Baltimore native bags two Emmys Awards: Allan Holzman has been recognized for editing and directing the TBS documentary "Survivors of the Holocaust."

On the Air

September 15, 1996|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Winning a pair of Emmys last weekend was the easy part. The challenge, says Baltimorean Allan Holzman, was not impaling his friends with the statues' sharp ends.

"I didn't want to put them down," he says with a laugh, "but when I was embracing people, holding both Emmys, I kept stabbing them."

A native of Northwest Baltimore who attended Pimlico Junior and Forest Park Senior High School, Holzman, who says he's in his 40s, was recognized for editing and directing the TBS documentary "Survivors of the Holocaust." His moments of glory came Saturday night, during a nontelevised ceremony during which many of the technical and less splashy awards were handed out.

He shared his first award of the evening, for editing "Survivors," with "The Private Life of Plants," another TBS series.

It was a triumph he didn't really expect, especially after failing to win a pair of industry awards at a banquet. "I remember thinking, 'If we're going to lose those, we're not going to win Emmys.' "

Fortunately, he had enough presence of mind to remember the 30-second speech he'd been practicing the past few days -- a speech he ended with a nod to his parents, Faye and Willie, who still live in Baltimore.

"Hebrew School finally paid off," he told the audience.

"That line got a big laugh," Holzman says over the phone from Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, musician Susan Justin, and their daughters, Justine, 8, and Shayne, 5.

Less than 10 minutes later, he was onstage again, this time as part of a team accepting the award for best Informational Special. "Survivors of the Holocaust" is a remarkable documentary, consisting entirely of interviews with Holocaust survivors. The hour-long special is a product of Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, an enterprise founded to ensure that memories of the Nazi death camps do not die along with the survivors.

Holzman's personal Emmy trail began at Bennington College in Vermont, which he attended on an acting scholarship. He soon realized, however, that he preferred life behind the camera to life in front of it.

After working as supervising editor of a six-part TBS series on Native Americans, Holzman became involved with the "Survivors" project by persuading Spielberg to let him put together an eight-minute fund-raising video. Spielberg loved the film and asked him to stay on.

"I just stayed there after that," Holzman says, adding he came up with a simple way of deciding which testimonies belonged in the final film.

"The testimonies were so amazing," he says. "I literally went to work and cried every day. And if I cried, I felt I had an obligation to get that testimony or part of that testimony into the movie."

The result was a filmed record of human atrocities -- and human courage -- richly deserving of its Emmy recognition.

Following the Saints

"Baseball, America," a new series on the fx cable channel, illustrates both the limitations of cinema verite and the wonderful unpredictability of baseball.

The series follows the exploits of the St. Paul Saints, a genuine minor-league ball team operating out of St. Paul, Minn. Owner Mike Veeck, son of baseball Hall-of-Fame owner (and former Marylander) Bill Veeck, operates the team with one principle in mind: Please the fans.

To do that, he'll sign just about anyone; his is the team that gave chances earlier this year to ex-Met Darryl Strawberry, who had been kicked out of baseball for violating the sports' policy on illegal drugs, and Jack Morris, the former Detroit Tiger pitcher trying for one last shot at the bigs.

The series has no plot and no narration; rather, its cameras simply follow the Saints from the beginning of spring training onward. Occasionally, someone will speak directly to the camera, but more often, it simply eavesdrops.

In truth, the show could use a writer; real-life baseball moves too slowly for such a cinema-verite approach; the results are half-hour episodes that skip huge blocks of time, allowing games XTC to be wrapped up in about 45 seconds. The sound, too, is often muddled, making it difficult to understand what the players are saying.

Still, "Baseball, Minnesota" has its moments; it's fun to speculate, as the series progresses, on which players will emerge as stars and which will end up on the next plane out of St. Paul. And you won't see a more heartbreaking character on television this year than Daryl Henderson, a one-time big-league prospect with the Texas Rangers who's attempting to recapture lightning in a bottle with the Saints. Just when it looks as if he's about to make it, with manager Marty Scott telling him he'll be the Opening Day pitcher, he hurts his arm in an exhibition game and fears for his career.

The first three episodes of "Baseball, Minnesota" will air from 6: 30 p.m. to 8 p.m. today. New episodes will air on future Sundays beginning at 7: 30 p.m.

WBAL winners

Pats on the back to the folks at WBAL-AM (1090) news who walked off with a host of awards from the Maryland Society of Professional Journalists for work in 1995. Among the winners:

John Patti, Alan Walden, Leonard Roberts, Jack Shaun and Sue Kopen, second place in News Reporting for coverage of the July car crash on Woodlawn Drive that left five people dead.

Patti and Linda Foy, first place in General Reporting for coverage of cost overruns of the 1995 Preakness Festival.

Patti, first place in Public Service for a report on "Hurricane Preparedness." In the same category, Allan Prell, Mike Wellbrock and Malarie Pinkard earned an Honorable Mention for a look at auto theft prevention.

Kopen, first place in Documentary for "Women Behind Bars."

Jackson Whitt, Josh Lewin, Jon Miller and Patti, first place in Human Interest for "The Road to Game 2131," a look back on Cal Ripken's Orioles career.

Patti, second place in Sports, for "Calvin, the Other Ripken."

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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