Critics’ Choice Awards Winners: Geeks, Rap Stars and Amy, Archer and The Americans

It was a night of fresh faces being anointed and returning favorites being rewarded with more acclaim at the fifth annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards.

 

The awards, considered by many to be a precursor to the Emmys, are voted on by the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) and were presented at the Beverly Hilton Sunday night at a gala hosted by Cat Deeley, which was broadcast live on A&E.

 

In what many have felt was a very long time coming, FX’s spy drama “The Americans” – which recently completed its third season – took the prize as best drama while the second season of “Silicon Valley” (HBO) knocked out the competition to claim best comedy.

 

Among the crop of crowned winners were two leads in new dramas. Taraji P. Henson was honored as Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Cookie Lyon on Fox’s “Empire” and Bob Odenkirk received Best Actor in a Drama Series for AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” Proving once more that the critics retain a place in their hearts for its beloved, late parent, “Breaking Bad.”

 

On the comedy side, Jeffrey Tambor was awarded Best Actor in a Comedy Series for “Transparent” (Amazon) and Amy Schumer took Best Actress in a Comedy Series for “Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central). She unseated “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who has taken home that trophy for the past two years.

 

In all, 18 of the best series in television were honored and HBO was the most awarded network with seven wins, followed by FX, which took home three trophies.

 

HBO’s limited series “Olive Kitteridge,” which starred Frances McDormand and Bill Murray, came away from the night as the most honored program with three wins. The pay cabler’s telefilm “Bessie,” with Queen Latifah playing the title role, was awarded best made for television movie.

In what has become a four year tradition, “Archer” (FX) was honored as Best Animated Series. For the second year in a row, Allison Janney was awarded Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role in CBS’s “Mom.”

 

In receiving the award, she was subject to a lengthy kiss from presenter and new late night host James Corden, a kind of role reversal from the infamous Adrien Brody-Hallie Berry Oscar smooch.

 

And in another unexpected moment, Syfy’s ”Face Off” received the Best Reality Competition Series award, topping a field that included favorites like “The Voice,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Amazing Race.”

 

The reality series prize went to ABC’s “Shark Tank” while Cat Deeley was awarded Best Reality Show Host for “So You Think You Can Dance” (FOX).

 

In what is certain to be the beginning of a last round of kudos before the show changes hosts in September, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central) won for Best Talk Show for the third time.

But there were more newcomers for the trophies. Jonathan Banks was awarded Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for “Better Call Saul,” T.J. Miller was named Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for “Silicon Valley” and Lorraine Toussaint was given Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for “Orange Is the New Black” (Neflix).

 

Veteran actors also got their due. Sam Elliott was named Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series for his role in “Justified” (FX) and Bradley Whitford took home Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series for his role in “Transparent.”

David Oyelowo was honored as Best Actor in a Movie or Limited Series for his role in “Nightingale” (HBO), and Sarah Paulson won Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Limited Series for her role in “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX).

 

BTJA honored Seth MacFarlane with the Critics’ Choice LOUIS XIII Genius Award for demonstrating unprecedented excellence in the television arts. Charlize Theron, his co-star in “A Million Ways To Die In The West,” presented the award to the CCTA and two-time Emmy Award winner.

 

In a characteristically irreverent speech, the man behind “Family Guy” and “Ted” diminished the award, saying that being called a genius in Hollywood was “kind of like being called thin at Disneyland.” MacFarlane concluded by saying, “Because you guys are being so cool here, I’m going to give you an out. You can take this back after you’ve seen ‘Ted 2’ and Mark Wahlberg gets sperm in his eyes. In all seriousness, all I can say is that I’m very grateful, and if my work has made the world even just a tiny bit better … I would be incredibly surprised.”

 

The audience award for Most Bingeworthy Series went to “The Walking Dead” (AMC.)

Honored as Most Exciting New Series were “American Crime Story” (FX), “Aquarius” (NBC), “Blindspot” (NBC), “Minority Report” (FOX), “The Muppets” (ABC), “Scream Queens” (FOX), “Supergirl” (CBS) and “UnREAL” (Lifetime).
The Critics’ Choice Television Awards honored programs and performances that aired between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015, except for the Most Exciting New Series category, which are shows premiering after May 1, 2015.

WINNERS OF THE 2015 CRITICS’ CHOICE TELEVISION AWARDS

Best Drama Series: The Americans (FX)
Best Actor in a Drama Series: Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Best Actress in a Drama Series: Taraji P. Henson, Empire (FOX)Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Lorraine Toussaint, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series: Sam Elliott, Justified (FX)
Best Comedy Series: Silicon Valley (HBO)Best Actor in a Comedy Series: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
Best Actress in a Comedy Series: Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: T.J. Miller, Silicon Valley (HBO)
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Allison Janey, Mom (CBS)Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series: Bradley Whitford, Transparent (Amazon)
Best Movie Made for Television: Bessie (HBO)

Best Limited Series: Olive Kitteridge (HBO)
Best Actor in a Movie or Limited Series: David Oyelowo, Nightingale (HBO)Best Actress in a Movie or Limited Series: Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge (HBO)
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Limited Series: Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Limited Series: Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)
Best Reality Series: Shark Tank (ABC)Best Reality Competition Series: Face Off (Syfy)
Best Reality Series Host: Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)

Best Talk Show: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Best Animated Series: Archer (FX)

