‘Game of Thrones’ back at Emmys for duel with ‘Handmaid’s Tale’

An Emmy statue stands outside the entrance to the Microsoft Theatre, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Los Angeles, in preparation for Monday night’s 70th Emmy Awards ceremony. (AP/Chris Pizzello/Invision)
Updated 16 September 2018

‘Game of Thrones’ back at Emmys for duel with ‘Handmaid’s Tale’

  • Winter could come early for HBO’s blood-spattered smash hit if it fails to snare the coveted best drama series prize
  • The Television Academy’s 22,000-plus members have already cast their ballots for the 70th Primetime Emmys, the small-screen answer to the Oscars

LOS ANGELES: Hollywood’s A-listers gather Monday to honor the best in television at the Emmy Awards, with record-breaking fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” back in the competition and once again looking to slay its rivals.
But winter could come early for HBO’s blood-spattered smash hit if it fails to snare the coveted best drama series prize, with last year’s winner “The Handmaid’s Tale” hotly tipped to defend its crown.
Both shows have already picked up some Emmys hardware: “Game of Thrones” won seven statuettes in technical categories at last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys, while “The Handmaid’s Tale” scooped up three.
And both are likely to add to that haul at Monday’s glittering gala in downtown Los Angeles, but the race for the top prize still seems to be a crapshoot, with dark horse pick “The Americans” also in the hunt.
Can “Handmaid” — Hulu’s bleak take on a totalitarian America where women are oppressed, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel — again win over voters, especially in the #MeToo era?
Will “The Americans” — the gripping FX thriller about Soviet sleeper agents in the United States during the Cold War — finally earn some Emmys love after a critically acclaimed six-season run?
Or will “GoT,” the cinematic tale of noble families vying for the Iron Throne, reign supreme once again, on the back of its whopping 22 nominations?
Others in the best drama category include HBO’s futuristic western “Westworld,” Netflix favorites “The Crown” and retro sci-fi mystery “Stranger Things,” and NBC family saga “This is Us.”
The Television Academy’s 22,000-plus members have already cast their ballots for the 70th Primetime Emmys, the small-screen answer to the Oscars — so it’s time for red carpet glamor and heartfelt speeches.
For Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture and television history at Syracuse University in New York, there are no “obvious winners” on the drama side — but a plethora of innovative, quality comedies.
“As peak TV settles into middle age, half-hour comedies are television’s red Corvette,” Thompson said — a shiny new toy for viewers.
With perennial heavy hitter “Veep” out of contention this year, FX’s “Atlanta” — a quirky look at the rap scene in the Georgia capital — is squaring off with Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel” for top honors.
“Atlanta” star and creator Donald Glover, a winner last year for best lead comedy actor, is tipped to repeat. Overall, the show earned 16 nominations.
In 2016, “Game of Thrones” made history, picking up 12 awards and becoming the most decorated fictional show since the Television Academy first handed out prizes in 1949.
With the seven statuettes it won last weekend, “GoT” — which will return in 2019 for an eighth and final season — now has 45 Emmys overall.
On Monday, beyond the best drama trophy, cast members Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage are nominated, along with the show’s directors and writers.
Other major contenders include FX’s “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” which racked up 18 nominations.
Darren Criss is the favorite to win the star-studded race for best actor in a limited series or movie for his searing portrayal of Versace’s killer Andrew Cunanan.
But he faces stiff competition from a clutch of boldface names including Antonio Banderas, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jeff Daniels and John Legend, the pop crooner who has already made some history of his own.
The “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert” headliner joined the musical’s co-producers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice as the latest showbiz personalities to earn EGOT status.
Each now has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Only 12 others have achieved the distinction.
Another bit of Emmys history: streaming giant Netflix ended HBO’s 17-year streak of leading the nominations, with 112 to the premium cable network’s 108.
After last week’s Creative Arts Emmys, HBO has won 17 statuettes to Netflix’s 16.

Another major contender is veteran comedy sketch show “Saturday Night Live,” just behind “GoT” with 21 nominations.
Show regulars Michael Che and Colin Jost will host the Emmys at the Microsoft Theater, to be broadcast on NBC, and series creator Lorne Michaels will produce the event for the first time in 30 years.
With awards show audiences dwindling in the age of Twitter, can the “SNL” team breathe new life into the format?
“If anyone can do live TV and try to keep the format relevant, I suppose it’s Lorne Michaels,” Thompson said.
Jost has said he wants the Emmys to be “less political than normal” — but that seems unlikely only a week after CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves left in a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.
For Thompson, television’s best and brightest “tend to be politically conscious folks” and given that the #MeToo movement erupted after last year’s Emmys gala, a few well-placed comments appear inevitable.

KSA’s Eastern Province residents welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

Updated 19 March 2019

KSA’s Eastern Province residents welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

  • The Sharqiah Seasonfeatures over 80 events in cities acrossf the Kingdom's Eastern Province
  • Events in the upcoming weekends feature sports events as as well as concerts

RIYADH: Residents of the Eastern Province are no strangers to foreign visitors — the nation’s oil heartland has been welcoming them for years. But more have been arriving with the opening of Sharqiah Season, featuring over 80 events across the region’s cities.

Organized as a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage alongside the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority, it is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country in 2019.

Faisal Al-Rayisi, an employee at King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, told Arab News he was surprised by the number of people arriving for the festival. 

“People are not only coming from Saudi Arabia, but from all over the Gulf as well — Kuwait and the UAE in particular,” he said. “I’ve even seen foreigners from Europe and Asia coming through. Time was, we used to go to Dubai for our entertainment, but now people from Dubai are coming to us.”

He also mentioned how happy he was to see the festivities coming to the Eastern Province. “Jeddah has this slogan, ‘Jeddah is different,’ but now that we’re seeing the first Sharqiah Season in our region, and all of these amazing activities and concerts are happening here, I think we can safely say ‘Sharqiah is different’ now.”

The Sharqiah festival aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom.

The festival features events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries.  

He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.

The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

Earlier in the day, the mega event began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Da Vinci’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.