Monday, July 30, 2012

Receiving a Television Critics Award

Just as swallows return to San Juan Capistrano every March, television critics flock to Los Angeles every July for their bi-annual convention. For several weeks they’re trapped in the Beverly Hilton Hotel as networks parade out their newest shows, stars, and showrunners for panel discussions. Last year the producers of HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN went on for an hour about how great their show was. I can only imagine the balloon juice at the WHITNEY session.

Between these thinly disguised sales pitches and cocktail parties put on by networks hoping to secure good reviews for providing crab puffs are the TCA Awards. These are given out based on quality not popularity so there is rarely any overlap between them and the People’s Choice Awards.

CHEERS won the Heritage Award this year and I was honored to accept on behalf of the show along with casting director, Jeff Greenberg. I was a little disappointed the Heritage Award didn’t go to BIG WAVE DAVE’S but I was able to put aside my deep hurt and appear chipper.

The ceremony was held in the Grand Ballroom. It’s where they stage the GOLDEN GLOBES and the far more prestigious any-other-award shows. The TCA Awards were not televised. NBC opted for the Olympics instead. But that made the evening a little more intimate and the comments a bit more freewheeling.

The night started off with a cocktail reception and a number of food stations. One was carving roast beef for sandwiches on little rolls. I asked the server (slicer? What do you call those people?) to cut the bun and as he did his knife snapped in half. How tough is a bun if it can break a carving knife?

My wife and I hob-nobbed with a gaggle of critics. Over the years and over the internet I’ve become friends with quite a few. I think we bonded years ago with our shared love for MAD MEN and hate for KATH AND KIM.

The cast of BREAKING BAD was there. Reunited with Aaron Paul who had been in a failed pilot of ours. Kat Dennings was in that same doomed project. We’re like the Broadway Danny Rose of television.

Rarely am I awed by celebrities but Claire Danes was in the room. For my money, she’s the next Meryl Streep. I sooo love her in HOMELAND. I was too nervous to go up and tell her I’ve watched that scene where she’s given electro-shock at least a half dozen times.

The ceremony was about to begin. We all repaired to the main ballroom where we sat at large tables. Just like the Golden Globes except that instead of George Clooney sitting there, you had the TV critic from Kalamazoo. We shared a table with the producers of LOUIE. Louis CK was not in attendance. He was picking up his kid from camp in Albany. But it was great to get the inside scoop on just how Louie puts that show together. Very impressive. 

Bryan Cranston was the host. He did a monologue that got off to a rough start with a Whitney Houston joke. But along the way there were some funny lines, and what can I say? That guy can do no wrong… save for maybe the Whitney Houston zingers.

The winners are listed below. LOUIE won twice and Claire Danes thanked her writers. (Later I met one of them.  Meredith Stiehm who penned the extraordinary “Weekend” episode of HOMELAND. With all due respect to MAD MEN that deserved an Emmy nom.)

Jeff Greenberg and I accepted the award for CHEERS. Several of my jokes went over well and at one point I made Claire Danes laugh really hard so I can die now.

More cocktails and schmoozing.  A yummy-looking dessert table was set out, but I did not indulge.  After the bun incident I worried that I'd have a creme brulee and chip a tooth. 

Still, a good time was had by all. Thanks again to the TCA for having me participate, Claire Danes for laughing, and congratulations to all the winners. Hopefully next year BIG WAVE DAVE’S will get the recognition it deserves, but I’m not holding my breath.

Here’s the list of very worthy winners:

Program of the Year: Game of Thrones
Best Drama Series: Breaking Bad
Best New Program: Homeland
Best Miniseries/Movie: Downton Abbey
Individual Achievement in Drama: Claire Danes
Individual Achievement in Comedy: Louis C.K.
Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: So You Think You Can Dance
Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: Switched at Birth
Heritage Award: Big Wave Dave's (I can dream)
Career Achievement: David Letterman


Anonymous said...

These days I feel bad for writing off Claire Danes after seeing 5 seconds of her in Romeo & Juliet (a movie I am proud to have only seen the first 20 or so minutes of), since she is now amazing in everything and just gets more attractive as she gets older.

I have a feeling that years after Breaking Bad is finished, it will still continue to win awards for Best Drama Series...

Tom Quigley said...

How hard did you make Claire Danes laugh? Hard enough for her to -- um, how can I say this in the most delicate way possible -- want to have a cigarette afterward?

Matt Patton said...

Bryan Cranston makes Whitney Huston jokes, my mom asked how old Whitney Huston is this year. I pointed out that her age is now "dead" and that I wasn't quite sure what year she had achieved before being Dead Years Old. I should add that my mother is not senile, just interested in things besides deceased pop singers.

Matt Patton said...

By the way, congrats on the award for CHEERS. Personally, being one of those people who actually watched BIG WAY DAVE'S, I thinks it deserves a heritage award or whatever. Trust me, It was a lot better than the sit-com starring the OTHER Whitney.

Johnny Walker said...

Congrats, Ken!

chris mcdermott said...

Glad you gave Claire Danes a laugh...I could only watch the shock scene ONCE, and that was through fingers in front of my face, but she certainly deserves a good laugh after having to act through that. Another funny and informative report. Thanks. And you look good in a suit.

Pat Reeder said...

Was there no award for best comedy series, or did that go to "Louie," too? Still a show I've never seen.

Pat Reeder said...

PS - Congrats on making Claire Danes laugh. I can relate. Years ago, when I was fresh out of school and working in a record store (remember those?), I waited on Sigourney Weaver. She said something that inspired me to shoot back a humorous rejoinder. She cracked up laughing, put her hand on my arm and said, "You're too quick for me!" It was my proudest moment. Then, a couple of years later, when "Ghostbusters II" came out, I did a spit take when Bill Murray said the exact same wisecrack -- to Sigourney Weaver. Hmmm... I'm still wondering about that.

Jango said...

I've had a TV crush on Danes since as far back as i can remember, and now she's even more gorgeous!

HogsAteMySister said...

Congrats Ken, even if you are a Kath and Kim hater.

Just stay in your hemisphere, and you'll be safe.

sbobet said...

Oh! no.

BigTed said...

Clearly, Bryan Cranston converted to awards show host just for the jokes.

Rays profile said...

"At one time you tuned into the Olympics and there was Jim McKay. Now it’s Ryan Seacrest. That’s like saying once we had Brando, now we have Rob Schneider. "

This may be the truest thing you have ever written.

crystal said...

Congrats on making Claire Danes laugh. No chance on a video of that is there?

XJill said...

Switched at Birth is a great show, glad it got recognized.