Since I work an overnight shift, whenever I watch an awards show it's always the morning after on tape delay. Obviously I'm not in it for the suspense as to who won, since I've heard the news by then. I just speed through for the highlights that I know to look for - which is great, because I can do a three hour presentation in about an hour.
Aside from certain acceptance speeches, I'm usually in it for just the opening numbers & monologues, the film clips, and the tributes to those in the industry who passed away in the year before.
This year they presented a very nice montage of clips for a variety of people in all aspects of the business, not just actors:
There were producers, writers and directors like Mel Shavelson, Stuart Rosenberg, Stan Daniels, and Ed Friendly.
TV news coverage was represented by Ed Bradley and film critic Joel Siegel.
People better known for their movie work, like Jack Palance, or for other fields of entertainment, like Luciano Pavarotti and Beverly Sills, were honored.
And there were some early TV pioneers like Don Herbert, better known as Mr. Wizard, as well as the unique entries like Calvert deForrest, better known as Larry "Bud" Melman.
But it occurred to me that if the tribute was updated in enough time to include Jane Wyman, who starred in 'Falcon Crest', where was mention of Oscar-winner Miyoshi Umecki, who played Mrs. Livingston on 'The Courtship of Eddie's Father'? And that led me to look into the IMDb.com's list of those who have passed away in the last year.
I can understand why Percy Rodriguez failed to make the list, for even though he died prior to Ms. Wyman, it appears that his death wasn't announced until after the awards were broadcast.
I went back even further than that, since the Emmys did the same by including Mike Evans, Ed Bradley and Jack Palance, who passed away in 2006 (but after the Emmy telecast of that year). And from 2006, I was surprised they didn't include director Robert Altman. Sure, he's better known for his body of work in the movies, but he did some fine work in TV westerns and especially on 'Combat!'. Plus there were the two mini-series he created with Gary Trudeau, 'Tanner '88' and 'Tanner on Tanner'.
Ms. Umecki's omission was the one most noticeable for me, as I had just recently posted a tribute to her here. But those who also weren't considered worthy enough for mention by the writers/producers of the Emmys really surprised me.
I realize that the Emmy Awards, like most of these awards shows, are very USA-centric (and geared to boost the business in America). But visual media is global, and should be recognized for its contributions. Okay, so maybe I can understand the exclusion of Leon Niemczyk of Poland and Phillippe Noiret of France (although Noiret better be remembered at the Oscars), but no Ian Richardson ("House Of Cards")? Ronald Magill ('Emmerdale Farm')? No John Inman of 'Are You Being Served?', for bleep's sake? Everybody in the audience would have known his Mr. Humphries and his cries of "I'm free! I'm free!"
The opera world was represented by Ms. Sills and Pavarotti, and I know Pavarotti won an Emmy award for one of his TV appearances, but where was Gian Carlo Menotti, who created what I think was the first opera for TV, "Amahl And The Night Visitors", which was broadcast annually for years?
No matter what one may have thought of them, Jerry Falwell, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, and Anna Nicole Smith had established their presence in Television. At the very least, Mrs. Messner and Ms. Smith should have been recognized for their "contributions" to reality programming.
Maybe not all of the character actors who passed away last year deserved this nod, no matter how much work they provided (Mala Powers, Steve Ryan, John P. Ryan), but where was acknowledgement of Charles Lane, best known as Homer Bedloe on 'Petticoat Junction' and as Lucille Carmichael's first boss on 'The Lucy Show'? One of the greatest character actors of all time! And there should have been a clip of Dabbs Greer, perhaps as the minister he played on 'Little House On The Prairie' (although I would have included his work as the minister in the first episode of 'The Brady Bunch' when all hell breaks loose).
Barry Nelson and Don Ho are both better known in other media - Nelson in the movies, Don Ho as a singer in Hawaii. But both of them made significant contributions to Television. Barry Nelson was the FIRST James Bond, playing the spy as an American in 'Casino Royale', an episode of 'Climax!'. And it feels as though no TV show could do a Sweeps Week episode set in Hawaii without an appearance by Don Ho.
Where was mention of comic actor Ron Carey, best known for the height-challenged Officer Levitt on 'Barney Miller'?
And come on already! No memorial to Kitty Carlysle? I realize Television is a world of short attention spans, but that's just not right!
And if the Emmy Awards are supposed to burnish and promote the industry, wouldn't it have made sense to pay tribute to the late Frank Stanton, who worked with William S. Paley in building CBS to be a communications giant?
Finally, I just wanted to point out one problem they had in their tributes. Among the credits listed for Charles Nelson Reilly were 'Car 54, Where Are You?', 'The Patty Duke Show', and 'Love, American Style'. Appropriately enough, 'Match Game' topped the list.
But there was no mention of a show that I think introduced Mr. Reilly to a lot of us from my generation - 'The Ghost And Mrs. Muir', in which he played Claymore Gregg. Nor was there a listing for 'Liddsville', in which he camped it up as Hoodoo the Magician.
I suppose the producers were only thinking to create touchstones to shows they felt the audience would remember and respond to. But that means so many others just as deserving of one last tip o' the hat for their contributions to the wonderful world of Toob were left in Limbo.
Hopefully this makes up for that in a very small way for some of them.....