Monday, September 23, 2013

Emmys Overlooked Klugman and Hagman

Emmys Overlooked Klugman and Hagman
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 23, 2013

Not a fan of the numerous televised awards programs put on by the entertainment industry to validate themselves with their self-congratulatory faux humility, I actually had a reason to check in on the Emmy Awards Sunday night September 22.

A pre-awards newspaper brief indicated that five of the deceased from the past year would be honored with individual acknowledgments throughout the program, as opposed to the traditional roll call photo montage. The five included actress Jean Stapleton, actors James Gandolfini and Cory Montieth, comedian Jonathan Winters, and producer Gary David Goldberg.

Who didn’t love Stapleton and her alter ego, Edith Bunker? And the comic genius of Winters? Goldberg’s Family Ties was a favorite of mine in the ‘80s – complete with the comparisons to Alex P. Keaton.

Conspicuously omitted without explanation were actors Larry Hagman and jack Klugman. Would four more minutes made a difference in a three-hour-plus awards program rife with bloviating speeches and witless banter?

Actually it should have been a two minute addition as Montieth should not have been singled out in the first place. The actor, 31, known for his role on Glee, died of an overdose of heroin and alcohol, and had previous bouts of substance abuse. While his co-star Jane Lynch did not omit or excuse Montieth’s substance issues, honoring his memory as it was done, glorifies his lifestyle and omits the more deserving Klugman and Hagman.

In fact, during the roll call of photos, Klugman and Hagman received the most applause. Hagman, following his role of Tony Nelson on I Dream of Jeannie, was forever known as oilman villain J. R. Ewing on Dallas. Klugman, a three-time Emmy winner, was most memorably known for portraying perpetually sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple. Both actors distinguished themselves on stage as well as the big screen, and deserved the honors given the other five.

Forty years after the fact, Edith Bunker and Oscar Madison are still warmly recalled, as is J.R. Ewing 30 years hence. Will the same be said of Finn Hudson?

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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