'Friday Night Lights' was named Program of the Year, and several of the show's actors stood on the stage with executive producer Jason Katims as he gave a heartfelt speech about how hard it was to let the show go after five seasons.
'Game of Thrones' was named Outstanding New Program, 'Mad Men' won as Outstanding Drama and for the second year in a row, 'Modern Family' won as Outstanding Comedy.
The full list of winners, plus five awesome things that happened during the ceremony, is below.
Here are the winners of the 2011 TCA Awards:
• Individual Achievement in Drama: Jon Hamm ('Mad Men,' AMC)
• Individual Achievement in Comedy: Ty Burrell ('Modern Family,' ABC) and Nick Offerman ('Parks and Recreation,' NBC) (tie)
• Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: 'Restrepo' (National Geographic Channel)
• Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: 'Amazing Race' (CBS)
• Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: 'Sesame Street' (PBS)
• Outstanding New Program: 'Game of Thrones' (HBO)
• Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: 'Masterpiece: Sherlock' (PBS)
• Outstanding Achievement in Drama: 'Mad Men' (AMC)
• Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: 'Modern Family' (ABC)
• Career Achievement Award: Oprah Winfrey
• Heritage Award: 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'
• Program of the Year: 'Friday Night Lights' (DirecTV/NBC)
'Mad Men' cast members John Slattery, Jon Hamm, Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss turned up at the TCA Awards, as did creator Matthew Weiner and other writers and producers from the show. After the awards, Slattery happened to mention that he's directing the fifth episode of the season. He directed two episodes last season, and of course it was announced some time ago that Jon Hamm will be directing an episode of the show for the first time when it goes into production on Monday. (It'll be a while until we see those episodes. AMC hasn't given an exact date for 'Mad Men's' return -- the network has only said it would be back in "early 2012." Weiner said after the ceremony that he was told the show could return in March -- but that date wasn't certain.)
Much of the cast of 'Modern Family' turned up as well, but 'Game of Thrones' producer Carolyn Strauss picked up the award for the HBO show. She said that executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and the show's cast had wanted to be at the ceremony at the Beverly Hilton, but they were were in Belfast working on the second season of 'Thrones.' which went into production July 25.
It was a most enjoyable night, and here is a very subjective list of Five Awesome Things That Happened at the TCA Awards:
• Comedy legend Carl Reiner came to the ceremony, and he got a standing ovation when 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' which he created, got the Heritage Award. In his acceptance speech, he told the story of how he came to write a comedy about his own life (he was a writer for a variety show who lived in New Rochelle, N.Y., and had a wife and two kids), and how the pilot he shot with himself as the star wasn't that great. His agent wanted to revive the project, but Reiner said he didn't want to fail twice with the same material. His agent's response, according to Reiner: "It won't fail, because we'll get a much better actor to play you." That line got one of the biggest laughs of the night.
• Rose Marie, who also came to the ceremony, got a standing ovation when Reiner talked about her contributions to the show. When Rose Marie spoke, she said she was proud of having been the one to suggest Morey Amsterdam for the role of Buddy. (And yes, if you're wondering, the actress was sporting that famous black bow in her hair.)
• Oprah mocked herself! She couldn't be at the ceremony to receive her Career Achievement award, so she sent a pre-taped acceptance speech, in which she threatened to talk for 19 minutes -- one minute longer than the 18-minute Oprah filibuster that was delivered in response to a question at the January TCA press tour. Oh, Oprah, you jokester. Of course, she didn't speak that long -- her speech was short and sweet and gracious. (Yet by not coming, she denied me the chance to say, as drug-addled Liz Lemon once did, "I'm snitting next to Borpo!")
• Host Nick Offerman was a hoot and a half. He showed a short film about what it took for him to get into character -- it began with a boy who looked about 10 (allegedly that is who he is before he's been fully Offermanized). The boy ate mountains of bacon, drank a bacon shake and then worked on his car, all of which helped his burgeoning mustache grow. Finally he engaged in bare-knuckle boxing, which was the final step of the transformation in to the Full Offerman. Later, to show his range as an actor, he recited famous lines from movies ("You had me at hello.") in a very Ron Swanson-esque monotone. (After every recitation, which included Yoda's "Judge me by my size, do you?" speech, Offerman paused and deadpanned, "Powerful stuff.") He sang a funny song set to the tune 'Walk the Line' about reading mean commenters on the Internet (because he has a delicate ego, "he should stay offline"). And that was great, but Offerman doing Yoda lines had to be the high point of his hosting gig. It doesn't get much better than that. (Offerman needs to take that show on the road -- preferably to Comic-Con).
• Jason Katims took the stage with many of the writers and several cast members (including Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler) from 'Friday Night Lights' to accept the Program of the Year award. He spoke about how much critics had done to help the show survive, and he said he had run into people in recent months who said they hadn't watched the 'FNL' finale because they didn't want to say goodbye to that world. He said he'd walk away from those conversations thinking that those people should just go ahead and watch the finale and give themselves closure, but then he said he'd actually been afflicted by the same problem, in slightly different form. He said he spent so many weeks editing the show's series finale that movers actually came and started taking furniture and equipment and away from the editing room he was in. Eventually that development forced him to come up with the final cut of the finale.
Just the 'FNL' theme music playing as the cast and crew walked up to the stage had gotten many of the critics in the room misty, and by the time Katims ended his speech with "Texas forever," eyes were being dabbed all over the place.
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