Sometimes an award show’s “In Memoriam” segment stirs up a snarky “Who will get the most applause?” guessing game from the viewing audience. But Sunday’s Emmy segment will be a much more somber affair, as the show’s producers will take some extra time to honor several stars who recently passed away.
This year, actors James Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack in June, and Cory Monteith, who died of an accidental drug overdose in July, will each receive a special, personal tribute during the Emmy telecast. Actress Jean Stapleton, comedian Jonathan Winters and producer Gary David Goldberg will also be honored.
Close friends and co-workers will be asked to make short speeches. This includes Edie Falco for her “Sopranos” co-star Gandolfini; Jane Lynch for her “Glee” co-star Monteith; Michael J. Fox for “Family Ties” producer Goldberg; Rob Reiner for “All in the Family” cast member Stapleton; and Robin Williams for his friend Winters.
Of course, nothing can happen these days without some online controversy, particularly in regards to Monteith. Within a few hours of the announcement, Variety’s digital editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein penned an opinion column with the traffic-bait headline, “Does Cory Monteith Deserve a Special Emmy Memorial?”
“The unspoken, uncomfortable truth of the matter is that while the work he did on ‘Glee’ showed great promise, it was not equal to the incredible careers the other four amassed,” Wallenstein wrote, adding, “That doesn’t make the loss of Monteith any less tragic. Nor should questioning his exclusion be misinterpreted as a judgment being made about the circumstances of his death.”
“These five individuals brought us such great entertainment and joy,” said Emmy’s executive producer Ken Ehrlich. “So having their close friends share personal remembrances is something that will be very meaningful for television audiences across the country and across the generations.”