Critics’ Choice LOUIS XIII Genius Award: Seth MacFarlane
Most Exciting New Series: American Crime Story (FX), Aquarius (NBC), Blindspot (NBC), Minority Report (FOX), The Muppets (ABC), Scream Queens (FOX), Supergirl (CBS) and UnREAL (Lifetime)

Awards Tally by Networks, Channels & Distributors

HBO – 7
FX – 4
Amazon – 2
AMC – 2
Comedy Central – 2
FOX – 2
ABC – 1
CBS – 1
Netflix – 1
Syfy – 1

Awards Tally by Show

Olive Kitteridge – HBO – 3
Better Call Saul – AMC – 2
Silicon Valley – HBO – 2
Transparent – Amazon – 2
The Americans – FX – 1
American Horror Story: Freak Show – FX – 1
Archer – FX – 1
Bessie – HBO – 1
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – Comedy Central – 1
Empire – FOX – 1
Face Off – Syfy – 1
Inside Amy Schumer – Comedy Central – 1
Justified – FX – 1
Mom – CBS – 1
Nightingale – HBO – 1
Orange Is the New Black – Netflix – 1
Shark Tank – ABC – 1
So You Think You Can Dance – FOX – 1

 

Television Academy Honors Salute Six Noteworthy Programs

They are the programs on television that are most effective in creating awareness and often social change around important issues, whether they be pure entertainment or documentary in form – or anywhere along the spectrum. Sometimes they are hard to watch, whether they elicit tears, or discomfort– and sometimes, nervous laughter. As a general rule, they are enlightening and challenging.

Programs like “Transparent,” “Virunga” and “Paycheck to Paycheck ” represent some of the more than 150 entries that are submitted every year for recognition at the Television Academy Honors.

Those three programs, along with ”black-ish,” “The Normal Heart” and “E:60” received honors that were handed out last week, for the eighth year, in ceremonies hosted by Dana Delany at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.

This year’s six honorees were chosen from a wide swath of shows on broadcast, cable and digital, with their subject matter ranging from AIDS to poverty to child abuse and the struggle involved in surviving a terrorist attack.

“These are programs that raise awareness and important questions – they may even raise the ire in some,” said Bruce Rosenblum, the Television Academy’s chairman and CEO. “Tonight we honor their creators and the messages they bring us, for we believe that these programs are exceptional, thought-provoking and ultimately powerful motivators of change.”

Rosenblum complimented the committee and the efforts of two former Academy chairs, Dick Askin and John Shaffner, as well as Lynn Roth, who formerly chaired the Television Cares committee. “It was their hard work and tireless commitment that gave life and form to the shared vision of recognizing programs that address socially important, often difficult subjects with honesty, clarity and courage.”

First up for recognition, adding to the huge amount it has already received, was HBO’s “The Normal Heart,” which chronicles the sacrifices and the triumphs of the early days of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Starring Mark Ruffalo as a gay writer who begins to investigate the growing number of unexplained deaths of gay men at that time, the telefilm is based on Larry Kramer’s 1985 play of the same name.

“This was a labor of love for Ryan Murphy and Larry Kramer, who pulled it together with a fantastic cast,” said Tara Grace, VP of HBO films. “It was an opportunity to inform, educate and entertain. Many people did not even know about this before they saw the film.”

Netflix’s “Virunga” takes viewers across the world to the heart of Africa – to the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a 3,000 square mile protected area that is home to a wide range of species including the critically endangered mountain gorillas, of which there are about 800 left.

The Oscar-nominated documentary tells the story of four people including the park’s chief warden and an investigative journalist and their extraordinary efforts to protect the park and its resources, even as oil exploration and poaching continue to take a devastating toll on animal populations.

Having just marked the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, ESPN’s E:60 “Dream on: Stories of Boston’s Strongest” brings to vivid life the struggle for survival of five of the more than 260 people injured during the two bomb blasts in April, 2013. One of them, Marc Fucarile, had the distinction of being hospitalized the longest after losing his right leg and suffering severe burns to his left leg.

“It tells you how people were able to fight back and never give up,” said Bob Woodruff, who narrated the documentary, which was executive produced by Andy Tennant. “It tells you something about the people of Boston – and our country.”

HBO’s documentary “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert” delves into the circumstances of a single mother raising three young children who earns $9.49 an hour as a certified nursing assistant, struggling to make ends meet and not being able to afford health insurance.

“Poverty isn’t what you think it looks like,” said Maria Shriver, who took the stage with Ms. Gilbert. “It’s so moving to me to inform, inspire and entertain and to be in the company of all these honorees. I hope it encourages more people to do these kind of projects.”

“Black-ish,” the ABC comedy, received the honor for an episode called “Crime and Punishment.” It explores the question many parents debate as they face situations in which their children misbehave: When does discipline become child abuse?

“The conversation is what makes this show so special,” said creator Kenya Barris, who accepted the award in the company of cast members including Laurence Fishburne, Tracee Ellis Ross and the young actors who play the children on the show. “We try to be sincere and honest. Thankfully, it’s resonated.”

“Transparent,” whose second season will soon be released on Amazon, also portrays a family who is trying to live authentically.

“We are doing something more than TV, more than making money,” said creator Jill Soloway. “Amazon said ‘do your thing.’ We’re not answering to a committee or trying to sell something. It’s an honor to take on the mantle of being part of a civil rights movement for transgender people that is just getting started.”

