'Homeland' Suprises And Other Emmy Awards Highlights



LOS ANGELES – Quality television “is the only American product the Chinese haven’t figured out how to make,” joked host Jimmy Kimmel, presiding over the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sunday.

The list of nominees may have been impressive, writes the Chicago Tribune, but the broadcast itself was far from a ringing endorsement of Hollywood’s ability to produce anything but an eye-rolling awards show.

Some of the strongest moments of comedy came from the presenters, including Stephen Colbert, who gave out the award for outstanding female in a comedy: “We should be celebrating women,” he said. “Women are wonderful. For the most part, obviously. Some women are awful."

There was some new blood at the Emmy Awards, with Showtime's freshman series Homeland taking home honors as outstanding drama, said the Los Angeles Daily News. Homeland also won the Emmy for outstanding drama writing, for lead actor, drama (Damian Lewis), lead actress, drama (Claire Danes).

President Obama is a fan of the series, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which revolves around America's ongoing war on terror. "Does it bother anybody else that President Obama said his favorite show is Homeland? I don't think the president should be watching Homeland for the same reason Charlie Sheen shouldn't be watching Breaking Bad,” said Jimmy Kimmel in his monologue.

Nobody was expecting Homeland to nab so many awards. The thriller, inspired by Israeli series Hatufim (Prisoners of War) portrays an America trapped in a crisis of paranoia since September 11, something that the death of Osama bin Laden hasn’t been able to cure. French daily Le Monde writes that the series demonstrates perfectly how the U.S. has been taken over by fear since the 2001 attacks, as well as the guilt of not being able to prevent them.

On a lighter note, it was a three-peat for prime-time comedy Modern Family, said the LA Times.

ABC’s ensemble hit comedy about a loving, dysfunctional family won the Emmy for best comedy series for the third consecutive year, capping a night in which it also won awards for directing, supporting actor and supporting actress — four trophies in all. In addition to best comedy series, it won a trophy for directing (Steve Levitan, who is the show’s co-creator, writer and producer), as well as statuettes for supporting actress (Julie Bowen) and supporting actor (Eric Stonestreet).

Our favorite tweets of the night:

I'm presenting an Emmy tonight. If you see a brown bearded man presenting an award tonight - rest assured - it is me & you're not racist.

— Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) September 23, 2012

Christina Hendricks' dress wins Best Supporting of an Actress #Emmys

— Andy Levy (@andylevy) September 23, 2012

I'm 13, riding in a limo to my 3rd Emmy's!!! Amazing. Thanks Modern Family fans for making us a hit.

— Nolan Gould (@Nolan_Gould) September 23, 2012

Too soon maybe for this one?

I forget is "Innocence of Muslims" up for comedy or drama? #Emmys

— Andy Levy (@andylevy) September 24, 2012

Find a complete list of the night’s winners and losers here.

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Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry May Be Set To Ease, Or Get Much Worse

The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before.

Military parade in Tehran, Iran, on Oct. 3


LONDON — The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.

Agence France-Presse news agency, meanwhile, has cited an unnamed French diplomat as saying that Saudi Arabia wants to end its costly discord with Tehran. The sides may already have agreed to reopen consular offices. For Saudi Arabia, the costs include its war on Iran-backed Houthis rebels fighting an UN-recognized government in next-door Yemen.

The role of the nuclear pact

Bilateral relations were severed in January 2016, after regime militiamen stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Amirabdollahian was then the deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs. In 2019, he told the website Iranian Diplomacy that Saudi Arabia had taken measures vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear pact with the world powers.

It's unlikely Ali Khamenei will tolerate the Saudi kingdom's rising power in the region.

He said "the Saudis' insane conduct toward [the pact] led them to conclude that they must prevent [its implementation] in a peaceful environment ... I think the Saudis are quite deluded, and their delusion consists in thinking that Trump is an opportunity for them to place themselves on the path of conflict with the Islamic Republic while relying on Trump." He meant the administration led by the U.S. President Donald J.Trump, which was hostile to Iran's regime. This, he said, "is not how we view Saudi Arabia. I think Yemen should have been a big lesson for the Saudis."

The minister was effectively admitting the Houthis were the Islamic Republic's tool for getting back at Saudi Arabia.

Yet in the past two years, both sides have taken steps to improve relations, without firm results as yet. Nor is the situation likely to change this time.

Photo of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020

Riyadh's warming relations with Israel

Iran's former ambassador in Lebanon, Ahmad Dastmalchian, told the ILNA news agency in Tehran that Saudi Arabia is doing Israel's bidding in the region, and has "entrusted its national security, and life and death to Tel Aviv." Riyadh, he said, had been financing a good many "security and political projects in the region," or acting as a "logistical supplier."

The United States, said Dastmalchian, has "in turn tried to provide intelligence and security backing, while Israel has simply followed its own interests in all this."

Furthermore, it seems unlikely Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will tolerate, even in this weak period of his leadership, the kingdom's rising power in the region and beyond, and especially its financial clout. He is usually disparaging when he speaks of Riyadh's princely rulers. In 2017, he compared them to "dairy cows," saying, "the idiots think that by giving money and aid, they can attract the goodwill of Islam's enemies."

Iranian regime officials are hopeful of moving toward better diplomatic ties and a reopening of embassies. Yet the balance of power between the sides began to change in Riyadh's favor years ago. For the kingdom's power has shifted from relying mostly on arms, to economic and political clout. The countries might have had peaceful relations before in considerably quieter, and more equitable, conditions than today's acute clash of interests.

If nuclear talks break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive.

Beyond this, the Abraham Accord or reconciliation of Arab states and Israel has been possible thanks to the green light that the Saudis gave their regional partners, and it is a considerable political and ideological defeat for the Islamic Republic.

Assuming all Houthis follow Tehran's instructions — and they may not — improved ties may curb attacks on Saudi interests and aid its economy. Tehran will also benefit from no longer having to support them. Unlike Iran's regime, the Saudis are not pressed for cash or resources and could even offer the Houthis a better deal. Presently, they may consider it more convenient to keep the softer approach toward Tehran.

For if nuclear talks with the West break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive, and as experience has shown, tensions often prompt a renewal of missile or drone attacks on the Saudis, on tankers and on foreign shipping. Riyadh must have a way of keeping the Tehran regime quiet, in a distinctly unquiet time.

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