Tag: Claire Danes

The 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards: The Post-Game Wrap-Up

First of all, I’d just like to say that it’s cruel of both “True Blood” and “Mad Men” to air new episodes on the same night as the Emmy Awards, especially when neither show is sending out advance screeners anymore. Yes, I’m a big whiner, and I don’t care. It’s 11 PM, the Emmys have just wrapped up, and now I’ve got to go blog both shows. I’m sorry, but there’s no way around it: this sucks.

Okay, enough of my bitching. Let’s talk about the Emmys.

As far as I’m concerned, Jimmy Fallon did a fine job as host. The “Glee”-inspired opening segment was awesome: Jon Hamm ruled that bit with his sweet-ass dance moves, but Joel McHale leaping in front the camera was pretty awesome, too, and once they switched over to the live performance, I laughed out loud at just how happy Randy Jackson seemed to be to get to play in front of the audience. Sometimes you forget that the guy’s got some serious studio-musician street cred.

The minstrel-in-the-aisles bit was hit or miss, but Stephen Colbert was hilarious, and I was pleasantly surprised at Kim Kardashian’s performance. Jimmy’s quick quip at Conan’s expense was pretty funny, too. I wasn’t as big a fan of the farewells to “24,” “Law & Order,” and “Lost,” mostly because all I could think was, “This kind of takes away from the seriousness of the farewells to the folks in the industry who really have died.” The segment with the “Modern Family” cast meeting with the network was hysterical, though.

And now on to the awards!

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The 2010 Primetime Emmy nominations are in!

Bright and early this morning…by which we mean 8:40 AM EST / 5:40 AM PST…the nominees for the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards were announced by Joel McHale (“Community,” “The Soup”) and Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”). It ended up being a worthwhile gig for one of them, at least, with Vergara pulling in a Supporting Actress nod for “Modern Family.” Maybe that’s why McHale seemed so stone-faced. (Seriously, did someone tell McHale that he wasn’t getting paid if he didn’t keep his smart-assery in line ’til after the nominees were read? The only time he cracked anything approaching a joke was when he preempted Vergara’s mangling of Mariska Hargitay’s last name.) Anyway, here’s a list of who got the glory…and, in the case of Best Actress in a Drama, who got the shaft.

Outstanding Comedy Series:

* Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
* Glee (Fox)
* Modern Family (ABC)
* Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
* The Office (NBC)
* 30 Rock (NBC)

My Pick: “Modern Family.” There’s no question that “Glee” is award-worthy, but not necessarily as a comedy, which is also where “Nurse Jackie” falters in this category. I feel like “The Office” and “30 Rock” coasted in on their past merits this year, but “Curb” got a huge boost from the “Seinfeld” storyline, so it’s the only real competition here. Still, the buzz on “Modern Family” is all over the place. I can’t imagine it won’t bring home the glory.

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A Chat with Mick Jackson, director of “Temple Grandin”

Sunday night brings the premiere of HBO’s wonderful new film, “Temple Grandin,” and if you’ve been reading Premium Hollywood lately, then you’ve already seen my interview with its subject, Dr. Temple Grandin. After the panel for the film at the TCA tour, I also caught up director Mick Jackson for a few minutes, which was just enough time to ask him about working with Grandin, to find out why he made one of his casting choices, and for him to offer me a bit of sage directorial advice.

Bullz-Eye: I talked to Temple a little earlier, and she said that she really enjoyed the process of working with you on the film.

Mick Jackson: Oh, she’s wonderful. Part of the story that we tell in the movie is that she has this tremendous eye for detail and uses that to put it together into a pattern and see the whole picture, but, in fact, when you’re dealing with us as movie makers, it’s the same thing. She had the eye for the details that were right and the details that were wrong, but she also had – unusually for someone whose life you’re telling through film – a sense of what it’s like to make a movie, to put it together into a whole picture. We reconstructed what we thought her apartment as a student would be like at Arizona University, based on what she told us and where she lives now, and she visited the set and I said, “That’s supposed to be your rooms.” And she said, “Hmmm. Well, it isn’t. But it could’ve been. It could easily have been.” (Laughs) It really takes a great ability to be able to step outside your own life to be able to say that. And she understood that, when telling the story of someone’s life, you don’t tell every bit of it. Otherwise, the movie would last as long as the person’s life. So she understood that we would collapse things and create composite characters and all that stuff.

