Column: Golden Globes: Surprising Nominations Reflect The Impossibility Of Shortlisting Great TV

Column: Golden Globes: Surprising Nominations Reflect The Impossibility Of Shortlisting Great TV

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

As if determined to avoid the “do any of you even watch TV?” reaction that inevitably accompanies the Round Up of Usual Suspects known as the Emmy nominations, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association produced a jaw-dropping list of Golden Globe nominees on Thursday.

And while it continues the long-standing tradition of Golden Globe wackiness, the list also rather bravely reflects the virtually unmeasurable nature of modern television.

It is simply impossible to quantify television in any meaningful way beyond personal preference or particular intent.

I say this with some authority, having just dutifully put together several end-of-year lists: There is just no way to acknowledge all the quality shows and performances in groups of 10, much less five or six, even if you divide them up, as the Globes do, into comedy and drama.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association clearly wanted to steer attention away from certain award franchises, notably Mad Men, for which only Jon Hamm was nominated, and broadcast comedies of any name, often in favor of shows that may not show up on any other list of any sort, and kudos to them.

The broadcast networks, with their 23-episode work horses, some of them consistently terrific, were mostly ignored in favor of “trophy television” — those newer, sleeker, 12-episode series served up by streaming services whenever and wherever you desire, which is kind of depressing. But with the exception of Flesh and Bone for miniseries (really, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Flesh and Bone?) there isn’t a nominee without merit, and the surprising nature of the lists is, in itself, refreshing.

Game of Thrones is the sole survivor from last year’s best drama list, and this year’s includes Narcos (Netflix) and Outlander (Starz), along with the less surprising Empire and Mr. Robot. I think it is safe to say no one was talking about Narcos as an awards contender, and though Outlander debuted with strong buzz and continues to have a captive audience, it seemed to fall off the top-picks radar, for no better reason than there are far too many top picks.

Both Narcos and Outlander appeal to non-American audiences, and provide an important reminder that the Television Renaissance is not just an American experience. Eighty-five percent of Narcos, which follows the exploits of Pablo Escobar, is in Spanish, and, according to some polls, it is the second-most-watched show in the U.S. and the U.K. (after Game of Thrones).

Outlander is about a British woman magically transported to 18th century Scotland, and though it debuted strong last year, it failed to win any awards — something the Globes may rectify, with nominations in the actor and actress category as well.

The comedy side was a bit less surprising: Transparent (Amazon), Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) and virtually-mandated-by-law nominees Veep and Silicon Valley (both HBO).

But instead of filling the remaining slots with broadcast favorites (black-ish, Fresh off the Boat, Brooklyn Nine-nine), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, God bless it, went with Casual (Hulu) and Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon). Both of which are very good shows, which now might actually be watched by people and possibly, though probably not, considered for Emmys.

The acting categories are a safer mix of obvious choices — Emmy winners Viola Davis and Hamm, breakout stars Tariji P. Henson (Empire) and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) — and celebrations of the underrecognized — Eva Green (Penny Dreadful), Maura Tierney (The Affair) and Rachel Bloom, singing star of the valiant but struggling Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Many great shows, established (no Good Wife) and outlier (no UnREAL) were not acknowledged because, quite frankly, that is now the way it is with these awards. Television has become too vast, disparate and discrete to categorize in any way. During awards season, then, there is much to be said for simply spreading the love around.

©2015 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr


Critic’s Notebook: Virginia TV Shooting Sparks A Debate Over Viewing Of Footage

Critic’s Notebook: Virginia TV Shooting Sparks A Debate Over Viewing Of Footage

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

To watch or not to watch.

Early Wednesday morning, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot to death during a live interview for WDBJ-TV, a CBS affiliate based in Roanoke, Va. In less than an hour, clips of the event were on YouTube.

It soon developed that the suspected shooter, Vester Flanagan, a former reporter for WDBJ, had recorded the shooting himself, posted it on Facebook and then tweeted about it using his on-air name, Bryce Williams. Flanagan shot himself while being chased by police and later died.

The Twitter and Facebook accounts were quickly suspended, and YouTube took down the videos, but the disturbing images continued to circulate, prompting an equally widespread “Don’t Watch” campaign.

