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The judges on America’s Got Talent.

LOBOT-EMMY: Show business awards are an unnecessary evil at the best of times, and awards shows rate on the watchability ladder somewhere between cock fights and Mark Russell’s “political humour” revues on PBS. The worst thing about awards like The Emmys is that they are, in a field where sound critical benchmarks are rare, essentially mystifying — how and why nominations and wins happen is a process far harder to understand than, say, the brute but quantifiable thumbs-up that is ratings and money.

The year’s Emmy nominees are as confounding as any previous year, despite new voting rules that were supposed to diversify the pool of potential winners. How did they put this into practice? By ending at-home voting by Academy of Television Arts and Sciences members and returning power to “blue ribbon panels,” who selected the nominees during a pressure cooker weekend late last month.

The results? Well, Lauren Graham of Gilmore Girls fame was ignored once again, despite the insistence of the Academy that the new voting rules were supposed to help people like Graham, who persistently slip through the cracks. Other conspicuous absences include Lost, Entourage, Everybody Hates Chris, My Name Is Earl and — most damning of all, in this critic’s eyes — Battlestar Galactica. In keeping with Emmys tradition, these shows will be ignored until they’re a) cancelled, b) in obvious decline or c) on HBO.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A JUDGE: Can I just say how much fun it is watching David Hasselhoff on America’s Got Talent? His reactions to the performances on the stage in front of him, from the dozen wildly obese men dancing to M. C. Hammer to the yodelling kid, are pure id — he cringes, cheers, gapes, rocks back in his chair and almost inevitably lets the trainwrecks go on longer than either of the other judges before hitting the raspberry button.

My favourite move is when he pushes back his seat and holds his arms straight up in the air, eyes fixed on the stage. It’s the sort of thing my three-year-old does when she’s really caught up in an episode of Dora. Obviously the man is going through some sort of emotional trial right now — his marriage is imploding badly, with ugly allegations of abuse, suits and countersuits flying back and forth in court, and he seemed to be mired in some sort of raw nervous dead end when he started bawling during the final episode of American Idol.

But it’s great TV compared to the other judges on America’s Got Talent: laconic British journalist Piers Morgan plays the Simon Cowell role, dismissing the losers with a halfhearted show of offense and disdain, while “recording artist” Brandy swings between “you go girl” enthusiasm and open-mouthed shock. She’s as eager to buzz the really mortifying performances off the stage as Hasselhoff is willing to let them go the distance, which suggests he has a better grasp of the show’s Gong Show essence than either of his peers on the dais.

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