Starring, Texas!

Will it be Texas night at the Emmys? Dennis Quaid, Sissy Spacek & Austin-made Temple Grandin up for awards

Will it be Texas night at the Emmys? Dennis Quaid, Sissy Spacek & Austin-made Temple Grandin up for awards

A whole herd of outstanding Texans and even a couple of Texas-shot productions are up for Primetime Emmy gold on Aug. 29 — and those are just the ones I know of to brag about.

You've probably heard about native son Jim Parsons, Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, who is nominated for best actor in a comedy for his role as a brilliant physicist who understands how the universe works but is clueless about the rest of us mere mortals, especially female mortals.

Parsons, who has made his Klein Oak High Panthers proud, stayed true to in his hometown and graduated from UH. We’ve got a bonafide Texan contending for one of TV’s biggest awards.

Though terrific as Sheldon, he’s got some weighty Emmy competition: Larry David, who plays himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm, has been nominated 21 times with two wins; Matthew Morrison is Will Schuester in the wildly popular new show Glee; Tony Shalhoub, Adrian Monk in Monk, has already won three times; Alec Baldwin, Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock, won the Emmy the last two years running; and then there’s Steve Carrell, Michael Scott in The Office. Carrell is leaving the show at the end of the upcoming season and has never won an Emmy (so you know the clock ticketh with this seventh nom).

Nevertheless, Jim, we’re pulling for you.

Friday Night Lights, that fabulous drama about Texas high school football, has its two stars, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, up for Emmys, No, the actors aren’t Texans, but they sure can play ‘em.

The series was shot in Austin and I know a lot of folks who have worked on both sides of the camera. The producers can’t say enough about the Texas crew and talent.

The show itself is not up for an Emmy, but Texas industry professionals should get misty-eyed when the awards show airs and winners are revealed. Like Coach Taylor always told his team, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” For those of us who have watched and loved the series, it’s a winner no matter what.

Texas location casting director, Beth Sepko, is also nominated for her work on two productions, Friday Night Lights and the HBO film Temple Grandin. Go, Beth!

Shot mostly in Austin, Temple Grandin is an amazing movie. Claire Danes portrays the real Temple Grandin, a woman with autism who overcame her limitations and revolutionized practices for the humane handling of livestock on cattle ranches. She invented the “hug machine” which is designed to calm hypersensitive people. The HBO movie garnered 15 nominations.

Obviously it was easy to find the film’s cattle and ranch locations, but hey, Texas also had to stand-in for New England! Our state can multi-task.

Native Houstonian Dennis Quaid might win his first Emmy. Evidently, his role as former president Bill Clinton in HBO Films’ The Special Relationship is something special. The drama traces former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s relationships with Clinton and George W. Bush. Ironically, Quaid’s brother Randy won a Golden Globe for his role as another president in LBJ: The Early Years, a 1987 TV movie.

The Emmy’s Outstanding Guest Actress nominees include veteran Sissy Spacek of Quitman for her performance as Marilyn Denshan in the HBO series Big Love. It centers on a polygamist and his relationship with his three wives. I haven’t been interested in watching a show about a guy married to multiple women, but if Spacek is among the 2010 guest cast, maybe it’s worth a look.

By now, Spacek must have an entire room in her Virginia ranch for her awards. Thus far, she’s received one Oscar and has been nominated for five more, and has won about everything else but an Emmy. She stunned us in Carrie, The Coal Miner’s Daughter, In the Bedroom, and more recently in less stunning material, An American Haunting and The Ring Two (getting back to her spooky roots).

News journalist Linda Ellerbee might snare the award for Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction Program. Born in Bryan, she was raised in Houston, attended Lamar High School, and was once a reporter at KHOU-TV. Ellerbee already has an Emmy collection, but this nomination is for her report to kids about kids living with cancer. She hosts Nick News on Nickelodeon. A cancer survivor herself, the nom is especially apropos.

The classic 1969 film Midnight Cowboy, starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, featured a young starlet who made a lasting impression with her husky voice. That actress is Dallas-bred Brenda Vaccaro, who, 41 years later is a contender for Best Supporting Actress for her role in You Don’t Know Jack, another HBO movie. (Al Pacino is Jack Kevorkian, aka Dr. Death.)

For cartoon aficionados, Vaccaro lent her distinctive voice to Bunny Bravo in Johnny Bravo and a Smurfs character, Scruples.

If I overlooked any Texans in the nominations for Primetime Emmys, I hope someone fills me in.

Winners of the Daytime Emmys have already been presented and I am proud to report that my friend, producer Robin Craig, recently accepted her third consecutive Emmy. This native Houstonian was honored in Los Angeles for Cristina’s Court as its coordinating producer. The show won in the Outstanding Legal/Courtroom Program category and was shot right here in the soundstage at Fox 26, across the freeway from Lakewood Church. Although the show has ended, Craig says, "It's been a true honor and privilege to repeatedly be voted the best by our peers.”

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Claire Danes, right, and the real Temple Grandin pose in this photo. The HBO movie, made in Austin, is up for 15 Emmys.
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Dennis Quaid is nominated for his portrayal of Bill Clinton in HBO's "A Special Relationship." In this photo, he portrayed another fictional president modeled after George W. Bush in the movie, "American Dreamz."
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Quitman native Sissy Spacek is nominated for her guest role in HBO's "Big Love." She's won an Oscar but never an Emmy.
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Producer Robin Craig, a Houston native, recently won her third Daytime Emmy Photo by Sandra Gin