Tag Archives: Normal Heart

‘Game of Thrones’ earns 19 Emmy nominations

The sprawling and bloodthirsty saga “Game of Thrones,” defying the Emmy Awards’ grudging respect for such fantasy fare, emerged as the leader in the nominations announced Thursday with 19 bids, including best drama series.

Other top nominees included a pair of ambitious miniseries, “Fargo,” with 18 bids, and “American Horror Story: Coven,” with 17.

The AIDS drama “The Normal Heart” received 16 nominations, including best TV movie.

The meth kingpin tale “Breaking Bad” got 16 bids for its final season, including best drama and a best actor nod for star Bryan Cranston.

The 66th prime-time Emmy Awards ceremony will have big-screen star power to spare. This year’s Academy Awards best-actor winner Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”) are both nominees for TV projects, as is past Oscar winner Julia Roberts.

In the competitive best-drama series category, “Game of Thrones” will compete with “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men” and “True Detective.”

Whether HBO’s “Game of Thrones” can take home the top trophy is another question: Only one fantasy or sci-fi series, “Lost,” has ever captured it, according to Tom O’Neil, author of “The Emmys” and organizer of the Gold Derby awards site.

Snubbed in the category was “The Good Wife,” despite a season that was both critically acclaimed and gasp-inducing for the sudden, violent death of character Will Gardner (Josh Charles).

Netflix’s “House of Cards” which made a breakthrough last year as the first online series nominated for a major award, has the chance again to grab Emmy gold.

“Orange is the New Black,” also from Netflix, leaped that barrier on the flip side this time around with a bid for best comedy series, along with a nod for star Taylor Schilling.

Also competing for best comedy honors are “The Big Bang Theory,” “Louie,” “Silicon Valley,” “Veep,” and “Modern Family,” a four-time winner that has the chance to tie “Frasier” as the all-time winning sitcom with one more award.

“Orange is the New Black,” a prison-set hybrid “dramedy,” could have been entered in either the drama or comedy category, and the decision to go for the latter paid off. Not so for “Shameless,” a onetime drama contender that tried for better luck on the comedy side but failed to get a top bid.

Another category-buster is “True Detective,” the dark-hearted Southern drama that starred McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It was entered in the series category although it had a close-ended story and its stars have indicated they don’t plan on returning for the show’s second season.

But the crime anthology qualifies as a series because of the “created by” credit given to Nic Pizzolatto by the Writers Guild of America, said John Leverence, the TV academy’s senior vice president for awards. That credit serves as a “marker” to help determine a program’s first-year Emmy categorization, which can be ambiguous, Leverence said.

McConaughey and Harrelson both will vie for best drama actor honors, along with four-time winner Cranston for “Breaking Bad,” Jon Hamm for “Mad Men,” Kevin Spacey for “House of Cards,” and Jeff Daniels for “The Newsroom,” who won the Emmy last year.

Nominees in the lead actress drama category are last year’s winner, “Homeland” star Claire Danes along with Lizzy Caplan for “Masters of Sex,” Michelle Dockery for “Downton Abbey,” Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife,” Kerry Washington for “Scandal” and Robin Wright for “House of Cards.”

“I’m crazy grateful that the TV Academy has acknowledged our show in these ways,” Washington said in a statement, giving a shoutout to fellow “Scandal” nominees Joe Morton and Kate Burton. They were recognized in the guest actor and actress categories.

For comedy series, the lead actor nods went to Don Cheadle for “House of Lies,” Louis C.K. for “Louie,” Ricky Gervais for “Derek,” Matt LeBlanc for “Episodes,” William H. Macy for “Shameless” and Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory.” Parsons won the Emmy last year.

Best actress comedy nominees besides Schilling were Lena Dunham for “Girls,” Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie,” Melissa McCarthy for “Mike & Molly,” Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation” and last year’s winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for “Veep.”

“This list of nominees would also be the list for the best dinner party in history,” “Girls” creator and star Dunham said in a statement, dubbing them “fierce and funny women.”

With a resurgence of so-called long-form drama, the TV academy separated the best movie and miniseries categories that had been combined for several years because of scant entries. The acting categories, however, remain a mix of the two.

In the miniseries category, “American Horror Story: Coven” and “Fargo,” a riff on the 1996 movie of the same name, will compete with “Bonnie & Clyde,” “Luther,” “Treme” and “The White Queen.”

Along with “The Normal Heart,” the TV movie nominees are “Killing Kennedy,” “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight,” “Sherlock: His Last Vow (Masterpiece)” and “The Trip to Bountiful.”

Roberts is a supporting actress nominee for “The Normal Heart.” Ejiofor earned a bid for the miniseries “Dancing on the Edge.”

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards will air Monday, Aug. 25, on NBC, with emcee Seth Meyers, the former “Saturday Night Live” player and new NBC late-night host. The ceremony, traditionally held on Sunday, was moved to avoid a conflict with NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and with MTV’s Video Music Awards.

HBO received a leading 99 nominations, followed by CBS with 47; NBC, 46; FX Networks, 45; ABC, 37; PBS, 34; Showtime, 24, and Fox, 18.



‘Normal Heart’ beats with outrage

A long time in the making (Barbra Streisand held up the screen rights for years), the movie adaptation of Larry Kramer’s difficult early AIDS-era play The Normal Heart finally premiered May 25 on HBO. It was a fitting start for the Memorial Day Weekend, as there are so many friends, family and loved ones who must not be forgotten.

