TV's Top Talent This Emmy Season
By Scott Huver
In a crowded era of seemingly infinite viewing options, from your huge high-definition TV to your compact iPhone, these are the standout players whose Emmy-worthy turns inform exactly what you should be watching. Los Angeles Confidential celebrates eight of the past season’s top television talents, whose exceptional performances leap off any size screen.
For 2011 Emmy nominee Amy Poehler, mining laughs from Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope’s underdog beginnings was fun, but her surprise triumphs in the latest season gave the comedienne a chance to knock it out of the park.
“I love her ability to jump in and think big and swing big—her ability to rally the troops and still believe one person can make a difference,” says Poehler, who speaks of the Pawnee civil servant with abundant affection. “But there’s nothing smooth about her—she’s not really cool, and therefore she overreaches and misplays things. It’s also just fun to be the lead weirdo among a bunch of weirdos in a small town.”
After a successful run crafting quick-hit personas on Saturday Night Live, Poehler’s reveling in the opportunity to cultivate a quirky character over time. “With sketch, your characters are like fast food: They’re really delicious and then you’re hungry again right away,” she says. Poehler clearly delights in the sitcom’s penchant for character growth amid the giggles. “I’d like to think maybe people are responding to the show because of the way these characters have changed and grown.”
And like Knope, she recognizes despite her individual enthusiasm, it takes a village to create something as special as her series. “I come from a career of great ensembles, and to be able to be in another one is honestly beyond my wildest dreams,” she says. “I would put my cast up against any cast as far as just being straight-up, hands-down funny. It’s an embarrassment of riches.”
PHOTOGRAPHS BY WILLIAMS + HIRAKAWA/ICON INTERNATIONAL INC. (POEHLER); JEFF LIPSKY/CPI SYINDICATION (HAMM); KEVIN LYNCH/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES (Macdonald); JEFF LIPSKY (NOBLE); ART STREIBER/SHOWTIME (Duchovny); MR PHOTO/CORBIS OUTLINE (BRITTON); CHRIS HASTON/NBC (BRIE); JUSTIN STEPHENS/AUGUST (COLFER)