Category: Modern Family

Emmys 2011: Or is that the 'Modern Family' awards?

Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen

As host Jane Lynch put it during the Emmy Awards ceremony: “Welcome to the 'Modern Family' awards.” In the first backstage interview of the night in the press room, winners Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen took the stage together –- which makes sense. As husband and wife on the ABC comedy series, the actors said they lean on one another for support and “fear management.” “He’s a rock on the set at all times,” Bowen said.

Burrell threw the praise back in Bowen's direction: “That the straight person wins an Emmy –- that doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “The fact that she won is due to her resourcefulness as an actress.” Bowen, though, seemed shocked to be taking home the statue: “I thought it was a lock on Betty White.”

Both actors said they take particular pride in the show’s potential to help change misconceptions about gay people. “It feels very, very good to be on a show that seems like it’s slowly changing a lot of minds,” Burrell said. 

As for Bowen? “As a straight woman I feel marginalized,” she joked. “No, I'm thrilled, and it’s absurd it’s even an issue, but I’m thrilled we’re helping to change minds.”

Steve Levitan, the show’s co-creator and executive producer, also had a golden night, with a win for writing for a comedy. When asked what he thought of all the show’s trophies, Levitan called it thrilling: “It’s an embarrassment of riches. From the bottom of my heart, I felt Ty and Julies deserved this. I’m thrilled about their wins. … To tell you the truth, it’s a little surreal. We’re going to have a lot of fun tonight.”

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-- Deborah Vankin and Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen hold their Emmys for best supporting actor and actress in a comedy, backstage at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Credit: Associated Press /Jae Hong

2011 Emmy nominations: Stars talk about working, being nominated and celebrating

Hall The nominations for the 2011 Emmy Awards were announced early this morning, with plenty of surprises mixed in with the evergreens. (See the full list here.)

The Los Angeles Times spoke to a number of nominees about the Emmys and the roles that nabbed them a chance at an award.

Some nominees -- like "Justified's" Walton Goggins -- didn't even try to downplay their excitement: "I feel like I’m floating in a vat of liquid gratitude," he said. "It’s surreal. This may never happen again in my lifetime but to go through this experience now, it doesn’t get better than this." 

Idris Elba, who was nominated both for his role in "Luther" and a guest role on "The Big C," was doubly knocked out : "It’s incredible. You wait for one bus and two come along. They’re both great surprises."

Matthew Weiner is no Emmy newbie, but he still seemed thrilled: "There’s something extra sweet about it because, four years into it, you just don’t expect to be in it." He also revealed that he already had an ending in mind for the series, three seasons down the line. "I do. I do. I do. I do have an ending in mind." So what is it? We'll have to wait, apparently. Said Weiner, "I’m keeping it close to the vest in case I change my mind."

"Mad Men's" John Slattery -- who has received a supporting actor nomination for every season "Mad Men" has been on the air -- spoke eloquently about inhabiting the role of Roger: "On TV, the most challenging thing is not to assume you know how your character would react just because you’ve played it for years. You want to deliver the joke, but you don’t want your character to be a joke. Also, people wonder about the clothes and the cigarettes and the drinks -- but you don’t play the period, you play the scene. You play each moment as it comes."

Michael C. Hall, who is nominated once again for his role on "Dexter," talked about the particular challenges this past season: "In the fifth season we sort of had to take responsibility for the mess in Dexter’s world. He had a big share in Rita’s death. It was difficult to try to play this guy who maintains some sort of disconnect from his emotions and still process all of that."

And Johnny Galecki of "Big Bang Theory" spoke about playing a character smarter than he is: "I’d say he’s much more intelligent than I am. I can only pretend to think like this guy. I can understand how he feels as [if he's] the underdog outcast. That is something I can relate to. I wasn’t the most popular kid growing up."

Matt LeBlanc knows all about awards: "I’m familiar with not winning," he joked.  Asked if he'd spoken to any of his costars from "Episodes," he quipped, "They’re probably bitter and angry. I’ll call them and rub it in. They’re all in London."

For Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton of "Friday Night Lights," the nominations are a lovely complement to the end of the series. Said Britton, "After five seasons, it just feels incredible to have the show recognized. It was long deserved, I think." Chandler talked about hearing the news: "My wife came out and said, 'Guess what, you just got nominated!' I immediately asked, 'What about Connie?' She told me that she got one too. Then she shoved me in the swimming pool."

 VergaraMireille Enos of "The Killing" talked about the backlash to the show's finale. "I loved the reaction," she said. "It's evidence of how attached people had gotten to the show. My hunch is that the people who are screaming loudest are the ones who are going to be the first to watch the next season."

