2019 Tribeca Film Festival miniseries review: ‘What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali’

April 28, 2019

by Carla Hay

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali in “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali”

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 28, 2019.

Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali has been the subject of several movies, but “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” stands above the rest as the most comprehensive documentary about him so far.

Other documentaries about Ali have examined specific time periods in Ali’s life, such as famous boxing matches (2008’s “Thrilla in Manila”; 1996’s Oscar-winning “When We Were Kings”; and 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle”) or Ali’s legal problems when he refused to serve in the military during the Vietnam war (2013’s “The Trials of Muhammad Ali”). “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” takes a chronological, expansive look at his life, beginning with his humble upbringing in Louisville, Kentucky; his rise to fame that led to several world championships; his awakening as a civil-rights activist and philanthropist; and his battle with multiple sclerosis that led to his death in 2016. Acclaimed director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) brings a definitive cinematic feel to this two-part HBO Sports documentary, which has LeBron James as one of the executive producers.

Unlike most other documentaries about Ali, there are no talking heads providing commentary. It was a wise artistic decision not to pepper the story with retrospective interviews, because they would only distract from the complete immersive experience of the archival footage that transports viewers back to the most significant moments in Ali’s life. Ali’s voice is the singular most important voice in the documentary, as it should be. When viewers hear his poetry, over-the-top bragging and preaching about black pride, it’s not interrupted by “experts” telling people what it all means. Viewers can decide for themselves what Ali meant in his words and actions.

The documentary’s title is in reference to Ali’s rejection of his birth name, Cassius Clay, which was a name that he believed was symbolic of a racist system that stripped African American slaves of their original identities. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali after becoming a member of the Nation of Islam. The name change wasn’t just about his religious conversion but it also represents his metamorphosis from celebrity boxer to outspoken, often-controversial activist who had a close friendship with Malcolm X. The documentary shows several clips of Ali being offended if anyone called him “Cassius Clay” after the name change. One of those clips was Ali’s notorious argument at a 1967 press conference with boxing opponent Ernie Terrell, in a verbal conflict that led to Ali’s famous “What’s My Name” chant. It’s not a question, but a command, for people to take him for who he really is.

Ali was so committed to protesting the Vietnam War that he was sentenced to five years in prison and was stripped of his championship title for three years because he refused to serve in the military during the war. Ali ultimately did not spend time in prison, but he became one of the first prominent athletes who used his celebrity status to protest a war. None of this is new information to die-hard Ali fans or people who were old enough to remember when Ali was vilified for his political beliefs, but people who don’t know this part of Ali’s history will have their eyes opened about how complex and influential Ali has been during and after his lifetime.

Aside from Ali’s social activism, “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” also has riveting footage of Ali’s most notable boxing matches, from the most famous opponents (George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Sonny Liston, Leon Spinks, Ken Norton, Floyd Patterson) to opponents whose names aren’t as familiar to the general public (Jimmy Ellis, Bob Foster, Oscar Bonavena, Henry Cooper). There are moments that also show the prickly relationship that Ali had with sportscaster Howard Cosell. Ali and Cosell probably got on each other’s nerves because they had something in common: They both loved being the center of attention, even if it meant that politeness and tact had to be thrown out the window.

The documentary shows that Ali’s stunning victories and crushing defeats have life lessons that are relatable to anyone. And when Ali’s boxing injuries and multiple sclerosis take their toll on his ability to speak with his unique rapid-fire charisma, it becomes even more obvious what a great loss this was for Ali’s larger-than-life personality. During his later years, Ali’s spark was still there, but it slowed down over time.

The most glaring omission from “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” is that it ignores Ali’s personal life, which could be a whole other movie unto itself. (He was married four times and had nine children.) But it’s clear that the filmmakers of “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” didn’t want Ali’s experiences as a husband and father to be a distraction from the main story, which is to show Ali’s legacy as an influential and unforgettable public figure.

HBO will premiere “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali” on May 14, 2019.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal’

anbApril 25, 2019

by Carla Hay

Trinea Gonczar in “At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

“At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal”

Directed by Erin Lee Carr

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 25, 2019.

The challenge of doing a documentary film about a high-profile scandal that’s already been covered in countless news stories is that the film really has to deliver something new and extraordinary in order to stand out from all the other stories. “At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal,” although well-researched, doesn’t report anything new and surprising in its chronicle of the 2016 scandal that exposed Dr. Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse of hundreds of patients (many of them were underage female gymnasts) and various institutions’ cover-up and enabling of Nassar’s illegal acts, which spanned more than 20 years. (Nassar has now been stripped of his medical license. In 2017 and 2018, he received numerous prison sentences that will ensure that he will die in prison.) However, the lack of a newsworthy breakthrough in the documentary doesn’t make the film’s emotional impact any less powerful.

