HBO's 'Game Change,' 'VEEP' make Baltimore a player at Emmys

Sunday's telecast could mean more recognition for TV work done here

  • Julianne Moore and Ed Harris as Sarah Palin and John McCain in HBO's 'Game Change.'
Julianne Moore and Ed Harris as Sarah Palin and John McCain in… (Philip V. Caruso for HBO )
September 21, 2012|By David Zurawik | The Baltimore Sun

Whatever happens Sunday night in Los Angeles, Baltimore is already a winner when it comes to this year’s Emmy Awards.

Last Saturday at the creative arts Emmys, which are awarded in off-camera categories, Baltimore casting director Pat Moran was honored for her work on HBO’s “Game Change.”

The film, which tells the story of the 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin, was made here in 2011 and brought top-flight TV production back to the city after a four-year drought that came after the end of “The Wire.” That renewal meant millions of dollars spent locally, along with work for hundreds of local actors, crew members and TV/film professionals.

The Emmy for Moran, who has cast virtually every major production filmed in Baltimore since “Hairspray” in 1987, was icing on the cake — Hollywood recognition for the kind of quality work that can be done here.

And there could be a lot more recognition for Baltimore on Sunday night at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre and in millions of living rooms across the country during the 64th Emmy Awards telecast. “Game Change” has a total of 12 nominations, while “VEEP,” a comedy filmed mostly in Baltimore that stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as vice president of the United States, has three. The latter includes one for best comedy and another for Louis-Dreyfus as best lead actress in a comedy, where she is the odds-on favorite to win.

“HBO has always loved making movies and doing projects in Baltimore,” Moran said last week. “The great thing is, HBO has stuck with Baltimore and came back with two big projects recently, ‘VEEP’ and ‘Game Change.’ And both have multiple nominations. ... That recognition for productions made in Baltimore does matter — it matters for everyone working in the business here.”

The dozen nominations for “Game Change” in the movie and miniseries category include major ones for Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson for best actress and actor. Moore played Palin, while Harrelson depicted senior McCain adviser Steve Schmidt in the docudrama. Ed Harris (as McCain) and Sarah Paulson (as aide Nicolle Wallace) were nominated for best supporting actor and actress.

Jay Roach picked up a nomination for his direction, while Danny Strong is up for his script. The film itself is a contender for best movie or miniseries.

Analysts are saying “Game Change” could walk away with half a dozen Emmys in one of the night’s most prestigious and star-studded categories.

Tom O’Neil, founder of the Hollywood website, is picking Harris, Moore and “Game Change” to win, with Harrelson a near toss-up as best lead actor. The consensus of all prognosticators at GoldDerby is that “Game Change” will take top honors, with Moore, Roach, Harris and Strong also winning.

“Julianne Moore is a shoo-in,” O’Neil said in a telephone interview Friday. “No one even comes close. Remember, Tina Fey recently won an Emmy portraying Sarah Palin, and everyone agrees Julianne Moore nailed it far better than Tina Fey. So, that gets an automatic Emmy.”

O’Neil is more cautious in picking “Game Change” itself, saying, “It looks like it’s out front to win best movie/mini, but there’s a lot of competition in that category, with ‘American Horror Story’ and ‘Hatfields & McCoys.’”

Deadline, another Hollywood showbiz site, also sees a close win for “Game Change,” saying: “Because this is falling so closely to a typically fractious presidential election, ‘Game Change’ gets the nod despite general acknowledgment that it’s a less than great film. It’s a very good movie filled with terrific acting work from Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore in particular.”

The full field of nominees for movie and miniseries: “American Horror Story,” “Game Change,” “Hatfields & McCoys,” “Hemingway & Gellhorn, “Luther” and “Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia.”

“Game Change” is my pick without reservation, and I think it is a much better film than Deadline does. No movie or miniseries anywhere on TV last year generated the kind of conversation about political leadership and the lack of it on the 2008 Republican ticket the way this docudrama did.

Overall, HBO leads all networks and channels with 81 nominations, and it should once again lead in number of Emmy wins Sunday night, with several of them coming from “Game Change.” The one Moran took home last week will be added to the Sunday night count.

Moran was also nominated but didn’t win for her casting of “VEEP,” which returns to Baltimore for its second season of production next month.

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