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A Night With TCA

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 23, 2005

The Television Critics Association awards were announced at the annual ceremony tonight, and here are the winners:


PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: ''Desperate Housewives'' (ABC)

OUTSTANDING NEW PROGRAM: ''Lost'' (ABC)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA: ''Lost'' (ABC)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY: ''Arrested Development'' (Fox)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN NEWS & INFORMATION: ''Frontline'' (PBS)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING: ''Degrassi: The Next
Generation'' (The N)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MOVIES, MINI-SERIES & SPECIALS: ''The Office Special'' (BBC America)

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN COMEDY: Jon Stewart, ''The Daily Show with Jon
Stewart'' (Comedy Central)

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT IN DRAMA: Hugh Laurie, ''House'' (Fox)

HERITAGE AWARD: ''Nightline'' (ABC)

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT: Bob Newhart


(Before I go on, a consumer advisory: I am a TCA member and vote on these awards. Here's a link to this year's nominees, and what I nominated, on my old blog: TCA Nominations.)


Newhart was here, and reminded the assembled celebrities and critics of the importance of television (which he loves) and the importance of critics. And it was critics -- as smart and thoughtful in person as they are in their columns -- who handed out the awards.


Laurie also attended, and Lucy Davis from ''The Office,'' and producers and actors ''Lost,'' ''Desperate Housewives'' and the other winners. Stewart and ''Nightline's'' Ted Koppel sent videotaped thanks. (Winners are notified in advance of the actual ceremony.)


Laurie, who went back to his British comedy roots (and accent), was very funny.  An excerpt:


"For most of my career, I have held the belief that television critics are some of the wisest, kindest people,'' he said, getting big laughs. ''I suppose with this you are showing the wisdom of Solomon. Although I know a lot of you thought Solomon was rather two-dimensional. A little generic, you know.


"I should tell you that the last time I won an award for acting, my parents were in the audience. ... I saw their faces as my name was read out and they smiled at each other, a smile of pride, and that stayed with me. To be honest, I didn't give my parents a lot of reasons to be proud, but this was one of them.


''I was 9 years old. And I thought it would be amusing to actually dig out my speech that I delivered on that occasion. I read through it. It turns out to be a lot of rambling about my publicist. Who was also my geography teacher.''


But there wasn't just funny business. The award to ''Frontline'' included talk about the current attacks on public broadcasting. Koppel's taped acceptance of the award for ''Nightline'' had a rough edge, even in its joking start.


''I apologize for not being out there in person,'' Koppel said. ''I figured it takes at least half a day to get out there, and overnight in Los Angeles and at least a full day coming back. And, you know, I didn't want to be there that much.''


Koppel is leaving ''Nightline'' in December, and there have been questions about the show's future. He took dead aim at the speculation -- and at receiving the Heritage Award, which honors programs that have made a major contribution to TV and the culture.


''It has some of the flavor of a lifetime achievement award,'' he said. ''I've received a couple of those and I keep wanting to say, 'Not yet.' To the extent that you are honoring my colleagues, and me, for what's been done over the last 25 years, thank you very much indeed. Any suggestion, however, of 'Nightline's' imminent demise is not just premature, it's flat wrong.


"I don't know who's going to be sitting in my chair, I don't know who's taking over Tom Bettag's job as executive producer. But I do know that the extraordinary men and women who have collaborated to put this great program together over the years will still be on the job. 'Nightline' continues, and long may it flourish.''


Getting back to lighter fare, Craig Ferguson of CBS's ''Late Late Show'' opened the ceremony. A sample: ''You know what I smell in this room tonight? I smell power. I smell power and sex and clashing aftershave. And that, my friends, is the smell of show business, and I love being part of that. ...


''I'm a late-night talk-show host, and you mostly are television critics. I feel our jobs are very similar. We both have to watch a lot of very bad television. The difference is, of course, you don't have to pretend to like it. Four words: 'Spring Break Shark Attack.'  THANK YOU, CBS! THANK YOU!''


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