'Seinfeld' 'Roseanne,' snag Emmys 'Picket Fences,' HBO also sweep television honors

September 20, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Roseanne did it.

After years of getting snubbed by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences while having one of the highest rated and most critically acclaimed shows on TV, Roseanne Arnold finally won an Emmy. She won as best actress in a comedy series, beating out the likes of Kirstie Alley and Candice Bergen.

Not too surprisingly, Arnold, the star and executive producer of "Roseanne," was not on hand to accept the award. In recent years, she has been highly critical of the Emmy process.

Roseanne was not the only surprise winner. "Picket Fences," which was on the verge of being canceled because of low ratings, swept the best drama categories. The CBS series won )) as best drama, while Tom Skerritt won as best actor and Karen Baker as best actress in a drama series.

In comedy, "Seinfeld" was the big winner. Although Jerry Seinfeld wasbeaten by Ted Danson, of "Cheers," as best actor in a comedy, his namesake show won as best comedy. Writer Larry David won for best comedy writing. And Michael Richards, who plays Seinfeld's wacky neighbor Kramer, won for best supporting actor.

Cable had a big night, too. Mary Tyler Moore won as best supporting actress in a mini-series or special for her work in Lifetime's "Stolen Babies."

Holly Hunter won for best actress in a miniseries or special for her performance in HBO's "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom."

HBO also picked up Emmys for "Stalin" and "Barbarians at the Get," which tied as made-for-TV movie of the year.

On the local front, "Homicide," the NBC series about Homicide detectives in Baltimore, picked up a couple of prestigious awards. Barry Levinson won for best director in a drama series, and Tom Fontana won for best writer in a drama series.

The series did not make NBC's fall schedule, and the network ordered only four episodes, which will be used as midseason backup. "Homicide" is currently filming in Baltimore.

The biggest thing that didn't happen involved "Cheers." Outside of Danson's Emmy, the series came up empty last night and, so, fell short by three Emmys of surpassing "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" as the most-honored series ever.

The telecast could have desperately used the drama of "Cheers" making a serious run at history.

PBS picked up a couple of Emmys in two of the more prestigious categories, when "Prime Suspect 2" won as best miniseries and Robert Morse won as best actor in a miniseries for his performance as Truman Capote in "Tru." Morse beat out Robert Duvall, James Woods and James Garner.

Executive producer Don Mischer promised a streamlined Emmy telecast, and it was certainly free of glitz. But it might also have been the most stark Emmy telecast ever -- right down to the clothing. Everyone wore black.

For most of the night, the only color onstage was the big red rose Mary Tyler Moore wore on her sleeveless dress.

Not that streamlined didn't have its advantages last night. The good news is that there were no big production numbers, virtually every winner kept to the 30-second acceptance-speech limit in the early going, and there were no deadly dull segments of the show -- except for the vacuous analysis of TV's first 50 years from Barbara Walters.

This was ABC's first year of a new contract to telecast the Emmys,and the network only abused its position in a couple of instances. One was having Walters deliver the 50-year retrospective. The other was having Paula Poundstone, who will host a new variety show on the network this fall, do a series of backstage reports.

Poundstone's frenetic mock-reports were the only live entertainment presented all night. The only other non-award moments consisted of video montage segments saluting mini-series and last episodes of long-running series. Neither was a showstopper.

But the Academy said it wasn't looking for a showstopper telecast. Instead, it sought less controversy than last year's show, which was dominated by wall-to-wall wisecracks about then-Vice President Dan Quayle and his criticism of "Murphy Brown."

The tone of last year's telecast on Fox was the main reason for the selection of Angela Lansbury as this year's host. There was certainlynothing controversial that Lansbury said or did. Unless you want to count her changing from black to red velvet midway through the show.

The fact that the change was even noticed tells you just how bland and forgettable an evening it was outside of Roseanne finally getting her due.

"Cheers" wasn't the only show that didn't make history last night. The telecast of "The 45th Annual Emmy Awards" definitely wasn't one for the record books.

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