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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Kids Today: So You Want to Be President…and More Stories to Celebrate American History

I originally kicked off this column with a review of “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Chipettes” back in January 2009, intending to regularly sit down with my daughter, watch whatever DVDs of child-friendly programming came into the Bullz-Eye offices, and get her take on them. Seemed like a great plan at the time, but if you click on the category for “Kids Today” at the bottom of this posting, however, you’ll find that I, uh, haven’t actually written another column since I kicked it off. The problem, you see, is that Ally, God bless her, is a lot like me…which is to say that, when it comes to TV, she has a short attention span which is only lengthened when we’re watching one of what she refers to as her shows. Although this list of shows varies, some of the stalwarts over the course of her 4-year life span have included “The Simpsons,” “Sesame Street,” “Curious George,” “Arthur,” and the God-awful “Caillou,” along with relatively recent additions like “Sid the Science Kid” and “Dinosaur Train.” For better or worse, however, we don’t tend to get those titles, and the kid stuff that we do get…? 9 out of 10 times, she simply can’t be bothered.

But Ally’s a smart kid, and an observant one as well, so you never know what’s going catch her interest. Take, for instance, her fascination with the President of the United States. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that she was intrigued by last year’s Presidential election, given that she had to endure people talking about Barack Obama and John McCain for quite a few months there, but she’s continued to ask us about this President and that, even picking up a few names and facts about previous Commanders in Chief along the way. With this being the case, I thought that, for once, I might actually be able to hold her interest with a DVD that was being offered up for review: So You Want to Be President…and More Stories to Celebrate American History, the latest release from Scholastic.

When the DVD arrived, I showed it Ally and explained that it contained animated readings of four stories: “So You Want To Be President,” by Judith St. George, “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s-Eye View of Washington, DC,” by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, “Madam President,” by Lane Smith, and “I Could Do That! – Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote,” by Linda Arms White. She seemed cautiously optimistic but warned me ahead of time, “All right, but I only like George Obama.” Yeah, I know, that’s the sort of silly-kid punchline that even “Family Circus” would throw into the reject pile, but she was really tired. As a proud father, I must assure you that she knows that Washington was the first President of the United States, can identify Obama as the current President and George W. Bush as his predecessor, and – courtesy of her mother – can identify a piece of trivia about Abraham Lincoln, which you’ll read about in a moment.

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Trumbo

Trumbo

23 years after his death, Dalton Trumbo (“Johnny Got His Gun”) remains among the best-known screenwriters of all time. Ironically, that’s largely because much of his best work was done in secret. Jailed in 1950 and then blacklisted for his refusal to discuss his constitutionally protected membership in the Communist Party, Trumbo survived by writing prodigiously, using pseudonyms and “fronts” until 1960, when director Otto Preminger and actor-producer Kirk Douglas openly placed his name in the credits for “Exodus” and “Spartacus” and sounded the first death knell of the Hollywood blacklist.

Drawn partly from a play by the writer’s son, Christopher Trumbo, and featured on PBS’s “American Masters,” this documentary combines interviews with Trumbo’s family and friends, including stars Kirk Douglas and Dustin Hoffman, and dramatic interpretations of his writing by a long list of acting heavyweights such as Joan Allen, Michael Douglas, Liam Neeson, and Donald Sutherland. On the down side, director Peter Askin plays up Trumbo’s heroism while playing down his political extremism and indulges in some pretentious and annoying cinematic tics, including shooting the actors looking on pensively while their occasionally overdone readings play on the soundtrack. Still, when Askin captures the writer’s unsentimental and often humorous essence — as in Nathan Lane’s wry reading of an ingenious letter to the teenage Christopher Trumbo on the joys of masturbation and Paul Giamatti’s testy renditions of Trumbo’s broadsides at his local phone company — this is a highly engaging summary of the life and work of a singular figure in mid-century movie history.

Click to buy “Trumbo”

  

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