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I know the Emmy’s happened last night, and I should probably talk about them in-depth. But the thing is, the Emmy’s are boring, useless, and are run by dinosaurs that wouldn’t know good TV if the casts of Veronica Mars and Scrubs walked up and punched them in the face. So while I know I should write about them, I don’t really feel the need to. The thing is though, Felicity Huffman won the Emmy for Best Actress in a comedy series. And her acceptance speech was so wonderful and heartfelt that I am inspired to write about it. To write about something that she mentioned in her speech. Something that helped to get me where I am today. But first, to business… Here’s my quick reaction to all the major Emmy winners: Doris Roberts – Again? Really? Brad Garrett – Should have been the Piv. Paul Newman – Classic. Shatner – Love Denny Crane. But I would have loved seeing Terry O’Quinn win. Warm Springs – Never saw it. But Cynthia Nixon rules. Patricia Arquette – Alabama Worley wins an Emmy. Suh-weet. Tony Shalhoub – I guess Zach Braff will have to settle for being an indie darling. Life and Death of Peter Sellers – Geoffrey Rush is brilliant. Felicity Huffman – Best. Acceptance Speech. Ever. More on this in a minute. Johnny Carson – He will be missed in a way that Leno can only dream about. James Spader – I love Boston Legal. The Spader is finally getting his, which rules. Lost – This is my show, so I’m happy for them, but this might have been > premature. Everybody Loves Raymond – Well duh. Like this wasn’t gonna win? Ok good, that’s done. And now on to more important matters. Felicity Huffman deserved an Emmy. And I’m glad she won for Desperate Housewives. Mostly I’m glad she won because if Hatcher had, there was a 50/50 chance of Marcia Cross pulling her wig off to reveal that crazy Melrose scar, and then blowing up the whole damn building. Of course, Felicity should have won a long time ago, for an entirely different show… During her acceptance speech, right after she thanked David Mamet for putting her in his plays, she thanked Aaron Sorkin for seeing those plays and casting her in Sports Night. And it was right about then that I started tearing up and drafting my first of most likely many Felicity Huffman love letters. Because anyone that takes the time to praise Sports Night, well, they go straight to the first page of my cool book. You see, Sports Night wasn’t just another good TV show; it was a touchstone of quality that I can only wish for in other shows. Sports Night, among other things >, is the reason you are reading this right now. Sports Night, among many other things, is the crystallization of all the various pieces of art (written, performed or otherwise) that inspire me to be a better person, inspire me to work harder, and inspire me to put my fingers on the keys, and tap out my heart and soul. > sports night, for all those that don’t know, was a tragically short lived “sitcom" on abc from 1998-1999. Written and created by Aaron Sorkin, and directed by Thomas Schlamme, the series revolved around the cast and crew of a fictional sports news show, called Sports Night. The show ran for two seasons, won countless critical praises, and was watched by a grand total of fourteen people, which is why it was abruptly cancelled. And also because Sorkin decided to go off and make The West Wing (another series that inspired me, but that’s another blog post). On the show, Felicity played producer Dana Whitaker, who tore her hair out trying to corral the egotistical, funny, sensitive, high maintenance, yet loveable anchors of her sports new show, Casey McCall and Dan Rydell. She was aided by Issac Jaffe, the executive producer, [>] played by the incomparable Robert Guillaume, and by her junior producers Natalie and Jeremy. The cast was made up of mostly unknowns (unless you remember Josh Charles from his stunning turn in the Stephen Baldwin classic Threesome). The direction was top notch, the acting superlative and all other areas of production were of superb merit. But the writing soared above all. Sorkin created characters that knew how to talk. And not in a stupid sitcom joke talk way, but in a real, intelligent way. You see, that’s the great thing about a Sorkin script, you know you’re dealing with smart people. His smart people enjoy being smart, and talking smartly with other smart people. And this dichotomy created some of the most amazing, funny, sincere, and heart-wrenching dialogue exchanges I have ever been lucky enough to experience. I can think of a dozen scenes just off the top of my head that still make me go “wow": the six southern gentleman speech by Isaac, Dana getting attacked by the fly, the poker speech by Jeremy, the courtship of Rebecca Wells, Dan meeting the homeless guy, Casey telling his son just how proud of him he is, Jeremy freaking out over the hunting piece he was forced to produce, Bill Macy’s Farnsworth speech to the network brass, just about any fight between Casey and Dana, and on and on. I’ve watched, loved and rejoiced in many shows, but only a select few really make me think. Even fewer make me challenge the way I think. And even fewer few make me want to stop everything I’m doing, lock myself in a room and write my own masterpiece. Sports Night is at the head of that group (along with The West Wing, Quantum Leap, Scrubs, and a few more shows I’ll reveal another day). What makes Sports Night stand out above the others was that it laid the groundwork for Sorkin to write the first two seasons of The West Wing, which very well may be the finest 44 hours of television ever devised. But while the writing on The West Wing was probably better, and figuratively “smarter", Sports Night was a show that I could have written for. And that makes it special to me. Also, it was short lived. Sports Night was a bright, shining star that burned away too fast. Like Tupac Shakur, Brandon Lee, Chris Farley, River Phoenix and all the other talents that we lost too soon, Sports Night had very few moments in this world. It was born, it was loved, and it was taken away from us before we had a chance to grow cynical about it. The great thing about having the show on DVD is that whenever I’m feeling down, or uninspired, or thinking that I shouldn’t spend my days slaving away over a blank page and a flashing cursor, I can pop in a disc and watch episode after episode of storytelling at its absolute apex. I’m sure I’ll write more about what Aaron Sporkin meant to me. And what those first two seasons of ‘Wing’ did for my writing. But for now, I want to take this opportunity to share my love for the brilliance of Sports Night. And to thank everyone involved with the creation, production and execution of the show. Your hard work and struggle was worth it. You may not have convinced a nation to pay attention, but you sure did convince me. And the stories, the characters, and most of all, the words, will live on inside my heart and mind, forever present in my creative conscious, pushing me to challenge my limitations, and pursue the truth of my work. In ways I can count, and in others I can not even begin to comprehend, Sports Night has lifted, changed and inspired me. And in the end, what more could you ask for from a television show? Bangarang, Felicity Huffman! And thank you for thanking for Sports Night. My love letter is in the mail.


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