“At the Heart of Gold” doesn’t have new interviews with the most famous people involved in the scandal, such as abuse survivors/Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney. The documentary also doesn’t interview any of the chief villains in the story, such as Nassar (whose manufactured “nice guy” image fooled people for years) or the officials at USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University (where Nassar also worked), who are accused of actively covering up Nassar’s sexual abuse after the crimes were reported to them. Many of these officials have lost their jobs and are involved in their own legal cases where they are facing criminal prosecution and/or civil lawsuits because of the Nassar scandal.

People interviewed for “At the Heart of Gold” are several abuse survivors—including Trinea Gonczar, Dominique Moceanu, Amanda Thomashow, Morgan McCaul—as well as a few of the survivors’ family members, plaintiff attorney Mick Grewal, Nassar attorney Shannon Smith, judge Rosemarie Aquilina, gymnastics professionals and journalists who covered the story. News reports have already revealed that Nassar’s sexual abuse, which he usually tricked his victims into believing was medical therapy, shockingly occurred on many occasions while the victims’ parents were in the same room, where they believed Nassar had been giving a routine physical exam. However, most of the abuse happened when Nassar was alone with a victim. In many cases, the abuse escalated from fondling to sexual intercourse.

As heinous as Nassar’s actions were, the documentary reiterates that the people who ignored the victims’ complaints and allowed Nassar to get away with committing sexual abuse for decades are just as responsible for these crimes. John Geddert (former USA Gymnastics coach)* and Kathie Klages (former Michigan State University gymnastics coach) are repeatedly singled out in the documentary as two of the most evil enablers of Nassar. As the #MeToo movement raises awareness of how to fight sexual abusers, “At the Heart of Gold” also takes a microscope to the culture that allows people to commit these crimes. The movie serves as a warning that sexual predators are particularly enabled in industries where children are being pushed to achieve fame and glory and are frequently left alone with powerful adults in the industry who are not their parents.

The documentary does an excellent job of also pointing to the abusive treatment that many aspiring Olympic gymnasts receive early on in their training, which almost always begins when they are underage children. The gymnasts are essentially brainwashed into believing that they will be kicked out of a program if they complain about or report any illegal or inappropriate behavior from an authority figure who can derail someone’s Olympic dreams. Gymnasts are also taught not to complain about injuries (those who complain are often punished), and gymnasts are sometimes forced to perform with serious injuries, such as fractured bones.

Béla and Márta Károlyi—the husband-and-wife duo who trained Olympic gold-medalist gymnasts such as Nadia Comăneci, Mary Lou Retton and Kerri Strug—are portrayed as two of the chief perpetrators of this vicious mentality. The Károlyis, who used to be USA Gymnastics coaches, are not interviewed in “At the Heart of Gold,” but they have been sued for knowing about Nassar’s abuse when it was happening at the Károlyi Ranch, the couple’s remote training facility near Hunstville, Texas, that closed in 2018. (Béla retired from gymnastics coaching in 1997, while Márta retired in 2016.)

Some of the people interviewed in “At the Heart of Gold” give disturbing descriptions of the Károlyi Ranch as being a cult-like compound where communication was cut off from the outside world, and the Karolyis were treated like gods who could be merciless in their punishment. Michigan Radio/NPR Radio’s 2018 podcast “Believed” takes a more in-depth look at the Nassar scandal, but “At the Heart of Gold” makes a worthy companion piece for those who want to get the story in a documentary film.

HBO will premiere “At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal” on May 3, 2019.

*UPDATE: John Geddert committed suicide on February 25, 2021, the same day that he was indicted on 24 counts of abuse-related crimes, including human trafficking and sexual assault.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘The Apollo’

April 25, 2019

by Carla Hay

The Apollo
(Photo courtesy of HBO)

“The Apollo”

Directed by Roger Ross Williams

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 24, 2019.

The legendary Apollo Theater in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood has been around since 1934, and there is now finally a definitive documentary film about the venue’s legacy and lasting impact on culture. “The Apollo,” directed by Roger Ross Williams, skillfully manages the enormous task of taking all of the Apollo’s rich and complicated history and making it into a cohesive and fascinating story. The movie begins and ends with the Apollo’s 2018 world premiere of the stage adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” his 2015 award-winning non-fiction book about what it means to be a black person in America. Angela Bassett and Common were among the entertainers who starred in the production.