At best, some said, watching or sharing the footage was an endorsement of a media culture run amok, proof that the medium has indeed become the message _ people will now literally do anything to be on television.

At worst, it made us complicit in the killings themselves.

Either way, if we watched the brief tragic clips of the attack on Parker and Ward, or the chilling footage taken by Flanagan just before he began shooting, somehow Flanagan would “win.”

As if Flanagan were powerful enough to define our reactions to his crime or if any of those reactions were more important than the fact and nature of murder. As if news were suddenly beholden to feelings of gentility and any medium should be blamed for insane people attempting to leverage it for their own dissociated ends.

No doubt, the admonishments not to watch began with good intentions. When something terrible happens, many of us want to do something, to help in some way; it is the very best of human nature to offer aid of every sort as quickly as we can. Many, no doubt, refused to watch the videos (which did not show the actual deaths) out of respect for Parker, Ward and their families.

Others, however, quickly made it into a litmus test of something larger. “Murder is not entertainment” was a leitmotif of early commentary, as was the notion that Flanagan’s use of Twitter and Facebook illuminated the dark side of the digital age — technology has not only made it possible for someone to record the murder he is committing even as he commits it, some seem to think it has created an environment in which infamy is as desirable as fame.

None of which is either helpful or respectful.

Obviously murder is not entertainment, and it’s difficult to believe that anyone would be viewing or sharing the videos for entertainment’s sake. News outlets did not show the space shuttle Challenger explode repeatedly on a minute-by-minute basis, or the Twin Towers fall over and over again, for entertainment’s sake.

We do not watch news reports in which police brutalize teenagers or armies level villages for entertainment’s sake. We watch to see what happened. We watch because no amount of aftermath reporting or narrative reconstruction captures an event with more power and clarity than video footage.

We watch to remind ourselves that whatever our own reality may be, it is not the totality of human experience.

Certainly the murder of two journalists on live television will get more coverage than most other workplace murders, but the medium is not the message; the murders are the message. And the coverage does not signal an increased capitulation to the desires of the murderer.

Since civilization began, a certain subset of criminal has wanted attention for its crimes. Serial killers from Jack the Ripper to Son of Sam taunted police and sent missives to the newspapers. Bonnie and Clyde posed with their guns. John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln in a theater before jumping onto the stage yelling “Sic semper tyrannis” (“Thus ever to tyrants”) and, by many accounts, was inconsolable by his portrayal in the press.

On Wednesday morning, YouTube and various media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, made decisions on whether to make the videos available (the Times decided to post a clip that stops before the shooting). But to suggest that we ought to ignore horrific events out of fear that acknowledgment will fulfill a killer’s wish is not just absurd, it’s agreeing to adopt a murderer’s way of thinking.

Notoriety is not the same as fame no matter what a psychopath might think; watching or sharing the image of a terrible thing is not an endorsement of its occurrence.

Though we do now go on Jack the Ripper tours and celebrate the romance of Bonnie and Clyde.

And that is one very good reason to watch the videos, upsetting as the experience may be. Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed, as so many people have been killed in this country, for no reason.

The random, senseless horror of their deaths — one minute Parker is doing her job, the next minute running for her life — should remind us that murder, which remains the No. 1 narrative arc in television drama, is not entertainment, that real killers are not fascinating creatures of tortured back story and twisted mythology. It should stop us in our tracks with the knowledge we are all vulnerable to random gun violence and that threats and signs of stalking should be taken seriously.

Most important, their deaths should remind us that every act of violence, every murder, occurs in moments of disjointed horror. Just as images of police brutality against black Americans recently reignited protest and investigations, the tragic last minutes of these lives should prompt as many serious conversations as prayers. About guns and mental illness, about safety in the workplace and whatever other issues come to light as the story evolves.

Not everything that occurs on television or social media is there for our enjoyment, and when the unacceptable or the outrageous occurs, we should draw as many eyeballs to it as we can. When we’re too afraid to see what violence really looks like, or too worried that our horror will encourage it, that’s when we’ll know the barbarians have won.