It was great. I mean, I watched the movie with her the first time she saw it, and she was in tears. And I said, “Why?” She said, “He was only Mr. Carlock,” referring to her teacher. And the screenwriter and I had decided to call him Dr. Carlock, to convey an eminence that would kind of enhance the impression he made on her. But she thought that giving him his doctorate was a way of her giving back thanks to him for everything he’d done for her. That was lovely. The other thing is that after that screening…she saw the movie once and she was very enthusiastic, and I was driving later in my car and the phone rang, and it was Temple, still enthusiastic… (Laughs) …wildly raving about the movie. And I realized that what we’d shown in the movie, which is her being able to run things in her head, was true. She was quoting me shots and edits and things from the movie that she’d seen once. So she’d obviously downloaded the movie into her head, like a DVD, and she was running it backwards and forwards! “I love that shot where she opens the door and…” (Laughs) So it was literally true…and that was very gratifying.

BE: So how familiar where you with Temple before the script for the movie landed on your desk?

MJ: Not at all. My wife had heard her on NPR, but the name meant nothing to me. So I read this thing and just got dragged into it. I thought, “This is just the most amazing story!” You can’t tell the story of every person who has autism, because it’s such a great range. Not everyone’s a visual thinker or has comfort from a squeeze machine, but…it’s like movies about the Iraq war: you don’t tell the whole war story, but you take something, like “The Messenger” or “The Hurt Locker,” you tell a specific story about one person and, in effect, you’re telling the whole story. So telling the story about Temple is like telling the whole story of autism. If you understand Temple, then you understand what autistics go through, or what being the parent of an autistic child is like.

I hope the main thing that people take away from Temple’s story, which is uniquely true for Temple but is in fact true for everybody who is a parent or a relative of an autistic child, is that you’ve got to put all that energy in there for some of it to come back. You can’t just lean back and say, “This child maybe should be looked after by doctors or go into an institution,” like they suggested with Temple. All that energy, all that pushing of Temple by her mother, her aunt, her science teacher out into the real world did it. It helped her emerge. The title of one of her books is “Emergence,” and that’s just what she did. There was this amazing mind in there that was just trapped and came out. So I think that’s the lesson we ought to take away from it: never let up your energy for a moment, and never let up that sense of constantly pushing them forward. Not really like a stage mother, but just not shielding them from life and just trusting them to find a way of dealing with life. It’s a learning experience. Everything was a learning experience for her.

BE: My wife works with autistic students, and I told her that Temple had said much the same thing, about how her mother pointedly made sure to push her toward activities in the summer and to the activities in high school. And my wife said that that’s exactly what she does every day with the student she’s working with right now.

MJ: And I’m sure she sees that the more energy she puts into it, the more she sees the change. Not immediately, because it’s over a long period of time, but…it’s the one lifeline that they have to the real world, people pushing them into it.

BE: I had one question about the casting for the film. How did Catherine O’Hara come to play Temple’s aunt?

MJ: It’s my experience in casting character actors, as it were, that if you cast someone who has a great comedic career, they know a lot more about the human condition sometimes than straight dramatic actors. And I so much wanted the aunt to kind of be a way into the movie for the audience, a sympathetic, warm figure. You meet Temple with all of her kind of raw orneriness and awkwardly unsocial manic behavior, but you have this reassuring figure there in the aunt, who says, “Yes, it’s all right, dear. Come this way, Temple.” And I thought Catherine just brought all of that warmth that you get from knowing about human foibles from being a comic actress to the role. I thought she was wonderful.