The Apollo—which became a U.S. and New York City landmark in 1983—has hosted numerous actors, dancers, comedians and other entertainers, but the music artists are the ones who shine the brightest in the documentary. The archival footage in the film is breathtaking to watch, as it’s a thrilling reminder that virtually all of the most influential black entertainers from the 1930s onward have performed at the Apollo. The list reads like a who’s who of black culture: Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Gladys Knight, and every major star who’s been on Motown Records, including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. Frank Schiffman, the original owner of the Apollo, is described as a ruthless businessman who saw the Apollo as an opportunity to provide an important showcase for black artists, beginning when these artists were shut out of “whites only” establishments. People of all races have performed at the Apollo, but this documentary focuses on black entertainers, in keeping with the Apollo’s original intention to be a venue primarily to showcase black talent.

Anyone familiar with the Apollo already knows about its famous “Amateur Night” talent contest (which was the brainchild of longtime Apollo emcee Ralph Cooper), but the documentary gives some insight into what you might not know: Cooper kept extensive notes (many of which are shown in the movie) on each performer from “Amateur Night,” as well as the established artists who graced the stage of the Apollo. The documentary includes footage of several “Amateur Nights” over the years (including a 13-year-old Lauryn Hill’s first Apollo performance in 1987, when she was booed on stage while singing the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Loving You”), as well as more recent behind-the-scenes and on-stage footage of aspiring entertainers. Several people in the documentary note that the Apollo audience is notoriously hard to please, so getting a standing ovation from the crowd is a badge of honor for any entertainer. The TV show “Showtime at the Apollo” (formerly known as “It’s Showtime at the Apollo”) is the long-running series that has highlights from the Apollo’s “Amateur Night.”

Jamie Foxx, who is interviewed in the film, also noted that many black comedians felt at home at the Apollo because they could be their uncensored selves and not have to worry about watering down their stand-up acts. The documentary includes footage of comedians such as Foxx, Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley, Chris Rock and Dick Gregory. Singer/actress Leslie Uggams, who began performing at the Apollo at the age of 9, shares some fond backstage memories in the documentary. She remembered that Ella Fitzgerald was always offering people food backstage, while Dinah Washington would generously dole out $100 bills to performers who were down on their luck.

The documentary also shows that the Apollo, much like black culture in America, is a story of resilience in the face of difficult obstacles. The Apollo’s relatively small capacity of about 1,500 people made it increasingly difficult for the venue to stay in business, and it temporarily closed in 1976, after filing for bankruptcy. Even when Inner City Broadcasting chief Percy Sutton bought the Apollo in 1983, making him the Apollo’s first black owner, the business still found it difficult to make a profit. In 1991, the state of New York bought the Apollo, which is now run by the non-profit Apollo Theater Foundation.

Even though the Apollo has long been considered a prestigious venue for black artists, it’s also a place that took risks and booked entertainers who were embroiled in controversy. Pharrell Williams and Doug E. Fresh give interviews in the documentary about how the Apollo was one of the first major venues in the United States to offer a major stage platform for hip-hop artists, including those such as Public Enemy and N.W.A, who would frequently speak out against the police in their songs. The Apollo also booked Billie Holiday at a time when her song “Strange Fruit” was considered offensive to many Southern people. Bobby Schiffman, Frank Schiffman’s son who inherited the Apollo until the venue filed for bankruptcy and closed in 1976, tells a story in the documentary about Eartha Kitt being afraid for her life to perform at the Apollo in 1960, because she had recently married a white man, and had been getting death threats from white and black people. But she won over the crowd, and Schiffman said it turned out to be one of her best performances, as well as a lesson for the Apollo that great entertainment on stage could triumph over any controversy going on outside the venue.

That’s not to say that the Apollo has been unaffected by social and political events. The documentary also puts everything into historical context, from the Apollo’s earliest years in the era of legal segregation, to the civil rights movements of the 1960s, to the rise of “black power” ideology in the 1970s to the influence of hip-hop culture in the 1980s and beyond. The message of the movie is that whatever has been an important historical touchstone for African-Americans from the 1930s and beyond—whether it was the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. or Shirley Chisholm running for president of the United States or the Black Lives Matter movement—the Apollo’s audiences and the entertainment on stage have been affected. The documentary also points out that the Apollo is also one of the first places that people go to for memorials when black icons die. The documentary includes footage of Apollo memorials after the deaths of Brown, Franklin, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Prince.

Even with all the superstar entertainers who have graced the stage at the Apollo, one guest remains a special favorite: Barack Obama, who became the first sitting U.S. president to do an on-stage presentation at the Apollo. The documentary includes footage of that 2012 appearance, as well as of Obama backstage. If you visit the Apollo, longtime Apollo tour guide Billy Mitchell—also known as Mr. Apollo—might show you the wall of autographs that include Obama’s signature and those of many other celebrities. (There’s footage of Mitchell giving a tour in the documentary too.)