Photo: Live-tweeting the aftermath of his ramapage, Vester Flanagan/Bryce Williams maximized his attack for maximum exposure, wounding journalists of all stripes in the process. CNN/Twitter

Priming The Audience For A Ms. President

Priming The Audience For A Ms. President

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Mere hours after Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her candidacy for president in 2016, “Madam Secretary’s” Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) helped prevent another Cold War. “The Good Wife’s” Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), newly elected state’s attorney, was thrown under the bus by the Democratic Party, and Varys (Conleth Hill) uttered the “Game of Thrones” premiere’s most memorable line after naming the qualities the ruler of the seven kingdoms should possess.

“Good luck finding him,” Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister snorted in response.

“Who said anything about a ‘him’?” Varys replied.

If Clinton loses this election, it will not be television’s fault. Many things have changed since she lost the Democratic Party nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, but few more pointedly than scripted television’s relationship with women. Where once rare enough to be remarked upon, with inevitable comparisons to “Maude” or “Prime Suspect’s” Jane Tennison, female leads now abound, many correcting the double standards that have historically kept women from positions of power.

As a controversial American personality, Clinton has directly affected the creation and narrative course of several series. On CBS, “The Good Wife” is the story of long-suffering wife of a philandering politician as she fights her way back to a sense of self that, most recently, included running for office. When “Madam Secretary” premiered on the same network this last fall, some conservative pundits complained that it was overt pro-Hillary propaganda (never mind that though McCord and Clinton share a title, a gender, and a hair color, there the similarities end).

Less generously, the nakedly ambitious Frank and Claire Underwood (Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright) of Netflix’s “House of Cards” have been compared to Bill and Hillary Clinton (particularly this season as Claire, dismissive of the traditional first lady role, fought to influence policy), and many “Game of Thrones” fans see Hillary Clinton more in the scheming Cersei (Lena Headey) than the noble but struggling Daenerys (Emilia Clarke).

Either way, these shows are but tremors of a much bigger non-Clinton-specific event. From Westeros to the White House, female characters are in power, and no one within the narrative universe or the television audience thinks it’s a big deal.

On the recently concluded “Parks and Recreation,” political junkie (and Madeleine Albright superfan) Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) grew from slightly ditzy local bureaucrat to the canny and competent governor of Indiana and possibly president of the United States (as a maddeningly suggestive final scene seemed to imply). During one of the penultimate episodes, she directly dressed down the Pawnee press for focusing on women’s hairstyles and parenting techniques rather than issues during political campaigns.

On the opposite end of the digital and tonal spectrum, Claire Underwood spent the latest season of “House of Cards'” coming to grips with the fact that being married to power is not the same as having power. “Scandal” remains a weekly soap-operatic aria to the similar frustrations of powerful women (including a cuckolded first lady) kept one step removed from the Oval Office. On the other hand, “Veep’s” Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) recently did become president, with all the satiric hilarity that that entailed.

And those are just the overtly political roles. Elsewhere, television abounds with women calling the shots in a variety of arenas.

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is as much feminist primer as fantasy epic; on FX, Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell), the female half of “The Americans,” is just as dedicated and competent a spy as her husband. For much of AMC’s “Walking Dead,” Michonne (Danai Gurira) has matched Norman Reedus’ beloved Daryl in warrior status, while Carol (Melissa McBride) has transformed from abused wife to post-apocalyptic strategist (scheme softly and carry a big knife). Even the iconic title of “Mad Men” has grown increasingly misleading; as the series winds down, it is skewed as much, if not more, to the rise of its women.

Compare this with the television landscape of 2008. The first series about a female president, the Geena Davis vehicle “Commander in Chief,” had bombed previously, and a few scattered stars like Mary-Louise Parker (“Weeds”), Sally Fields (“Brothers & Sisters”), Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”), Holly Hunter (“Saving Grace”) and Glenn Close (“Damages”) had barely begun the great and game-changing A-List Migration to TV from film.

On the Big Four, scripted series, with a few notable ensemble exceptions (“Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers & Sisters” “Bones,” “Grey’s Anatomy”), were dominated by male leads and their stories; President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) did not assume office in “24: Redemption” until five months after Clinton withdrew from the race in 2008.

