday Night Live and those things that aren’t technically a part of your day job that are such a stamp of approval, you know? It’s just one of those legendary things that I’ll be able to show to my kids. READ FULL STORY

Final season of 'Mad Men' to be split in half, air in 2014 and 2015

The final season of Mad Men will be expanded to 14 episodes, but you’ll only get half of it next year. AMC announced today that it will split the seventh season of the Madison Avenue-in-the-’60s drama into two parts, with the first half airing in spring 2014 and the second half debuting in spring 2015. READ FULL STORY

Linda Cardellini, 'Mad Men' superfan, talks secrets and her Emmy nod

Mad Men is a series that traffics in secrets, both onscreen (Don Draper’s increasingly less obscured past) and behind the scenes (creator Matt Weiner’s famous reluctance to reveal any information about what’s coming next). But though the show’s sixth season featured plenty of unanticipated shocks, its two biggest both involved one top-secret new character: Linda Cardellini’s Sylvia Rosen, a bored housewife who a) had an affair with Jon Hamm’s Don (gasp!) which led to b) Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) discovering her father cheating on his wife (double gasp!!).

It was an undeniably juicy guest role — which is why the Emmy Awards honored Cardellini with her very first nomination this morning. The actress, best known previously for her work on Freaks and Geeks, is understandably over the moon: “It feels amazing!” she gushed to EW today. “When I started the part, I didn’t know what it was I would be doing. And so having it unfold the way it did was amazing. And the idea that she is sort of a catalyst for all these things that happen in Don’s life — it became such a great role. So that happening, and now this on top of all that, it’s really a dream.”

Elisabeth Moss marvels at her Emmy 'double down': 'It sounds so crazy!'

Emmy nominations are nothing new for Elisabeth Moss. She’s been racking up nods for her role on Mad Men every year since 2009, once in the Supporting Actress category and thrice in the Lead Actress category — so today’s fifth citation can’t have been much of a surprise.

She was, however, pleasantly shocked to discover that she’ll also be competing for Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie alongside heavy hitters Jessica Lange, Laura Linney, Helen Mirren, and Sigourney Weaver. No wonder she calls her competitors “ridiculously intimidating” — Moss, cited for her work in the BBC Two/UKTV/Sundance miniseries Top of the Lake, is the only nominee in the category who hasn’t also been nominated for multiple Oscars.

“It sounds so crazy to hear you say that!” she said with a laugh after EW congratulated her for getting two nominations. Moss’ mother apparently reacted to her news in much the same way: “I called my mom and woke her up, and she promptly responded that she was going to jump out a window,” she said, “which I thought was an appropriate response. I talked her down from the ledge.”

Emmy Watch: Elisabeth Moss has blood on her hands in 'Top of the Lake'

Between now and June 28, the deadline for Emmy voters to submit nomination ballots, will feature interviews with some of the actors and actresses whose names we hope to hear when nominations are announced on July 18.

Increasingly there’s the sense that Elisabeth Moss can do anything. After six seasons of playing such a marvelous character like Peggy Olson on Mad Men, some actresses would have a hard time ever sliding out of such a comfortable wheelhouse. But this spring Moss, 30, reinvented herself in Jane Campion’s dark and moody miniseries masterpiece Top of the Lake.

As detective Robin Griffin, driven wild to solve the mystery of a missing pregnant 12-year-old girl, Moss was a churning ball of opposing forces. She was brittle (“You can be very hard,” Robin’s mother warned her at one point, “and what I don’t like is, you think it’s strength.”) and vulnerable and deeply wounded and weary and magnificently capable and a total mess. She was at once the youngest and oldest person in the room. She seemed always dangerous of both cracking open and throwing down, a tricky combination she nailed in a blistering scene in episode 4 when she attacks her childhood rapist in a bar. She is magnificent, boiling with feeling, and it’s pleasure to talk about a performance outside of her Mad Men‘s walls that’s worthy of Emmy consideration. READ FULL STORY

'Mad Men' season 6 finale ratings best yet


It was no tightrope walk. But AMC’s Mad Men finale ratings Sunday evening were the highest in the show’s history.

The sixth season finale had 2.7 million viewers. That’s up just a tad from the fifth season closer last year. Overall the show is averaging 2.5 million this season.

AMC’s president praised the numbers: “There is nothing else on television like Mad Men, and for the series in its sixth season to deliver the highest-rated finale ever – and an episode that critics and fans have already declared an instant classic – is a testament to everyone who brings this world to life,” said Charlie Collier. Check out our post-finale interview with creator Matt Weiner.

Sunday offered a few major episodes in addition to Mad Men. There was the premiere of Lifetime’s Devious Maids, along with the debut of ABC’s Whodunit and NBC’s Crossing Lines. Plus there was Discovery’s live tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon, which also set a record with 8.5 million viewers.