“The Apollo” is an expertly told story that does justice to the Apollo and the people who made the venue great. The only downside is that the movie will eventually become outdated as future legends will make their own history by performing on the Apollo stage. Until there’s a sequel or updated film, this documentary will stand as the most comprehensive visual story about the Apollo.

UPDATE: HBO will premiere “The Apollo” on November 6, 2019.

2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: presenters announced

March 13, 2019

by Carla Hay

The presenters have been announced for the 34th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, which will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on March 29, 2019.

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, presenting for The Cure
Brian May of Queen, presenting for Def Leppard
Janelle Monáe, presenting for Janet Jackson
Harry Styles, presenting for Stevie Nicks
David Byrne, presenting for Radiohead
John Taylor and Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, presenting for Roxy Music
Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, presenting for The Zombies

The show will have a live radio broadcast on SiriusXM, and HBO will premiere a special televising highlights from the show on April 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The special will also be available on HBO on Demand, HBO Go, HBO Now and partners’ streaming platforms. Exhibits showcasing the new inductees will be on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in conjunction with the induction ceremony.

Performers eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are those whose first single or first album was released at least 25 years before the artist can be inducted. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voting members (which number about 1,000 people), as well online voting from the public, determine who will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival: ‘The Apollo’ documentary is the event’s opening-night film

February 13, 2019

The Apollo Theater in New York City's Harlem
The Apollo Theater in New York City’s Harlem (Photo courtesy of HBO)

The following is a press release from the Tribeca Film Festival:

The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, will open its 18th edition with the world premiere of director Roger Ross Williams and HBO’s new documentary film “The Apollo.” Helmed by the Oscar and Emmy-winning Williams (“Music by Prudence”; “Life, Animated”), The Apollo chronicles the unique history and contemporary legacy of the New York City landmark, the Apollo Theater. The film will debut at the iconic theater itself on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 and later this year on HBO. The feature-length documentary weaves together archival footage, music, comedy, and dance performances, and behind-the-scenes moments with the team that makes the theater run.

“The Apollo” features interviews with artists like Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx. The film is produced by Lisa Cortés (“Precious”), White Horses Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair (“George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” “Undefeated”), Jeanne Elfant Festa (“Foo Fighters: Back and Forth,” “Pavarotti”), Cassidy Hartmann (“The Beatles: Eight Days A Week,” “Pavarotti”), and Williams. The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival runs April 24 through May 5.

The documentary covers the rich history of the storied performance space over its 85 years and follows a new production of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” as it comes to the theater’s grand stage. The creation of this vibrant multi-media stage show frames the way in which “The Apollo” explores the current struggle of black lives in America, the role that art plays in that struggle, and the broad range of African-American achievement that the Apollo Theater represents.

The Apollo Theater is internationally renowned for having influenced American and pop culture more than any other entertainment venue. The space has created opportunities for new talent to be seen and has served as a launchpad for a myriad of artists, including Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Luther Vandross, Dave Chappelle, Lauryn Hill, Jimi Hendrix, and more.

“We’re excited to finally be going uptown to play the Apollo,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and CEO of the Tribeca Film Festival. “’The Apollo’ gives audiences an inside look at the major role this institution has played for the past 85 years. It’s seen the emergence of everything from jazz to R&B to soul and gospel — all quintessential American music genres — and this is the time to remind people of our nation’s rich history. ”

“’The Apollo’ is about so much more than just music, it’s about how we used music and art to lift ourselves out of oppression,” commented Williams. “The story of the Apollo is the story of the evolution of black American identity and how it grew to become the defining cultural movement of our time. I was fortunate to make my first film with HBO and I am thrilled to be coming back home with The Apollo. Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, at the Apollo Theater in Harlem is a dream come true.”

“The Apollo Theater is a symbol of the creative spirit of New York and beyond, and I’m very happy that we’re kicking off our 18th Festival celebrating it with this documentary from Roger Ross Williams,” said Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro.

An outstanding creative team has been assembled for “The Apollo,” including editors Jean Tsien, ACE (“Miss Sharon Jones!,” “Shut Up & Sing”) and John S. Fisher, as well as Grammy-Award-winning musician Robert Glasper (“Miles Ahead,” “13th”) who is composing the score. Hartmann and Tsien also serve as co-writers on the documentary.

“The Apollo” will have additional screenings during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Passes and packages to attend the festival go on sale on February 19th, 2019 and can be accessed here.

The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival will announce its feature film slate on March 5th.