Who was overlooked? Slattery mentioned "Mad Men's" Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Pete Campbell.

And what about the stiffest competition among fellow nominees? "Modern Family" star Sofia Vergara pointed to  certain popular octogenarian: "Betty White is on the list, that can’t be good for anyone."

Michael C. Hall couldn't choose one name. "Oh, gosh, I don’t know. It’s strange," he said. "We’re not running a 100-yard dash. We’re all doing very different things. It’s a strange thing deciding whose is best. Good luck to the voters doing that."

 RELATED:

Full Awards Tracker coverage of Emmy 2011 nominations

Tweeters Digest: Hollywood twitters about the Emmys nominations

-- Joy Press

Photo: Top: Michael C. Hall at The Los Angeles Times' 3rd Annual The Envelope: Primetime Emmy Screening Series panel in Los Angeles. Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images. Bottom: Sofia Vergara in "Modern Family." Credit: ABC.

ABC unveils fall premiere dates

ABC premieres: Modern Family, Dancing With the Stars, Grey's Anatomy return to TV in September

A two-hour "Grey's Anatomy"? Yep. That's what's in store when the drama premieres in the fall.

ABC unveiled its fall premiere dates on Monday.  Other supersized premieres include comedies "Modern Family" and "The Middle."

For those eager for newbies, like "Once Upon a Time" and "Charlie's Angels," check out the full list of ABC's prime-time premiere dates after the jump.

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'Modern Family' recap: Gone fishin'

123651_0193_preThe ensemble cast of "Modern Family" is so uniformly strong that sometimes you forget just how great some of the less flashy performers are.

Sofia Vergara and Eric Stonestreet are wonderful in broad, showier ways, but in his stoic way Ed O'Neill is every bit as entertaining as his castmates. Jay Pritchett -- successful, happily married, with children who adore him -- is almost the opposite of sad-sack Al Bundy, but there's an essential similarity between their characters, an extremely masculine breed of world-weariness: Both Al and Jay long for a little down time doing quintessentially manly things, but they never seem to find it.

In Wednesday's season finale it's Jay's birthday. All he wants is a to spend the day fishing, alone, but a series of family mishaps prevents Jay from realizing his dream. First, he accidentally takes Gloria's cellphone (yet another clever use of technology on the series) and has to pick up Stella from the dog groomer. Then, after Cameron gets kicked out of the bakery, he's dispatched to pick up his own birthday cake, even though he'd be happy with a grocery store confection. Finally, he has to rescue his grown children, Claire and Mitchell, from the backyard of their childhood home, where they've been trapped by a ferocious guard dog.

Jay is irritated, but, as usual, his crankiness quickly gives way to affection. He might not get to spend the day along fishing, but he's got a large extended family who go to extraordinary lengths to show their love for him. Cue the "awwwwwwwws." 

There's a theme of resignation -- or maybe it's just plain-old acceptance -- running through this episode, "The One That Got Away." At the mall, Phil encounters Glenn (played by the always amusing Rob Huebel) a frenemy from his college cheering days who's got an uncanny ability to make him feel insecure. Phil also bumps into Gloria, and decides to pretend that she's his wife -- thinking that Glenn will be jealous that he's scored such a bombshell. It'll be just like the time he got to park an Aston Martin in college; or so he thinks.

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'Modern Family' recap: 'Everybody's got their stuff'

123737_0900_preThis week on “Modern Family,” young Alex Dunphy is graduating from the top of her eighth-grade class (apparently, there is such a thing.) The honor of being class valedictorian comes with great responsibility -- not unlike being Spider-Man. In Alex’s case, it means having to give a speech. As "See You Next Fall" begins, we see her take to the stage in her cap and gown, but the row reserved for her family is nearly empty.

This episode forgoes the usual “Modern Family” narrative structure, in which each of the three families gets its own storyline, in favor of something a little more experimental. It pays off. Instead of an A-plot, a B-plot and a C-plot, there are five or six mini-plots swirling all at once:  Alex’s controversial speech, Phil’s ploys to get Claire to break down, Cameron and Mitchell’s spat over the ducky pool, Phil’s botox mishap, and Luke’s attempts at telekinesis. And there’s the added twist that the episode is told in flashback, something we also saw in “Manny Get Your Gun,” (another great episode) when the families each arrived late to Manny’s birthday party. With so many moving parts, this episode might have been a mess, but it works perfectly. A major factor in the success of the episode is that everyone in this fantastic ensemble has something to do this week — not an easy feat on a show that’s stacked with great performers and is barely 22 minutes long.

