"Tonight is a night to pat ourselves on the back a little," said Bill Kurtis, co-anchor of the "CBS Morning News." He really wasn't including himself, because he's from a Network. Everyone else in the filled Wax Museum nightclub on Saturday night was a part of the Local Television Scene.
And they all did a lot of patting. And praising.
WRC-TV won the most awards, with WJLA-TV a close second, as a few hundred mostly-behind-the-camera local television station employes gathered for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Washington Chapter's "25th Anniversary Emmy Awards Presentation." They were there to cheer their colleagues' work on locally produced programs. But like most awards programs, even those involving people who know the meaning of fine editing, it was too long.
"Can you believe we've been here an hour?" Kurtis asked one-third of the way through the program. "It doesn't even look like we've given out one award." Behind him, a long table was filled with gleaming golden statuettes.
But for the recipients, the night moved quickly.
Lea Thompson, an anchor at WRC, took her second of three Emmys for writing "DPT: Vaccine Roulette" in the News Oriented Specials category. She made her way to the podium while a combo offstage played "Satin Doll."
"This show was the hardest thing I've done in my life," Thompson said. "People called me psychotic and amoral and all sorts of dirty words, but I think babies will be saved because of this special."
Thompson's Emmys helped boost WRC (Channel 4) to a high of 25 Emmys, including those given for shows and to individuals. WJLA (Channel 7) had 22. WDVM (Channel 9) tied with WETA (Channel 26), a PBS station here, with nine each. WTTG (Channel 5) took two and WHMM (Channel 32) received one award.
The last Emmy to be given, and the one considered the most important, was for Newscasts. David Schoumacher of WJLA won for his role as anchor, but he wasn't there to receive the award. Ray East won for graphic art direction at WRC, and the best newscast program Emmy went to WDVM's "Eyewitness News" at 6 p.m. for which Gerald Grossman, the producer, accepted the award.
After every couple of categories of awards were announced, videotaped messages from various people were played on a big screen above the stage.
Among those wishing the Academy a happy anniversary were former locals Max Robinson, now with ABC News in Chicago, and Willard Scott, now with NBC News in New York. Mayor Marion Barry also gave a best-wishes message with a somewhat serious delivery, after which Kurtis came back on stage.
"Thank you Mayor Barry for that lesson in how to use a teleprompter," Kurtis said, breaking the crowd up.
Most of the awards went to people a viewing audience would never see--producers, graphic artists, researchers, narrators, directors and editors. But some Emmys were given to such familiar faces as WJLA's Renee Poussaint, who along with WRC's Thompson picked up three awards for the night.
"It's wonderful to clutch this little statue in your hand and know you're taking it home with you," Poussaint said, when she accepted an Emmy for reporting on "The Road Back Home" in the News Segment category. WJLA received four awards in that category, including one given to Paul Fine for photography. He and his wife, Holly, last year won several Emmys before moving to CBS News. "The Road Back Home" was completed before he left the station.
"Everyone's been asking what's it like to work at a network," Fine said in his acceptance speech. "And I tell them, it's more -------- and more bosses." He then went on to say that there were "real" people like Kurtis, however, who made it all tolerable.
As the night wore on, and as as many people could be found at the open bar as in seats, Maury Povich of WTTG came on stage with Sheila Banks of WETA.
"I really don't know why I'm here tonight," Povich said. "I'm not nominated for anything. As a matter of fact, do you know that I'm 0 for 26? I've been involved with nominated shows, but I've never taken home a statue."
He and Banks announced the nominees and winners of the News Series category, which had the most entries.
WRC won nine out of nine in this section--two for the shows "Forgotten Children" and "Redskins Dirt Band" and seven for individuals, including two to Arch Campbell for his roles as writer and talent on the series "Ask Arch."
Campbell said after the program that he was genuinely surprised he had won. "You always say it doesn't matter, but it does."
The following is a complete list of Emmy winners.
Newscasts: Ray East, graphic art director, WRC; David Schoumacher, anchor, WJLA; "Eyewitness News" (6 p.m.), Gerald Grossman, producer, WDVM.
News Series: "Forgotten Children," Kelly Burke, producer; Kelly Burke, reporter; Jerry Manley, editor, and Craig Wunderlich, editor, WRC; "Redskins Dirt Band," George Michael/Mitch Fields,producers; Craig Anderson, editor; Art Ehrens, musical composer; Arch Campbell, writer, and Arch Campbell, talent, WRC.
Spot News: KKK Rally, Jim Neustadt, producer; Mike Whatley, camera; Joanne Fyanes, audio; Mike Rankin, camera, and Butch Haynes, audio, WRC.
Documentary: "The Power and the Glory," Ricki Green, producer, Sue Ducat, researcher, WETA; "Getting There," Marianna C. Spicer, producer, WJLA; "Carl Rowan's Report: Housing," Carl Rowan, producer; Carl Rowan, writer, and Meritta White, researcher, WDVM.
Children's Programs: "In Our Lives: Everything Must Change," Wally Ashby/C.E. Nixon, producers, and David Deboy, writer, WDVM.
Regular Public Affairs: "Renee Poussaint: Close-up: Libbacotton," Gail Flannigan, producer; David Gross, editor, and Renee Poussaint, reporter, WJLA; Renee Poussaint, reporter ("Woolly Mammoth" program), WJLA.
Washington Community Service Award: WRC-TV Childhood Vaccine Alert Project, Lea Thompson, producer.
News Segment: Craig Wunderlich, tape editor, WRC; "The Road Back Home," Marianna C. Spicer, producer, WJLA; Renee Poussaint, reporter, WJLA; Paul Fine, photographer, WJLA; Clyde Roller, sound, WJLA; "Air Florida Update," John Goldsmith, producer, WDVM.
Sports Programming: Craig Anderson, editor, WRC; "The USFL: Federals Preview," Waymer Johnson,producer, WJLA; "Redskin Magazine: Special Edition Superbowl Countdown," Rome Hartman/Mike Hurdelbrink/Jim Hollinnsworth, producers, and Vince Keys, director, WJLA.
Independent Production: "Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle," Paul Wagner/Jack Santino, producers; Paul Wagner, director, John Hiller, photography, Paul Wagner, editor. Aired on WETA.
Spot Announcements--Public Service: National Gallery of Art, Michael B. Sassani and Carolyn Engel Amiot, producers.
Spot Announcements--Promos: "Renee Poussaint: Close-up," Kathi L. Devlin, producer, WJLA.
Series: "In Residence: The Emerson String Quartet,"Jackson Frost, producer; David Deutsch, director, and David Gillette, audio, WETA; "By Reason of Insanity," Thursa Thomas, producer, and Jim Clarke, reporter, WJLA; Kline Mengle, photographer, WDVM.
Other Specials: "Prime of Your Life--Washington," Henry H. Osborne, producer, and Ray Williams, director, WRC; Bob Kanner, editor, WTTG; Bill O'Connor, narrator, WTTG.
News Oriented Specials: "DPT: Vaccine Roulette," Lea Thompson/David Nuell, producers; Lea Thompson, writer; Milton Shockley, associate producer; Mary Alleshouse Koppel, associate producer, and Thomasine Williams, researcher, WRC.
Other Regular Programs: "Good Morning Washington: KKK March in Washington," Deborah C. Tang/Erika Haden, producers, WJLA; Tony Cunningham, photographer, WDVM.