Emmy Wins Prove “Modern” Families are U.S. Hits

Television show “Modern Family” won the best comedy series Emmy on Sunday. “Glee” was also honored and new films such as “The Kids Are All Right” and documentaries are finding that families outside the mom, dad and two kids norm can make decent financial returns.

“Television is reflecting the way the American family has evolved, the way society has evolved,” said Todd Gold, managing editor of Fancast.com. “The shows we are seeing on prime time as well as movies like ‘The Kids Are All Right’ are looking at a new kind of family.”

Mockumentary-style comedy “Modern Family” features a gay couple and their Vietnamese baby and a man married to a much younger Colombian woman. Eric Stonestreet, who plays one of the gay fathers on “Modern Family”, won a best supporting actor Emmy for his performance.

The characters on musical comedy “Glee,” include a gay teen who has a crush on a straight football player and a geeky girl adopted at birth by two men.

The two TV shows, which won a combined total of 10 Emmys on Sunday, currently reach a healthy ten million strong U.S. audience each.

“We knew we didn’t want to do things that family shows had done before,” said “Modern Family” co-creator Christopher Lloyd.

Both Lloyd and pop culture experts said Hollywood was following society rather the other way round.

“Society is leading Hollywood, but there are writers and producers and directors who see these markets,” said Jay Mechling, professor of American Studies at University of California, Davis.

He said the “the millennial generation” — those born in the 1980s and 1990s — are “much more casual and accepting” of a variety of family arrangements.


Rather than controversial storylines, winning audiences and awards comes down to quality and broader themes that everyone can relate to, experts said.

“As long as it is not overtly political, and gift-wrapped in entertainment that is good, Americans will embrace it,” Gold said. “They don’t want to miss out on something that is good.”

Also, Americans are less judgmental when it comes to entertainment than they might be in real-life debates.

“While many may disagree with issues like gay marriage, (Americans) have shown that they are incredibly tolerant and accepting when it comes to entertainment,” Gold said.

Lloyd said “Modern Family” reflected common emotional ties such as struggles to raise kids and family decisions.

“We try to find identifiable moments in the lives of these characters where the audience can go “Wow, that happened in my house'” he said. “That’s where you cement the viewers’ allegiance to your show.”

In addition, the gay couple in the show emphasize parental responsibility. “They are not finger-snappy fabulous gay guys. They are more homey, slightly nerdier, smarter gay guys and in many ways the most traditional of the parental units in our show, so I don’t think we ever thought that was going to be too much for Americans to accept,” said Lloyd.

In film, Jennifer Aniston took on the issue of single mothers and sperm donors in her latest movie “The Switch”.

“The Kids Are All Right” — about a lesbian couple raising two kids who want to contact their sperm donor father — has won rave reviews for actress Julianne Moore and sparked Oscar buzz for her screen partner Annette Bening.

The independent film has more than quadrupled its production budget, pulling in $18 million in the United States and is soon to open overseas.

Documentaries like “Sperm Donor X” by Deirdre Fishel and “Single Choice: Many Lives” by Anne Catherine Hundhausen are also portraying families in a way that is more in tune with changes in U.S. society.

“It’s not excluding the traditional American family either. We are just seeing more variety,” Gold said


David Letterman to Visit ‘The View’ Next Month

David Letterman will welcome Barbara Walters back to “The View” when he visits the ABC daytime talk show next month.

ABC said Wednesday that Letterman, host of CBS’ “Late Show,” will make his first guest appearance on “The View” on Sept. 7. That’s the day that co-panelist Walters returns to the air after taking the summer off to recover from open-heart surgery. The show also marks the start of the 14th season of “The View.”

Other guests scheduled that week include former Secretary of State Colin Powell and actor Danny DeVito.

Besides Walters, “The View” stars Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

NASA: Pick Shuttle Wake-Up Tunes or Write Your Own

Now’s your chance to help pick astronauts’ wake-up music.

NASA is holding a first-of-its-kind contest to select some songs that will rouse the crews of the final two shuttle flights. Normally, astronauts’ family and friends choose the tunes.

The space agency’s Top 40 list is posted online. The two top vote-getters serve as wake-up calls during Discovery’s November flight. The choices include Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin,” as well as some U2 and Elton John.