If I had to isolate a favorite storyline from this episode, it would be Jay’s unfortunate dermatological experiment. Not necessarily for the sight gag of his “Phantom of the Opera”-esque face, but for the look on Gloria’s when she finds out he’s gotten botox. “Like the ladies use for the wrinkles?” she asks, her face contorted with scorn, as if Jay had just told her he took money out of the collection plate at church. One of the most entertaining things about Gloria is that, for all her feistiness, she’s a believer in traditional gender roles. So the idea that her husband is getting cosmetic procedures is anathema to her. A lot of fuss is made over Sofia Vergara’s appearance — and with good reason — but she should get at least as much attention for her skills as a comedian. (Though, for someone as cartoonishly voluptuous as she is, these things are obviously related.)

But there were lots of other wonderful moments scattered throughout the episode. There was Cameron’s run-in with the screen door at Jay’s house. Eric Stonestreet is a master of this kind of slapstick comedy and I have to say, it tickles me every time. Or we had Phil and Claire, tumbling down the hill on their way to Alex’s graduation, eliciting involuntary chuckles from Cameron.  “It's the juxtaposition of absurdist comedy against the backdrop of a formal setting,” Cameron explains, sounding a rather self-referential note. Another highlight is the three-way phone conversation between Jay, Gloria and Manny, which plays like high-tech version of "Who's on First."

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Fall TV season: ABC's ambitious new schedule tries to 'Man Up' and strike a balance

Manup

In unveiling ABC's fall prime-time schedule, the network's new entertainment president, Paul Lee, played keys of affection to describe his slate of 13 new shows, calling them: "super cool," "a power bloc of drama" and "pure candy."

But one more practical word stood out: balance.

"What we have tried to do is get a nice balance -- stability for our established hits and real ambition for our new shows," Lee said Tuesday morning during a news conference at ABC's New York headquarters, a few hours before he was scheduled to take the stage to pitch his schedule to hundreds of advertisers and influential advertising buyers.

Finding a balance has been something that has eluded the Walt Disney Co.-owned network in recent years. After soaring to great heights six years ago with such blockbuster dramas as "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives," and "Lost," ABC stumbled in its search for strong replacement dramas that appeal to both men and women. 

Instead, the network has achieved ratings success with "Dancing with the Stars" and the breakout comedy "Modern Family," and has made more modest gains with "The Middle," "Castle" and "Body of Proof," starring Dana Delany as a medical examiner. 

But advertisers have grumbled that the network, which will finish the current season in third place, was becoming a bit too female-centric. Nearly 65% of ABC's prime-time audience are women.

So now, similar to the middle-aged vixens of "Desperate Housewives," fetching the men has become something of a priority for Lee. The 50-year-old British executive, who transformed Disney's ABC Family cable channel, was picked last summer to run ABC Entertainment following the abrupt departure of former network programmer Stephen McPherson.

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'Modern Family' recap: Trading places

MannyLukeClaire

The question posed by this week's "Modern Family" was: What happens when two partners, willingly or otherwise, reverse their roles? It's a cute and comically rich way to illustrate a more substantive point --  that being romantically compatible doesn't mean being the same, it means being different in the right ways. (And no, I swear, I didn't learn that from Patti Stanger). Or, as Gloria sums it up, "Maybe we are the way we are because of the people we're with. Maybe we just pick the people we need."

The emotional logic of the Dunphy marriage has always been abundantly obvious: Claire is the high-strung enforcer, Phil's the easygoing fun one. They certainly balance each other out, but Claire feels that she carries too much of the parental burden, that she always has to be the bad cop, so she mounts a spontaneous insurrection. She orders Phil to be the disciplinarian (which in and of itself is a pretty ironic thing to do), then dashes off to the go-kart track with Manny and Luke.

Phil takes to his bad cop role tentatively at first -- even asking his daughters, "So, how does this usually start?" -- but when he discovers that Alex and Haley have slipped out without actually cleaning the bathroom, his inner tyrant is unleashed. He throws himself across the hood of the car so that the girls can't escape to the mall.

Phil's death-defying stunt is motivated more by his fear of Claire than his own desire to be an enforcer, but that's incentive enough. I love the image of Phil, parked in front of the bathroom door, as Alex and Haley toil away on their hands and knees, like two Dickensian urchins.

