Battlestar Galactica Beams Up Top TCA Honors

PASADENA, Calif.–TV critics boldly went were traditional awards shows have not gone before by naming Battlestar Galactica as their Program of the Year at last night’s 25th annual Television Critics Association Awards.
Several stars from the sci-fi drama attended the ceremonies at the Langham Huntington Hotel, including Canadians Michael Hogan, Tricia Helfer and Grace Park.
Hogan (seen with newly-appointed TCA mascot/toastmaster Pat Bullock) seemed particularly jazzed by the prize. The veteran Canadian actor was celebrating some other good news, having landed a guest role on Joss Whedon’s Fox series Dollhouse. For all his credits on Canadian screens, Hogan–whose son Gabriel stars in Heartland and Rent-a-Goalie–is new to Hollywood, and said walking that fabled 20th Century Fox back lot in Century City was a kick.
Not at the Awards was Galactica skipper Edward James Olmos, but Park (again with Bullock–does this guy owe me or what?) says he told her winning this prize was a pretty big deal.
NBC’s ER won the Heritage Award and Noah Wyle (left, with newly-elected TCA president Susan Young) took the stage to accept the honor. Spoke with Wyle after the show; he’s bound for Toronto to launch his own sci-fi career in an as yet untitled Stephen Spielberg project for TNT.
The TCA Awards are a blast because a) they’re short–the whole deal takes about an hour b) they aren’t televised, so the speeches are fun and filthy and c) the winners all show up because, well, even in these tough times we’re TV critics, dammit.
Chuck Lorre, the creator of Big Bang Theory, took the stage to accept the Best Comedy award for that show. “I’d like to speak from the heart,” he opened, paused just long enough, and then, “but my heart was killed 20 years ago on Roseanne.” Lorre spoke about his sometimes “adversarial” relationship with critics over the years (He also created and produces Two and a Half Men) but he seems to have mellowed now that we’ve given him an award (and he has more money than God).
Other winners last night were Big Bang’s Jim Parsons (a critics darling because he plays a nerd), Bryan Cranston (a repeat winner for his breathtaking role in Breaking Bad) and Betty White, who got our Hall of Fame prize. Nobody deserves it more. Besides iconic, much loved roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls, White is a true TV pioneer, making her local TV debut in 1949 and being on network since 1952.
Nickelodeon’s original Yo Gabba Gabba took the children’s programming prize. The producers of that delightful series were in Toronto just last week visiting the folks who carry the show in Canada at Treehouse.
A highlight of the night for critics was the appearance of “Uncle Barky,” former Dallas Morning News man Ed Bark, who told stories about the 25 years of TCA statue salutes. The first ceremony, related Bark, took 20 minutes, had a single guest (former NBC chairman Grant Tinker) and featured plaques purchased in a local trophy shop in Phoenix, Arizona (site of part of the annual press tour back in the mid-’80s for some long-forgotten reason). Bark, who put on another clinic for the dot com kids in the session room with his classy questions these past few days, rallied those of us trying to bridge the beat as it lurches into the 21st century. When you know how to use words, they connect with a power and resonance that makes you want to follow them to understanding and delight. Bark has that gift and it was so cool to share it again last night.
Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and a few of his cast members, including Jon Hamm, made the after party scene. Mad Men was singled out for the second year in a row as TV’s best drama. HBO’s True Blood was named best new show with creator Alan Ball accepting. The cable network’s Grey Gardens was named best TV-movie or miniseries.
Besides Bark, several other alumni from the TV beat made the scene, including former Washington Post scribe and past TCA president Michael Hill and Toronto Sun crush Claire Bickley (here with TCA legend Rodi Alexander), always Queen of the Scene. Some stayed even after the open bar went cash-only around 11 p.m., that’s just how much love there was in the room.
Especially for outgoing TCA president Dave Walker. The rock steady New Orleans Times-Picayune newsman gave his entire nervous system to this collection of professional cry-babies over a harrowing presidential term, surviving writers’ strikes, business model breakdowns and Katrina. The man is free at last, bow your head and give thanks.

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