–Hillary Atkin

 

Excitement Builds for 5th Annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards on A&E

While its sister awards for films have been around for two decades now, the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, airing Sunday night on A&E, will be just five years old. Yet in that short time, early childhood in terms of awards show longevity, the CCTAs have made a deep impact on the TV industry.

Growing from a luncheon in its first year to several years of non-televised gala dinners that recognize multiple categories of artistry on the small screen, the CCTAs were first broadcast on the CW before landing at their new network home of A&E, which also aired the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards this past January.

What’s different about the Television Awards is the body of voters are people who watch TV for a living, members of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), and thus are more inclined to recognize talent straight out of the gate and as well to crown a new crop of contenders every year–or at least to spread the wealth a bit.

That’s nothing against great programs that year after year get awards recognition during their runs. But it’s also beneficial to viewers to bring attention to programs that might otherwise get lost on the playlist. “Orphan Black” is a perfect example, a one-of-a-kind drama airing on BBC America that the critics were quick to recognize.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the organization and have hopefully contributed to some of its impact.

This year’s awards show, which will be hosted by Cat Deeley promises inherent drama and comedy just by the nature of the nominees. Another highlight will be when Charlize Theron presents the LOUIS XIII Genius Award to two-time Emmy Award winner Seth MacFarlane.

Both the marquee categories of best comedy series and best drama series boast freshman shows. For drama, that is of course Fox’s “Empire,” which made a huge splash commercially and critically during its recently ended first season. On the comedy side, we have FX’s “You’re the Worst” and the CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” both of which premiered in fall 2014.

Take a look at the list of nominees and be sure to tune in to A&E Sunday, May 31 for the red carpet preshow at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m.ET, followed by the two-hour awards ceremony beginning at 5p/8p.

BEST COMEDY SERIES

  • Broad City (Comedy Central)
  • Jane the Virgin (The CW)
  • Mom (CBS)
  • Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • Transparent (Amazon)
  • Veep (HBO)
  • You’re the Worst (FX)

 

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

  • Anthony Anderson, Blackish (ABC)
  • Chris Messina, The Mindy Project (FOX)
  • Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent (Amazon)
  • Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth (FOX)

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

  • Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
  • Constance Wu, Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)
  • Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin (The CW)
  • Ilana Glazer, Broad City (Comedy Central)
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
  • Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback (HBO)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

  • Adam Driver, Girls (HBO)
  • Cameron Monaghan, Shameless (Showtime)
  • Jaime Camil, Jane the Virgin (The CW)
  • T.J. Miller, Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
  • Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES

  • Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)
  • Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia (IFC)
  • Eden Sher, The Middle (ABC)
  • Judith Light, Transparent (Amazon)
  • Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Melanie Lynskey, Togetherness (HBO)

 

BEST GUEST PERFORMER IN A COMEDY SERIES

  • Becky Ann Baker, Girls (HBO)
  • Bradley Whitford, Transparent (Amazon)
  • Josh Charles, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
  • Laurie Metcalf, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Peter Gallagher, Togetherness (HBO)
  • Susie Essman, Broad City (Comedy Central)

 

BEST MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION

·         Bessie (HBO)

·         Killing Jesus (National Geographic Channel)

·         Nightingale (HBO)

·         A Poet in New York (BBC America)

·         Stockholm, Pennsylvania (Lifetime)

 

BEST LIMITED SERIES

·         24: Live Another Day (FOX)

·         American Crime (ABC)

·         The Book of Negroes (BET)

·         The Honorable Woman (Sundance)

·         Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

·         Wolf Hall (PBS)

 

BEST ACTOR IN A MOVIE OR LIMITED SERIES

·         David Oyelowo – Nightingale (HBO)

·         James Nesbitt – The Missing (Starz)

·         Kiefer Sutherland – 24: Live Another Day (FOX)

·         Mark Rylance – Wolf Hall (PBS)

·         Michael Gambon – The Casual Vacancy (HBO)

·         Richard Jenkins – Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A MOVIE OR LIMITED SERIES

·         Aunjanue Ellis – The Book of Negroes (BET)

·         Felicity Huffman – American Crime (ABC)

·         Frances McDormand – Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

·         Jessica Lange – American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)

·         Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Honorable Woman (Sundance)

·         Queen Latifah – Bessie (HBO)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MOVIE OR LIMITED SERIES

·         Bill Murray – Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

·         Cory Michael Smith – Olive Kitteridge (HBO)

·         Elvis Nolasco – American Crime (ABC)

·         Finn Wittrock – American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)

·         Jason Isaacs – Stockholm, Pennsylvania (Lifetime)

·         Jonathan Pryce – Wolf Hall (PBS)

 

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE OR LIMITED SERIES

·         Claire Foy – Wolf Hall (PBS)

·         Cynthia Nixon – Stockholm, Pennsylvania (Lifetime)

·         Janet McTeer – The Honorable Woman (Sundance)

·         Khandi Alexander – Bessie (HBO)

·         Mo’Nique – Bessie (HBO)

·         Sarah Paulson – American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX)

 

BEST DRAMA SERIES

  • The Americans (FX)
  • Empire (Fox)
  • Game of Thrones (HBO)
  • The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Homeland (Showtime)
  • Justified (FX)
  • Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

