22A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 9, 1999
Los Angeles Times
With the 51st annual Emmy Awards
on tap for Sunday on Fox, it's the perfect
time to look at some of the strange, fun
factoids in the history of the awards.
Angela Lansbury isn't quite the
Susan Lucci of the prime-time Emmys
- but close. The star of the classic mys-
tery series, "Murder, She Wrote," was
nominated for best actress in a drama
'series for her role as Jessica Fletcher 12
times. She never won. Lansbury didn't
have any better luck when she was nom-
inated four other times in different cate-
"Dynasty": The popular ABC series,
which starred John Forsythe, Linda
Evans and Joan Collins, received 24
nominations during its run. It may have
been a hit with viewers, but it never took
home a single Emmy.
Jackie Gleason was always a best
man and never the groom when it came
to the Emmys. Nominated twice for the
award, once for "The Jackie Gleason
Show" and once for "The
Honeymooners," he saw his co-star Art
Carney take home three statuettes -
one for "The Honeymooners" and two
for "The Jackie Gleason Show."
Ted Danson was nominated seven
times for best actor in a comedy for
"Cheers" before he finally won in 1990
on his eighth attempt. The Sam Malone
role brought him a second Emmy in
Lucille Ball took home the 1952
Emmy for best female comedian for "I
Love Lucy." But she lost the Emmy that
year for most outstanding personality to
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, who appeared
on the short-lived DuMont network. The
other diverse nominees in the category
were Jimmy Durante, Arthur Godfrey,
Edward R. Murrow, Donald O'Connor
and Adlai Stevenson.
Harry Belafonte was the first black
performer to win an Emmy. He won in
1959 for outstanding performance in a
variety or music program or series for
CBS' "Tonight With Belafonte, the
Revlon Review." He had received two
nominations four years earlier - for
best male singer, which he lost to Perry
Como, and for best specialty act, single
or group, which went to Marcel
Producer prepares for
Coutesy ofAP Lasephoto
'Dynasty' received 24 nominations, but not a singl(
Bill Cosby was the first black to win
best drama series actor. He won in that
category for three years running in the
'60s for "I Spy," with the first in 1965.
Only two other black actors have since
won in that category: James Earl Jones
won in 1991 for "Gabriel's Fire," and
Andre Braugher took home the statuette
last year for "Homicide: Lifc on the
Westerns have long kicked up the rat-
ings dust on TV "Gunsmoke" is the first
and only Western to have won the
Emmy for best drama series. It won in
1957, beating out "Lassie," "Maverick,"
"Perry Mason" and "Wagon Train."
What will winning an Emmy do for a
show? Sometimes not much. Consider
NBC's "My World and Welcome to It."
The show took home a best comedy
series Emmy in 1969, its first season, a
particularly fortunate win given the net-
work's decision that the show's first sea-
son would also be its last.
While movie sequels rarely do as well
at the box office, in at least one case,
Emmy gold repeated. "Eleanor and
Franklin" won outstanding special in
1976. The sequel, "Eleanor and
Franklin: The White House Years" won
in the same category the following year.
The award for the most unusual
Emmy category could arguably go to
Jack Benny's 1957 Emmy for "best con-
tinuing performance in a series by a man
who essentially plays himself." The
other nominees were Steve Allen, Sid
Caesar, Perry Como and Jack Paar.
Rarely do spinoffs of popular series
succeed. But "Frasier" has broken that
jinx, winning the Emmy for best come-
dy an unprecedented five times in a row
- and it is in the running again this
year. It was the first spinoff series of an
Emmy Award-winning comedy
("Cheers") to win in this category.
Ingrid Bergman won an Emmy for
her first dramatic TV performance for
1959's "The Turn of the Screw." She
also won an Emmy for her final small
screen perfonnance in the 1982 syndi-
cated miniseries, "A Woman Called
Jack Lemmon is nominated for an
Emmy this year for his role as a
Clarence Darrow-esque lawyer in
Showtime's revival of the classic,
"Inherit the Wind." Eleven years ago,
Jason Robards won an Emmy for the
same role in NBC's acclaimed version
of the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E.
Lee play about the Scopes "monkey
In 1985-86, all the nominees for out-
standing guest performer in a comedy
series appeared on "The Cosby Show":
Roscoe Lee Brown, Earle Hyman,
Danny Kaye, Clarice Taylor and Stevie
Wonder. Brown won.
"Peter Pan," with Mary Martin, won
the best single program of the year
Emrny in 1955. Ironically, one of the
nominees in that same category was
"Peter Pan Meets Rusty Williams" on
"Make Room for Daddy."
In 1969, Ned Glass ("Julia"), Hal
Holbrook ("The Whole World Is
Watching") and Billy Schulman
("Teacher, Teacher") were all nominat-
ed for outstanding supporting actor.
Apparently there was no best perfor-
mance because no winner was chosen.
Lee Grant won for outstanding single
performance by a lead actress in 1971
for the NBC movie, "The Neon
Ceiling." She competed against herself
in that same category for her perfor-
mance in the NBC "Columbo" movie,
"Ransom for a Dead Man."
'special' Emmy ceremony
Ls Ageles Ties
"Special,' at least in television parlance, is said to be
derived from "spectacular" - the term Sylvester "Pat"
Weaver, NBC's legendary programming czar of the 1950s,
coined for his network's star-studded showcases.