In fact, as the 2008 presidential campaign heated up, many pointed to “24’s” David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), as well as Morgan Freeman’s Tom Beck in “Deep Impact,” as vital to America’s acceptance of a black leader. But scripted television’s power to change social attitudes on a large scale can be best summed up in three words (well, two words and an ampersand): “Will & Grace.”

The NBC series, a half-hour comedy built around a straight woman and a gay man, did as much if not more in the fight against civil injustice and homophobia than any march or protest. It certainly helped prepare this country for the only recently unthinkable legalization of gay marriage.

Like a mirror doing double duty as a firestarter, television tends to both reflect and catalyze social change, and the increase of strong and complicated female characters is no exception. There has been a big shift in attitude since GOP presidential nominee John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 on the daft assumption that even a barely vetted female partner would automatically bring him female votes.

Issues including rape, domestic abuse, gender exclusion, and pay equity are once again hot topics — April 14 was the second-annual Equal Pay Day, marking how far into the next year a woman must work to earn what her male colleagues did the previous year. As high-end professionals like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg offer women (often-controversial) advice on “making it,” women are once again counting heads in boardrooms, newsrooms, and representative bodies like Congress.

Characters like Alicia Florrick, Bess McCord, Daenerys Targaryen, and Selina Meyer remain, like the women who play them, well within Hollywood’s narrow definition of beauty; they, like their real-life counterparts, increasingly speak out against the unrealistic expectations successful women still face, especially regarding the traditional feminine yardsticks: motherhood and appearance.

While “Parks and Recreation” began with Leslie Knope continually railing against the “old boys club” and pointing out instances in which she was the first or only woman, those sorts of story lines are all but extinct these days. A female leader is rarely if ever remarked upon, and though many characters still face sexism, it is most often of a more subtle, non-institutionalized kind.

The challenges of balancing work and family are also acknowledged as difficult, but no longer are they cast as moral crises or insurmountable. Most important, that particular struggle is increasingly being presented as less a woman’s issue and more a social one — Mom is no longer seen as the primary caregiver by default; husbands are depicted as supportive, participatory mates and parents while still remaining masculine.

None of which means that Hillary Clinton will, or should, become our next president. She has been a long-standing player in what has become one the most divisive eras of American politics. She enters the race with a lot of baggage, both personal and political.

But America’s ability to accept a female president, something that seemed questionable seven years ago, now seems moot. And judging from the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, we are more than ready.

Photo: Knope 2012 via Facebook

Academy Awards Telecast Is All Too Predictable

Academy Awards Telecast Is All Too Predictable

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

LOS ANGELES — How unfortunate that, in presenting the award for Best Director, Ben Affleck chose to quote Frank Capra’s observation that “the cardinal sin is dullness.”

None of the directors nominated, he added, could be accused of committing that sin. But, alas, the same could not be said for Sunday night’s telecast.

With a few notable exceptions, award-season fatigue took on a new and enervating dimension, exacerbated by a strangely defensive attitude toward many things, including, but not limited to the whiteness of the nominees, the preponderance of franchise films, and the public’s ability to watch films on their smart phones.

Even the preternaturally prepped and prolific Neil Patrick Harris seemed affected, reduced at times to a small figure on a big stage making “good job” remarks to performers and attempting to carry a long-running joke about a box. At one point he stripped down to his underwear, a la Michael Keaton in Birdman, and it was just as embarrassing as you might assume it would be.

In fact, much of the 87th Oscars happened just as you might assume it would, and that was certainly part of the problem. Virtually all of those predicted to win, won, from the night’s first award — to J.K. Simmons for his supporting performance in Whiplash to Birdman for best picture. It was so predictable that the night’s biggest upset was Big Hero 6 beating out How to Train Your Dragon 2. The collective gasp heard round the world.

This may explain why so many of the speeches sounded familiar — if you follow awards-season coverage, and it’s increasingly difficult to avoid — you may have actually heard them before. Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, who also won for best director, had literally run out of things to say when he accepted the evening’s last award.