  • Eva Green – Penny Dreadful (Showtime)
  • Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Keri Russell – The Americans (FX)
  • Taraji P. Henson – Empire (FOX)
  • Vera Farmiga – Bates Motel (A&E)
  • Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)

 

BEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

  • Aden Young – Rectify (Sundance)
  • Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul (AMC)
  • Charlie Hunnam – Sons of Anarchy (FX)
  • Freddie Highmore – Bates Motel (A&E)
  • Matthew Rhys – The Americans (FX)
  • Timothy Olyphant – Justified (FX)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

  • Carrie Coon – The Leftovers (HBO)
  • Christine Baranski – The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Joelle Carter – Justified (FX)
  • Katheryn Winnick – Vikings (History)
  • Lorraine Toussaint – Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
  • Mae Whitman – Parenthood (NBC)

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

  • Ben Mendelsohn – Bloodline (Netflix)
  • Christopher Eccleston – The Leftovers (HBO)
  • Craig T. Nelson – Parenthood (NBC)
  • Jonathan Banks – Better Call Saul (AMC)
  • Mandy Patinkin – Homeland (Showtime)
  • Walton Goggins – Justified (FX)

GUEST PERFORMER IN A DRAMA SERIES

  • Cicely Tyson – How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
  • Julianne Nicholson – Masters of Sex (Showtime)
  • Linda Lavin – The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Lois Smith – The Americans (FX)
  • Sam Elliott – Justified (FX)
  • Walton Goggins – Sons of Anarchy (FX)

 

BEST REALITY SERIES

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)
  • Deadliest Catch (Discovery Channel)
  • Married at First Sight (A&E)
  • MythBusters (Discovery Channel)
  • Shark Tank (ABC)
  • Undercover Boss (CBS)

 

BEST REALITY COMPETITION SERIES

  • The Amazing Race (CBS)
  • America’s Got Talent (NBC)
  • Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
  • Face Off (Syfy)
  • Master Chef Junior (FOX)
  • The Voice (NBC)

BEST REALITY SERIES HOST

  • Anthony Bourdain – Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)
  • Betty White – Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (Lifetime)
  • Cat Deeley – So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)
  • James Lipton – Inside the Actors Studio (Bravo)
  • Phil Keoghan – The Amazing Race (CBS)
  • Tom Bergeron – Dancing with the Stars (ABC)

 

BEST ANIMATED SERIES

  • Archer (FX)
  • Bob’s Burgers (FOX)
  • Gravity Falls (Disney Channel)
  • The Simpsons (FOX)
  • South Park (Comedy Central)
  • Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD)

 

 

BEST TALK SHOW

  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
  • The Graham Norton Show (BBC America)
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS)
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)

 

Toe to Toe with ‘Togetherness,’ ‘Portlandia’ and ‘The Last Man on Earth’

“Portlandia.” “Togetherness.” “The Last Man on Earth.” They are three of the most eclectic, indie comedies on television, each with a unique point of view that has garnered enthusiastic audiences. They have something else in common. All are hoping their efforts will be recognized this awards season.

The creators of the three shows came together at an FYC event at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills May 21.

“We’re in your house, movies,” exclaimed Michael Schneider of TV Guide, who moderated the panel of participants representing their respective comedies on Fox, HBO and IFC—Will Forte, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Carrie Brownstein and Jonathan Krisel.

The evening ricocheted between humor, with multiple clips shown from each program, and serious business as the show creators discussed their creative challenges and production schedules.

While IFC’s “Portlandia” is heading into its sixth season and has been renewed for a seventh, Fox’s “Last Man” and HBO’s “Togetherness” are the new kids on the block, each having recently completed their first seasons.

Forte has already notched a 2015 Critics’ Choice nomination for best actor in a comedy series, “Togetherness” garnered two such noms for performers, while Brownstein also landed a Critics’ Choice nod as a contender for best supporting actress in a comedy series. Since debuting in 2011, “Portlandia” has received 11 Primetime Emmy nominations and won two, both for best costumes. The show also took home the 2013 WGA Award for comedy/variety series and a Peabody Award in 2012.

Previously best-known for his roles on “Saturday Night Live” and in the feature film “Nebraska,” Forte created and stars in “Last Man” and initially thought it would be a cable show. “There’s been a willingness on the part of the networks to try something new,” he said. “We’ve had a wonderful experience with Fox. They’ve really stood behind us and been very supportive. But it was a little tricky to figure out with the marketing as new characters enter and it’s not just me.”

Cue clip from the pilot episode of his bearded character, Phil Miller, breaking a store window by shooting it out so he can go speak to a female mannequin, while his companion, a white soccer ball with a face drawn on it, patiently waits in the car.

“We had all these ideas,” Forte said. “You want the character to be likable. You want a sympathetic character, but let’s take this ride and see where it takes him emotionally.”

As for being a first-time showrunner, Forte said it was a lot more work than he thought and reflected back on the “insanely good” hours he had working on other shows including “3rd Rock from the Sun” and “That ‘70s Show.”

“Somehow we skipped some steps. I had no idea what it was like to be a showrunner,” he said. “I’m an over-thinker. But I’m definitely not going through it alone. You get to put in writers that are good friends and I’m very proud of what we’ve done. We learned so many lessons, but we have to make it more efficient.”

For Jay and Mark Duplass, prolific independent filmmakers, “Togetherness” is their first television experience on this level and they agree it’s been one of great learning, and pleasure.

