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When Jennifer Aniston proved she can act, deserves Emmys buzz

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When Jennifer Aniston proved she can act, deserves Emmys buzz

Jennifer Aniston has sustained a lot of friendly fire in the 25 years since she became America’s ageless Breck Girl next door — but this now-veteran actress is nobody’s victim.

Sure, the beloved former “Friends” star was typecast after a decade (1994-2004) as spoiled rich chick Rachel Green on NBC’s “must-see TV” sitcom, followed by another decade-plus of retread movie rom-coms — some smash hits, others total stinkers, often co-starring fellow slummers Adam Sandler and Jason Bateman.

Despite six previous Emmy noms (and one 2002 win) for comedy, armchair critics reveled in flooding social media with shady praise of Aniston’s flawless hair — and snide critiques of her supposedly one-note range as a lightweight actress.

Suck it up, haters: Gold Derby gurus now rank the 51-year-old as a front-runner to win Best Actress in a Drama Sunday at the 2020 Emmys for her revelatory, against-type performance as Alex Levy, an aging TV hostess on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the hit Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show.”

“Don’t underestimate Aniston just because many prognosticators pick Laura Linney or Olivia Colman to win,” Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neill told The Post. “Don’t forget that Aniston won the SAG Award earlier this year and that has virtually the same voting system as the Emmys — only actors voting for actors.”

Plus, “Aniston is having a triumphant career comeback that’s especially alluring to TV industry insiders,” O’Neill added. “She portrays a reigning TV celebrity struggling to survive a crumbling, cruel world around her — the threat of younger, rising stars and her shock to discover the awful secrets and betrayals of the old regime.”

Jennifer Aniston made her off-Broadway debut in 1988 at Joseph Papp's legendary The Public Theater.
Aniston made her off-Broadway debut opposite Tony winner Tony Shalhoub (“The Band’s Visit”) in 1988 at Joseph Papp’s The Public Theater.The Public Theater

But the actress proved long ago that she had real chops in a wide range of under-the-radar projects — the masses just slept on it. Here are nine times Aniston proved she can really act:

Before she had “Friends” (1980s to mid-’90s)

Aniston started learning her craft at Manhattan’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (a k a the “Fame” school), making her off-Broadway stage debut at 19 in “For Dear Life” at Joseph Papp’s legendary Public Theater in 1988.

When Hollywood came calling, the brunette with an allegedly different nose honed her chops in supporting sitcom bits. By 1992, she joined the repertory company of Fox’s short-lived sketch-comedy series “The Edge” (an “SNL” audition didn’t pan out) before starring in a starlet prerequisite: a horror flick — 1993’s “Leprechaun.”

But what many don’t realize is that she low-key returned to Broadway for “24 Hour Plays” marathons in 2006 and 2009.

“She’s the One” (1996)

Miles from her turn as glossy-locked debutante Rachel, Aniston’s sad-eyed plain Jane with true grit stole this sweet indie movie from va-va-voom blond bombshell Cameron Diaz, who was fresh off her star-making debut opposite Jim Carrey in “The Mask.” Critics noticed, but audiences — and Hollywood execs — seemed determined to pigeonhole her into Sandra Bullock/Julia Roberts castoffs.

“The Object of My Affection” (1998)

This saccharine soap opera about a gal who falls for —  and makes a baby with — her gay bestie (Paul Rudd) was a tone-deaf misfire. But its acclaimed director Nicholas Hytner, of Broadway and Shakespearean theater fame, hinted at Aniston’s future greatness. “Her first instinct may be to put a very skilled, polished, funny twist on a line — and believe me, she can make anything funny,” he told Vanity Fair in 2001. “But she can equally, after a moment’s thought, find a much more interesting, more truthful, much more touching way of playing a scene … when she spends more of her time with material that requires her to exercise other muscles, her really considerable gift as an actress will be more widely recognized.”

