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The Winners Were (Almost) All There at the 31st Annual TCA Awards
August 9, 2015  | By Ed Bark  | 1 comment

Beverly Hills, CA -- The stars came out for Saturday night's 31st Annual Television Critics Association awards ceremony.

Except that's a bit of a fib. John Oliver and double winner Amy Schumer both offered their thanks via brief pre-taped pieces. And of course David Letterman had better things to do than accept the organization's Heritage Award for NBC's Late Night and CBS's Late Show.

"Today's the day I eat glass," he said in a recycled explanation furnished by CBS. The tape was from an old Late Show and had nothing to do with his latest TCA award.

Host James Corden (top) joked at the outset, "This is it. It's the f#%&ing big one. The TCAs!" But when he was first asked to open the show, "I very honestly thought I was being asked to host the Teen Choice Awards."

Corden also noted that it's the only awards show where producers accept trophies in place of the stars that everyone would rather see. He likewise chided the TCA for giving Bill Cosby its Career Achievement Award in 2002. "Don't say there weren't allegations," Corden said. "There were allegations."

Oddly enough, your tvworthwatching.com correspondent brought up the idea during that morning's TCA business meeting of rescinding Cosby's award. It was shot down, with one critic scouring the Internet and then reading allegations that the late Johnny Carson physically abused his first wife, Jody. Those second-hand charges were in Laurence Leamer's 1989 book King of the Night: The Life of Johnny Carson. The TCA gave Carson its Career Achievement honor in 1992.

In Cosby's case, some 47 women (as of July 20) have come forward to allege that he drugged and then raped or sexually molested them. Other Career Achievement honorees also have scandals in their past. My argument was that Cosby is a very singular and extraordinary case that obliterates concerns about any transgressions by previous TCA winners. It emphatically did not win the day.

The latest Career Achievement recipient, producer/writer James L. Brooks, is the maestro behind Taxi and The Simpsons. He attended Saturday's ceremony in person, reading fixedly from a prepared speech.

Lee Daniels (left), creator of Fox's smash hit Empire, was far more extemporaneous during his acceptance of the TCA's Program of the Year award.

He said the show is modeled after Dynasty and its cast is "a bag of f#$&ing nut jobs." Still, it's also a "family in the best sense of the word," Daniels said.   Not that he wanted to stay all that long. "I wanna get off the stage," Daniels said, "because I'm young and I've got better things to do."

Jon Hamm, the biggest star in attendance, came away with the Individual Achievement in Drama award. "It was the critics who were somehow able to compile this critical mass of viewers to focus on our show," he said of Mad Men's early stages.

Hamm said he auditioned eight times for the role of Don Draper. "Literally no one wanted to cast me, all the way up the chain." But the show's creator, Matt Weiner, was steadfast in insisting that Hamm play the part. Anyone else as Draper would now be unimaginable, and Hamm has been nominated for a Best Lead Actor Emmy in every season of Mad Men. He has yet to win, and his last chance will be next month.

FX's The Americans, again snubbed by Emmy voters in the best drama series category, got a TCA award for "Outstanding Achievement in Drama." Co-stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell were in attendance but let the show's executive producer do the talking. For the record, Rhys, whose character is a master of disguise, had a full-grown beard.

Oliver (right), whose Last Week Tonight with John Oliver won in the "Outstanding Achievement in News and Information" category, followed in the footsteps of his career launchpad and previous winner in this category, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

"What exactly were you thinking?" Oliver asked via taped remarks. "Are you giving us this achievement in news and information sarcastically?" Stewart had much the same reaction to his previous TCA wins in the same category.

Schumer's two trophies, for "Individual Achievement in Comedy" and "Outstanding Achievement in Comedy," were accepted by writer Christine Nangle. The show's namesake wanted to be there, but is "being treated for overexposure," Nangle said.

Even with a lack of star power, Saturday's awards were a decided contrast to the very first TCA awards ceremony, at which your correspondent was a presenter. Not wanting to appear too cozy with the industry they were covering and critiquing, the TCA invited only the inaugural Career Achievement winner, MTM founder and former NBC chairman Grant Tinker. And yes, he actually showed up.

Here's a complete list of the latest TCA award winners:

Program of the Year -- Empire (Fox)

Career Achievement -- James L. Brooks

Achievement in Comedy -- Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)

Individual Achievement in Comedy -- Amy Schumer

Achievement in Drama -- The Americans (FX)

Individual Achievement in Drama -- Jon Hamm, Mad Men (AMC)

Outstanding New Program -- Better Call Saul (AMC)

Heritage Award -- Late Night/Late Show with David Letterman (NBC/CBS)

Achievement in News and Information -- Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials -- The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (HBO)

Achievement in Reality Programming -- The Chair (Starz)

Achievement in Youth Programming -- The Fosters (ABC Family)          

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Mark Isenberg
The problem remains for the Association that big city critics like the NY Times Ms.Stanley who has moved on to another beat give the profession a bad name by not looking at shows after the first episode. A very different type of show like Hannibal on NBC deserved more than first glance reporting. And as recently as last week when Jon Stewart finally gets to say bull on cable tv without the bleep,critics should take note of that. The Heritage Award for David Letterman is another example of the kiss kiss fraternity which gives critics a bad name. Dave was way too cozy with Bill Cosby,Brian Williams and in his last CBS years basically mailed in the content most nights. And almost nobody watched The Chair on Starz compared to the bodice ripper romance and torture series,Outlander so TCA may want to rethink how it decides what to honor. Or continue to be ignored by most viewers.
Aug 10, 2015   |  Reply
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