Louis C.K., Showtime's Homeland win big in TCA Awards, otherwise known as the SuperNerdProm
LOS ANGELES -- Everyone had an excuse.
Comic Louis C.K. spoke passionately about picking up his daughter from sleepover camp after a month of not seeing her. The cast of PBS' British drama hit Downton Abbey had just appeared at a little gig called the London Olympics Opening Ceremonies.
But longtime late night host David Letterman had the best excuse for not appearing in person Saturday at the Television Critics Association's 28th annual TCA Awards:
"As my friends know, this is the night I eat glass," cracked the host in a pre-taped message, accepting the Career Achievement Award for serving as host of a landmark late night talk show. Later, he had a look-alike bound onstage to grab the Lucite trophy and run offstage while the crowd looked on in bewildered amusement.
That's the tone of the TCAs, which unfolded as a loose, occasionally-bawdy celebration of TV shows critics value most, with awards handed out in a ceremony which is not televised or videotaped, giving celebrities a rare chance to be a little naughty in public without fear of seeing it immortalized in footage for eons.
If the White House Correspondents' Dinner is the Nerdprom, then the TCAs are the Super Nerd Prom, with people who can have passionate arguments about the subtext in Charlie Sheen's lame-o sitcom Anger Management rubbing shoulders with stars from some of the best series on television.
Historically, those who win awards attend the ceremony, which has welcomed Tom Hanks and the cast of Mad Men in previous years. This time out, however, circumstance made getting to the Beverly Hilton's International Ballroom difficult for stars such as Louis C.K., who must have said "I'm sorry" at least a half dozen times in two video messages sent from Albany, N.Y. where he was actually picking up his daughter from camp.
Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston set the tone as host -- a gig where a funny celebrity bounds onstage to offer a brief comedy routine before critics announce the actual awards. "Welcome to the Beverly Hilton; Hollywood's favorite place to die,"quipped the star, in a not-so-veiled reference to the hotel's infamous history, which includes the passing of pop star Whitney Houston and actor Peter Finch.
Showtime's Homeland and Louis C.K. won multiple awards, with other honors parceled to ABC Family's Switched at Birth, HBO's Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey. Cheers was honored with the TCA's Heritage Award, leading to a sidesplitting speech by former head writer Ken Levine.
"We were getting our ass kicked by something called Tucker's Witch," he said, recalling the show's low ratings in its first year. "Who knew the star who would become a movie star was Woody (Harrelson)?"
2012 TCA Award recipients are as follows:
• Individual Achievement in Drama: Claire Danes (“Homeland,” Showtime)
• Individual Achievement in Comedy: Louis C.K. (“Louie,” FX)
• Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: “60 Minutes” (CBS)
• Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox)
• Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: “Switched at Birth” (ABC Family)
• Outstanding New Program: “Homeland” (Showtime)
• Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: “Masterpiece: Downton Abbey” (PBS)
• Outstanding Achievement in Drama: “Breaking Bad” (AMC)
• Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: “Louie” (FX)
• Career Achievement Award: David Letterman
• Heritage Award: “Cheers”
• Program of the Year: “Game of Thrones” (HBO)