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The Normal Heart (#110 of 8)

2014 Emmy Winner Predictions

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2014 Emmy Winner Predictions
2014 Emmy Winner Predictions

Glancing over this year’s Emmy nominations is to marvel again at just how much the television landscape has changed in 20 years. Back in 1993, The Larry Sanders Show became the first cable TV program to be nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. Only one non-network sitcom has ever claimed that award (Sex and the City in 2001), but the sheer number of nominations and wins that cable programs garner each year continues to signal the future of television programming. And one of the more pressing questions that will be answered this year is whether the Emmys are ready to embrace online TV creators such as Netflix with prizes in its top two categories for either House of Cards, nominated for 13 awards, or Orange Is the New Black, nominated for 12, more than any other comedy. Elsewhere, the sense of “importance” with which Ryan Murphy’s The Normal Heart has been greeted by critics and audiences has made nearly ever miniseries or movie category a no-brainer to predict. And while the Emmys, unlike the Oscars, have never been known to drive pundits and viewers alike to fits of nail-biting anxiety, at least a few of this year’s drama races have been turned upside down by the recent plagiarism claims that have plagued Nic Pizzolatto, possibly exposing True Detective as the emperor who’ll arrive at the Nokia Theatre on August 25 with the least amount of clothes.

On Trend The Changing State of Coming Out in Hollywood

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On Trend: The Changing State of Coming Out in Hollywood
On Trend: The Changing State of Coming Out in Hollywood

She certainly came prepared. The E! correspondents may have told you that Jodie Foster wore Giorgio Armani to the Golden Globes, but her frock was more like a suit of armor, its metallic straps criss-crossing her chest as if she were bracing for impact. Amid an awards show that’s often little more than a boring, booze-soaked, wannabe Oscars, Foster—who, at 50, proved a drastically young choice for the HFPA’s career-defining Cecil B. Demille Award—provided a riveting slice of LGBT history, using the acceptance of her honorary trophy as an opportunity to deliver a coming-out speech…sorta. Everyone knows the story by now: How Foster jokingly announced that she’s “single” after a virtual drum roll of anticipation, how she thanked her longtime partner and two strapping sons, and how she professed the value of personal privacy, declaring that she’s no reality star, like “Honey Boo Boo Child.” Gawker had a particularly douchey field day with the latter portion of Foster’s monologue, viciously berating the actress for demanding privacy as a public figure in a very public forum. The contradiction at which Gawker took aim is glaringly apparent, but while celebrities may sacrifice certain libel rights and anonymous trips to the grocery store, they are not, in fact, required to divulge personal details to the masses. If there’s anything to deride about Foster’s show-stopping moment, it’s that it felt dated, dusty, even quaint.

The Normal Heart on Broadway and Larry Kramer’s Legacy of Provocation

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<em>The Normal Heart</em> on Broadway and Larry Kramer’s Legacy of Provocation
<em>The Normal Heart</em> on Broadway and Larry Kramer’s Legacy of Provocation

Following showings of the new Broadway revival of The Normal Heart, audiences are handed a letter written by the play’s author, Larry Kramer. Titled “Please Know,” this epistle is, like the play itself, a provocation—a cutting indictment of the bureaucratic greed, political self-interest, and apathy within the gay community that continues to stand in the way of AIDS research and education. Why is The Normal Heart still relevant? Because Kramer, in his own words, has “never seen such wrongs as this plague, in all its guises, represents, and continues to say about us all.”

The subject of this remarkable play isn’t only AIDS and what it says about us all, from gays and our friends to politicos and Big Pharma; like Kramer’s brilliant Faggots, a hilarious, fiercely intelligent, stinging, heartbreaking account of gay life in post-Stonewall New York City, it’s also about Kramer’s brutalizing anger and how he righteously turned it into a call to action. The play’s lead, writer and activist Ned Weeks, is a stand-in for Kramer, just as the nameless organization he founds, and from which he’s removed on the eve of finally getting face time with the city’s mayor, is the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. He isn’t the play’s hero exactly, but his volcanic, justified rage is very much heroic, and it fuels the text’s most devastating, customarily articulate, takedowns of the people and organizations—Koch, Reagan, The New York Times, the Centers for Disease Control, even the very gays Faggots helped to liberate—that allowed AIDS to happen.