“The pressure of opening weekend is off in TV. If it takes a little while, it takes a little while and that’s comforting,” said Mark Duplass, who stars in and with his brother also executive produces the domestic comedy set in Eagle Rock, a section of LA known for being where hipsters go to raise families. “We were indie, small auteurs and nervous as filmmakers that TV would take over our lives. But 8 to 10 episodes is like two movies. It feels very similar. It’s very handcrafted.”

“It felt like more than a movie because we kept writing,” added Jay Duplass, who is also known for his acting roles on “Transparent” and “The Mindy Project.” “It’s fun and easy to write a 28-minute script and to see that we can delve into specific yet subtle things about people’s internal lives and get to know the characters. We’re weirdly suited to it.”

Compared to the newbies, “Portlandia” is a more well-oiled machine, what Krisel called a sketch show with narrative. He said the concept changed a bit in the fifth season so that the upcoming Season 6 is like Season 2 of a new format.

“We decided let’s just change it and get deeper into it. Let’s go for it,” said Krisel, who has directed nearly all of the episodes. “It’s still a sketch show.”

“We live and die by minutia. It triggers pain and joy,” said Brownstein, who costars with Fred Armisen. “We are keen observers of those moments. There’s something in that absurdity that defines the universe.”

Brownstein, who said she was leaving at 4:30 a.m. the next morning for a gig in Seattle with her band Sleater-Kinney, was asked by Schneider about juggling the show and being a musician.

“It doesn’t feel schizophrenic,” she said. “We make it work. I’m so grateful to be able to do both.”

The discussion about music fueled a conversation about buying music rights for the respective shows. Krisel says “Portlandia” still operates from the assumption that they don’t have money for anything while “HBO pays double,” according to the Duplass brothers.

–Hillary Atkin

Celebrating Good Times for a Great Cause at Sir Elton John’s Oscar Bash

Even a torrential downpour couldn’t dampen the spirits at the 23rd annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party hosted by Sir Elton John and David Furnish. In spectacular fashion, the event raised nearly $6 million for AIDS research.

With all those funds raised for a good cause, the glitzy celebration marks the grand finale to awards season, beginning with cocktails before the Oscars followed by a festive five-course dinner, a rousing musical performance and then a rollicking afterparty that goes into the wee hours.

The crowd went crazy when Sir Elton joined Nile Rodgers and Chic for the end of their set that featured classic hits including “Le Freak,” “We Are Family,” “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsa, Yowsa, Yowsa),” “Everybody Dance,” and “Good Times.”

Held again at a specially designed tent set up at the City of West Hollywood Park across from the Pacific Design Center, guests watched the ceremony and later, the musical performance in a glamorous ballroom set with purple tablecloths and beautiful floral centerpieces.

For the third consecutive year, Chef Gordon Ramsay designed the menu, assisted by Chef Wayne Elias of Crumble Catering. It featured Hamachi crudo, curried cauliflower soup, pan seared sea bass or rosemary crusted filet and a mixed green salad of butter lettuce, radicchio and watercress, dressed with white balsamic vinaigrette. For dessert, a delicious concoction of meringue, lemon zest, strawberries and vanilla Chantilly.

Famous faces in the crowd ran the spectrum of entertainment, fashion and music and included Heidi Klum, Miley Cyrus, Alec Baldwin, Robert Duvall, Tim Allen, Aaron Paul, John Stamos, Chris Colfer, Beck, Lil’ Kim, Ryan Kwanten, Cloris Leachman, Judith Light, Rob Lowe, Moby, Lydia Hearst, Ozzy, Jack, Kelly and Sharon Osbourne, Petra Nemcova, Cody Simpson, Gigi Hadid, Dita VonTeese, Brittany Snow, Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin, Alessandra Ambrosio, Camilla Belle, Nina Dobrev, Sandra Lee, Jane Seymour, Sia, Russell Simmons, Bellamy Young, Sarah Hyland, The Band Perry, Julianne Hough, Maggie Grace, Peter Fonda, JC Chavez, Dermot Mulroney, Jonathan Groff, Chris Hardwick,Jared Harris, Eric McCormack, Giovani Ribisi, and Bryshere Y. Gray, among others.

The auction is always a big part of the event, which is cosponsored by Chopard, Neuro Drinks and Wells Fargo. This year sought after items included two tickets to the Vanity Fair Oscar Party later that night, the Alex Prager photograph Sheryl: 2009, the Jeurgen Teller photograph of Joan Didion for the Céline Campaign Spring Summer 2015, a Stephen Somerstein print of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking to marchers at the end of the famous trek from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama in 1965, a Greg Gorman photograph and portrait sitting, an all-inclusive, four-night stay for four people at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort and a five-day stay for four people at Steven Tyler’s Hawaiian Retreat.

Throughout the evening, guests were able to make donations to the Elton John AIDS Foundation by using their cell phones and were urged to give as much as they could via video messages from long-time EJAF supporters Matt Lauer and 87th Annual Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris, as well as live messages from EJAF friends Alec Baldwin and Mike Myers.

Even though it’s considered one of the year’s most fun and freewheeling parties, the serious message of fundraising was underscored by Sir Elton.

