Sarah Paulson, a two-time Emmy nominee this year, was talking about how she may be making history. Rami Malek, a first-time nominee, talked glowingly about his competition for Best Actor in a Drama Series. Veep co-stars Matt Walsh and Tony Hale, nominated in the same supporting category, made the rounds together. Lou Diamond Phillips still can’t believe he is up for a comedy role.
This was all part of the action as I made the rounds at the Television Academy’s annual Performers Peer Group Celebration on Monday night on the Beverly Hills Montage Hotel’s rooftop. The fact is that each and every one of the Academy’s many peer groups get their own reception to toast their Emmy nominees this time of year. The Academy’s tireless Barbara Chase expertly puts them all together on an almost nightly basis between now and September 18, when the final Emmys are given. But because these are actors, this particular reception has a higher media profile — and more bars.
Pete Hammond's Emmy Handicaps 2016: Outstanding Drama Series
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Performers peer group governors Bob Bergen and Lily Tomlin presided over the event, calling up each of the nominees in attendance for a bow onstage. They included — in addition to the aforementioned contenders — a sampling of candidates in the Academy’s newest Emmy categories, for Short Form Acting, including Michelle Ang, Patrika Darbo and Phillips.
Phillips was having a great time there on his first-ever Emmy nod, even though he told me he is shocked it comes for comedy in Crossroads Of History. He said his category comes up on the September 11 Creative Arts Ceremony and he will definitely be there. There are so many Emmys to be handed out in a record 113 categories that the Academy had to split the shows into three parts, with Creative Arts Emmys on September 10 and September 11 , and the ABC Primetime Emmy telecast September 18. That is where both of Paulson’s categories will be handed out, as well as most of the other acting categories other than Guest Stars and Shorts.
Paulson, a perennial nominee the past five years for her various roles from Game Change to American Horror Story to her role as Marcia Clark in The People Vs O J Simpson, proudly told me all six of her nominations in the past five years have come for completely different characters. “Has that ever happened before in the Emmys?” she asked me. I actually think it must be some sort of record; usually actors who are consistently nominated do it for the same series role. This is a unique achievement and I think she will finally win one as Marcia Clark, the Simpson prosecutor who has repeatedly praised her portrayal. That is something that doesn’t hurt on the campaign trail.
Malek was stopping by the reception on his way to airport to catch the red eye to New York for last night’s appearance with Stephen Colbert. “They said, ‘Hey there is this reception for nominees. Do you want to go?’ Of course I said, ‘Why not?’ so here I am,” Malek told me.
This of course is crunch time, with Emmy ballots still not due back until next Monday night. That’s why you see stars eager to appear anywhere they can to catch the eye of voters. Malek was thrilled to land in the Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series category on his very first season of Mr. Robot. though he indicated he thinks going up against Kevin Spacey (who has his fourth consecutive nod for House Of Cards) might be a tough mountain to climb. He could be right especially as Spacey has never won an Emmy, but I mentioned another one of his competitors who also has a decent shot, Bob Odenkirk of Better Call Saul. “He’s one guy I would gladly be happy to lose to — he’s truly great in that role, ” Malek graciously said.
As Tomlin — who already has won a gazillion Emmys and seems to get nominated no matter what she does — was leaving, I lamented that for the second year in a row her Grace And Frankie co-star Jane Fonda was overlooked even as Tomlin got another Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series nomination.
“I know. I am very upset about that — I really wanted Jane in there with me,” Tomlin said. The Emmys giveth and they taketh away.
Now on to the next 20 nominee receptions. ‘Tis the season.
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