2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Radiohead, Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson, The Cure, Def Leppard, Roxy Music, The Zombies are the inductees

December 13, 2018

by Carla Hay

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 2019 Inductees in the performer category:

The Cure

Def Leppard

Janet Jackson

Stevie Nicks


Roxy Music

The Zombies

The 34th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on March 29, 2019. Information on general ticket sales will be announced in January 2019. A limited number of pre-sale tickets are available for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members who have current membership as of December 31, 2018. The show will have a live radio broadcast on SiriusXM, and HBO will have a special televising highlights from the show on a date to be announced. Exhibits showcasing the new inductees will be on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in conjunction with the induction ceremony.

Performers eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are those whose first single or first album was released at least 25 years before the artist can be inducted. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voting members (which number about 1,000 people), as well online voting from the public, determine who will be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Artists who were nominated for the 2019 induction but didn’t make the cut were Devo, John Prine, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, MC5, Rage Against the Machine, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan and Todd Rundgren.  Six out of the 15 nominees were on the ballot for the first time: Def Leppard, Devo, John Prine, Roxy Music, Nicks and Rundgren.

With her induction as a solo artist, Nicks has made Rock and Roll Hall of Fame history for being the first woman to receive two inductions. As a member of Fleetwood Mac, Nicks was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. She launched her solo career in 1981.

Nicks commented on her solo Hall of Fame induction in this statement: “I have a lot to say about this, but I will save those words for later. For now I will just say, I have been in a band since 1968. To be recognized for my solo work makes me take a deep breath and smile. It’s a glorious feeling.”

Radiohead released this statement: “The members of Radiohead have been surprised to learn of the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019. The band thanks the Hall of Fame voting body and extends congratulations to this year’s fellow inductees.”

Jackson commented in a statement: “Thank you Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I am truly honored and I am happy to be in there with my brothers.”

Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry tweeted: “We are delighted to accept this prestigious award on behalf of everyone who has been involved in the world of Roxy Music – musicians, engineers, producers, designers and numerous people behind the scenes… and of course our loyal fans.”

Zombies lead singer Colin Blunstone tweeted: “This is a career-defining [and] life-defining moment,” while Zombies keyboardist Rod Argent tweeted: “This time to turn the corner and get inducted, feels fantastic … I’m just so delighted.”

Def Leppard tweeted: “It’s official, we are 2019 @rockhall Inductees. THANK YOU to all of our fans & the Rock Hall committee! What a way to wrap up an incredible year.”


2018 Primetime Emmy Awards: ‘Game of Thrones’ is the top nominee

July 12, 2018

Emmys logo

Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington in “Game of Thrones” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

The following is a press release from the Television Academy:

Nominations for the 70th Emmy Awards were announced today by the Television Academy in a ceremony hosted by Television Academy Chairman and CEO Hayma Washington along with Samira Wiley from the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale and Ryan Eggold from NBC’s upcoming drama, New Amsterdam.

“It’s been another record-breaking year with more than 9,100 entries in 122 unique categories for the initial nomination round of voting,” said Washington. “The continued growth of the industry has provided opportunities for acclaimed new programs to emerge, while allowing last season’s break-through programs to thrive. In addition, 36 performers — ranging from new discoveries to revered international stars — have received their first-ever acting Emmy nomination across all categories of scripted programming. We are honored to recognize both television’s seasoned veterans and rising talents.

“This year’s nominations continue to represent increased diversity and inclusion in front of the camera. And, there is a wealth of new and returning programs that reflect so many of today’s critical issues.”

Among this year’s eight Outstanding Comedy Series nominees, there are three first-timers representing an exceptional range of storytelling. Freshman shows Barry, GLOW and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel join returning hits Atlanta, black-ish, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The nominations in Outstanding Drama Series were again spread over distribution platforms, with returning nominees The Americans (FX) and Game Of Thrones (HBO) joining all of last season’s new nominees The Crown (Netflix), The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu), Stranger Things (Netflix), This Is Us (NBC), and Westworld (HBO).

Nominees for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series include first-time Emmy nominee Issa Rae and category freshman Rachel Brosnahan, who join previous category nominees Pamela Adlon, Allison Janney, Tracee Ellis Ross and Lily Tomlin. Bill Hader is new to the Lead Actor in a Comedy Series category, Ted Danson and Larry David return to the category this season, joining last year’s nominees Anthony Anderson, Donald Glover and William H. Macy.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series nominees Jason Bateman, Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright are new to the category, joining returning nominees Sterling K. Brown, Matthew Rhys and Milo Ventimiglia. Sandra Oh received her first Lead Actress in a Drama Series nomination, joined in the category by return nominees Claire Foy, Keri Russell and Evan Rachel Wood, and previous Emmy winners in this category, Tatiana Maslany and Elisabeth Moss.