“Office Space” (1999)

One word sums up Aniston’s scene-stealing supporting role in Mike Judge’s offbeat workplace comedy: “flair.” As a frustrated waitress at Chotchkie’s — a stand-in for TGI Fridays — she goes off on the priggish boss who rides her for not wearing enough decorative buttons. A low-key flop at the time, it has since achieved true cult status, leading Aniston to once proclaim, “You know what I really love? I love when people say, ‘I loved you in some movie’ that didn’t really get any attention.”

“The Good Girl” (2002)

This dark comedy found Aniston channeling Sissy Spacek in “Badlands” with her dry voice-overs as a small-town cashier on the skids — and generated sparkling oddball chemistry with a pre-“Brokeback Mountain” Jake Gyllenhaal. After it premiered at the Sundance Film Fest, famed critic Roger Ebert raved, “Aniston has at last decisively broken with her ‘Friends’ image in an independent film of satiric fire and emotional turmoil … It will no longer be possible to consider her in the same way.” So why isn’t it available on any major streaming service?

Aniston and Brad Pitt at the premiere of “Erin Brockovich” in Westwood, Calif., March 14, 2000

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Brad Pitt And Jennifer Aniston Soon To Wed

Pitt and Aniston arrive at the 1999 Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

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52nd Annual Emmy Awards

Aniston and Pitt arrive at the 2000 Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

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FR: Cannes International Film Festival: Troy - World Premiere

Pitt and Aniston attend the premiere of epic movie “Troy” at Le Palais de Festival on May 13, 2004 in Cannes, France.

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Rock Star premiere

Pitt and Aniston at the premiere of “Rock Star” in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sept. 4, 2001.

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The Good Girl Premiere

Aniston and Pitt at the premiere of “The Good Girl” in West Hollywood, Ca. Wednesday, August 7, 2002.

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New York Premiere Of "Troy"

Pitt and Aniston at the US premiere of “Troy” on May 10, 2004 in NYC.

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26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Media Center

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston come face to face at the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles.

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Tabloid princess (2005 to eternity)

It wasn’t a scripted performance, but embodying grace under pressure was perhaps the greatest role of her repetitive rom-com era. Despite being pummeled with “poor scorned Jen” tabloid headlines on a weekly basis after Brad Pitt ditched her for Angelina Jolie, Aniston’s steely depth seems so obvious now. In 2005, she told Vanity Fair, “I don’t have a halo that I’m polishing here [but] I am not defined by this relationship. I am not defined by the part they’re making me play in the triangle.” But by 2016, she was warning Marie Claire readers: “I have worked too hard in this life and this career to be whittled down to a sad, childless human.”

“Friends With Money” (2006)

Writer-director Nicole Holofcener thought outside the box to cast America’s sweetheart as a depressive stoner maid trolling luxury department stores, scooping up free beauty product samples to fill an emotional void when she’s not dead-end boning a younger dude. Aniston more than held her own opposite a cast of powerhouse character actresses (Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener) who possessed a wealth of acclaim that remained out of her reach.

“Cake” (2014)

Yes, they glued a prosthetic scar on her iconic face, drabbed up her golden tresses and wrote out her signature smile. The calculated “ugly her up for an Oscar” playbook would be laughable — if she wasn’t so damn good. Aniston’s haunting turn as an accident victim battling chronic pain earned her Golden Globe and SAG nods. “I felt like I went back to class,” she told ABC News at the time. “It’s been so long since I’ve had to, or ever had something like this to dive into. I’m thrilled. It was exciting to keep challenging myself.”

“The Morning Show” (2020) 

In a premiere episode boardroom monologue that calls to mind Faye Dunaway’s camp-classic rant — “Don’t f - - k with me, fellas. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo!” — from “Mommie Dearest,” Aniston delivers an electrifying jolt of thin-lipped rage. As a daytime TV diva fighting to survive after her longtime co-host (Steve Carell) gets #MeToo’d, she exposes previously untapped range — basically stealing the show from her Oscar-winning co-star/producer Reese Witherspoon, who plays her younger heir apparent.

Digging into the dark underbelly of celebrity culture was “cathartic,” Aniston has since revealed. “To actually look at it from an actor brain, observing it and acknowledging it, I had to look at it as opposed to pretending it doesn’t exist,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “That show was 20 years of therapy wrapped into 10 episodes. … I would read a scene and feel like a whole manhole cover was taken off my back.”

