It was less an awards show than a memorial service. At the 34th Annual Emmy Awards, telecast live from Pasadena, Calif., by ABC last night, the honorees included the late Ingrid Bergman, the departed comedy series "Barney Miller," the canceled "Lou Grant," the soon-to-expire "M*A*S*H," and the axed -- but then reprieved -- "Taxi."
The message of the show, as far as television is concerned, did not seem to be "the best is yet to come."
Miss Bergman, who died late last month at the age of 67, was named best actress in a limited series or dramatic special for her magnificent, career-crowning portrayal of Golda Meir in "A Woman Called Golda," the two-part docudrama that was named best dramatic special of the year, marking the first time that a syndicated program has defeated four network entries for the title.
In accepting the best actress award, TV personality Pia Lindstrom, Miss Bergman's daughter, said of the three-time Oscar winner, "I think she showed the same courage and determination and dignity as Golda did" and thanked the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for "this final tribute to my mother. She will live in my heart forever." Harve Bennett, executive producer of "Golda," said that all future showings of the film will be preceded by a dedication on the screen: "To Ingrid, whose courage matched Golda's. Shalom." Bennett said, "I think it speaks for all of us."
Miss Bergman was extremely ill with the cancer that killed her when she made the film, her last performance, on location in Israel. Balloting for the Emmys was completed weeks before Miss Bergman's death.
"Barney Miller," the popular knockabout police-station sitcom which ended its seven-year run on ABC this year, was named outstanding comedy series; "Hill Street Blues" was named outstanding dramatic series; the stupendous "Night of 100 Stars" won for best variety special; "Taxi" -- which ABC canceled but which NBC picked up for this season -- won three Emmys, including best writing of a comedy series; and Nancy Marchand, who played publisher Mrs. Pynchon for five years on "Lou Grant," accepted her award as best supporting actress in a dramatic series by calling the show, which CBS canceled for alleged low ratings (and, reportedly, because of the offscreen political activitism of series star Edward Asner), "either the prodigal son or the abandoned child of television."
Michael Learned, the star of "Nurse," was named best actress in a dramatic series. "Nurse" was yet another victim of the CBS guillotine. "I'm so stunned, I swallowed my chewing gum," Learned said.
"Hill Street Blues" -- the most revolutionary television series since "All in the Family" a decade ago -- was nominated for 21 awards and won five, including trophies for best actor and supporting actor, Daniel J. Travanti and Michael Conrad (Capt. Frank Furillo and Sgt. Phil Esterhaus), best writing of a dramatic series, best editing and, for the second year in a row, best dramatic series. It was "Hill Street's" eight-Emmy sweep of the awards last year that put the groundbreakingly realistic police drama on the map and gave it, finally, a public acceptance to equal its critical acclaim.
Other top winners last night included veteran ham Mickey Rooney, named best actor in a drama special for his portrayal of a mentally retarded man in the CBS film "Bill"; Laurence Olivier, chosen best supporting actor in a limited series for playing Lord Marchmain in the imported PBS "Brideshead Revisited" (the only award, out of 11 nominations, that "Brideshead" won); and "Marco Polo," NBC's lavish, costly and snail's-paced dramatic travelogue, which won for outstanding limited series.
Additional technical and craft Emmys were handed out one week ago in a separate, untelevised ceremony. Combining the totals from both Emmy nights, NBC led the networks with 20 awards, ABC was second with 18, CBS third with 12, and PBS fourth with five. Three awards went to the syndicated "Golda."
"M*A*S*H," which has never gone wanting for Emmys in previous years, won in two acting categories: supporting actress Loretta Swit, who plays Maj. Margaret Houlihan, and Alan Alda, named best actor for playing Capt. Hawkeye Pierce. "M*A*S*H" has not been canceled, but the series is scheduled to end its 10-year run with a special two-hour concluding episode at midseason. In accepting her Emmy, Swit at first blurted a tearful "Oh my, oh my, oh, oh," and said, "I've been an actress for 15 years and I've never been so unprepared on a stage in my life." Swit won previously, she noted, but that year members of the Screen Actors' Guild were on strike, and the Emmy show was almost totally bereft of acceptors.
Alda concluded his brief gush of remarks with, "God bless America. Thank you."
Christopher Lloyd won a supporting actor Emmy for his portrayal of the quixotic and grizzled "Jim" on "Taxi," the show that won best comedy series for the past four years but which ABC killed nevertheless. NBC picked up the show and is now promoting it for the new season with the slogan "Same time, better station." Carol Kane, who played Simka, the wife of semi-intelligible immigrant Latka Gavras (Andy Kaufman) on one episode, and joins "Taxi" this season as a continuing character, was named best actress in a comedy series.
And Ken Estin, who wrote a "Taxi" episode called "Elegant Iggy," also won an Emmy.