Other notable first-time performer nominations include: Joseph Fiennes and Matt Smith, both for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series; Zazie Beetz and Betty Gilpin for Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series; and Letitia Wright for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. Aidy Bryant (Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series), Darren Criss (Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie), and Kenan Thompson (Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series) are also all first-time performer nominees, though each received a past Emmy nomination for Original Music and Lyrics. James Corden, whose previous four Emmy nods were shared for producing and hosting the 70th Annual Tony Awards, two The Late Late Show Primetime Carpool Karaoke Specials and The Late Late Show with James Corden, is nominated this year as Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series. In addition, Broadway star Kelli O’Hara received a first-time Emmy nomination as Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.

Game Of Thrones had the most nominations (22) in all categories, followed by Saturday Night Live (21) and Westworld (21). Leading the nominations in totals by platform were Netflix (112), HBO (108) and NBC (78).

Multiple nominees include (but are not limited to) Jason Bateman for Ozark; Alex Borstein for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Family Guy; Sterling K. Brown for This Is Us and Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Jeff Daniels for The Looming Tower and Godless; Donald Glover for Atlanta and Saturday Night Live, Bill Hader for Barry and Saturday Night Live; Jane Lynch for Hollywood Game Night and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Alex Berg for Barry and Silicon Valley; The Duffer Brothers for Stranger Things; Scott Frank for Godless; David Lynch for Twin Peaks; and, Amy Sherman-Palladino for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The Television Academy’s membership has increased this year to more than 25,000, of which 23,000+ are voting members. That body welcomed more than 1,000 new voting members this year. Final-round online voting begins August 13.

The complete list of Emmy nominations, media credential applications, and other Academy news are all available at Emmys.com.

The 70th Emmy Awards will telecast live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Monday, September 17, (8:00 – 11:00 PM ET/5:00 – 8:00 PM PT) on NBC. Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost and Michael Che will serve as co-hosts. The 70th Emmy Awards will be executive produced by Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live; The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon).

The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will air Saturday, September 15 at 8:00 PM ET/PT on FXX.

Here is a partial list of nominations for the 70th Emmy Awards:

Outstanding Drama Series

“The Handmaid’s Tale”
“Game of Thrones”
“This Is Us”
“The Crown”
“The Americans”
“Stranger Things”

Outstanding Comedy Series

“Atlanta” (FX)
“Barry” (HBO)
“Black-ish” (ABC)
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
“GLOW” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
“Silicon Valley” (HBO)
“The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)

Outstanding Limited Series

“The Alienist”
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”
“Genius: Picasso”
“Patrick Melrose”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Ed Harris (“Westworld”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”)
Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Claire Foy (“The Crown”)
Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
Evan Rachel Wood (“Westworld”)

Outstanding  Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)
Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
William H. Macy (“Shameless”)
Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)
Ted Danson (“The Good Place”)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”)
Allison Janney (“Mom”)
Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”)
Issa Rae (“Insecure”)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”)
Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”)
Jeff Daniels (“The Looming Tower”)
John Legend (“Jesus Christ Superstar”)
Jesse Plemons (“USS Callister”)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Jessica Biel (“The Sinner”)
Michelle Dockery (“Godless”)
Edie Falco (“The Menendez Murders”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)
Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story: Cult”)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”)
Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”)
Joseph Fiennes (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
David Harbour (“Stranger Things”)
Mandy Patinkin (“Homeland”)
Matt Smith (“The Crown”)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”)
Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones”)
Vanessa Kirby (“The Crown”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Louie Anderson (“Baskets”)
Alec Baldwin (“Saturday Night Live”)
Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”)
Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”)
Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”)
Henry Winkler (“Barry”)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Zazie Beetz (“Atlanta”)
Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Aidy Bryant (“Saturday Night Live”)
Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”)
Leslie Jones (“Saturday Night Live”)
Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”)
Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne”)
Megan Mullally (“Will & Grace”)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jeff Daniels (“Godless”)
Brandon Victor Dixon (“Jesus Christ Superstar”)
John Leguizamo (“Waco”)
Ricky Martin (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Edgar Ramirez (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Michael Stuhlbarg (“The Looming Tower”)
Finn Wittrock (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Sara Bareilles (“Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert”)
Penelope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Judith Light (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Adina Porter (“American Horror Story: Cult”)
Merritt Wever (“Godless”)
Letitia Wright (“Black Museum” (Black Mirror))

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

F. Murray Abraham (“Homeland”)
Cameron Britton (“Mindhunter”)
Matthew Goode (“The Crown”)
Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”)
Gerald McRaney (“This Is Us”)
Jimmi Simpson (“Westworld”)

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Viola Davis (“Scandal”)
Kelly Jenrette (The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Cherry Jones (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Diana Rigg (“Game of Thrones”)
Cicely Tyson (“How to Get Away With Murder”)
Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Sterling K. Brown (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”)
Bryan Cranston (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)
Donald Glover (“Saturday Night Live”)
Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live”)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)
Katt Williams (“Atlanta”)

