One producer abandons past votes ('Game of Thrones' "lost their way when they didn't have a book," while 'Veep' should be subjected to a "mercy rule") and outs a 'Voice' beef: "I've heard Blake Shelton and Adam Levine hate each other."
Can someone explain to me why this category has eight nominees, but comedy series has seven, the variety categories have six and limited series and TV movie have five? When I was coming up in the business, we voted for five in every category. Is it asking too much to have a uniform number? I did not watch Pose. I find Ryan [Murphy’s] stuff to be the same over and over again — pretentious — and it held no appeal to me; I’d rather watch RuPaul, to be honest, than have Ryan lecture me about drag. Ozark jumped the shark in season two. This Is Us is lovely, and thank God there’s one network show that got through. Better Call Saul is great and Jonathan Banks is the best actor on TV — I don’t understand how he hasn’t won yet. I have voted for Game of Thrones in the past, but it went the bro-iest it’s ever been — it was frat-boy central — and even though I didn’t mind the ending that everybody else did, I do think they lost their way when they didn’t have a book. I loved Bodyguard — [Richard] Madden was amazing and I binged it in a weekend. Succession is brilliant, and its second season, so far, is even better than its first — but the truth is, its brilliance is mostly in the writing. Killing Eve is the best drama on television — I am madly in love with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and I know she didn’t write this season, but her fingerprints are still all over it. They hit it out of the park with that casting — Sandra Oh is great, but I watch for Jodie Comer, who is gorgeous, pulls off five different languages and has a devilish quality to her that you almost never see except in old movies. She can pull off evilness and then turn around and you don’t hate her, which is so hard.
My vote: Killing Eve (BBC America)
I was hugely disappointed by Russian Doll — it’s Groundhog Day, but without a point. Schitt’s Creek is lovely, but I don’t know how it got nominated. I’m happy to see a network show, with The Good Place, but it’s not of the caliber of network shows of yesteryear — you can’t put that in the same universe as Cheers. I didn’t love this season of Maisel, although I could watch Tony Shalhoub read the phone book. Veep is great, but I’m not voting for it again — there should be a mercy rule where you can’t win something more than three or four times. So it came down to Fleabag and Barry. You cannot imagine how much I’d love to vote for Phoebe, but she’s up against Barry, which is the best show on TV. As a storyteller, I can tell you that the most difficult thing in TV is to be able to go from gut-wrenching drama to fall-on-your-face comedy. What they pull off on this show is simply astonishing. The episode with the girl on the car is the funniest half-hour in years — her biting Stephen Root in the face is pee-in-your-pants funny. And the episode where Bill Hader confesses to Henry Winkler about killing the guy he mistakenly thought had a bomb on him — I had tears in my eyes — and then Henry says, “I will help you — but I bill my private classes through a different LLC, so I’m just going to get that ledger,” I literally fell off my couch. I care so much about Barry — and he’s a hitman!
My vote: Barry (HBO)
I detested Sharp Objects. Amy Adams was miscast — sometimes actors are the last people who should choose their material — and if she picked up the Evian bottle with the vodka in it one more time, I was going to throw a brick through my TV. I get it, you’re a drunk! Fosse/Verdon was good, but Sam Rockwell’s version of Bob Fosse pales in comparison to Roy Scheider’s in All That Jazz, which basically tells the same story, but better; [Michelle Williams] was terrific, though. Escape at Dannemora was good — I loved the directing more than the writing, and I wasn’t crazy about the casting, apart from Patricia Arquette. The truth is, I didn’t finish When They See Us because it was so upsetting — Ava [DuVernay] cast it so well, and I cared so much about those kids that I couldn’t take it anymore. Chernobyl is the best thing that’s been on TV in the last 10 years. It was extraordinary — the writing, casting, locations, visual effects. And the fact that it’s [created and written by] the guy that did The Hangover movies [Craig Mazin wrote The Hangover Part II and The Hangover Part III]?! Unbelievable. It’s sort of like All the President’s Men, in that you know how it’s going to end, but you don’t really know how it all went down. I had no idea how close the whole Earth was to going buh-bye — and now it just happened again!
My vote: Chernobyl (HBO)
King Lear has been done 500 times. I don’t understand how Brexit or My Dinner With Herve even got nominated. Why is there not one Lifetime movie in here? They specialize in TV movies, but people recognize titles from HBO and Netflix and just check them off. And why the fuck is Bandersnatch (Black Mirror) in this category? It’s part of a TV series — it says it right there in the parentheses! Why should somebody working their butt off to create a TV movie have to compete against a franchise? Deadwood: The Movie is different — it’s a two-hour movie and not part of an ongoing series. I admit that it’s a bit of a sentimental vote for [David] Milch — he’s been diagnosed with dementia, he knows it’s coming, he wrote this with his kid and this is it, he’s never going to write again.
My vote: Deadwood: The Movie (HBO)
I got rid of At Home With Amy Sedaris — she’s great, but the writing is just OK. Documentary Now has had better seasons. I liked Who Is America?, and I love Drunk History, but both are sort of one-joke. This season of Saturday Night Live was very hit and miss — they did way too much Trump, and, like a lot of people, I’m feeling Trump fatigue. That’s why it was really smart for Comedy Central to do that David Spade show after The Daily Show where he’s not allowed to talk about Trump. I chose I Love You, America because I love how Sarah Silverman takes risks. She talks about Trump’s America more than Trump himself.
My vote: I Love You, America With Sarah Silverman (Hulu)
The only two that are not appointment TV for me are Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Late Show With James Corden. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah is great, but he’s not Jon Stewart. Samantha Bee is great, but the show [Full Frontal] isn’t as good as she is. So it came down to the two other former Daily Show correspondents, [Last Week Tonight’s] John Oliver and [The Late Show’s] Stephen Colbert. Last year I voted for Oliver, and I was going to vote for him again — but I thought about it, and Colbert has to do it five nights a week! He’s funny, smart and, when he needs to be, poignant. He can sing. He speaks truth to power, just like when he did the White House Correspondents’ Dinner [and roasted George W. Bush to his face in 2006]. There’s really nothing he can’t do. For me, since Carson, he’s the best.
My vote: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
I regularly watch almost none of these, but people in my house watch several, so I’ve been exposed to them. I can’t vote for Nailed It! because I looked for it on Netflix and couldn’t even find it — I assume it’s about construction? I’m tired of The Amazing Race and Top Chef. The Voice is incredibly well done — especially in light of what I’ve heard from a friend who works on it, which is that two of the hosts really dislike each other, but play nice on TV. [Interviewer prods for more information.] Blake Shelton and Adam Levine hate each other. [Interviewer says, "Maybe that’s why Adam Levine is leaving the show, walking away from a lot of money."] He didn’t walk away — I heard it was a “Me or him.” So I almost voted for it just because I know it’s not easy to make a show when key people hate each other. I voted for RuPaul [RuPaul’s Drag Race] last year because I love that show. But I started watching American Ninja Warrior and it is a feat of mechanical genius that they can show up in Detroit or wherever, build a giant thing, and then people get on there and do it! It is such watchable television. I can’t imagine the insurance paperwork for that one: "How are you going to protect these people from getting hurt?" "Well, there’s a giant pool of water for them to fall into." "Oh, OK, well in that case …"
My vote: American Ninja Warrior (NBC)
A version of this story first appears in the Sept. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.