Awards shows, usually aired live, once could be depended upon to supply a virtual king's ransom in technical goofs and foul-ups, but the Emmy show was fairly free of those, except for one sublimely awkward moment when actor Roy Scheider walked onto the stage without a microphone to begin a tribute to pioneering TV journalist Edward R. Murrow. As Scheider began to speak, a stagehand, in black tie, rushed out from the wings and wired Scheider for sound in front of the giggling audience.
But the tribute itself was serious and included a portion of a film made in tribute to Murrow the year he died, 1965, by William S. Paley, the chairman and founder of CBS who recently announced plans to step down from the chairmanship next April. Paley said in 1965 that Murrow was "at heart, a poet of mankind," and noted, "His death ends the first golden age of broadcast journalism." Scheider recited words by Murrow and the tribute included clips of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's attacks on the journalist during McCarthy's Communist witch hunt in the '50s.
Another tribute to another broadcast pioneer -- Dave Garroway, who died in July of this year -- was delivered by journalist superstar Barbara Walters, who said Mr. Garroway hired her as a writer on the NBC "Today" show in 1961. Walters said Mr. Garroway, the original host of "Today" and one of the most influential style-setters in modern broadcasting, left behind "a legacy of charm and style."
There were other tributes -- one of them, the program's moving finale, as 75-year-old entertainer Kate Smith, a star on radio and television, was brought out from the wings in a wheelchair by 79-year-old Bob Hope (also honored with a tribute last night) while the audience sang Smith's trademark anthem, "God Bless America." A stroke victim, Smith looked frail and, after a series of clips that showed her performing in happier times, barely recognizable.
Earlier, Hope accepted the Academy's tribute and the crowd's applause but joked that, with 44 years in the business under his belt, he was so old that the NBC peacock "was hatched from an egg I laid." He said he was going to headline a series called "The Over-the-Hill Street Blues." The Academy's Board of Governor's Award was presented to the Hallmark Hall of Fame, a series of specials that had its best moments in the '50s and '60s and has been in continual decline ever since.
Dwight Hemion, who with partner Gary Smith was executive producer of the Emmy telecast, won the award for best director of a variety or music special for "Goldie and Kids . . . Listen to Us," a CBS special that was a ratings disaster. Hemion, keen to the time demands of the broadcast, gave the shortest acceptance speech of the evening.
Named best supporting actress in a limited series or special was Penny Fuller, who played Mrs. Kendal in an ABC Theater production of "The Elephant Man." Harry Harris was chosen best director of a drama series for an episode of "Fame." Director Alan Rafkin was cited for best direction of a comedy series episode -- the "Barbara's Crisis" episode of the long-running CBS series "One Day at a Time." Cameras caught series star Bonnie Franklin looking teary-eyed in the audience as Rafkin accepted the award.
Marvin J. Chomsky won his third directing Emmy for "Inside the Third Reich," which was the obligatory Nazi epic of the past TV season. Chomsky won three years earlier for directing another miniseries about Nazis, NBC's "Holocaust." The best written limited series or special, according to the votes, was the CBS drama "Bill," a docudrama about a mentally retarded man who is brought out of seclusion into an active life.
The largest group to storm the stage to accept an award was an army of 18 writers accepting for the "Moral Majority Show" edition of NBC's late-night hit "SCTV Comedy Network." SCTV had four of the five nominations in the category. The only other nominee was Norman Lear's "I Love America" show which was produced as a response to the Moral Majority campaign. In the category of best supporting actor in a drama series, every actor nominated was a member of the cast of "Hill Street Blues." Conrad -- who missed the filming of the first four episodes of the show for the new season because of illness -- defeated fellow cast members Taurean Blacque (Det. Washington), Charles Haid (Renko), Michael Warren (Bobby Hill) and Bruce Weitz (Belker).
Conrad said, "Wow! It's very awkward when your competitors are all your friends who are on the same show."
Among the Emmys doled out at the Sept. 12 banquet for technical achievements and crafts was the prize for best choreography, won by Debbie Allen of NBC's praised but low-rated "Fame." Enrico Sabbatini won an Emmy for the sumptuous costumes he designed for the "Marco Polo" miniseries; among the oddly mixed bag of competitors in this category were "Brideshead Revisited," "Fantasy Island" and "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters."
Public television won four Emmys at the banquet: "Live from the Met's" production of "La Bohe me" won as outstanding classical music program; the "Working" installment of "American Playhouse" won for lighting; "The Making of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' " was chosen outstanding informational special; and "Creativity with Bill Moyers" was chosen outstanding informational series, beating out for that honor, among other programs, the acclaimed "Middletown" documentary series by Peter Davis.
The Emmy telecast was scheduled to last three hours. On Friday, co-executive producer Gary Smith predicted it would run 10 minutes overtime. He was wrong by two minutes; the broadcast ended at 11:08 p.m. Ironically or not, the clip chosen to represent "A Woman Called Golda" during the awarding of the last Emmy had Miss Bergman as Golda Meir addressing the Israeli Knesset and saying, "It's late. Everybody's tired. Go home." Miss Bergman had figuratively if not literally the last word.