Notable exception #1: Patricia Arquette, who has won several awards for her role in Boyhood, ended her read-from-piece-of-paper speech for Best Supporting Actress with an unexpected and impassioned call for pay equity.

Predictable winners were only part of the problem. Harris, who has now hosted every major award show save the Grammys, seemed as big a shoo-in for host as Julianne Moore for Best Actress (which, of course, she won.) Introducing the show as a chance to celebrate “Hollywood’s best and whitest, um, brightest,” he flashed his trademark sass to address the many complaints about the very Caucasian nature of this year’s nominees.

Pointed and righteous, if only the producers had been content to leave it at that. As if trying to make up for the fact that Selma was overlooked in many categories, the camera sought out and lingered on non-white members of the audience whenever Selma or Martin Luther King was mentioned.

It happened at a rate that was at first laughable and then irritating — memo to the Academy: black people are not the only ones who liked Selma, also they like other films too. On the other hand, the Academy’s defensiveness over being mostly white and male may well have been the reason for the higher than normal proportion of black women presenters, though the fact that the telecast was on ABC probably didn’t hurt either.

Harris then segued, not surprisingly to a song. Themed to celebrate the marvels of “moving pictures,” and including a duet with Anna Kendrick, it was quickly interrupted by Jack Black, ranting, musically, about the forces plaguing the industry: sequels, prequels, comic books, and “jean screens” (smart phones.)

Funny enough, if only the writers had been content to leave it there. Instead, the plague of franchise films, the digital age and Fifty Shades of Grey haunted the telecast, with Harris pointing out not once, but twice that many of the nominated films actually made money. In fact American Sniper is, according to Harris, the Oprah of this year’s films.

“Because you’re rich,” he explained when Winfrey seemed not to understand why she was being dragged into it. While not as bad as David Letterman’s Uma/Oprah flame-out, the joke did bring it to mind, and the first rule of hosting the Oscars is: Never bring to mind Letterman’s Uma/Oprah flameout.

Also, I’m fairly certain Neil Patrick Harris is part of the 1 percent as well.

And it went downhill from there. Oh there were a few good moments — Ida director Pawel Pawlikowski, winning for best foreign film, finished his acceptance speech despite the orchestra play off. And the performance of “Everything is Awesome” involved many people getting Oscars made of Legos, which really were awesome.

But as the telecast headed into its second hour it was marked mostly by the familiar sight of repeat winners and the unfamiliar sight of Neil Patrick Harris punting joke after joke. A crack about a winner’s dress moments after she had spoken of her son’s suicide was particularly tin-earred as was a joke about Edward Snowden not being present “for some treason.”

Then two and a half hours in, things got briefly better. Idina Menzel and John Travolta amiably addressed Travolta’s mangling of her name last year before presenting the award for best song to John Legend and Common for “Glory.” As at the Golden Globes, they gave wonderfully soulful speeches, which, though familiar, were still quite moving.

They were followed by Terrence Howard doing King Lear as he introduced three film clips and Lady Gaga singing a medley from “A Sound of Music,” which though deeply weird at least could not be described as dull. Then Harris took the reins once again and the predictable wins resumed.

Notable exception # 2: Graham Moore, winning for best adapted screenplay (The Imitation Game), spoke of his isolation as a gay teen and encouraged others to “Stay weird. Stay different.”

Which is exactly what this Oscars needed: A little more weird, a little more different, and a lot less defensiveness.

We really do love the movies. That’s why were watching the Oscars. So relax, already.

© 2015 Los Angeles Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Image: via ABC

Ronan Farrow Might Just Make His Mark As The Anti-Piers Morgan

Ronan Farrow Might Just Make His Mark As The Anti-Piers Morgan

By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

Piers Morgan out, Ronan Farrow in.

On Sunday, CNN confirmed that “Piers Morgan Live” will be ending next month, proving that a large Twitter following and pedigree of minor non-journalistic celebrity (though a former editor, Morgan, 48, was mostly known as a judge on “Britain’s” and then “America’s Got Talent”) does not necessarily a successful news host make.

Then on Monday, MSNBC debuted the first hour of “Ronan Farrow Daily,” proving that a large Twitter following and a pedigree of minor non-journalistic celebrity (though a contributor to many news organizations including this one, Farrow, 26, is mostly known as the super-smart son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen) remain acceptable news host credentials nonetheless.

