×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Minis & Movies: Smorgasbord defies easy judging

Road to the Emmys 2012: Movies & Miniseries

Jimmy Kimmel, this year’s Emmy host, joked recently that he was thinking of getting his show to qualify as a movie or miniseries. “It seems like a soft category,” he deadpanned.

“Soft” might be unfair, but the movies-minis category was the talk of the post-Emmy noms for its diverse, even schizophrenic qualities. Nominated this year are two movies (HBO’s “Game Change” and “Hemingway & Gellhorn”), two second-season limited series (British imports “Luther” and “Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia”), an anthology series originally billed as a drama (FX’s “American Horror Story,” which had a pilot episode, normally a no-no for a miniseries) and one traditional miniseries (History’s “Hatfields & McCoys”).

Charges cropped up that some series repositioned themselves as miniseries in order to reap Emmy nominations they might not have garnered in the drama category (for example, Ashley Judd was nominated for lead movies-mini actress for the cancelled ABC series “Missing”). Ryan Murphy requested his “American Horror Story” be considered in the movie-mini category; his show was rewarded with 17 nominations.

“If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and tastes like a duck, it’s still not a chicken,” says Leslie Greif, producer of “Hatfields & McCoys,” noting the disparity between the nominees. “But the Academy is saying, we’re all fowl. In fact, we’re all different art forms.”

So how does a production distinguish itself among such disparate entries? In the case of “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” director Philip Kaufman suggests, you emphasize its epic grandeur and historically accurate depictions of its characters.

“We never thought of it as making a TV movie,” says Kaufman, and, in fact, the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. “That’s the way I would’ve wanted to make it as a feature. It expands the possibilities for making this kind of movie. We wanted that big epic sweep. Movies in this category have been excellent, but haven’t gone for such size and scope. The HBO parameters are stretched a bit here.

“The great reward was the responses from Gellhorn and Hemingway experts. Sandy Gellhorn wrote the most beautiful letter (on) how we got his mom exactly right.”

“Hemingway & Gellhorn” was Kaufman’s first TV directorial job in almost 50 years in the business. “We don’t know people in that world, so we haven’t worked the room, so to speak,” he say”So it was extremely gratifying that people we hadn’t worked with chose fit to nominate us in all those categories.”

Greif, too, says “Hatfields & McCoys,” which earned 16 nominations and broke History ratings records by averaging nearly 14 million viewers, hopes to exploit its grandeur.

“Bringing Kevin Costner (as Hatfield patriarch Anse) to television was a big event,” he says. “All the reasons I couldn’t get it made for years were all the reasons it was such a success. No one wants Westerns — kids aren’t interested, women won’t watch it — it’s an old-fashioned theme. In the end, everyone did care and it brought in women and young adults. A story about family rivalry and betrayal hooks the fabric of America.”

Greif won’t dis his competition — “They’re all wonderful; ‘American Horror Story’ is as brilliant as ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ ” — but he believes the category is being exploited by some.

“Unfortunately, producers of some of those shows manipulate or spin the rules because they didn’t have the confidence to be in the right category. Producers and production companies will fight for their product, and I respect that. But manipulating the system casts a poor shadow on an art form that’s struggling. The Academy should set standards with integrity and should be unquestioned.”

Highlighting the burden on the voters, St. Petersburg Times critic Eric Deggans says, “Emmy categories haven’t kept up with the pace of TV’s evolution.

“It’s time for Emmy to pull together a panel of members to look at the categories and come up with new definitions,” Deggans says. “I’m not even sure ‘miniseries’ should be a category anymore.”

Road to the Emmys 2012: Movies and Miniseries
Smorgasbord defies easy judging | ‘Sherlock’ suffers no fools Stateside | Dark and stormy ‘Luther’ presses on Ruth-lessly | Longform serenade
>

More TV

  • Friends

    'Friends' Reunion Special in Early Planning Stages at HBO Max

    More “Friends” could well be there for you when the HBO Max rain starts to fall. An unscripted “Friends” reunion special is in the works at the forthcoming WarnerMedia streamer, Variety has confirmed with sources. Sources say original cast members Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer are in discussions [...]

  • TC3_SM_060718_238A4600.cr2

    'The Crown' New Season: Netflix to Offer Opening Episode for Free in the U.K.

    When Olivia Colman steps into the royal shoes of Queen Elizabeth II, viewers in the U.K. and Ireland will be able to watch for free as Netflix makes the eagerly awaited Season 3 curtain-raiser available gratis. The streaming giant will launch the series opener on a dedicated site for a limited period starting Sunday, making it [...]

  • T.R. Knight

    TV News Roundup: T.R. Knight Joins HBO Max's 'The Flight Attendant'

    In today’s TV news roundup, “Grey’s Anatomy” star T.R. Knight joins HBO Max’s “The Flight Attendant” and BET renewed “Games People Play.” CASTING T.R Knight has been cast in HBO Max‘s dark comedy “The Flight Attendant.“ Knight will play Cassie’s (Kaley Cuoco) older brother, Davey. When Cassie’s life starts to unravel, Davey deals with the [...]

  • Days of Our Lives Bill Hayes

    'Days of Our Lives' Cast Members Released From Contracts

    The entire cast of the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” have been released from their contracts, Variety has confirmed. The daytime drama has run for over 13,000 episodes since first debuting in 1965. The show will go on hiatus at the end of November, though it has shot enough episodes to last through the [...]

  • Live+7 Ratings Week of Oct. 28:

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Oct. 28: ‘This Is Us,' 'Grey's Anatomy' Double

    “This Is Us” and “Grey’s Anatomy” were among the biggest TV ratings growers for the week of Oct. 28. Both the NBC drama and the ABC medical show doubled their ratings after seven days of delayed viewing, with the former ending up on a 2.8 among adults 18-49 (the highest rating for a non-football show [...]

  • Taika Waititi Star Wars IG-11

    'The Mandalorian': Taika Waititi Compares Droid IG-11 to the Terminator

    Taika Waititi wants to clear up any confusion surrounding his character in the Disney Plus “Star Wars” TV series “The Mandalorian.” “The droid’s name is IG-11, a lot of people presumed it was IG-88 because he looks very much the same. [It’s] IG-11 actually.” Waititi explained to Variety. “I’ll be very honest with you. I [...]

  • Disney-Plus-Logo

    Disney Plus Launch Snafus: What Went Wrong?

    For some users, Disney Plus was a Disney Minus on its big launch day Tuesday. In its Nov. 12 debut, the service was beset by multiple problems, including Disney Plus customers being unable to log in to the service, access specific content, or use certain streaming devices — while some who called Disney’s customer service [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content