NASA also is seeking original space-themed songs. Two winners will wake up Endeavour’s crew in February.

The contest is styled after NASA’s face-in-space promotion.





(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Yep, There’s an App for Burning Man

Black Rock City (AKA the Burning Man festival) is a gargantuan sprawl of temporary urban structures on an ancient lake bed, featuring more than 40,000 burners-in-residence and hundreds of odd activities going on at any given time. You could plan events ahead of time or wing it once you arrive, sure. But why make things more difficult than they have to be? The iBurn 2010 app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod has you covered.

Black Rock City does have its own wifi network, as befits this playground for techies, but reception is spotty. So the app is designed to work offline. After you download it, iBurn automatically caches Burning Man schedule information and maps of the Black Rock playa for later use. The handy features include buttons to geo-locate yourself on the playa, find the center of the city, get directions and descriptions for individual events, and save your favorites. Now there’s no way you’ll miss the nuclear-powered vodka party at the Siberian Electric Company camp!

Given the Burner reputation for putting things together at the last minute, it may be no surprise to learn that the app has not been approved by Apple yet. But the developers hope to have it up on the app store in time for this year’s burn (the week after next, in other words). “I think Apple will approve it in time. The API data is also being refined as the app is reviewed, so all should be well come Burning Man,” says Andrew Johnson, one of the developers of the app. “It was a lot of fun to do, and we’ll add some more features next year–things like waypoint overlays on the map, search, and in-app media like music and art.”

In the meantime, eager tech-savvy types can download and build the app themselves. Everyone else can plan events the old-fashioned way–at the Burning Man website.

From Fast Company Magazine

Barcelona Fines Rock Band U2

Barcelona city hall says rock band U2 has paid a fine of euro18,000 ($22,000) for playing too long and too loudly during rehearsals in the Spanish city last year.

A spokeswoman said the Irish group was penalized for rehearsing until midnight– two hours over the scheduled time– and at sound levels above those set by authorities prior to a concert in Barcelona in June 2009.

The fine followed a complaint by residents near Barcelona soccer club’s Camp Nou stadium, where the concert was staged.

The spokeswoman said the city was now studying fining Colombian singer Shakira for recording a video in the city without a permit, dancing in a fountain and riding a motorbike without a helmet.

The official was speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with city hall policy.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

California Bill to Reform Pet Insurance Advances

Man’s best friends could enjoy greater health care protections under a bill approved Tuesday by the California Assembly.

Companies that insure veterinary care for cats, dogs and other animal companions would have to provide more information about what level of care is covered by their insurance plans.

Democratic Assemblyman Dave Jones says the bill, AB2411, was inspired by national health care reform.

The measure requires insurers to disclose on their websites any policies that limit coverage.

The Assembly approved the bill on a 42-22 vote and sent it to the governor for his review.

Jones originally sought to create a separate category of the insurance code for veterinary insurance, but that provision was removed.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

An Upside to Whooping Cough

For the past month or so, I’ve been sick with colds, a constant sore throat and an alleged case of whooping cough. Despite the negative test result, I still fit all the symptoms of pertussis.

For two straight weeks, I coughed constantly. For the first week, I seriously only got five total hours of sleep. Luckily, my codeine cough syrup allowed me to breathe without gasping for air, and helped me fall asleep.

I also focused so much on eating soft noodley type foods I totally ignored an internal change in my soda addiction.

My grandmother first introduced me to Coke when I was 3-years old. In fourth grade, I’d down whole six packs every night I love the stuff.

I even endured the added vegetable oil ingredient to Coca-Colas while visiting London nearly 20 years ago. Every time I tried to quit cold turkey I ended up going right back to where I started.

That is….until about three weeks ago.   

I can’t believe it myself, but I can now drink Coke just as a treat. I no longer want to drink two or three cans per day.

I won’t say it will never happen again, but for now, I’m drinking more water and actually enjoying it.

As I type this out right now, I’m drinking a can, but not compulsively gulping it. I may even drink only half of it like I did yesterday.

This could be a new beginning for me. I’ve been trying to cut back on my consumption for years; I’ve bitched about my tummy for too long. My new routine could help me cut out thousands of calories and countless grams of sugar.

And all thanks to an annoying “near” fatal cough.