But is it enough to finally earn her that first Emmy for a legit drama?

“Come on, it’s Jennifer Aniston,” Gold Derby’s O’Neill told The Post. “Sometimes Hollywood industry awards are really just all about hugs — and Jen deserves a big one for her welcome return to the spotlight on red-hot Apple TV+.”

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Francis is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional baseball matches. He is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. He currently caters his skills for the MLB & NBA section of Sports Grind Entertainment.

Francis is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional baseball matches. He is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. He currently caters his skills for the MLB & NBA section of Sports Grind Entertainment.

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Bad Bunny performs surprise concert on top of truck through NYC

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Bad Bunny performs surprise concert on top of truck through NYC

This live concert had a unique obstacle: oncoming traffic.

Singer Bad Bunny took to the New York City streets Sunday to put on a roving show on top of a subway car-like cage atop a flatbed truck. The Puerto Rican songwriter, 26, started in the Bronx at 6 p.m. and drove south, performing on his mobile stage as his driver navigated towards Manhattan, through Washington Heights and then Harlem.

Fans were seen on the sidewalks along the Bunny trail, doing their best to keep up with the vehicle as it made its way downtown.

The concert made its final stop at Harlem Hospital, where Bad Bunny — born Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — thanked front-line workers for all they have done during the pandemic, NBC reported.

The event was livestreamed and performed in collaboration with Verizon and Univision’s music events arm, Uforia, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We are extremely excited to celebrate the richness of Latinx culture during Hispanic Heritage Month with this one-of-a-kind livestreaming experience, and also commemorate the Puerto Rico community’s resilience on the third anniversary of Hurricane Maria, in partnership with Verizon,” said Univision’s president of radio, Jesus Lara, Billboard reported. “We are proud to showcase the artistry of Bad Bunny who has had such a profound impact on our culture and the music industry at large.”

The singer’s fans quickly got wind of the concert and shared their excitement on social media.

Bad Bunny’s performance was the first in a series of pop-up shows set to be livestreamed by Uforia once a month through the end of the year, with upcoming shows to be announced soon.

While singing and dancing on top of the truck, Bad Bunny also released a new music video for his song “Una Vez.” The clip racked up over 1.6 million views within 12 hours of debuting.

The performer previously made headlines earlier in quarantine for documenting his nude sunbathing on Instagram, sharing three photos of himself taking in some vitamin D, including one picture where he’s showing off his bare booty.

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Francis is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional baseball matches. He is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. He currently caters his skills for the MLB & NBA section of Sports Grind Entertainment.

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Emmys 2020 best-dressed celebrities at home

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Emmys 2020 best-dressed celebrities at home

Though the 2020 Emmys were red carpet-free, there was no shortage of viral fashion moments.

Despite the unprecedented circumstances due to COVID-19, stars’ sartorial savvy shone brightly as they primped, preened and posed in looks (some even delivered wardrobe changes) that brought a much-needed jolt of glam.

Here, we round up of some of the best fashion moments of the night.

1. Zendaya

emmys-2020-best-dressed-03

Zendaya

Courtesy of Armani

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The actress, 24, gave viewers a double take: She first appeared on-screen decked in Christopher John Rogers’ voluminous black and purple colorblock gown styled with Bvlgari jewels and Christian Louboutin heels. To receive her award for Best Actress in a Drama, she wowed with her wardrobe change: a custom Giorgio Armani Prive cutout, crystal-encrusted ballgown decorated with sequin polka dots. F-A-S-H-U-N!

2. Jameela Jamil

Jameela Jamil
Jameela JamilInstagram

Loungewear, but make it glam. Jamil, 34, posed in cozy threads topped with an ombré sequin robe by Markarian.

3. Jennifer Aniston

72nd Emmy Awards - Show

Jennifer Aniston

Invision/AP

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Jennifer Aniston

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Synonymous with her penchant for minimalism, the 51-year-old nominee sizzled to the max in not one — but three! — looks. Pre-Emmys, she donned cotton jammies and a robe by Pour La Femmes. For her appearance with host Jimmy Kimmel, she slipped into a vintage black satin Christian Dior dress. She later appeared on-screen — reunited with “Friends” castmates Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow — dressed in a mini floral robe.

4. Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox
Laverne CoxAP

The nominee, 48, electrified while hosting the Emmys pre-show in a one-shoulder magenta gown by Azzi & Osta.

5. Titus Burgess

Titus Burgess
Titus BurgessInstagram

Dressed in a red mesh varsity bomber jacket and shorts set by Lee Rickie Collection and patent Giuseppe Zanotti sneakers, the nominee, 41, makes a case for athleisure as formalwear.

6. Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis RossInstagram

The fashion chameleon, 47, shimmered in Alexandra Vauthier’s ruffled couture look, which will be donated to the RAD (Red Carpet Advocacy) charity auction (open for bidding on Chic-Relief.com from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2) — 100% of the sales will support Michelle Obama’s “When We All Vote.”

7. Jeremy Pope

Jeremy Pope
Jeremy PopeInstagram

Opting for a brown checked suit from Louis Vuitton, 28-year-old Pope personified sleek and chic.

8. Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington@KerryWashington/Instagram

The actress, 43, sizzled in an animal-print, square-neck sequin frock by Dolce & Gabbana, topped with a bold lip and sleek ‘do.

9. Catherine O’Hara

Catherine O'Hara
Catherine O’HaraABC

The Emmy winner, 66, dunked out in head-to-toe black — sequined turtleneck, strapless gown and combats — all by Valentino.

10. H.E.R.

H.E.R.
H.E.R.Instagram

The singer, 23, tweeted a shout-out to birthday twin and designer Vera Wang, who also custom-designed the silk dress and pant with floral chinoiserie print she wore to perform at tonight’s show.

11. Dan Levy

Andrew Cividino and Dan Levy
Andrew Cividino and Dan LevyInvision/AP

The 37-year-old Emmy winner’s Thom Browne kilt — grey, pleated and tailored to perfection — went viral, as it was a fitting homage to his Schitt’s Creek character’s finale wedding look.

12. Robin Thede

Robin Thede
Robin ThedeInstagram

Accompanied with a photo of the comedian, 41, wearing an off-shoulder ball gown by Christian Siriano, her Instagram caption said what we’ve all been feeling: “All dressed up with somewhere to go… finally.”

13. Regina King

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Regina King

JamesShootsAndDraws by James Ant

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The four-time Emmy-winning actress, 49, offered up a double dose of impactful fashion: Her first look was a stunning, structured, sapphire blue one-shoulder Schiaparelli gown. And for her acceptance speech, King chose a bold-shouldered pink suit. As a tribute to Breonna Taylor, a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Say Her Name” was styled underneath.

14. Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia Erivo
Cynthia ErivoAP

The actress, 33, opted for bright and bold in this textured Versace mini.

15. Annie Murphy

Annie Murphy
Annie MurphyAP

This Valentino suit chosen by the 33-year-old subtly sizzles with a sheer twist.

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Francis is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional baseball matches. He is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. He currently caters his skills for the MLB & NBA section of Sports Grind Entertainment.

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COVID-era ceremony was a delight to watch

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COVID-era ceremony was a delight to watch

Wait — was that a tribute to “Schitt’s Creek” or the 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards?

Sunday night’s first-ever virtual Emmys telecast went off with nary a hitch — and was transformed into a celebration of “Schitt’s Creek,” the Canadian-produced Pop TV sitcom that sailed away on an ocean of statuettes across several major categories — including awards for stars Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy (“Boop!”). Job well done for a series that deserved all the accolades. (Heck, it even won “two Peabody Awards . . . and a Soul Train Award,” host Jimmy Kimmel joked.) The cast accepted its awards, live, from Canada. Nice touch.