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series 

Tina Fey (“Saturday Night Live”)
Tiffany Haddish (“Saturday Night Live”)
Jane Lynch (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Maya Rudolph (“The Good Place”)
Molly Shannon (“Will & Grace”)
Wanda Sykes (“Black-ish”)

Outstanding Reality Competition

“The Amazing Race”
“American Ninja Warrior”
“Project Runway”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race”
“Top Chef”
“The Voice”

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series

“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)
“Portlandia” (IFC)
“Drunk History” (Comedy Central)
“Tracey Ullman’s Show” (HBO)
“At Home with Amy Sedaris” (TruTV)
“I Love You, America” (Hulu)

Outstanding Variety Talk Series

“The Daily Show With Trevor Noah”
“Full Frontal With Samantha Bee”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live”
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
“Late Late Show with James Corden Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

Outstanding Television Movie

“Fahrenheit 451” (HBO)
“Flint” (Lifetime)
“Paterno” (HBO)
“The Tale” (HBO)
“Black Mirror: USS Callister” (Netflix)

Outstanding Structured Reality Program

“Antiques Roadshow” (PBS)
“Fixer Upper” (HGTV)
“Lip Sync Battle” (Paramount)
“Queer Eye” (Netflix)
“Shark Tank” (ABC)
“Who Do You Think You Are?” (TLC)

Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program

“Born This Way” (A&E)
“Deadliest Catch” (Discovery)
“Intervention” (A&E)
“Naked and Afraid” (Discovery Channel)
“RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked” (VH1)
“United Shades of America With W. Kamau Bell” (CNN)

Outstanding Host for Reality/Reality Competition Program

W. Kamau Bell (“United Shades of America With W. Kamau Bell”)
Ellen DeGeneres (“Ellen’s Game of Games”)
RuPaul Charles (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”)
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (“Project Runway”)
Jane Lynch (“Hollywood Game Night”)

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits, Moody Blues, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe inducted; Tom Petty, Chris Cornell get tributes

April 15, 2018

by Carla Hay

Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi during Bon Jovi’s performance at the 33rd Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Auditorium in Cleveland on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

On April 14, 2018, at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, the 33rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony formally inducted Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, Nina Simone (in the performer category) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe (in the early influencer category). The inductees, announced in December 2017, were voted on by a combination of ballots from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members and online voting from the public. HBO will televise highlights from the ceremony in a special that premieres on May 5, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Bon Jovi’s performance included the band’s reunion with two former Bon Jovi members: guitarist Richie Sambora (who was in Bon Jovi from 1983 to 2013) and bassist Alec John Such, who was in Bon Jovi from 1983 to 1994. Radio personality Howard Stern inducted Bon Jovi, whose current members are lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, drummer Tico Torres, keyboardist David Bryan, bassist Hugh McDonald and guitarist Phil X. Bon Jovi’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame set list consisted of “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “It’s My Life,” “When We Were Us” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

The Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers inducted the Cars, who formed in 1976 and amicably disbanded in 1988, but they had all surviving original members in attendance  at the induction ceremony: lead singer/guitarist Ric Ocasek, lead guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson. (Bass player Benjamin Orr died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer.) The reunited Cars then went on to perform “My Best Friend’s Girl,”  “Moving in Stereo,” “Just What I I Needed” and “You Might Think” with Weezer’s Scott Shriner filling in on bass.

Later in the ceremony, the Killers performed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl” and Petty’s solo song “Free Fallin'” in a tribute to Petty, who died in 2017 of opioid-related causes.

Dire Straits broke up in 1995, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony wasn’t enough to bring the band’s most famous lineup back together. Former Dire Straits lead singer/guitarist Mark Knopfler and his rhythm guitarist David Knopfler opted not to attend; the two brothers who co-founded Dire Straits did not give an official explanation for snubbing the ceremony, but there have been reports that David Knopfler had issues with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s travel reimbursements. Former Dire Straits members Alan Clark (keyboards), Guy Fletcher (guitar) and John Illsley (bass) were there to represent the band at the ceremony, and they performed “Telegraph Road”

The Moody Blues, inducted by Heart lead singer Ann Wilson, did make it intact to the ceremony. The Moody Blues have been going strong since 1964, and the Moody Blues key players who attended the ceremony were current members Justin Hayward (lead singer), John Lodge  and Graeme Edge (drums) and former members Denny Laine (guitar) and Mike Pinder (keyboards). The current members of Moody Blues then performed “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock in Roll Band,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” Nights in White Satin” and “Ride My See-Saw.”

