Emmy nominations, George R.R. Martin saves publishing as we know it and three German TV deaths

The Emmy Award nominations for 2011 have been announced and as usual there are a lot of nominations for a lot of shows I don’t watch, some that I think are dreadful (The Good Wife, Glee, Law and Order Special Victims Unit, Dexter) and some I have never even heard of (They remade Mildred Pierce? Honestly). And the dreadfully dull Downton Abbey of course gets lots of nominations in the miniseries categories, but then that was pretty predictable considering how extremely well received that show was in the US.

On the positive side, Game of Thrones gets a Best Drama Series nod and among that slate it may well be the best show, though I haven’t seen Boardwalk Empire yet. Though anything involving Steve Buscemi can’t be all bad. Peter Dinklage also gets a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor nomination. The Best Lead Actor nomination for Idris Elba in Luther also makes me happy, though I wonder why Luther wasn’t nominated in the Best Miniseries category. It’s certainly so much better than the actual nominees. But for miniseries, Americans – at least those that nominate for the Emmys – apparently like costume drama and social issues.

While on the subject of A Song of Ice and Fire, apparently book No. 5, A Dance with Dragons, is saving not just brick and mortar bookstores but also print books themselves, at least according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, German television lost two important figures today:

Character actor Heinz Reincke died aged 86. Reincke was best known for playing North German originals such as small-time St. Pauli gangsters, rural clergymen and farmers. But even though he played pretty much the quintessential quirky North German on TV, he spent the last forty years of his life in Austria and even held the Austrian citizenship. I guess it’s the reverse of the Austrian sailor phenomenon, i.e. the fact that a lot of sailors tend to be Austrians, even though or maybe because their country is landlocked.

Screenwriter and director Oliver Storz died aged 82. The obituaries mostly give a long list of very worthy TV dramas about the Third Reich, the Holocaust and Willy Brandt that Storz wrote and directed. However, Oliver Storz also created my favourite German TV show of all time, Raumpatrouille Orion, which has the distinction of being the first and only German SF TV show.

The second notable German TV death of the day is that of former media tycoon Leo Kirch who died aged 84. Kirch started out by acquiring film rights and licensing them to TV networks. He was a leading figure in the introduction of private television in West Germany in 1985 and owned Sat1, one of the first private TV stations to go on air. For that alone, for liberating frustrated teenagers like myself from the tyranny of a patronizing three TV program world* and for giving us American TV shows and Star Trek every afternoon and cartoons and finally the chance to watch Star Wars on TV, we owe him thanks. However, like all media tycoons Kirch was also a staunch conservative and used his media empire to influence politics, though he was never as creepy as Silvio Berlusconi or downright evil as Rupert Murdoch.

Kirch’s media empire collapsed in the early 2000s, because he had overextended himself by purchasing expensive sports rights for Pay-TV channels that never had enough subscribers. Coincidentally, the SF show Farscape was one of the casualties of the collapse of the Kirch empire, because Kirch’s company had been co-financing the show (though they never even broadcast the last two seasons, because the show never caught on in Germany) and when Kirch had to pull the funding due to impending bankruptcy, Farscape died.

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