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On Television: A Preview of the Primetime Emmys

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FAITH LAPIDUS: Welcome to American Mosaic in VOA Special English.


I’m Faith Lapidus.

Today, we listen to new music from pop singer Katy Perry …

And we answer a question about famous dancer, choreographer and teacher Isadora Duncan ...

But first, we look at a few shows and stars up for the biggest honors in the television industry -- the Emmy Awards are Sunday night.


Emmy Awards

FAITH LAPIDUS: On Sunday, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will present the Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California. The awards will honor the people who make the best nighttime shows on television. Barbara Klein tells about some of this year’s nominees.

BARBARA KLEIN: Television critics say the academy made some daring moves in nominations this year in an effort to keep the public interested in the awards show. Three new shows received outstanding series nominations. One of them is “Glee,” a popular comedy about a high school musical group. It includes a lot of great songs.


“Glee” was nominated for eighteen other awards along with outstanding comedy series.

The only show to receive more nominations was the miniseries “The Pacific.” The academy nominated it for twenty-four awards, including outstanding miniseries and outstanding directing and writing. “The Pacific” tells the story of three Marines and how their lives connect while fighting the Japanese during World War Two.


Some of the actors nominated for awards include Tina Fey from the hit comedy series she created, “30 Rock.” Fey plays the lead writer of a comedy show, a position she held for years on the television show “Saturday Night Live.” Liz Lemon has few social skills, a junk food habit and a love for the “Star Wars” movie series. In fact, in one episode she dresses like the character of Princess Leia to try to get dismissed from jury duty.

Fey was nominated for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series along with Amy Poehler of “Parks and Recreation,” Edie Falco of “Nurse Jackie” and Julia Louis-Dreyfus from “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” Lea Michele of “Glee” and Toni Collette of “The United States of Tara” were also nominated.

The academy nominated six men as outstanding lead actor in a drama series. Among them is Hugh Laurie, the title character in “House.” He plays a doctor who leads a medical team that identifies mysterious sicknesses in patients. Dr. Gregory House is anti-social but extremely intelligent. His co-workers do not like him but audiences do. Hugh Laurie has been nominated for five Emmys. Some critics say it is time he won the award.

The other nominees are Kyle Chandler from “Friday Night Lights,” Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad” and Matthew Fox of “Lost.” Jon Hamm of “Mad Men” and Michael C. Hall from “Dexter” are also nominated for outstanding actor in a drama series.

The academy named five shows for outstanding reality competition. They are “The Amazing Race,” “Top Chef,” “Project Runway,” “American Idol” and “Dancing with the Stars.” These shows have been nominated for four years straight. “The Amazing Race” has crossed the finish line with the Emmy every year since two thousand three.


Isadora Duncan

Our listener question this week comes from China. Wenyu wants to know about the life of modern dancer Isadora Duncan.

Angela Isadora Duncan was born in San Francisco, California in eighteen seventy-seven. Early in life, Isadora knew two things about herself. First, she wanted to make dancing her life’s work. And second, she wanted to live by her own rules, and not by what other people thought was right or wrong.

Isadora Duncan wanted to do the kind of dancing that was new and different from other dances at that time. She thought dancing should be an art, not just entertainment.

Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan wanted her “modern” dance style to be free and natural. She often moved her arms and legs in very smooth motions, like waves in the ocean.

When she danced, Duncan wore very thin clothing. She wanted people to see her body as she skipped, jumped and ran barefoot across the stage. Many people criticized her for doing this. They thought it was not moral to dress this way.

Isadora Duncan had very liberal ideas for her time. She believed in equal rights for women. She did not think a couple had to be married to have children. She thought the Bolshevik Revolution was a good thing for Russia. She spent time there teaching modern dance and creating dances for the Russian people.

Isadora Duncan is remembered as the mother of modern dance. And she died an unusual death in Nice, France. The scarf she was wearing caught in the wheel of a car in which she was riding. Her neck was broken and she died instantly at age fifty.

The famous American poet Carl Sandberg wrote a poem about Isadora Duncan: Here is part of what he wrote: “I am the wind … I am the sea and the moon … I dance what I am.”

You can learn more about the life of Isadora Duncan on the Special English program PEOPLE IN AMERICA on Sunday.


Katy Perry

FAITH LAPIDUS: Katy Perry writes and performs energetic dance songs that are sexy and playful. She is also known for her wild and colorful clothing, which is often influenced by clothes from the nineteen forties and fifties.

The twenty-five-year-old performer just released her latest album, “Teenage Dream.” The album’s photographs show Katy Perry at her sweetest, wearing and playing with candy. She even had the album manufactured to smell like cotton candy. Mario Ritter has more.


MARIO RITTER: That was the title song from Katy Perry’s album, “Teenage Dream.” Like many songs on the record, this one is about being young and having fun. It is also about being in love. Several songs were influenced by Katy Perry’s future husband, British actor Russell Brand. She met him while recording the album.

Katy Perry was raised in California by parents who were Christian religious leaders. Her first record was a collection of religious songs. But she soon broke away from this traditional upbringing to create her own form of sexy pop music.

This song, “Pearl,” tells a message to women about being strong and unstoppable.


We leave you with one of the hit songs of the summer. It is Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” featuring rapper Snoop Dogg. The song praises the state she is from and the women who live there.


FAITH LAPIDUS: I'm Faith Lapidus. Our program was written by Jim Tedder, Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who was the producer.

You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our shows at If you have a question about American life, send an e-mail to We might answer your question on this show. Please remember to tell us your name and where you live.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.