Wilson and Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell later paid tribute to fellow Seattle musician Chris Cornell, who committed suicide in 2017. Cornell was the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave. Wilson and Cantrell performed Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” in tribute to Cornell.

Nina Simone (who died in 2003 at the age of 70) was inducted by Mary J. Blige, who years ago had been planned to star in a biopic about Simone. Sam Waymon (Simone’s brother) accepted the honor on her behalf.) Lauryn Hill and Andra Day performed a musical tribute that included a medley of Simone songs including including “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” “I Put a Spell on You” and “Feeling Good.”

Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard inducted Tharpe, who died of a stroke in 1973 at the age of 58. Howard, Questlove and Paul Shaffer performed Tharpe’s “That’s All” and were then joined by Felicia Collins  for Tharpe’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day.”

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony: Mary J. Blige, Howard Stern, Ann Wilson among the presenters

March 29, 2018

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction logo

The following is a press release from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Special guests at this year’s sold-out Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, on April 14th at Public Auditorium in Cleveland will include:

  • Mary J. Blige presenting for Nina Simone
  • Andra Day performing for Nina Simone
  • Brittany Howard presenting for Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  • Ann Wilson presenting for The Moody Blues
  • Brandon Flowers presenting for The Cars
  • Howard Stern presenting for Bon Jovi

The 2018 Ceremony will honor this year’s inductees: Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

The Ceremony will once again exclusively premiere on HBO on May 5th at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Red carpet arrivals on April 14th will be live streamed from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on rockhall.com, the Rock Hall’s Facebook page (@rockandrollhalloffame) and YouTube page (youtube.com/user/rockhall).

The Rock Hall will host a week of events leading up to the ceremony, including the unveiling the all new Hall of Fame, featuring the 2018 Inductee exhibit. The new floor will open on Saturday, April 7th during Celebration Day at the Museum with a performance by 2018 Inductee Richie Sambora, free admission, and a firework show. Visit rockhall.com for a complete schedule of Rock Week events.
To receive Induction Ceremony updates and announcements sign up for the Rock Hall’s e-newsletter at www.rockhall.com/e-newsletter, follow the Rock Hall on Facebook (@rockandrollhalloffame), Twitter (@rockhall) and Instagram (@rockhall) or join the conversation using #RockHall2018.

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees: Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, the Cars, the Moody Blues, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe

December 13, 2017

The following is a press release from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

The names of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 2018 Inductees have been released. They are:

Performer Category:

  • Bon Jovi
  • The Cars
  • Dire Straits
  • The Moody Blues
  • Nina Simone

Award for Early Influence:

  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe

The 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Rock Hall will host a week of events leading up to the celebration including the unveiling of the 2018 Inductee exhibit and Hall of Fame floor.

Ticket on-sale dates will be announced later. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2018 Induction Ceremony will again have its television premiere on HBO, and a radio broadcast on SiriusXM. Broadcast details will also be announced later.

Four of the Inductees were on the ballot for the first time, including: Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Additionally, the top five artists, as selected by the public, comprised a “fans’ ballot” that was tallied along with the other ballots to determine the 2018 Inductees. Four of the top five artists (Bon Jovi, The Moody Blues, Dire Straits and The Cars) from the fan ballot will be inducted as performers in 2018.

A limited number of pre-sale tickets are available for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members in advance of the public sale date. To be eligible for the member pre-sale opportunity, you must be an active Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member by December 31, 2017. Supporters of the Donor Circle by December 31, 2017 can access VIP packages and premium balcony tickets immediately. Additional public ticket details and pre-sale offers will be announced in January.

Fans can pre-order exclusive 2018 Inductee t-shirts now at rockhallstore.com and receive 18% off their order. The Rock Hall store is also offering fans 10% off regular items and free shipping for a limited time.

Klipsch Audio, a leading global speaker and headphone manufacturer, is a strategic partner and presenting sponsor of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, its Induction Ceremony events and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Main Stage. Klipsch’s renowned products deliver the power, detail and emotion of the live music experience throughout the iconic museum.

To be eligible for Induction, an individual artist or band must have released its first commercial recording at least 25 years prior to the year of induction. The 2018 Nominees had to release their first official recording no later than 1992.

Ballots were sent to an international voting body of more than 1,000 artists, including current living Inductees, historians and members of the music industry. Factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique are taken into consideration.

To receive Induction Ceremony updates, announcements and ticket information, sign up for the Rock Hall’s e-newsletter at www.rockhall.com/e-newsletter, follow the Rock Hall on Facebook (@rockandrollhalloffame), Twitter (@rockhall) and Instagram (@rockhall) or join the conversation using #RockHall2018.