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Cast member Brittany Snow attends the premiere of ‘Pitch Perfect’ at ArcLight Cinemas on Sept 24, 2012, in Los Angeles
The night everything went wrong Patinkin thrilled to be part to Emmy winner ‘Homeland’

NEW YORK, Sept 25, (RTRS): “Something has clearly gone wrong,” Jon Cryer said as he accepted his award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. He was modestly referring to the debatable decision to choose him over comic geniuses like Larry David and Louis C.K. But he could easily have been talking about the entire Emmys telecast. It was hideous. Television had a very good year, and this was not the show it deserved. But hey: If the television academy truly thinks Cryer is funnier on “Two and a Half Men” than any of his competitors (who included Don Cheadle, Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons), then this was exactly the kind of show they deserved. The show did have plenty of drama, in the form of a few wins that strained believability.

Voters denied “Mad Men” what would have been a record-setting fifth-consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, piling prizes on “Homeland” instead. That wasn’t a crazy decision, but it was debatable given a stunning year for both “Mad Men” and its AMC neighbor, “Breaking Bad.” Perhaps the Emmys were bound to have an off year, after the last two telecasts were entertaining. “Mad Men” wasn’t the only one Sunday to have a streak broken.


Among the first talents wasted during the ceremony were those of Amy Poehler and C.K., who noted as they handed out the night’s first award that they could set the tone. (The joke was that C.K. seemed totally uninterested, which he probably was.) But the tone had already been set with a bad opening skit: It featured host Jimmy Kimmel getting Botox, and actresses punching him until his face went back to normal. Kimmel won back some goodwill with his monologue, but it wasn’t as funny as his typical monologue on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” And he lost almost all of that goodwill with a series of routines throughout the show that put all of the focus on him.

It might have seemed a good bet that he would be funnier than most people in the room, given how good he is on his own show. But his bits fell flat again and again, including one in which he had his parents ejected from the theater, with help from “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan. He also tried to pull a prank on people who were on Twitter but not watching the show, by getting viewers to tweet that Morgan had collapsed. Like many of the jokes on the show, it was a one-joke premise – and Morgan, lying inert on the stage, was in no position to punch it up. But that joke wasn’t as dead as one in which Kimmel staged an “In Memoriam” to himself. We got it: He was still alive. But showing clip after clip didn’t heighten the joke, just repeated it.


Not that the real “In Memoriam” was that much better. Ron Howard delivered a nice tribute to Andy Griffith before it began. But did Griffith really stand so far above the other entertainment icons who died this year that it made sense to single him out? Like Kimmel’s bit, it diminished the impact of the rest of the segment. The tone was so off throughout the night that the funniest moment may have been a sketch featuring the murder of Don Knotts, who died for real in 2006. A sketch about “The Breaking Bad Show” imagined the AMC meth drama set in Andy Griffith’s black-and-white Mayberry.

“Homeland” returns for its second season on Sunday with a clutch of Emmy awards, and stage and screen star Mandy Patinkin hopes the psychological TV thriller will keep on stirring dialogue about the fractured post-9/11 America and the world it portrays. “I am invigorated by it beyond all words. I’m just thrilled to be a part of it. It is one of the great experiences of my professional life,” the veteran of 40 years of acting said in a telephone interview. Patinkin, who won a Tony in the 1980 Broadway production of “Evita” and an Emmy for TV hospital drama “Chicago Hope” in 1995 but may still be best-known for his Spanish swordsman role in the 1987 fairy-tale movie “The Princess Bride,” said he was attracted to “Homeland” by the quality of the script. “I just thought it was extraordinary writing. I could see the potential in this material to have an extraordinary dialogue in terms of a post-9/11 era discussing where we are as a nation and as a world populace in terms of why did that act occur? What was happening in the world before? And what’s happened since in the past 10 – now 11 – years?” Patinkin said from his New York home. “The company of the actors and the writing staff is of the highest caliber I have ever had the privilege to be involved with,” Patinkin, 59, said.

The second season is just as topical. It starts with the fictional bombing by Israel of Iranian nuclear sites and the geo-political tensions that ensue, with Patinkin’s character out from behind his CIA headquarters desk and back in the field. Patinkin says “Homeland” is neither a left or right wing show and that it has succeeded because “it’s a show that presents both perspectives honestly and equally, so that the audience members can sit back as their own historian in an entertaining fashion and think.” But it’s not just about cliff-hanging plots and the dilemmas raised by the war on terror.

“The central aspect of the show for me is the word ‘family’ – the family of the father/daughter relationship I have with Claire Danes. I’m her boss and her mentor and her father-figure,” Patinkin said. “It is also the relationship Brody has with his family. It’s within the CIA and, most important, it’s within the family of country. It’s our country as family and the disconnection that goes on literally in our country today with the politics and the Congress and the people who aren’t listening and talking to each other,” he said.

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