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David Hyde Pierce heads to 'The Good Wife' in a recurring role

David Hyde Pierce, seen here at the 2011

(Credit: Getty Images)

David Hyde Pierce, who essentially disappeared from television after the long "Frasier" run (for Broadway) is returning, in a minor role, on next season's "The Good Wife."

Details via CBS: 

Pierce will play a highly respected cable news legal commentator who is so disgusted by the corruption and murder rate in Chicago that he decides to run for office in order to affect change. The role will mark Pierce’s first appearance in a television series since “Frasier” ended its run in 2004.

(That last line? Not technically true: Commander Chiphead, "Sesame Street.") 

A great talent, Pierce won many Emmys and then decamped for Broadway, where more accolades have followed.

Tony Soprano is neither alive nor dead — so stop asking

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano in HBO's "The

(Credit: HBO)

Reports of Tony Soprano's non-death are apparently premature: David Chase, creator of "The Sopranos," has released a statement debunking a very long and very difficult-to-decipher piece that appeared Wednesday on, which reported that Chase had finally confirmed that Tony — in fact — did live after the screen went blank on June 10, 2007, when 13 million (or so) viewers kicked their sets or called up their cable service to complain.

No need to go into details here — they are not interesting, trust me — but the Vox story got a blast of Internet love Wednesday because Chase had apparently sort of said that Tony did live, and not die. 

While the relevance of an answer to this question has long escaped me, it still, so to speak, lives in the minds of many who for some reason just want to know.

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But like the "Friends" reunion, the answer is never gonna happen. And never should.

Here's Chase's statement:  

A journalist for Vox misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview. To simply quote David as saying, “Tony Soprano is not dead,” is inaccurate. There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true. As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, “Whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.” To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of THE SOPRANOS raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.

New 'AHS: Freak Show' tease -- caged and confused

Jessica Lange, of ?American Horror Story: Coven,? wins

(Credit: AP / Vince Bucci)

OK, I can play this game, too: Pick up and post every tease FX sends out to promote the new season of "American Horror Story: Freak Show" -- arriving Oct. 8 -- but otherwise offer nothing of substance or insight into the new season (Oct. 8!). But at least I get some TV Zone page views, and FX some free publicity, which I am to happy to oblige. (Did I mention the new season starts Oct. 8?)


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'Friends' reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow together on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'

Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox reunited

(Credit: YouTube / Jimmy Kimmel Live)

The great white whale of reunions (“Friends," what else?) has eluded fans for years, no doubt because this whale is not going to surface, ever. Yet on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the show's premiere this September, you will absolutely find someone somewhere -- many someone’s in fact -- still playing with the idea, or hoping, or, in the more disturbed corners of fandom, praying. 


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Diane Sawyer wraps her 'World News' run Wednesday

Diane Sawyer, who signed off on her last

(Credit: ABC / Ida Mae Astute)

After a five-year run as anchor of ABC's "World News" - not to mention a career spent in preparation for that role - Diane Sawyer signed off Wednesday night for the last time. She will remain at ABC News, but her nightly chores are done.

Yes, the exit was of the stealth variety, and yes, there was a tweet, earlier in the day when Sawyer, 68, told followers that she was moving up her departure, from Friday of this week to Wednesday. "Great adventures ahead," she noted cryptically -- although Sawyer is expected to fill the role that Barbara Walters recently did, as the network's lead interviewer. She will be replaced by David Muir, weekend anchor of "World News" on Tuesday.

Last night's edition lead with a report about the release of journalist Peter Theo Curtis after being held two years in captivity by an al Qaeda wing in Syria. But it quickly segued to what Sawyer called a personal note: "Thank you to all of you as I leave the anchor desk."

