Two years ago, as ABC's Emmy juggernaut "Modern Family" began its domination of the comedy categories, Emmy nominee Jason Winer lost out in the Best Comedy Directing category to Ryan Murphy for the pilot episode of "Glee," the other hot freshman comedy contender that year.
"Obviously, I had my fingers crossed. People had told me that winning the Emmy for directing the pilot was a possibility, and I believed them." Winer recalls in a video chat with Gold Derby. "I'm going to be honest, I felt like there was a shot. So, it was disappointing when I didn't win."
Still, as Winer played a major part in getting the show off the ground, helming 13 of 24 episodes during the show's freshman season, he did not go home empty-handed that evening, sharing in the Best Comedy Series win as part of the producing team for the show (photo, above). "I really felt like I had a hand not just in setting the template, casting the pilot, designing the permanent sets, but also setting the tone for other directors that were coming on board."
This year, after taking a year off to make his feature film debut with "Arthur", Winer returns as a Best Comedy Directing nominee for the "Virgin Territory" episode, which may see him take to the podium on Emmy night, and make up for missing out two years ago.
In deciding which episode to submit to Emmy judges, he says the choice was relatively easy this time around. "This is possibly my favorite episode of the show that I have directed, and at this point I've done 18 of them," admits Winer. "There's often times in 'Modern Family' where we have moments of great heart or some very relatable family moment … But usually it's at the end of the show, and usually its accompanied by music, which may or may not be called manipulative."
"In this case, that moment of heart, the moment the show really sneaks up and gets you, is in the middle of the show and doesn't have any music under it to support it, it comes out of nowhere … the scene between Phil, Ty Burrell's character, and Haley, played by Sarah Hyland, and they're at the doll store, where they're having this sort of metaphorical conversation about Haley no longer being a virgin. And it's a very funny scene because there's all these doll metaphors being tossed around, and Phil can't bring himself to look at his daughter, but then, there's this emotional undercurrent that sneaks up on you."
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