Speaking of Kimmel, he and the 2020 Emmys telecast’s home network, ABC, did nearly the impossible given the unprecedented circumstances. In short, they nailed it: No audience in the Staples Center? No problem. ABC used a “virtual audience” from last year’s telecast for Kimmel’s opening monologue, allowing the tuxedo-clad host a chance to riff to celebrity cardboard cutouts — save for “Ozark” star and Emmy nominee Jason Bateman, who showed up in-person (fully tuxed) to banter with Kimmel before walking out in faux disgust when Kimmel told him he’d “have to laugh” at his jokes during the “pand-Emmys.”

ABC via Getty Images

It was, in fact, a fun, entertaining way to watch a show in a genre that usually drags with too many congratulatory speeches and cringe-worthy banter between presenters. The in-person presenters, including Jennifer Aniston, Zendaya, Jason Sudeikis and Tracee Ellis Ross, kept it short and to the point. Even the winners were more entertaining, perhaps because they were in the comforts of their own homes, which personalized them more than usual. I could’ve done without the political posturing from some of the winners — but that was about the only familiar element in a very different telecast.

You would have been forgiven for thinking you weren’t watching Kimmel deliver a “Jimmy Kimmel Live” monologue — firing off a string of one-liners without missing a beat. “The only thing I’ll be producing when I’m 98 is phlegm,” he said, alluding to 2020 Emmy winner Norman Lear. On ABC being required to show the words “Schitt’s Creek” to assuage the censors: “Just in case you’re wondering why network television is dead: HBO can show a blue penis, no problem.”

A couple of questions: How cool was that alpaca that Randall Park brought on stage? Why didn’t Michael Douglas participate remotely from home (we only saw his photograph)? What the heck was up with Laverne Cox’s weird presenter speech? On a personal note, I was happy to see an onstage appearance from underrated “Barry” co-star Anthony Carrigan (a k a NoHo Hank), who appeared with Kimmel as a very Russian-sounding “Derek” the postman: “I started just before election day in 2016.” Funny stuff from a funny guy.

Randall Park with Isabella the Alpaca at Emmys 2020.
Randall Park with Isabella the Alpaca at Emmys 2020.AP

“Schitt’s Creek,” as already noted, won big, and it was nice to hear Daniel Levy thank fellow nominee Issa Rae (HBO’s “Insecure”). Very gracious. Levy on his many awards: “The Internet is about to turn on me, I’m so sorry.” The major “Schitt’s Creek” players were together, socially distanced, making it sweeter for father-and-son Eugene and Daniel to win their Emmys. Daniel was visibly emotional; Annie Murphy was wearing the sideways “A” necklace she wore as ditzy Alexis Rose. Nice touch, as were the everyday people — a schoolteacher in Florida, a UPS guy, a rancher in Montana, a truck driver, two physicians — reading the nominees in several categories.

HBO’s “Watchmen” also walked away with an armful of Emmys, which is no surprise given both its social timeliness and its success earlier this week at the Creative Arts Emmys. The network’s other show, “Succession,” also took home awards for Outstanding Drama and Lead Actor (Jeremy Strong).

Billy Crudup’s late-in-the-telecast Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series was nice, but fell short of what Apple TV+ had hoped for its flagship drama, “The Morning Show” (Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell also came up short).

Jimmy Kimmel during the Emmys 2020 in memoriam segment honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Jimmy Kimmel during the Emmys 2020 in memoriam segment honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.AP

Kimmel mentioned Friday’s passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to segue into the annual “In Memoriam” segment, which led off with Regis Philbin — appropriate, since Reege logged more hours on television than any other person in the history of the medium (surpassing Hugh Downs, who also died this year and who was noted in the segment). It hit all the right notes and, as far as I can tell, there were no egregious omissions. I think it would have been more powerful, though, with just orchestral accompaniment (instead of having H.E.R. sing along with photos of those who passed). It’s a minor quibble, but perhaps something to note for next year.

All in all, Sunday night’s telecast overcame huge technical and emotional obstacles, and many naysayers (“No way they can pull that off”), to present one of the most entertaining Emmys shows in recent memory — and, in the process, set a high bar for succeeding televised awards shows that will follow during these COVID-restricted times.

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Francis is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional baseball matches. He is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. He currently caters his skills for the MLB & NBA section of Sports Grind Entertainment.

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