Later in the broadcast, Sawyer narrated (and of course starred in) a congenial -- and generous -- salute to her staff and colleagues at "World News," then later concluded with a little bit more generosity: "What a deep privilege it has been to serve a broadcast where Peter Jennings created the signature of such curiosity and courage." Jennings, who led "World News Tonight" (as it was then called) to the ranks of TV's most influential news broadcasts, died in 2005 at age 67.

Sawyer's final salute: "With gratitude for these years, I thank you."

Zach Galifianakis returning to TV, in FX comedy 'Baskets'

Zach Galifianakis arrives at the L.A. premiere of

(Credit: AP)

Now this little bit of interesting clown news -- Zach Galifianakis, who's largely been away from TV since "Bored to Death" (unless you count "Between Two Ferns")  -- will return in an FX comedy, "Baskets."

Production of the series, co-created by Louis C.K. and  Jonathan Krisel ("Portlandia" and "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job," where Galiafianakis briefly starred), begins...

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Chelsea Handler sings goodbye, with a little help from her friends

Late night E! talk show host Chelsea Handler

Yup, it's time to move on for Chelsea Handler, who wants to drink and get her groove on --- or words to that effect.

The late night E! talk show host -- seven years vintage! -- wrapped her run Tuesday night with the help of 30, maybe more, celebrities who visited for a one-hour special edition to tell her why this was in fact so special, or not.

But it all wrapped with this: A group "We are the World" sing-along.

This is how it wrapped, and now you too can say you were there to experience a little bit of late night TV history.


Emmys: Watch Billy Crystal's tribute to Robin Williams

Billy Crystal paid tribute to the late Robin

(Credit: MCT / Robert Gauthier)

If NBC's 66th telecast of the Primetime Emmys do in fact manage to have become a major ratings success, some if not most credit is due this tribute to Robin Williams, which millions were anticipating Monday night -- and which NBC even promoted in advance, with an on-screen bumper promising the "In Memoriam" within 16 minutes, than 10 minutes and so on. 

Yes, very unusual. And Bill Crystal's tribute did not disappoint.

Moving, emotional and deeply personal, it turned a lighthearted broadcast into a somber tribute to a beloved actor who changed culture, and television.

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"He made us laugh, every time you saw him on TV, movies, nightclubs, arenas, hospitals, homeless shelters," Crystal said of a friend he made nearly 40 years ago, working comedy clubs on both coasts.

He spoke of the "many happy hours" spent with Williams.

"He was the greatest friend you could ever imagine. Supportive, protective, loving. It's very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives, for almost 40 years the brightest star in the comedy galaxy."

(App users click the link above to view the clip.)

Emmys ratings: The risky move to a Monday telecast draws solid 15.6 million

Sofia Vergara and Television Academy CEO Bruce Rosenblum

(Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Well, it does appear as though we have a final national number for the 66th annual Primetime Emmys ... and it's not an ugly one at all: 15.6 million.

That's only about two points below last year's football-fed telecast on CBS, so NBC has to be thrilled with this. Fact is, the move to Monday was a risk: Viewers could have ignored the big show, but there was certainly a groundswell of interest in the Robin Williams tribute. (NBC even promoted Billy Crystal's tribute with in-program teases -- highly unusual, but a key indicator that millions were coming for that, and the network knew it). That alone may have made the difference.

On the negative side of the ledger, this is only about two million more viewers than the middling averages the Emmys had been posting in prior years, or before last year's CBS telecast. The hard fact remains: While many of us love the Emmys -- and I certainly count myself among the devotees -- the vast majority of us don't. They remain an awards show without the enormous appeal of the Grammys or the Oscars. And for an industry that is in the midst of a golden age, that is a strange paradox indeed. 

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But 15.6 million is nothing to sneeze at; how about a Monday in the dead of August next year, too?


Emmys: Why did 'True Detective,' Matthew McConaughey get shut out?

Woody Harrelson, left, and Matthew McConaughey in HBO's

(Credit: HBO / Jim Bridges)

What the heck happened to “True Detective” and Matthew McConaughey last night?

