Dutton to get Md. award for life's work

December 19, 2003|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

Baltimore-born actor Charles S. Dutton will be honored tonight with a reception by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele for his work in film, television and theater.

Dutton has appeared in more than three dozen films, received two Tony nominations for performances on the Broadway stage, and won three Emmys for his work in television. In September, he received an Emmy for his performance as a guest star in the CBS drama Without a Trace. He's also been honored with Emmy Awards for his direction of the HBO miniseries The Corner, as well as a guest star role on ABC's The Practice.

"I'm totally in awe about it," Dutton said last night, adding that he first heard that the state was thinking of presenting him with this award a few weeks ago. "This all started coming together. I said `Sure, you want to honor me?'"

Dutton said he had tried to head off an error that ended up in a press release issued by the governor's office saying the reception would "highlight Dutton's recent Emmy Award, which earned him the honor of being the first African-American to receive three Emmy Awards."

But Dutton is not the first African-American to win three Emmy Awards. Bill Cosby won his third straight Emmy in 1968 for his lead performance in the landmark NBC action-adventure series I Spy. He also has a total of four Emmys.

Dutton said he saw the error in a biographical sketch drafted at Garrett Reed & Associates in North Charleston, S.C., and pointed it out a few days ago to his contact in Maryland who was helping with arrangements for tonight's ceremony. Evidently, the correction was never made. The incorrect information was then conveyed to Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development, which put out the press release.

"We certainly stand corrected if we are wrong," said Sharon Reed, whose agency has booked many speaking engagements for Dutton. She said the error was caught a few weeks after the material was first sent out, but that correction was never conveyed to Dutton's assistant in Maryland.

Karen Glenn, communications manager for the state economic agency, said she feels badly about putting out incorrect information, but the fact that Dutton was not the first African-American to win three Emmys in no way diminishes the state's enthusiasm for his body of work or tonight's event.

"Obviously, he was not the first," Glenn said. "But Charles Dutton has been a great inspiration to Baltimore and the people of Baltimore. We are honoring him for his incredible contributions to film, television and theater."

The private reception is at 9 tonight at the Walters Art Museum.

Sun staff writer Arthur Hirsch contributed to this article.

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