'Mad Men': Megan Draper will not die, YET

sharon tate megan draper

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner didn’t consider the power of the internet to immediately connect dots, freak out, and assume that because Megan Draper (Jessica Paré) wore the same T-shirt on the show as Sharon Tate had during a 1967 photo shoot, Megan’s character might reach a tragic end along the same lines as Tate’s. As Weiner explained during a roundtable discussion with the L.A. Times, all he wanted, really, was for Megan to wear any t-shirt!

“I always wanted Megan in a Disneyland T-shirt and [costume designer Janie Bryant] kept saying, ‘They’re not around yet.’ So I said, ‘There’s got to be a women’s T-shirt,’ and Janie brought [the photo of Tate] in and asked, ‘Is this okay?’ And I said, ‘Yes. I want that exact T-shirt.’ Little did I know…”

No one else is about to die on Mad Men. At least… not this season. “I didn’t say never!” laughed Weiner.

More ‘Mad Men’ on
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Jon Hamm reveals why ‘Mad Men’ keeps secrets better than the CIA — VIDEO

O Mother, Where Art Thou?: 'Mad Men' and its lady problems

“I have reached the point where I have absolutely no affection left for Don Draper.”

So wrote my friend (and Entertainment Weekly colleague) Missy Schwartz on her Facebook page a few weeks ago, just hours after Don demanded that his mistress crawl across the hotel room on her hands and knees to fetch his shoes. “I’m so fed up with him and his atrocious behavior that I found myself wishing someone awful would happen to him,” she continued. “Are we supposed to feel sorry for him that he’s turned into a past-his-prime shadow of his former self at work? Who then tries to compensate for this by ordering his mistress to crawl on the floor on all fours?”

I understood what she meant. (And, apparently, so did the many others who “liked” the update.) It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt any affection for Don Draper. And for me, that’s a very different thing than saying that it’s been a long time since I’ve liked him. You can love a show even if you don’t like the main character, and I still believe Mad Men is one of the best shows on television. But being able to feel sorry for that character is crucial. That’s why Walter White has cancer. It’s why Tony Soprano was wracked by the same panic attacks as his father. It’s why Enlightened began with Amy Jelicoe having a nervous breakdown, not long after going through a messy divorce and (we soon learn) suffering a miscarriage. But I just can’t bring myself to feel sorry for Don Draper anymore, and I’m starting to question why I ever did.

Jon Hamm’s consistently excellent performance can’t erase the laissez-faire nihilism of Don’s worldview: Most of his melodramatic problems have been largely his own fault, and — unlike Tony Soprano — he doesn’t seem remotely interested in changing anything about who he is. He’d rather just marry a different secretary or find a new brunette downstairs. For Don, “evolution” just means a new person to seduce. So the show keeps returning, again and again, to the same heavy-handed origin story that’s supposed to explain why he’s so dysfunctional: he was raised in a whorehouse. These flashbacks are often clumsy (a shot of Don coughing cuts back to a shot of him coughing as a kid) and poorly written (“I defy your accusations!”). Yet this season has relied upon them so much that last week’s episode almost seemed to poke fun at them. “Every time we get a car,” Don said, “this place turns into a whorehouse!” He was joking about Stan’s hookup during the Chevy brainstorming session, but he might as well have been joking about Mad Men itself.


'Mad Men' and feminism: A place for Peggy, Joan, and Megan in the movement?

It’s impossible to talk about the women of Mad Men without talking about feminism. But now that we can finally discuss when season 6 picks up (the wee hours of 1968), we can also address what our working heroines think of their position in the burgeoning movement.

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) are both in very different positions now then they were when we first met their characters five seasons ago (or eight years by Mad Men‘s timeline). Both women have made significant professional strides while suffering consistent humiliations at the hands of their male colleagues and superiors. If the beginning of season 6 is any indication, we should expect to see more of both Peggy and Joan as they try to conquer their new positions — Peggy in a more senior role at a new agency, Joan as a Partner with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Though both might seem emblematic of a larger movement, it’s unlikely that it was rooted in any sort of feminist consciousness. When EW spoke to Hendricks and Moss, both were hesitant to categorize their characters as feminists.


'Mad Men': Linda Cardellini on her top-secret, watercooler-worthy debut

SPOILER ALERT! This post contains information about key plot points in the season premiere of Mad Men. If you haven’t watched Sunday’s episode,  continue at your own risk.

'Mad Men': Jon Hamm, Jessica Pare, and Matt Weiner on Megan's 'threatening' independence

Hey, sad Don Draper. You’re at a bar. You’re alone. You’re perhaps disappointed with your young wife’s recent decisions. Enter: Attractive Woman. “Are you alone?” she asks coyly. Cut to black.

The last image of Mad Men’s fifth season is a hard one to forget. Though we don’t know anything concrete about what decision Don made that night, opening the door for another affair was at turns dismaying, ominous, and so familiar. And it’s hard not to trace it back to Megan and some sort of undefined, fundamental disconnect in their relationship. There aren’t enough martinis in the world to make Jon Hamm, Jessica Paré, and series creator Matthew Weiner talk about season 6 specifics. But EW did talk with them about Don and Megan, where the couple left off last season, and what they both wanted out the relationship.


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