Forget the judging panel on “American Idol,” or even the Leno/ Fallon, Fallon/ Meyers handoff; it’s the hosts of our cable news shows that mirror the increasingly messy line between social and media, between profession and personality.

While Farrow was earnestly interviewing former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen and David Axelrod on Monday about the crisis in Ukraine, many people were far more interested in reacting to Morgan’s ouster on Twitter and the blogosphere. Some did so in joy, a few in woe, but most wondered why Morgan had failed so spectacularly in the prime-time slot that Larry King made famous (before beginning to fail there himself.)

Just as if we didn’t know. He tanked because he’s insufferable.

Morgan would like everyone to believe that Americans didn’t warm to him because he was a “British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing.” Never mind that many news hosts and commentators have been outspoken about gun control or that with our near-hysteria devotion to “Downton Abbey,” Kate Middleton and Benedict Cumberbatch, most Americans have all but applied for dual citizenship with the U.K.

No, it wasn’t the cricket references or the football (as in soccer) issue. Morgan failed as a host because he was smug, arrogant, condescending and thin-skinned. He failed because he was more interested in keeping his name in the news than in the news itself.

As recently as two weeks ago, when a guest (transgender author and activist Janet Mock) complained about the sensationalistic nature of Morgan’s questions, he “apologized” by having her back on the show and reprimanded her for the caustic response on Twitter. When Stephen Colbert sent up Morgan’s response and interviewed Mock, Morgan continued to rant on social media.

Watching him repeatedly foment his own controversy, then “report” in high dudgeon about his treatment in the wake of it, television audiences were reminded, once again, of the prescient wisdom of James L. Brooks’ “Broadcast News.” “Let’s never forget,” says Albert Brooks sarcastically as TV reporter Aaron Altman, “we’re the real story. Not them.”

Enter Farrow, who sailed through a dutifully disparate array of topics during his first hour with the slightly anxious confidence of the star student enlisted to run the class.

He covered the Ukraine crisis from pathos to policy — what will Russia do? How does it affect the U.S.? — pausing to explain, with a map, why exactly Ukraine is such a mess. He discussed budget cuts at the Pentagon, the governors’ meeting at the White House, a possible rise in the minimum wage and, in the show’s only truly light-hearted segment, the problem of dumpster diving behind Colorado’s now legal marijuana shops.

Looking much younger than his years, Farrow was carefully aimed at a post-boomer mentality. He joked about watching reruns of news greats (Murrow and Cronkite), referred to marijuana as “weed,” referenced both Lena Dunham and selfies. At times painfully earnest, he introduced a new interactive feature called “The Daily Battle” by calling on viewers to tweet their thoughts about who was handling the Ukraine crisis better, #RFDObama or #RFDPutin.

What Farrow didn’t do was mention in any way, shape or form his personal life. That included the portions of it that have been part of a huge and emotional reaction to his sister Dylan’s recent insistence that Allen molested her. It also included the ongoing question of his own parentage (according to his mother, Frank Sinatra may have been involved).

Like Morgan, or for that matter, Alec Baldwin, who was recently relieved of hosting duty by MSNBC, Farrow views the world from a narrative platform. Leaning more perhaps toward the book-learned Rachel Maddow than Chris Hayes, Farrow — the Rhodes Scholar who graduated college at age 15 — fits in nicely with MSNBC’s ongoing attempt to make smart the new hip. (Political analyst Joy Reid also debuted her new show on Monday afternoon.)

But still it is him, his take, his performance that will make or break the show. Will more people want to see Ronan Farrow daily than wanted to see Piers Morgan live?

The timing of his show’s debut has already been commented on in light of his family’s public crisis, but with Morgan’s departure, it becomes even more meaningful. More than three decades younger than the Brit, born to fame rather than cultivating it, much more interested in appearing smart than right, Farrow could make his mark as an anti-Piers.

Though one suspects that with his international pedigree, Farrow might just be in the habit of calling soccer “football” too.

AFP Photo/Ben Gabbe