“What we’re able to do in just one evening continues to amaze me,” he told the crowd.  “Because of your generosity last year, we helped nearly 70,000 people across the U.S. and the Caribbean to receive regular HIV testing services. Because you cared, an additional 15,000 people were able to stay in continuous medical care, and nearly 12,000 achieved complete viral suppression. That’s an amazing achievement. And this year, we’re poised to do even more.”

He ended on an extremely positive and hopeful note: “Together, we’re making real progress against this epidemic by helping one person, one community, at a time. And it is not at all unrealistic to think that together we can end AIDS in our lifetime.”

–Hillary Atkin

 

 

 

 

Cheers! Women in Film Celebrates Oscar Contenders with Champagne and Cocktails

There were countless champagne toasts all around as Women in Film feted the femmes—the 44 women nominated for the 87th annual Academy Awards out of a list of more than 200.

 

And since we’re talking numbers, it was the Eighth Annual Women In Film Pre-Oscar Cocktail Party presented by MaxMara, BMW, Tiffany & Co., M·A·C Cosmetics and Perrier-Jouët– and about 30 of those female contenders came to the party, along with a couple of hundred other VIP guests.

 

WIF president Cathy Schulman and Oscar-winning actress and recording artist  Jennifer Hudson were the hostesses with the mostest for the soirée, which was held at the lovely new Hyde Sunset Kitchen + Cocktails in Los Angeles on Friday night before the Academy Awards.

 

“I feel very inspired,” Hudson told the exuberant crowd when she took the stage with Schulman. “So many of these ladies have inspired my life and my career. I come from a very powerful background of women, and this is an extension of that.”

 

Even in the well-behaved crowd, things got a bit chaotic as Meryl Streep entered the room. Well-wishers and photographers crowded around the woman known as the queen of modern acting. Streep’s nomination for her role in “Into the Woods” was her 19th nod, and she is the most-nominated actor in Academy Awards history. She has three Oscars.

Other acting nominees schmoozing the room included Laura Dern and Rosamond Pike, who talked about their roles in “Wild” and “Gone Girl.” Pike, with a newborn son, talked about the dichotomy of wearing comfortable clothes at home and getting completely glammed up for the series of awards season events culminating in the Oscars

It was a festive night for WIF Board of Director and actress Lake Bell who celebrated the evening with Michelle Monaghan and Kate Flannery.

Other Oscar nominees in attendance included Aneta Kopacz (Documentary – Short Subject, Joanna), Anna Pinnock (Production Design, The Grand Budapest Hotel & Into the Woods), Anna B. Sheppard (Costume Design, Maleficent), Becky Sullivan (Sound Editing, Unbroken), Bonnie Arnold (Animated Feature Film, How to Train Your Dragon 2), Cathleen Sutherland (Best Picture, Boyhood), Charlotte Watts (Production Design, Mr. Turner), Daisy Jacobs (Short Film – Animated, The Bigger Picture), Dana Perry (Documentary – Short Subject, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1), Danielle Brisebois (Music – Original Song, Begin Again), David Lancaster (Best Picture, Whiplash), Diane Warren (Music – Original Song, Beyond the Lights), Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou (Makeup and Hairstyling, Guardians of the Galaxy), Ellen Gossenberg Kent (Documentary – Short Subject, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1), Frances Hannon (Makeup and Hairstyling, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Helen Estabrook (Best Picture, Whiplash), Ido Ostrowsky (Best Picture, The Imitation Game), Joanna Natasegara (Documentary Feature, Virunga), Kristina Reed (Short Film – Animated, Feast), Laura Dern (Supporting Actress, Wild), Laura Poitras (Documentary Feature, Citizenfour), Lisa Bruce (Best Picture, The Theory of Everything), Mathilde Bonnefoy (Documentary Feature, Citizenfour), Meryl Streep (Supporting Actress, Into the Woods), Mihal Brezis (Short Film – Live Action, Aya), Nora Grossman (Best Picture, The Imitation Game), Oded Binnun (Short Film – Live Action, Aya), Rory Kennedy (Documentary Feature, Last Days in Vietnam), Rosamund Pike (Leading Actress, Gone Girl), Talkhon Hamzavi (Short Film – Live Action, Parvaneh), and Tatiana Macdonald (Production Design, The Imitation Game).

Others spotted in the crowd included Patty LuPone, Peter Fonda and Elle Fanning.

As a parting gift, guests received a M·A·C Cosmetics box with products curated by Oscar-nominated makeup artists Frances Hannon (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) and Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou (“Guardians of the Galaxy”).

 

 

 

Spirits Flow Freely at a Speakeasy-Themed Governors Ball

It was a grandiose, one night only special event that was months in the making – the 2015 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Governors Ball, which was produced for a 26th year by Cheryl Cecchetto of Sequoia Productions with Jeffrey Kurland, the chair of the Ball and an Academy governor.

The Governors Ball is the first stop after the Oscars for everyone who’s been in the Dolby Theatre during the 3 ½ hour ceremony. Winners, nominees, presenters, studio executives – they all make their way inside joining Ray Dolby ballroom for the event, which has the eyes of the world upon it.

Every year, the Sequoia team comes up with a unique theme for the 1,500 guests. Several years ago, assigned and numbered tables were dispensed with favor of a less formal, lounging atmosphere each attendees could more easily mix and mingle.

The 2015 edition was meant to evoke a speakeasy with its rich decor and in true speakeasy style, the libations were flowing and there were countless toasts to the winners of the golden 8 ½ pound statue called Oscar.