BE: Of all things, my memories of “Home Alone” worked in her favor here, because that’s the movie that first made me think of her as a motherly type.

MJ: (Laughs) Yes!

BE: I know you’ve got to keep moving, but of the other projects you’ve worked on over the years, do you have one that you think didn’t get the love it deserved?

MJ: They all get a certain amount of love, which I’m grateful for. “The Memory keeper’s Daughter,” which was the thing I did before this, for Lifetime…I think it’s probably a little shorter than I would’ve had it, the movie. If I’d been allowed to expand it a little more, I think it would’ve been a more moving story, but that was quite fun to work on. I sound as if I specialize in disease-of-the-week movies: I’ve done Lou Gehrig’s Disease (“Tuesdays with Morrie”), I’ve done Down Syndrome, and now autism! (Laughs) But every one is a movie, and it’s a good movie if it happens to be about the people.

BE: Well, it’s not about a disease, but for what it’s worth, I’m very partial to “Volcano.”

MJ: That was fun, but take some advice from me: if you’re ever directing a movie, don’t get into a race with another movie on the same subject (“Dante’s Peak”). Nobody ever says, “Oh, I saw the second volcano movie!” (Laughs)

TCA Tour: A Chat with Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is a Doctor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, a consultant to the livestock industry in animal behavior, and a best-selling author. She’s also autistic, a fact which you may have already known if you happen to have a connection to someone with autism, be it first-hand or indirectly. For instance, I came to know about her, as you’ll soon read, through my wife, who works with autistic students and is the proud owner of a copy of one of Grandin’s books, The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s.

When an advance screener of the new HBO movie based on her life – entitled, appropriately enough, “Temple Grandin” – landed on our doorstep in advance of the TCA press tour, you can imagine that we popped it into the player post-haste, and I’ll tell you right now, I was blown away: Claire Danes gives a phenomenal performance as Grandin, but director Mick Jackson ties for MVP with his visual presentation of how Grandin’s mind works. I immediately went about trying to set up interviews in connection with the tour, and although Danes was unavailable, when HBO asked if I’d like to chat with Grandin herself, you’d better believe that I didn’t hesitate for a moment before saying, “You bet!”

Bullz-Eye: I just wanted to start off by telling you that my wife works with autistic children.

Temple Grandin: Oh, okay.

BE: She hadn’t actually trained in the field, but she ended up stepping into a job as a substitute teacher in a special education classroom, and she had such aptitude that the teacher gave her a gift: a copy of your book. She basically said, “Not everyone has the heart and the temperament to work with children who need a little extra effort, but I really think you do, and I think you’d get a lot out of reading this.”

TG: Which book was it?

BE: “The Way I See it.”

TG: All right.

BE: So as soon as she found out that I was going to be speaking with you, she immediately passed it on to me and said, “You’ll be wanting to read this.” (Laughs) But we also watched the movie together, and I thought it was fantastic. How did that first come about? Did someone read your book, then come to you and pitch the idea of making it into a movie?

TG: Well, that’s actually been going on for a good long time. Emily Gerson Saines started working on this about nine years ago and went to, like, two different directors and writers. Then, finally, it came together with the right people.

BE: Did you get final say about who would play you in the film?

TG: Well, that was just decided. Claire Danes did an absolutely brilliant job. Absolutely brilliant. I met with her for about six hours, and I gave her the oldest VHS tapes I could find of me, where I’d be more autistic-acting. Like, in old programs from the late ‘80s, where I was on a TV show, and some lectures from the early ‘90s. We dubbed those over onto DVDs, and she had those to practice with. I didn’t have any video older than that. Or movies. We didn’t do movies as a family, so I didn’t have that.

BE: I thought the visual aspects of the film, which try to give the viewer an understanding of how your mind works, were outstanding. I guess that was Mick’s idea…?

TG: I thought that was absolutely brilliant, the way Mick showed all of that. Wonderful. Like, the scene where it shows all of the shoes coming up…? That’s exactly how I think. Mick was absolutely brilliant with that.

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