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Small Screen, Big Honors

Memo to McConaughey: Make room on that trophy shelf.

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There's much (and much of it is good) to report on television this week: something old (the Television Academy handing out nominations to the best of last season), something new (a slew of really fine programs on nontraditional television platforms), something borrowed (a lot more copycat programming is heading our way) and something blue (a lot of cable moguls have been swearing a blue-streak over a recent Wall Street Journal report, urging its readers to get rid of cable TV).

Memo to Matthew McConaughey: Keep Aug. 25 Open

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will hand out its primetime trophies for the 66th time in late August, and it's a pretty sure bet that Mr. McConaughey-hey-hey will pick up a nice companion piece for that Oscar he took home in March. Voters just love movie stars, and particularly Oscar winners. McConaughey will join an exclusive list of actors--including Al Pacino, Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier--who own both an Emmy and an Oscar. And there was only one other time in history when an actor took home both trophies in the same year: Helen Hunt won an Oscar (As Good As It Gets) and an Emmy (Mad About You) in 1998. Besides, McConaughey absolutely, hands-down deserves this year's Best Actor Emmy for his amazing performance in HBO's True Detective. His only serious competition comes from his True Detective co-star, Woody Harrelson.

HBO scored big again, taking home a whopping 99 nominations. My how the mighty have fallen: CBS garnered 47 nominations: NBC got 46, ABC received 37 nominations and FOX got 30 nods (even Netflix, with 31 nominations, got more than FOX).

HBO's Game of Thrones hauled in 19 Emmy nominations, including Best Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor (Peter Dinklage).

Something New Under the Sun

We're really excited about how many new, fresh programs have been launched this summer, belying that May through September is a television wasteland. Of particular note are two new series that you may have to hunt around to find, but you'll be glad you did.

Matador on the recently launched El Rey network, is a funny, flashy spy-and-sports dramedy from writer-producer Roberto Orci, whose impressive resume includes Alias and Hawaii Five-O on television and The Amazing Spiderman franchise on the big screen.

We also really like The Honorable Woman, starring the always-fine Maggie Gyllenhaal. This eight-part miniseries, commissioned for the BBC, is currently airing on the Sundance Network and has great relevance in that it deftly places an expertly written story against the current turmoil of the Middle East.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Television

You would be forgiven if you were to confuse ABC with its unofficial moniker: the Shonda Rhimes Network. The woman who already gives us Grey's Anatomy and Scandal will add How to Get Away With Murder to ABC's fall lineup. In fact, all three comprise ABC's entire Thursday night slate.

CBS has another NCIS spinoff this fall (this one's in New Orleans) to join the mothership, NCI, and sibling No.1, NCIS: Los Angeles. Later in the season, CBS will have another CSI rendition: CSI Cyber to join all the other CSIs.

And following last November's surprising hit live broadcast of The Sound of Music, NBC says it will dig up another old Broadway chestnut, Peter Pan, for a live broadcast. It has already cast Christopher Walken as Captain Hook. Meanwhile FOX wants a piece of that action, and it has announced a live broadcast of the musical Grease.

Cut the Cord

More than a few cable television executives woke up to a significant jolt when they picked up the July 15 edition of The Wall Street Journal, where columnist Geoffrey Fowler wrote to the Journal's older demographic about something that millions of 20-somethings and 30-somethings already know: It makes no sense to shell out so much for cable.

"This makes me angry, and a little ashamed," wrote Fowler. "My family's Comcast bill for this month was $212."

Thus, Fowler crafted a how-to guide for going without cable--or at least considerably less of it. Fowler said moving to a digital antenna was key; he also championed the use of a Slingbox, which can beam your buddy's TV signal over the Internet to your own tablet or TV.

Finally, he advocated for "borrowing" a login from a friend or family member to access HBO, Showtime, ESPN or one of the many pay-services that require cable subscriptions.

Fowler wrote that the latest market research indicated that about 19 percent of American TV households live without cable. Our guess is that number has increased in the past two weeks.