Sterling Vineyards once again provided the exclusive wines for Hollywood’s biggest night. Vintners at the prestigious Napa winery created two custom wines especially for the event, Sterling Vineyards Limited Edition Gold Standard Reserve White and the Limited Edition Red Carpet Reserve Red. There were also three other vintages available including the label’s premium Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The wines were chosen to pair with the Governors Ball special menu created once again by esteemed Chef Wolfgang Puck. All told, nearly 13,500 glasses of Sterling Vineyards wines were poured during the pre-show and the Ball.

Piper Heidsieck was the official champagne of the 87th annual Oscars. The revered French champagne house, founded in 1785, this year began a three-year deal with the Academy to be the exclusive bubbly provider. The brand poured its rare Prestige Cuvée at the Ball, along with its celebrated Cuvée Brut and its bold Rosé Sauvage.

This year the decor was inspired by Hollywood’s own legacy, the Academy’s archives and library of motion picture history. There were deep muted tones and colors that evoked glamour and royalty. There were deep burgundy velvet draperies on the walls and the same color tones in the carpeting while the tablecloths featured more vibrant purple shades and rococo patterns rich with gold and burgundy.

Each had a beautiful centerpiece designed by noted florist Mark’s Garden, while some featured votive and pillar candles and others had vintage table lamps. The beautiful linens were from Resource One.

The Academy pulled thousands of images of movie stars– everyone from Hattie McDaniel to Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant and Clark Gable to Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet – images that were used in large illuminated photo collages that stood 13 feet high and were placed around the room. Hundreds of the images were reproduced and framed as souvenirs for guests to take home, just another memorable element of a spectacular evening.

Couture and Beauty at Roger Neal Style Hollywood Awards Suite

For coming up on 20 years now, Roger and Lynn Neal kick Oscar Week into high gear with a three-day extravaganza, their 19th Annual Style Hollywood Beauty and Couture Academy Award Suite.

Set up in the penthouse of the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo Drive, the place is buzzing with the latest in fashion, jewelry, beauty products, shoes and handbags. There’s even a private cabana for tanning, massages, hairstyling and manicures for invited guests.

Even as the pampering and product showcasing goes on, guests enjoy libations from Lorimar Winery, Starfire Water and Long Shot Coffee and catering by Chef Ken Ehrlich and Jeanette’s Edelweiss restaurant, with beautiful confections by Mary’s Cake Shop.

And there are always good causes that benefit, which this year were the Andy Transplant Foundation and Hollygrove, the orphanage where Marilyn Monroe lived in the 1940s, which now provides counseling and crisis services to at-risk children in their homes, at schools and on the Hollygrove campus in Hollywood.

A slew of nominees for the 87th annual Academy Awards attended including Alexander Dinelaris and Nicolas Giacobone, who went on to win the Oscar for co-writing “Birdman,” Laura Dern, Diane Warren, E. Max Frye, Danielle Brisebois. Stephane Ceritti, Helen Estabrook and Julien Féret, who was up for his short live-action film called “Butter Lamp.”

Other guests making the rounds included Paul Sorvino, Renée Taylor, Erin Murphy, Carol Connors, Lois Aldrin, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Lea Thompson, well-known and loved for her role in “Back to the Future.”

“The exclusive suite is where stars and media can enjoy a much-needed relaxing and comfortable atmosphere and be pampered with some of the most expensive treatments available today,” said Roger Neal, who noted that the event seems to become a good luck charm as some of the attendees go on to win Oscars.

Designer Rhonda Shear unveiled her Shear Couture Oscar Collection to rave reviews. Her one-of-a-kind evening gowns and cocktail dresses are designed to mark the arrival of bold new era in event dressing.

Other designers showcasing their wares were Maricela David, Timmy Woods and Madeline Beth.

And there was much more to delight the senses including products from Skin Research/NeuLash, Nubra, Fur Frenzy, GT Nutrition, Grounded Beauty and Jenetiqa. Beverly Hills orthodontist Dr. Bruce MacFarlane showcased his new teeth whitener and Dr. Sandra Moldovan provided a gift certificate for periodontist services, while Nadia Khalil Bradley signed copies of her new book, “Origins of Truth.”

–Hillary Atkin

GBK’s Sleek and Stylish Oscar Luxury Gift Lounge Wins Raves

GBK is known for its award-worthy gifting suites and its Oscar event once again was a hot spot for celebs and VIPs to delve in and enjoy the grand finale of awards season while being pampered with products and services, treats and sweets.

The two-day event set up shop at Beverly Hills’ vaunted L’Ermitage Hotel, the perfect spot near the epicenter of many of the events in the days leading into the Academy Awards.

Guests were indulged with luxury gifts, gourmet food and an opportunity to support Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement, a charity raising awareness about mental health and sponsored by Philosophy’s hope & grace initiative, which contributes a portion of its product sales to the cause.

Among those attending: Alexander Dinelaris, who went on to win the Oscar for co-writing best picture winner “Birdman,” Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren, Lorraine Bracco, Martin Landau, Christina Milian, Machine Gun Kelly, Andy Dick, Bruce Davison, Daniel Baldwin, Mekhi Phifer, Robert Morse and Oscar-nominated directors Richard Linklater and Morton Tyldum.

