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"House" Rules

0000007548_20060920144103 I moderated a Q&A last week for the good people at SAG Foundation with the great Hugh Laurie, star of "House," and the show's creator, executive producer, and Emmy-winning writer (for the stellar season one episode "Three Stories") David Shore. As always, Laurie was witty and charming for the sold-out crowd, and Shore was just as sharp, offering some interesting insights into the running of the show.

One thing I was surprised to learn was that Shore was a fan of Laurie's from his time on such BBC shows as "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" (or--as well call it in my home--"A Bit of Laurie, with Some Stephen Fry") and the greatest show of all time, "Black Adder." I'd always been under the impression the creative team behind "House" were unfamiliar with Laurie's oeuvre before casting him. But Shore, ever the brutally honest one, admitted, "I was a huge fan, so I wanted him to come in [for the part], but I didn't think he could do it!" Later, I tried to soften the blow by saying to Hugh, "David sort of joked earlier that he didn't think you could do this role--" and Shore piped in, "No, I wasn't joking!" Well, I tried.

Shore and Laurie also had praise for the Fox network, saying that even from the beginning, they never attempting to soften the misanthropic, verbally abusive character. That might have been because the show was flying under the radar when it first premiered, but regardless, they appreciated the hands-off approach.

On a personal note, if you know any Emmy voters out there, can you please ask them why Hugh Laurie doesn't have an Emmy yet? This guy has been turning in one of the best--if not the best--performances on TV for five years now and continually goes home Emmy-less. He tackles heavy drama, comedy both verbal and physical, and he even came up with the current "Snakes on a Cane" ad campaign!!

This is not a slight against any of his fellow nominees--and it's a crazy talented group this year. I mean, seriously: Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Michael C. Hall, Gabriel Byrne--I watch and love all their shows and the actors are phenomenal. (Sorry Simon Baker, I don't watch "The Mentalist," but loved you in "L.A. Confidential"!) They're also all people I have met and been impressed with their professionalism and commitment to the craft. I can't remember a more competitive category than this with so many deserving actors. But here's how I see it: Hamm is going to win an Emmy for Guest Actor for his sublime turn on "30 Rock," Cranston won last year, Hall has plenty more noms ahead of him, and Byrne is a foreigner. Okay, so is Laurie, but he plays American. 

Truth is, I would be happy for any of these great actors to walk away with the Emmy on Sept. 20. I'd just be a little bit happier if it were finally Laurie. Especially because I have money on it.

--Jenelle Riley

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