Monteith was significantly younger than his fellow honorees, who were all Emmy Award winners. Monteith, who died from a mix of heroin and alcohol, had not received an Emmy nomination during his career, though “Glee,” the show that launched Monteith into fame, nabbed a whopping 19 Emmy nods for its first season in 2010.
Klugman , a three-time Emmy winner who also starred in “Quincy M.E.,” was honored during the three-hour show’s traditional group tribute. In a conference call last week with executive producer Ken Ehrlich, reporters questioned the decision to pay special tribute to Monteith, as opposed to the more seasoned Klugman or “Dallas” star Larry Hagman.
The Post’s Emily Yahr reported that Ehrlich defended the decision to honor Monteith.
“We felt it needed to be represented, that at 31, he passed away under very tragic circumstances,” Ehrlich told reporters. “And that it was important to be responsive to younger viewers, to whom Cory Monteith meant as much as perhaps these other four individuals meant to their own generations.”
Monteith’s “Glee” co-star, Jane Lynch, delivered the tribute, calling the actor “a beautiful soul.” Lynch did not shy away from addressing Monteith’s struggles, saying “his death is a tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that is brought on by addiction.”
In a video posted to TMZ’s Web site on Sunday, Lynch acknowledged the backlash, calling herself “a huge fan” of Klugman. “He was there in the beginning of television and he had a terrific career and if I were his son, maybe I’d be upset too,” Lynch said in the video.
Lynch also defended the tribute to Monteith. “I’m really proud to be up there for him tonight, and I’m really proud to tell people about him.”