Music, provided by GoodBoy, filled the air and created a celebratory soundtrack for the event, which took over a secluded patio at the hotel, adjoining suites and a private area upstairs. That was a fun gathering place, where we spotted a number of guests at the bar imbibing in Fancy Pants Wines, serving its refreshing Pinot Grigio and its special Red Blend.

The featured sponsor, STOP-ATTACK.com, attracted a lot of attention with demonstrations of its auto response cell phone app that provides personal protection in the event of an assault or attack

Those that are into health and beauty products were thrilled by the array of them presented at the lounge. They included cosmetic dentist Dr. Jamie Sands, who was gifting a comprehensive dental exam and an in-office professional teeth whitening; Beauty Kitchen by Heather Marianna, one of our favorites, who provided skin polish, hand cut soap bars and natural spa products; DermaSet 3D Anti-Aging Renewal Treatment, an all-in-one anti-aging cream; exclusively developed new Basicare beauty kits, featuring eyeshadows, mascaras, eyeliners and grooming tools in portable, compact kits; a full range of hair products from Jonathan Hair Care; three personal training sessions with Celebrity Trainer Lalo Fuentes; and L.A. Star Greens – Perfect 10, the world’s first certified organic blend of the top 10 superfoods.

On the fashion and jewelry side, guests got to sample products from Blaze Clothiers – USA; Shatra Designs, providing Bohemian-inspired luxury jewelry; handmade bracelets made out of donated military uniforms to support many military non-profit organizations from Bands for Arms; men’s jeans company Haala Denim– who promised a women’s line is coming out soon; and gorgeous, handcrafted bracelets featuring gemstones with meaning and a corresponding hashtag that matches the intention and style of the stones from Hazel and Harmony.

Other sponsors of the GBK Oscars lounge included Energy Upgrade California,  a state initiative to help Californians take action to save energy and conserve natural resources, help reduce demand on the electricity grid, and make informed energy management choices at home and at work; Alila Hotels and Resorts, providing gift certificates for guests to stay at Alila properties in India, Oman, Bali and more; Still With You, a company that creates heart-warming memorial statues to comfort the bereaved in their darkest hours; and services from Jim Hjort, LCSW a Psychotherapist and Right Life™ Coach.

 

 

 

EcoLuxe Oscar Event Brings a ‘Green’ Touch to Awards Season

The day before the Oscars is always festive and guests at the Debbie Durkin EcoLuxe Lounge were in an especially celebratory mood at the daylong event, which culminated in a lovely cocktail party.

Set up in the Stardust ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, with a beautiful penthouse patio that offers sweeping views of Los Angeles, the event showcased sustainable and ecological products and services, along with delectable food and libations in honor of the Academy Awards and its honorees.

The rooftop setting was designed by Under Canvas, Elan Event Rentals, LBPS Events and Frances Lynn Creative Florals and produced by Durkin, LA’s leading producer of sustainable product placement for film and television.

Among those stopping by were people from nominated films including American Sniper, The Theory of Everything, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit and Whiplash.

There were special items for all of the invited VIP guests – and some designed especially for their four-legged friends.

Among the attendees: Ben Wilkins (Oscar Winner Whiplash: Best Sound Mixing:), Elise Robertson (Oscar Nominee American Sniper Best Picture), Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou (Oscar Nominee Guardians of the Galaxy: Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling), Jason Canovas (Oscar Nominee The Hobbit: Sound Editing), Lisa Bruce (Producer, The Theory of Everything: Best Picture), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), Vine star Zane Hijazi), Jason Davis (Celebrity Rehab), Frank Stallone (Rocky) Nia Peeples (Pretty Little Liars), Amanda Adrienne (Avenged), Andrea Bogart (General Hospital), Nancy Davis (Race To Erase MS) and Carolyn Hennesy (Revenge).

Beauty junkies were in for a treat with access to a styling bar, organic spray tans, along with makeup touchups from by OC Hair & Makeup. Those who have resisted going camping because of the lack of running water had their attitude adjusted with glamping vacations to Glacier Park, Yellowstone and The Moab Desert from Under Canvas.

Guests also received a Choices Recovery beauty gift bag, celebrity #DogPower items from CanaDog Supply, handcrafted creations from BluBond, KD Pet Protector charms, and a Café Press gift bag filled with O.P.I., Go Go Squeez, Modern Oats, a HAI MP3 flatiron, fragrance from Loree Rodkin and John Paul Pet shampoo and conditioner.

Refreshments were served up at a Repurpose Compostable champagne and coffee bar and there were hors d’oeuvres from Chef Alex Fioroni of Healing With Food,  good times were memorialized in photo booth fun from Party Life Photo Booth, as DJ Dime spun the tunes.

The evening cocktail party was called “Salute To The Oscars” and presented by Choices Recovery. The guest list included Gretchen Christine Rossi (Real Housewives Of Orange County), Chris Booker (AMP Radio), Slade Smiley (Real Housewives of Orange County), Joyce Giraud & Michael Ohoven (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), Kennedy Summers (Playboy Playmate of the Year 2015), Kristen Renton (Sons of Anarchy), Michael Lennox (Oscar Nominee: BOOGALOO AND GRAHAM: Best Live Action Short Film), Drake Bell (Drake & Josh), Travis Aaron Wade (Super Natural), producer Marc Anthony Nicholas (CBS “The Talk”/”On Your Marc”) and Adina Porter (True Blood).