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2017 Emmys Preview: Team Lange or Team Sarandon?

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‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ picks up three awards at Creative Arts ceremony. 

By Don Maines

For many LGBTQ TV viewers, the 2017 Emmy Awards will come down to one question: are you Team Lange or Team Sarandon?

Is your money on Jessica Lange, as screen legend Joan Crawford, or does your heart say Susan Sarandon, as movie great Bette Davis? The two actresses squared off last spring in Ryan Murphy’s addictive Sunday night FX miniseries Feud: Bette and Joan.

Lange and Sarandon face two fellow Oscar winners, Big Little Lies co-stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, in the heated category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. Their competition includes American Crime’s Felicity Huffman and dark-horse Carrie Coon in Fargo.

Other Academy Award-winning actors hoping to land a small-screen Emmy include Jane Fonda (opposite Lily Tomlin in Grace and Frankie); Geoffrey Rush (Genius) vs. Robert DeNiro (The Wizard of Lies); Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) vs. Anthony Hopkins (Westworld); and Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder).

Oscar winner Kevin Kline was nominated in the category of Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance as Mr. Fischoeder on the animated Bob’s Burgers, but he already learned his fate when more than 90 honors were presented Sept. 9-10 at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremonies. The winner was Seth McFarlane as Peter Griffin, sexually ambiguous Stewie Griffin, Brian Griffin, and Glenn Quagmire in Family Guy’s “The Boys in the Band” episode.

Last weekend’s ceremonies also saw RuPaul Charles win his second consecutive Emmy as Outstanding Host for Reality or Reality-Competition Program. The ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race also picked up Emmys for costumes and editing. It scored nominations for casting, makeup, and hairstyling, and is still in the running for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program.

Three-time Oscar perennial Meryl Streep was announced as the first female to win Best Narrator, for Five Came Back, a three-hour television adaptation of a 2014 book by Mark Harris. He’s the husband of Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner; Streep won her second Emmy portraying multiple roles in the HBO version of Angels in America.

Out choreographer Travis Hall (So You Think You Can Dance) and performer Jane Lynch added Emmys to their collections.

The Super Bowl LI Halftime Show Starring Lady Gaga, which was broadcast live on February 5, 2017, from NRG Stadium, was nominated for Outstanding Special Class Program, losing to the Oscars, but it won an Emmy for Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special.

Out Hollywood hyphenate Ryan Murphy, who already has four Emmys for shows that include Glee and The Normal Heart, hoped to make it eight this year, with awards for writing, directing, producing, and creating the main title design for Feud: Bette and Joan. However, the main title design award went to Stranger Things, which also won for best casting of a drama series.

Feud: Bette and Joan also boasts four supporting nominations for Judy Davis (as Hedda Hopper), Jackie Hoffman (Mamacita), Alfred Molina (director Robert Aldrich), and Stanley Tucci (studio chief Jack Warner). (I wish there had been room for Dominic Burgess as the late, gay actor Victor Buono, who earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in the movie Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Burgess was heartwrenching in the episode in which Buono was arrested when police raided a gay, porno theater.)

Sunday’s ceremony will reveal the winners in major categories, where 2016 honorees Kate McKinnon, Jeffrey Tambor, and Louie Anderson could win again in races of particular interest to the LGBTQ community.

The category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series pits Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump against openly gay Titus Burgess as Titus Andromedon on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Uzo Aduba, a two-time winner as lesbian Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Orange Is the New Black, is nominated this year for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Her competition includes openly gay Samira Wiley, as Moira in The Handmaid’s Tale. (Wiley played tragic Poussey Washington on OITNB.) Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset on OITNB is a nominee for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

To have seen all of the nominees—including additional nods for Billy Eichner and others—one would have had to watch a lot of TV and pay a pretty penny for streaming on alt-networks. I see you, Fee, played by legendary actress Anjelica Huston. I spot you fees from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and others. Fee fi fo fum, you changed the game when it comes to handicapping the Emmys.•

What: 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards live from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, hosted by Stephen Colbert
When: 7 p.m., Sunday, September 17
Where: CBS-TV
Details: cbs.com, emmys.com

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Don Maines

Donalevan Maines is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.
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