There were two undeniable legends in the spotlight at the annual Television Critics Association’s 34th TCA Awards when they honored TV’s best on Saturday, August 4 at the Beverly Hilton.
Wearing an elegant black slacks ensemble with a blouse embossed with “Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It,” Rita Moreno received the TCA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The legendary actress is 86 and currently starring in the Netflix reboot of One Day at a Time. Another legend, the sitcom’s creator-producer Norman Lear, presented Moreno with her trophy, with an assist from Hollywood journalist Jeanne Wolf and this reporter, Margie Barron, proudly representing The Tolucan Times.
It was an honor for me to join Jeanne in introducing both Norman Lear and Rita Moreno. That created a thunderous ovation from the crowd in the ballroom. And, on a personal note, it was emotional for me to hear the critics’ applause when I mentioned my remarkable husband Frank Barron, an old school TCA member who passed away last year at age 98. Frank was a longtime friend of Lear’s and he once worked for the producer/writer who created a treasure trove of TV’s most beloved groundbreaking shows.
When Lear, 96, took the stage he talked about Rita’s “unique and glorious personality,” and her personal magic as a performer during her celebrated career. “Rita came here as a Puerto Rican immigrant at five years of age and went on to create her own unique role in America. God bless an America that allows for something like that to happen. Rita hit the Grand Slam of show business, which means she earned the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. I’m grateful to know and work with her on One Day at a Time, which is now in its third season.”
Rita danced up to the stage to accept her award and joked, “I could say I’m at a loss for words, but I’m not. Compared to my family, health, friendship, faith, which are priorities, honors and recognition have their place in the heart of young Rosa Dolores Algeria (Rita’s real name) still looking for her break in the shadows. It’s interesting how we keep dragging our past into our present. I am so blessed. So damn the shadows and here’s to the light.” Rita inspired everyone with her spirit and wisdom. Wow, what a gal!
The light was also shining on other TCA winners. FX topped the night with four awards. Three went to The Americans (Program of the Year, Achievement in Drama, and to series star Keri Russell for Individual Achievement in Drama). The fourth award to the FX network went to American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace for Achievement In Movies And Miniseries. Most of the cast was on hand along with creator Ryan Murphy and producer Tom Rob Smith. Star Ricky Martin was seen gushing over seeing Rita.
HBO earned two awards, for Youth Programming for Sesame Street, and Achievement in Sketch/ Variety Shows for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In the News and Information category CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown had a bittersweet win. NBC’s The Good Place won for Achievement in Comedy with Ted Danson, Kristen Bell and the rest its cast there to celebrate the brilliant offbeat show.
The Heritage Award went to the NBC/Warner Bros. Television comedy Friends (1994-2004). Producers David Crane, Kevin Bright and Marta Kauffman accepted the honor and noted, “Our goal was not to get cancelled after 13 episodes.”
The non-televised awards were hosted by the ultra-lively Robin Thede, who joked about many things—including the cancellation of her BET show.
Daniel Fienberg, TCA President/Hollywood Reporter TV Critic, said, “Our other winners included new shows like Killing Eve (New Program) and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan for Individual in Comedy). Rebooted shows like Queer Eye (Reality Programming), the anthological darkness of another American Crime Story chapter, and the hopefully timeless and unending wonder of Sesame Street.
As we always say, TV offers something for every audience in 2018 and if you can’t find anything to watch, you’re not trying hard enough and you need to read some more TV critics!
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years, and was half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.