The Normal Heart opens in 1981 with the arrival of Ned Weeks (an impassioned Mark Ruffalo in a career-high performance) at Fire Island Pines, the epicenter of the nation’s gay sexual revolution and recreational drug use. A semi-autobiographical character, Weeks is, like Kramer, a writer who has pissed off more than a few of Fire Island’s regulars for his negative views on promiscuity, especially those he published in a book (Kramer shook up the gay world with the novel Faggots). While he remains aloof to the scene, Weeks is far from chaste.

The occasion for his visit to the Pines is the birthday celebration for Craig (Jonathan Groff), lover of closeted ex-marine/current Wall Streeter Bruce (Taylor Kitsch, who is hereby forgiven for all of his past bad acting choices). The festive atmosphere, however, is short-lived.

Beginning with the 1981 article in The New York Times about a rare cancer that appeared to affect only gay men, The Normal Heart beats hard, fast and erratic. Sanford, a shop owner who recognizes Ned at the doctor’s office, has lesions of Kaposi’s sarcoma — a rare form of cancer prevalent during the early years of AIDS.  Dr. Emma Brookner (an unglamorous, wheelchair-bound Julia Roberts in the most impressive performance of her career) tells Ned that she’s seen several patients like Sanford. But she’s frustrated by the lack of response from gay organizations, which she needs to help her get out the word about the yet-unnamed disease.

Brookner enlists Ned, and his notorious big mouth, to enlighten New York’s promiscuous gay community about the possible link between the cancer and sex. Ned organizes a meeting with Brookner and members of the community. It goes badly, beginning with Brookner’s startling announcement, “You’re all going to infect each other and you’re all going to die.”

The men, not ready to give up their new-found freedom, jeer as they quickly flee Brookner and her dire prophecy. Ned welcomes her to “gay politics.”

In pursuit of getting journalistic coverage, Ned meets handsome, closeted New York Times writer Felix (Matt Bomer) and a romance develops. But this glimmer of joy is overshadowed by the increasing number of deaths, the mistreatment of hospital patients with GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency, as the disease was then known), the lack of government funding and closeted New York Mayor Ed Koch’s refusal to deal with the disease out of fear it would lead to outing him and high-ranking members of his staff. 

The 1982 formation of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, with Bruce as president, is a turning point. Executive director Tommy (a brilliant Jim Parsons) becomes the voice of reason (and much-needed humor) during some of the film’s most heated moments. Ned’s short fuse and sharp tongue continues to vex him, and by extension the organization. Making matters worse, Felix discovers a KS lesion on his foot. If you haven’t already cried a few times at this point during the movie, check your pulse and be sure to have a box of tissues handy.

As a director, Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) is no Mike Nichols, but he holds his own. Some of his trademark visuals work quite effectively. To his credit, Murphy doesn’t shy away from the sex, some of which is depicted graphically. It’s a necessary component of the story.

As with HBO’s award-winning adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Angels In America (directed by Nichols), The Normal Heart is finding its audience not in movie theaters, but in people’s homes. In some ways, that’s preferable, as The Normal Heart is a draining tear-jerker that raises a lot of difficult questions that still warrant discussion. 

With young gay and bisexual men, particularly of color, continuing to disproportionately represent new cases of HIV, The Normal Heart should be required viewing for millennials. For many of the rest of us, it’s an accurately bleak trip down the memory lane of horrors that formed the backbone of our later political succsses.

Ruffalo calls Oscar nom a win for equality

“The Kids Are All Right,” out director Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy about a lesbian couple raising two children, received four Academy Award nominations, including a nod for best picture. Actor Mark Ruffalo, a best supporting actor nominee for his role as the children’s sperm donor, called his honor “a win for marriage equality.”

“It is with great honor and humility that I receive my Oscar nomination,” Ruffalo said in a prepared statement. “I have been included with a group of top-notch actors who I respect and admire. I am humbled to be in their presence. I also would like to acknowledge the power of ensemble acting. The kind of acting that happened in this movie does not exist in a bubble. Any honor that I receive must be shared with Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska, the rest of the cast, and of course the inimitable Lisa Cholodenko. Thank you to the Academy. This nomination is a win for Marriage Equality and that is the most I could hope for.”

Ruffalo is also set to star in the long-awaited film adaptation of “The Normal Heart,” Larry Kramer’s play about the early days of the AIDS epidemic. “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy is attached to the project and Kramer has written the screenplay adaptation.

Cholodenko also released a statement following the Oscar announcements. She lamented the omission of a nod for Julianne Moore, who played Bening’s partner in the film.

“It’s incredible to think that this morning’s Oscar nominations go back seven years to the fateful day Stuart Blumberg and I crossed paths in a Los Angeles coffee shop and agreed to write “Kids” together,” Cholodenko said. “If luck is preparation meeting opportunity, then that was the opportunity, hands down! I’m thrilled that I’ll be at the Kodak Theatre next month with Stuart, Mark Ruffalo, Annette Bening, Jeff Levy-Hinte, and my other producers who worked so hard to get this film made. I only regret that Julianne Moore didn’t get the acting nomination she so richly deserved. But the picture nomination is as much hers as ours. We couldn’t have made this film without her heart, smarts and loyalty, not to mention her outstanding performance.”