‘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.


Egyptian singer Malak El-Husseiny discusses her new single, writer’s block, and her desire to stay vulnerable

Updated 02 July 2020

Egyptian singer Malak El-Husseiny discusses her new single, writer’s block, and her desire to stay vulnerable

CAIRO: “I was very lost and disconnected from my environment and from myself,” says Egyptian singer-songwriter Malak El-Husseiny (who goes by the artist name Malak). “I didn’t know if I wanted to do music that much.”

Malak is talking about the time that preceded the writing of “Can’t Catch An Emotion,” her latest single, released late last month. The song contemplates a painful state of inbetweenness (“The sun frustrates me and the moon don't look as good”) and examines the young artist’s crippling inability to connect with herself.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Now everybody wants to know what introverts do for fun

A post shared by Malak ملك (@malakelhusseiny) on

The five-minute video follows Malak as she walks through different manifestations of nature, navigating her confusion and trying to re-establish that connection.

The 26-year old artist tells Arab News she suffered from a prolonged mental block — weighed down by indifference and an inexplicable heaviness of heart — that she couldn’t seem to shake.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

caving in with the tide, wave after wave on my bedside @lomovros

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“It’s not that I couldn’t make music. I just had no feelings to connect to and express in music,” she says. “Eventually I knew that writing about this was going to help me move forward and reconnect to my art, to myself and to my truth. It took a lot in me to be able to finish (this song) and I’m happy I did.”

Malak dropped her debut EP, “Alters,” in 2014 and immediately grabbed attention with her dark English-language electro-pop that drew comparisons to Lana Del Ray, among others. She featured on season four of MBC’s “The X-Factor,” and received critical acclaim for a couple of singles around the same time, particularly “Wild Summer Hearts.” But she has been out of the headlines for quite some time before the release of “Can’t Catch An Emotion.”

She featured on season four of MBC’s “The X-Factor.” (Supplied)

Not that she hasn’t been busy in that time; she launched her own music production company in 2016, which focuses mainly on commercial work — ads and radio jingles, for instance — and has been writing for other artists too, exploring her love of other genres, including hip-hop and trap.

Her wide-ranging musical taste is something that stems from growing up in a family with an extensive and eclectic record collection. “Their hobby was to collect vinyl records, so I grew up listening to Fairouz, Umm Kulthum, Guns & Roses, Dire Straits, Scorpions, and Bon Jovi,” she says. “My dad would spread out his collection and we’d play music all the time. My mom also played the guitar. So there was always music around the house.”

Around the age of 12, Malak realized that she wanted to do more than simply listen to music — she wanted to perform. She started off by trying to recreate beats (“just tapping along”) and practicing on her karaoke machine.

“That’s basically how I got into loving music,” she says. “I guess it just came naturally to me.”

Having performed cover songs at numerous events, Malak was spotted by Subspace Records, and signed a contract with the label when she was just 18. That was when she began writing her own material.

Initially, she says, her writing was more of an attempt to copy her favorite artists. "I had no guidelines,” she says. “I was a kid and I hadn’t written anything before, except for poems and short texts. But I had never written a full four-minute song. Melodies were the most difficult part, because they required a knowledge of music and (melody) matching.”

Around the age of 12, Malak realized that she wanted to do more than simply listen to music. (Supplied)

The label set Malak the task of writing a song a day for three months. “It didn’t have to be a finished song,” she says. “It didn’t even have to be good. But they assigned this exercise so I could learn how to express myself and find my (own) voice.”

The exercise also taught her not to become too attached to the outcome. “It was true expression and that’s what mattered,” she says.

After months of trial and error, Malak began to settle into a songwriting process that she was comfortable with, one that allowed her to tell her own story.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

mooood

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“I was singing because I knew this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to take a shot at it, to do what I actually believe in and live my truth,” she says. “As I grew up, I wanted to do it in a more authentic way. I didn’t want to have to make music that I didn’t believe in just to be more popular.”

Her approach, she adds, is “more about authenticity and releasing emotion.”

The press release for “Can’t Catch An Emotion” stresses Malak’s commitment to authenticity, claiming that she “sings of the vulnerabilities of being a modern Arab woman” and “explores her journey through love in its different forms and all the euphoric revelations that come with embracing it.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Can’t Catch an Emotion - Out tomorrow on all platforms (link in bio)

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Those themes will apparently continue throughout her upcoming debut album, which she says explores various manifestations of love, from “the romantic, to spirituality and one’s relationship with God, (all the way to) one’s relationship to oneself.”

It is an act of questioning that is both subtle and versatile — one in which Malak posits her own inquiries as a modern Arab woman who is curious to understand why things are the way they are; inquiries that Arab women may shy away from because they’re “wired to be scared to rock the boat.”

The album also challenges expectations about how Arab women should perform in society — including having to fit a certain mold “for families to accept you as the wife of someone.”

The album was originally set for release this summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed it. However, Malak hopes to be able to release — and tour — the record soon.

As for the future, the young star says she’s open to exploring more musical options whilst “staying true to my roots and where I come from.” The key, she asserts, is to stay vulnerable.

“I’ve listened to artists who have changed my whole life just because of one song,” Malak says. “I’ve always wanted to be that type of artist — to write something that is so personal to me, put it out to the world and be so completely vulnerable that people feel it.”