Los Angeles -- Danny Glover is known to most people as a feature film star.
So why was he the host of last night's annual Awards for Cable Excellence?
Like many of his peers, Mr. Glover has taken a break from his successful feature film career to star in made-for-cable movies, including his ACE award-winning performance in HBO's "Mandela" (1987) and his portrayal of a psychiatrist in HBO's "Dead Man Out" (1989).
"Hosting the ACE awards is my way of supporting cable," said Mr. Glover from the set of "Lethal Weapon 3," which is due in the theaters May 30. "Cable has opened and continues to open up new vistas for actors and directors and producers.
"There was no other place those two ["Mandela" and "Dead Man Out"] could have been done. The stuff in cable is a little more material-driven than the stuff we do in feature films. And cable gives you a lot more leverage or latitude, more than network television, in terms of the material. It's a select, paying audience."
Mr. Glover added that made-for-cable movies can achieve the same level of quality as feature films despite smaller budgets.
Cable viewers were able to judge the quality of original cable programming for themselves when the National Academy of Cable Programming presented "The 13th Annual ACE Awards" at 9 p.m. last night on TNT.
This year a record 1,827 entries were submitted for ACE nominations. Once again HBO earned the most nominations (102), and the network was home to the three top-nominated shows: "Dream On" (13), "Tales From the Crypt" (11) and "The Josephine Baker Story" (11).
The awards ceremony honoring the best in original cable programming featured several tributes: to cable's commitment to environmental programming; to the ACE-winning children's writer, the late Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss); and to CNN, winner of this year's Golden ACE award for the network's coverage of the Gulf War.
Last year, cable networks spent more dollars on original programming than ever. The volume of this programming also has grown every year, even during a recession that has affected nearly all of the entertainment industry.
"The whole mood and direction cable has gone reflects on the growth and visibility of the ACE awards," Mr. Glover said. "There weren't a lot of people interested in cable not long ago. Now the variety of things you're able to do with cable has brought more interest to it and a great deal more interest in the ACE awards as well."
Mr. Glover, whose feature films range from the Steven Spielberg drama "The Color Purple" to last summer's comedy "Pure Luck" to the current release "Grand Canyon," said he will continue to consider roles in original cable movies.
"I'd be more than happy to perform on cable again if I found a prestigious project I wanted to do," he said.