Who praises what the critics say? Certainly everyone who was honored at the 25th annual Television Critics Association Awards held at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. The event saluted TV’s best as voted by the TCA, made up of television writers from across the U.S. and Canada. I’ve been privileged to be a TCA member for almost as long as they’ve been giving out their coveted awards, and it’s been a joy to get to know the ultra-talented (and particularly the nice folks) who are in the business of putting outstanding programs on the airwaves.
It was great to see one of my favorite actors, Bryan Cranston, and his lovely wife, actress Robin Dearden. He won the drama performance award for a second consecutive year for his “Breaking Bad” role, and he just might do the same on the Emmy® telecast (Sept. 20 on CBS). Cranston was Emmy’s Best Actor in a Drama winner last year, and he’s a nominee again this year for his outstanding work on the AMC series. Cranston, a Sherman Oaks fellow, first won our hearts showing off his comedy skills as the fabulously funny dad on “Malcolm in the Middle” years ago. Now his drama skills grab you by the throat, playing a father desperate enough to do anything to provide for his family.
Upon receiving his award, Cranston spoke eloquently saying, “When Paul Newman won his Oscar® he said that award-winning performances are not acted, they are written. And he’s so right. The writer is the most important element in performance and certainly the most important component to all creativity in Hollywood. It begins with the writer. To all the writers I’ve worked with for the past 30 years in the business, you are gods to me. And to you, the TCA members, without your written words and critiques for our show, I truly don’t know if ‘Breaking Bad’ would have gathered enough attention to make it to the second year, let alone our third year which we begin soon. So I dedicate this to you, the writers. You are truly the architects of dreams.” Speaking of dreams, Robin happily told me that Bryan is going to direct the first episode of the third season of “Breaking Bad,” and she and their daughter Taylor will be in it.
During his acceptance, Bryan couldn’t resist kidding around with Jon Hamm, who was competing in the same category. Hamm lost to Cranston, but was happy to see “Mad Men” was honored as Best Drama. HBO’s “True Blood” was named Best New Show and creator Alan Ball accepted the prize from the critics. HBO’s “Grey Gardens” was named best TV movie-miniseries. Nickelodeon’s very original “Yo Gabba Gabba” won the Children’s Programming honor, and HBO’s “Alzheimer’s Project” won in the News & Information category. Although the Emmys have acknowledged “Battlestar Galactica” in technical categories, the TV critics honored it as their Program of the Year. Among the stars on hand from the sci-fi drama on the SciFi Network were Katee Sackhoff, Grace Park, Tricia Helfer and Michael Hogan.
After 15 seasons, “ER” won the TCA Heritage Award, and Noah Wyle was on hand to thank the critics and accept the award “on behalf of the entire team.” Accepting the Best Comedy Award was Chuck Lorre, creator, producer, and writer of CBS’ “Big Bang Theory.” “I’d like to speak from the heart,” he said, followed by a lengthy pregnant pause. Then he added, “but my heart was killed 20 years ago on ‘Roseanne.’” The TV writers also gave their individual achievement in Comedy Award to Jim Parsons, the “Big Bang” breakout star who is also nominated for an Emmy for his uber-geek performance. Parsons’ costars Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar looked anything but geeky that night as they enjoyed the sophisticated event. Funny lady Chelsea Handler, of “Chelsea Lately,” kicked off the ceremony with super-sharp humor.
The legendary Betty White received the TCA Career Achievement Hall of Fame honor. The 87-year-old darling has won the hearts of the critics over the decades with her iconic roles on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Golden Girls.” Plus, she’s been a pioneer in broadcasting since the 1950s. She got a standing ovation as she accepted her award. Everybody loves Betty, and she thanked the critics for “how kind you’ve been to me through all those 60 years I’ve been around [on TV]. You can’t get rid of me. I just won’t go away.” Please don’t, TV needs its beloved Golden Girl.