I Told You I Smelled Emmy!
Saturday night at the 61st Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, my long suffering friends and colleagues Todd Liebler and Zach Zamboni-who, for the last few years have sacrificed anything resembling normal lives to follow me around the world pointing cameras in my general direction-scored a major upset victory by bringing home the award for cinematography in the non-fiction category. Todd, who has garnered a not entirely undeserved worldwide reputation for stumbling into things, bounded up to that stage with astounding speed and grace-suddenly, a veritable Nijinsky, sure footedly making what was easily one of the smoothest, nicest, most coherent and entertaining acceptance speeches of the night. Zach, who hardly got a word in, managed to look very dashing in his tuxedo. The two of them spent the rest of the evening basking happily in the admiring praise of other directors of photography, camera operators and cinematographers, few of whom have likely had to make do with a bag of risotto on a skateboard as a camera platform. It was the greatest thing I’ve seen in a very long time and I am over the moon with happiness for them. Of the three Emmys we were nominated for-this was the one I wanted to win badly. All you have to do is compare the looks of season one-with those of recent seasons to see how hard these guys work, how monstrously talented they are-and how much they’ve been able to do with so very little.
Photo courtesy of Betty Hinchman; Zach Zamboni and
Todd Liebler accept their Emmy award for Outstanding
Cinematography for a Non-fiction series.
Congratulations, my friends-with whom I’ve spent far more time over the years than with my family. And thank you.
Speaking of family, this Monday’s show probably represents the most perverse angle we could have taken for a season ender.
After five full years of making NO RESERVATIONS and trying, always, to do something different from whatever seemed to work (or didn’t work) the week before, I think we found an entirely new way to undermine any comfortable assumptions about what we do. Known for snark? Let’s do the exact opposite. The sickest, most transgressive, borderline suicidal move we could make this week? A warm, huggy family drama-with cute kid! Hell-there’s even a bunny (Okay….we ate its family-but still…)!
It’s the last show of the season-before getting back on the pony for a decidedly harsher, higher impact, more foreign location centered Season Six. Looking down the road at ten months of balls-out craziness, where we’re hoping to push things farther than we’ve ever done before, in places like the Congo, Beirut, Cuba, the Central Highlands of Viet Nam, Ecuador, the Caribbean, Panama, Istanbul, Southern India, I’m really happy with this more quiet, food and family oriented look at a beautiful place seldom seen on television. And, I have to say, I enjoyed indulging my once carefully hidden secret aspirations to be some kind of country Italian patriarch.
When I first laid eyes on Sardinia, about two years ago, I saw how amazing it was, how thoroughly different-looking than anywhere else I’d been, my first thought, (TV whore that I am) was “Damn! I gotta make a show here!”
By the time a week had passed and my father in-law’s family had shown me around and plied me with a greatest hits of Sardinian food, I was ticking off a list of things I had to do again-only this time on-camera. I mentioned this, casually, in conversation-at which point-the entire family swung into action. I should have seen it coming-that there was never any question that of course they’d take charge. It was instantly a matter of family and national pride.
My show is shown in Italy. Friends and neighbors in Lombardy and Sardinia would see this thing I’d be working on. I would not be allowed to fuck it up! Unfortunately, for my wife, no one in the family speaks English (I communicate with my in-laws in my appallingly inept French). And as Aunt Andreana had already pretty much taken over as executive producer and the rest of the family had fanned out across Sardinia searching for scenes and checking locations, it was really only a matter of time until Ottavia was dragooned into service. I say “unfortunately” because she’d really and truly rather shove her head into a bag full of poisonous snakes than be on television-particularly on my show-a program of which she is a particularly harsh critic.
It was pointed out that as the family were already committed as enthusiastic participants it would look weird if she were not on the show and even weirder if a hired sidekick/fixer was seen showing me around the family compound and her Dad’s hometown of Nuoro, or introducing me to specialties her family had introduced me to only the year previous. Frankly, I used every variety of emotional blackmail available to me. Her last line of defense was a suggestion that I hire a “stunt wife” for the episode. Someone out of central casting-the Italian version. Didn’t happen. And she’s been living in a state of near mortification since, dreading tonight. Augusto, Nelson, Dania and Eric will know what I’m talking about.
Those of you concerned that No Reservations has suddenly taken a turn towards the travel TV version of Paul McCartney and Wings can rest assured that we’re already well into shooting season six and that it’s chockfull of jungle bugs, burning cocaine, backwoods hooch, and dick jokes. Sadly, no warthog anus as yet. But there’s always tomorrow.