At Critics' Awards, NBC's Wins May Also Be Fox's Gain

By Lisa de Moraes
Sunday, July 22, 2007

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 21

The Television Critics Association showered NBC with four of its 10 programming Awards Saturday night -- the biggest haul of any network.

Fox is thrilled.

Fox recently hired the guy who developed those shows, Kevin Reilly. He was president of NBC Entertainment until the network showed him the door last month. Critics love his work, but with the notable exception of "Heroes," the shows have devoted (but small) followings.

NBC's "Heroes" is the program of the year, the collection of 200 TV critics and journalists proclaimed.

NBC's "Friday Night Lights" is the year's best new program -- yes, we know, "Heroes" is a new show too. Don't ask me to explain these categories.

NBC's "The Office" is this year's best comedy. And while "The Office" shut out NBC's new "30 Rock," the latter show's star, Alec Baldwin, was honored for giving the year's best performance in a comedy series, edging out, among others, the show's creator, Tina Fey. No reflection on Fey -- the TCA doesn't often honor women until they are old-igenarians. In the past decade only two actresses have received TCA Awards for actual work that year: Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm in the Middle") and Edie Falco ("The Sopranos"). In their golden, semi-retired years, TCA honored with "career achievement" awards Lucille Ball, Angela Lansbury, Carol Burnett and, this year, Mary Tyler Moore.

The awards were handed out while the critics, from around the United States and Canada, are gathered in Beverly Hills for their annual Summer TV Press Tour to talk with writers, producers, actors and network suits about new programs on the horizon. And what seems to be surprising critics most is the number of strong female roles, leads even, in the new shows -- characters that are actually complicated and flawed instead of the usual all-suffering housewife, tomboy best-friend to guy, or buxom, big-haired sex goddess/slut. Let's see if it translates to a TCA Award or two next summer, shall we?

HBO did not go home empty-handed; critics' darling "The Sopranos" was named this year's best drama. It also received the group's Heritage Award -- a.k.a. the So-Long Trophy; NBC's "The West Wing" won last year.

But rival Showtime won an award for a show that's actually still on the air. Michael C. Hall, who plays a lovable serial killer on the pay cable network's "Dexter," bagged the win for best drama performance.

File this under ironic: ABC Family's "Kyle XY" was proclaimed the year's best children's program. We hear some ABC Family folk were not thrilled to have the show nominated in the category; the network targets an older audience than TV's kids 2-11 audience. On the other hand, they can now begin promoting the show as a TCA Award-winner.

Discovery's "Planet Earth" cleaned up, winning both the trophy for best news and information program and the trophy for best movie, miniseries or special.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company