Five Emmys for the show -- but not one of the huge ones. Matthew McConaughey, the surest bet for anything last night -- outstanding actor/drama would have done, nicely, I'm sure he and HBO think -- was just another beautiful face in the crowd, as it turns out.

Unfair, maybe, but Bryan Cranston did win, and there's certainly nothing unfair about that.

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Nevertheless, this is a puzzle and puzzles demand solutions, particularly as HBO put its vast marketing muscle behind "Detective" and its worthy leads. Naturally, I have theories as opposed to solutions. Maybe one of them is even the right one:

Each of these applies mostly to the show, which wasn't considered a lock for best drama, and to McConaughey as well.

1.) HBO overreached. "Detective" stood a better chance in the miniseries category as opposed to the insanely competitive best drama one, where each nominee had entrenched interests among Emmy voters -- interests not about to be shaken by this arriviste. Mc, likewise, would have been a cinch for the mini/movie award.

2.) Voters just weren't sure -- and when in doubt, vote for the incumbent.

3.) "Bad" deserved this win and so did Cranston. Hey, that's novel! No it's not. The Emmys do get this right now and then.

4.) The so-called plagiarism charges stuck. Arriving in the middle of the voting process, as they did, some voters were doubtful. "Why vote for a plagiarist?!" some may have thought, thoughtlessly. In fact, the charges were unfair, and "Detective" writer Nic Pizzolatto had said that he had been inspired by Thomas Ligotti for the Rust Cohle character. Nothing wrong with that. But doubt -- even when it's grossly unfair -- has a way of seeding.

5.) The poorly-drawn-female characters charge stuck. This was first raised, I believe, in the pages of the New Yorker, and is cited whenever or wherever the merits of "Detective" are raised. PIzzolatto was angered by them -- but all the anger in the world can't dissipate an argument, and in fact often has the opposite effect.

6.) Emmys hate buzz. Remember how Lou Grant "hates spunk?" Emmys hate buzz. They hate it with all of their fiber -- for Emmy voters are traditionalists to the core, who eschew the vagaries of popular taste, as it ebbs and flows according to the dictates of a hundred million fandudes, with their Twitter accounts, blogs, Facebook pages, Instagrams and other assorted means to express their passion. Or at least voters like to think that -- that their role is to separate the chaff from the proverbial wheat stalk, and to bestow the One True Award on the One True Show.

Mostly, they like to think this isn't the People's Choice Awards. THEY are the pros. What does the riff raff know? Buzz shows that go into the Emmys with a head of steam -- often a projection of TV writers, who are fans themselves -- can oftentimes find themselves beheaded by the end of the night.

7.) "Detective" and McConaughey were too much of a sure bet. This is a subset of 6.) with some variations. Sure Bets very often are Sure Bets with the Emmys -- but brand-new buzz-worthy shows that are deemed Sure Bets usually aren't.

8.) Emmy voters were simply too familiar with "True Detective" and Rust Cohle. I leave this theory to last because I think there's some counterintuitive logic to it.

Consider: Everyone in this industry watched "Detective" because they pretty much felt they had to, if only not to sound like a blithering idiot at their local watering hole or some cocktail party, where someone -- maybe their next employer -- was bound to ask them, "well, what did you think ...?" They didn't need the requisite single episode to make a judgment about "Detective" -- many were already intimately familiar with it.

But such familiarity doesn't always work to a nominee's favor, because voters are then as familiar with its faults as its virtues. An obvious example here -- the finale, which some viewers loved, others hated. (I was disappointed. Not this kind of ending ... again.) Or maybe some voters didn't like Rust's gaseous ruminations on the Meaning of Life in the 17-years-fast-forward scenes.

Who knows! Or perhaps HBO,"Detective" and McConaughey should turn to Ligotti for solace and guidance on this Emmy matter. Quoth he: 

“It has always seemed to me that my existence consisted purely and exclusively of nothing but the most outrageous nonsense.”

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