At this point, he's taken the "bad cop" thing to menacing extremes, denying the girls a break for lunch and duct-taping their laptops closed. (Which, by the way, is a another nod to one of this show's favorite themes: the intrusive role of technology in contemporary family life.) Haley extracts a putrid clump of hair from the drain, and the girls react to the stomach-churning sight with high-pitched "Ewws." The highlight of the episode was watching Phil's reaction: He tells the girls, "It's only hair," then turns the corner, gagging in disgust. I watched it a second time and laughed just as hard. It's a joke that epitomizes this show's post-modern sense of humor. What's funny is the dissonance between what characters say and what they're actually thinking.

The result is that Phil is horrified by his tyrannical side. "I feel really shaky," he tells Claire. Likewise, Claire's competitive intensity and perfectionism quickly turn a fun afternoon of go-karting into a puke-fest. In the past, I've found the whole "gee-Claire-is-intense" thing irritating, but in this context I thought it worked quite well. It was a hoot seeing her try -- but fail -- to be the carefree partner. I especially liked how she had to drag Luke out of the kitchen. "Come on, let's go have fun." "Ow, you're hurting me!" he says.

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'Modern Family' recap: Recipe for the perfect mom

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One of the few qualms I have with "Modern Family" is the way it handles Cameron and Mitchell. While it's great to see a couple like this on network television, I sometimes wish the writers would be more innovative when it comes to this relationship -- why not give these two something to do other than bicker over Cameron's hypersensitivity, and while they're at it, cut the musical theater jokes by a third? 

Which is all to say that "Modern Family," despite having the best intentions, occasionally reinforces some tired stereotypes. So I'm happy that this week, "Modern Family" delivered a Cameron-Mitchell storyline that was insightful, funny and maybe even a little brave.

It's Mother's Day, and Mitchell surprises Cameron with a delicious-looking breakfast in bed (seriously, I'm still thinking about those pancakes). Cameron is deeply moved, until he realizes why Mitchell is showering him with such affection: It's Mother's Day. "You’re bringing me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. I’m your wife?! I’m a woman!?" Thus ensues an argument over the perception that Cameron is the "wife" in his relationship, that he is "slightly mommer" than his partner. 

Mitchell's not the only one who sees him this way; at a Mother's Day picnic, Cameron is asked to join in the mom group photo, since he is an "honorary mom." Cameron's meltdown continues, culminating -- as Cameron's meltdowns tend to do -- in some very funny slapstick (he hurls football, hits man on bike, man falls over). In the end, Mitchell convinces Cameron that being motherly -- "warm, nurturing, supportive" -- is not such bad thing. Cameron gives up on the "burny" scotch and agrees.

Now here's why I was impressed by this storyline. Viewers have known all along that Mitchell is the more stereotypically masculine partner, and it's been widely noted that, except for that whole same-sex thing, Mitchell and Cameron are probably the most old-fashioned couple on the show -- sort of a Ricky and Lucy for the 21st century. Still, that whole same-sex thing is a challenge for many people, though it's an issue of comprehension, not tolerance. As Mitchell eloquently puts it, "They don’t have the right vocabulary for us." It was, I thought, a very tactful way of acknowledging the challenges faced by gay couples in even the most open-minded communities.

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Tweeters Digest: The week in tweets -- a royal wedding and retwitterment

Wendell In Tweeters Digest, we round up some of the events of the week as seen through the Twitter feeds of TV personalities. In previous editions, celebs have come together over some major issues -- Charlie Sheen and star feuds as well as April fools.

This week, stars deployed their 140-character tweets on subjects as varied as Passover, Donald Trump's political posturing and the impending royal wedding of William and Kate.

Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen) continued to make his presence known. Anthony Bourdain (@NoReservations) got giddy with the cast of "The Wire" (including @WendellPierce), Martha Stewart (@MarthaStewart) rubbed elbows with Gene Simmons (@Genesimmons), and Paul Reiser (@paulreiser) expressed dismay at the swift cancellation of his show.

And Paris Hilton (@ParisHilton)? She went to Disneyland.

-- Joy Press
twitter.com/joypress

More tweets after the jump.

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'Modern Family' recap: 'The adults are the big ones, right?'

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No one likes to talk about dying, but questions of mortality are a surprisingly reliable source of comedy -- or at least they are on "Modern Family." A few weeks back, Gloria and Jay went grave shopping; hilarity ensued. This week, it's Mitchell and Cameron who are contemplating the worst: Who will get their beloved Lily if, God forbid, they should both perish?

Since this is, after all, a television show, Mitchell and Cameron don't have that many options. It basically boils down to the Dunphys or the Pritchetts; Cameron's family in Missouri is ruled out for a variety of reasons involving frozen livestock and tax evasion. Cameron and Mitchell decide to stop by unannounced at both houses, the idea being that they'll get to see how each family really works.