Though Weaver has been called a visionary, it's hard to
imagine he could have foreseen how "special" would be used r'
today, describing Fox's penchant for showing unfortunate
souls "caught on tape" being trampled by wildebeest, or bet-
ter yet, having some moron intentionally risk killing himself.
on the air- live! -by crashing a plane or trying to jump the
state of Nevada on a motorcycle.
It's somewhat reassuring, then, to know there are those who
still embrace "special" in the old-fashioned sense of the word.
Dropped, fumbled and kicked around during the bottom-line-
oriented 1990s, the baton has been picked up by producer Don
Mischer is the producer of this Sunday's nighttime Emmy
Awards, something he has done four of the last five years.
The lapse occurred in 1996, when Mischer was laboring on
the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics
in Atlanta, which, in an age of hype, actually lived up to the
"spectacular" designation. comesyor unesw es
Mischer is currently bidding to reprise that task for Salt Jenna Elfman, pictured here in "EDtv," hosts this year's
Lake City's Winte Games in 2002, even as he looks ahead Emmy awards.
to a dizzying array of events this year. Beyond the Emmys, "You are serving many masters," Mischer said. "You are
they include acting as one of five producers on NetAid, an serving the TV academy and their needs. The network alwa .
international anti-poverty benefit combining TV, radio and wants to take you in a different direction. If the network had i
the Internet planned for next month; the Kennedy Center their way - and I don't care which network itis -you would
Honors, which he will again produce with George Stevens not be presenting four writing awards and four directing
Jr. in December; and Barbra Streisand's sing-in-the-millen- awards on the Emmys. That's eight (out of 27 televised)
nium New Year's Eve concert at the MGM Grand in Las awards, given to people that the audience at home really does-
Vegas. n't know much about or care much about."
In his office preparing for the Emmys -glancing periodi- The producer struggles with other arbitrary requirements,
cally at colored note cards tacked to a board that plan every among them the 40-second cap placed on acceptance speech
beat of the show - Mischer conceded the kind of specials he es. Mischer calls the time limit "ludicrous" but ultimately nec-
enjoys are often at odds with what appears to be filling prime essary: As itsis, with advertising and promotion on the rise, the
time. show has only 20 minutes for material that isn't directly tie,
"It's hard to compare the Kennedy Center Honors with to presenting an award.
'Stunts Gone Bad,' " he said. Moreover, unlike the Oscars - which can seemingly run
Yet the producer also acknowledged the "concept specials" three days if they needto - a priority is placed on ending the
that once dotted the airwaves - putting two stars together, Emmys by 11 p.m. so the ceremony doesn't spill over into
coming up with a theme and having a rollicking, singing, local news time.
dancing old time - "simply don't work anymore" from a rat- Mischer attributes that mostly to network affiliates, which
ings standpoint. generate the most revenue from their news and "almost see
CBS is planning music-themed specials later this year fea- prime time as the filler between their newscasts."
turing Ricky Martin, Celine Dion and Shania Twain, but for As a result, Mischer said, "On Emmy night, I sit here with
the most part variety and music specials on the major net- all kinds of planned cuts, and we just keep adjusting the show,
works are a thing of the past. And while HBO runs concerts hoping to come out (on time)."
- recently setting fashion trends back a decade or so with This hardly sounds like the way television should treat i
Cher - a pay channel can also afford to reach a smaller audi- own premiere showcase, and Mischer fully recognizes the
ence. Emmys have a tradition of leaving everybody griping about
Programs such as the Kennedy Center Honors have thus something.
become increasingly rare. Mischer sees this as being driven "These are kind of no-win situations for producers' he
largely by a reluctance on the part of networks to risk sacri- noted. "As (Oscars producer) Gil Cates has often said, 'Youe
ficing a night ratings-wise, even in the pursuit of a slightly at the mercy of the award show gods,' and the things that make
more elevated goal. or break the show are things you cannot really produc~e. If
"As recently as 10 or 12 years ago, there was still more of Camryn Manheim walks up there and says, 'This is for fat
a sense of conscience, I think, among broadcasters, especially girls,' that's something we couldn't produce, but that's a great
networks, to air a show that seemed to be right to put on the moment ... If someone pulls out a (thank you) list and rea
air, that would reflect well on them," without regard to ratings, from it, that's not."
Mischer said. "It doesn't happen much anymore." Something of a perfectionist, Mischer said he seldom fin-
Award shows, in fact, have become the ratings-grabbing ishes one of his projects feeling completely satisfied, tending
- alternative to variety specials, and they have proliferated like to focus rather on what went wrong. Still, when the lights go
rabbits. Not only have networks moved awards that weren't down and the camera conses on Sunday, he will endeavor for
previously televised onto the air, but they keep creating new a few hours to make television "special" again, in the way Pat
made-for-TV affairs such as the Blockbuster Entertainment, Weaver meant it.
TV Guide and Source Hip-Hop awards, in the process threat- "I love television, and there's a tremendous amount of
ening to exhaust the world's supply of cheap metals. mediocrity on television," Mischer said, betraying a gift for
For all the awards out there, producing the Emmys still understatement. "On Emmy night, we get to look at the good
entails a novel sort of juggling act - balancing various inter- stuff. When you see the best scenes from 'NYPD Blue' a
ests and egos that mean virtually nothing to the viewer at 'ER' and 'Law & Order,' and the best comedic scenes, i
home, such as ensuring a level of parity in the number of stars good television. We can walk out of there proud."
representing each network. At least, until the next ghoulish Fox special coies along
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