I cannot remember an Emmy awards shows in which so many of the shows and people who deserved to win actually went home with trophies.
Start with AMC's Mad Men and the series creator, Baltimore-native Matt Weiner. Weiner won for best writing in a drama beating such competition as that of David Simon and Ed Burns of HBO's The Wire.
Then take Tina Fey and the series she created, NBC's 30 Rock. She won for best comedy writing, best comedy show and best lead actress in a comedy. Alec Baldwin won for best lead actor in a comedy series. Quite a sweep -- and a fine face-saving effort for all of network TV in a night otherwise largely dominated by cable.
And most of all, consider the historic accomplishment of the HBO miniseries John Adams becoming the most honored program in TV history surpassing Angels in America, Roots and Eleanor and Franklin, a 1976 miniseries about FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, in Emmys. As my story in Monday's Sun says, it was a night for the record books -- even if the telecast itself was one of the sorriest ever.
And all three productions speak to the way in which great TV not only entertains, but also connects with the most important forces in American life. Just as Roots and Angels in America spoke to such powerful historical and social concerns as slavery and AIDS, so did John Adams arrive last spring just as the nation was starting to grapple with the question of what kind of president we want to try and lead us through one of the most challenging periods in our history.
(Please make sure and check out the previous post -- the first part of an interview with Mad Men staff writer and Baltimore native Robin Veith who was nominated with Weiner for another episode, "The Wheel." Veith was onstage with Weiner at the end of the night when Mad Men took top honors. I'll have more of my interview with her throughout the week here. But she really was kind enough to take us inside the show.)
Beyond the series and writers listed above, here are some other most deserving winners:
Dianne Weist as best supporting actress in a drama for In Treatment (HBO). Glenn Close as best lead actress in a drama for Damages (FX). Kirk Ellis for the teleplay of John Adams (HBO). Tom Wilkinson as best supporting actor in a miniseries as Benjamin Franklin in John Adams (HBO).
Jeremy Piven as best supporting actor in a comedy for Entourage (HBO). Laura Linney and Paul Giamatti as best lead actress and actor in a miniseries as Abigail and John Adams in John Adams (HBO). The Colbert Report for best writing in comedy or variety series and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for best comedy or variety show, respectively.
Now, look at those shows and performers and tell me that TV is a boob tube or the "vast wasteland" blah, blah blah -- or whatever else uninformed snobs want to call it. I think this year's Emmys make the case that TV is not only America's primary storyteller, but thanks to cable, it has become home to the best and brightest talents in all of popular culture. This year, the Emmys did the medium proud.
And one last thought. How about this comment reported at The Envelope Web site involving Weiner and his feelings about the fact that none of his cast members were asked to be presenters even though it was the drama with the most nominations:
Mad Men creator Mathew Weiner caused gasps back in the press room when he answered a journalist's question about what it felt like being the first basic cable show ever to win best series, the Los Angeles-based Envelope reported.
"I'm surprised that there is such segregation and caste system at the Emmys," he said. "I have this amazing cast, and none of them was asked to present awards tonight."
I could not agree more. What, Jon Hamm and January Jones aren't glamorous enough for the Emmys? Good for Weiner.
(Above: NBC Photo of Tina Fey)