First stop is the Dunphy household, where things are a bit chaotic: Luke is teaching himself to juggle with knives; Alex, on a mission to fetch rat traps, gets locked in the garage; Phil leaves flaming frying pans unattended on the stove. They're quickly ruled out.

Next stop is the Pritchetts', where Cameron and Mitchell find the family in the midst of preparations for Manny's school camping trip. Cameron, who wants to buy a new pair of boots for his mom back in Missouri, decides to tag along. Gloria, unprovoked, offers to stay behind and watch "da leedal preensess." Just like that, the Pritchetts take the lead in the Great Guardian Race of 2011. Mitchell makes the mistake of mentioning this to Gloria, and she reacts with unbridled enthusiasm to the possibility of raising Lily -- never mind that both her dads would have to die first. It's vintage Gloria, an overflow of warmth and affection tinged with a little of that Colombian morbidity. It also made me wonder when Gloria is going to get pregnant -- I mean, it's going to happen at some point, right? This is a sitcom, after all.

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'Modern Family' recap: 'We love the 'F' word'

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After several weeks of reruns, "Modern Family" returned Wednesday night with an episode that relied too heavily on comedic acrobatics, and not quite enough on the wit that usually makes this show such a treat.

For some reason, TV and film writers just love gags involving school plays. Over the years, the adorably catastrophic school play has become a film and TV trope. Inevitably, these fictional productions are far more elaborate, slightly more disastrous and probably a whole lot more entertaining than your average middle-school play. Cameron's magnum opus, "A Trip Around the World," is no exception. After sabotaging the Franklin Middle School's musical director with a few poorly contained sneezes, Cameron gets to take over the musical. He wants to scrap the old way of doing things -- "the same tired songs, the same drab choreography, the same tepid applause" -- and go for broke with a play that includes a guillotine and a Bollywood number. (Mitchell, noting the irony, says, "He focused it by making it about the world.")

To no one's surprise, Cameron gets entirely carried away, and his ambitions backfire. First, Luke's aerial wire malfunctions and he's stuck dangling from the ceiling. Then Cameron's plan to reveal the words "WE LOVE THE WORLD" goes awry. Luke is unable to perform his role as the letter "L," hovering, as he is, about 12 feet above the stage. In a panic, Cameron orders his stage hands to lower Franklin's "majestic insignia," a giant purple "F." Thus, Cameron's heartwarming expression of trans-global harmony is transformed into "WE LOVE THE 'F' WORD." It's one of those jokes that you appreciate more for the ingenuity that went into writing it than for the laughs it actually elicits. Still, I confess that I wish we'd gotten to see that Bollywood number.

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'Modern Family' recap: Hey, Mr. Kleezak!

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The cast of "Modern Family" is universally strong, but among the ensemble are what you might call a few "ball hogs" -- performers who get more of the good lines and who deliver them with such aplomb that we can't exactly hold it against them. And yes, I'm talking about Ty Burrell and Sofia Vergara. But this week, in a refreshing change of pace, it was little Nolan Gould's chance to shine as Luke.
I've always been partial to his character, a spacey little oddball who doesn't conform to any sitcom kid conventions -- he's neither precocious nor cloyingly cute nor an allergy-plagued nerd. He is weird in a way that's difficult to classify, but which borders ever so slightly on "creepy." You're never quite sure if he'll grow up to be a serial killer or a kindergarten teacher, and it's this mildly unsettling quality that I enjoy. (Something else I enjoy: the name "Nolan Gould," which evokes visions of a 65-year-old wearing a cravat and cradling a brandy snifter, but that's another story.) So it's nice to see Luke take center stage this week, as he befriends Mr. Kleezak. Played by the inimitable Phillip Baker Hall, Mr. Kleezak -- or "Walt" -- is, unlike Luke, a character straight out of Central Casting. He's the Crotchety Old Neighbor, an archetype that dates back at least to Mr. Wilson from "Dennis the Menace."
One of the things that works well on "Modern Family" is that it strikes a healthy balance between familiar sitcom conventions and a more ironic sensibility. So although the Grumpy Old Neighbor/pesky little kid pairing is not exactly trailblazing, at least we've got Luke around to say things like "We have that in our house, but we don't need tanks," regarding Walt's oxygen supply. Now, it would have been nice if we'd gotten to see more of these two interact. I'm hoping that Walt is here to stay, not just because of his sweet friendship with Luke but because it would be nice to broaden the Dunphys' universe a bit. "Modern Family" is not a serial comedy -- each episode is largely self-contained. The same themes pop up from week to week, but story lines are always resolved within 22 minutes, and there are few recurring characters outside the extended family.
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