TCA Awards: First to Honor ‘Handmaid’s’

TCA Awards, Show, TCA Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Aug 2017One great thing about the TV Critics Association annual TCA Awards is the opportunity to honor shows before the Emmys get a chance.

Hence, the Program of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Drama awards for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the breakthrough Hulu adaptation. Many of its stars including Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strahovski and Alexis Bledel were on hand for the loose, non-televised event Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton, where the much more glitzy Golden Globe Awards is also held.

And to show how much the dystopian, way too timely series reflected the dire zeitgeist, perky host Kristin Chenoweth even entered the stage in full handmaid costume, from white bonnet to red robe. (She was sitting among the cast, she joked, and “they’re very pushy about the dress code”).

Chenoweth dropped the costume for a glitzy gown and, as a much more involved TCA host than usual, sang an original song about the awards, pulled Sterling K. Brown of “This is Us” (which won Outstanding New Program) out of the audience for a duet on “For Good” from “Wicked,” and returned on stage with elaborate costumes through the night for shows that did not win the night, from “Stranger Things” to “The Crown.”

“Handmaid’s” executive producer Warren Littlefield was on stage a second time when he was the only representative of “Seinfeld” to receive a Heritage Award. There was some hope that the show’s co-creator Larry David, who was at TCA sessions the week earlier for the upcoming season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” would show up, but he did not.

Nor did Ken Burns, who received a career achievement award for his many many documentary epics, which continue this fall with “The Vietnam War” (but he made a tape when he was here earlier in the week with PBS in which he called TCA “family”).

After a long clip summarizing the documentarian’s’ dozens of titles, “This is Us” creator Dan Fogelman said, “Thanks to Ken Burns, for making me feel like the laziest motherfucker on the planet.” (Another benefit of not being televised: uncensored talk from the podium).

Carrie Coon became the first TCA Awards winner to get the Individual Achievement in Drama for roles in two shows — “Fargo” and “The Leftovers.” She was on hand to remark on her very good year, but Donald Glover, who won the Individual Achievement in Comedy for “Atlanta,” a show which also won Outstanding Achievement of Comedy, was not — since he was in London shooting the next “Star Wars.” He passed on thanks to be read by his brother Stephen Glover that advised in part to “stay fly.”

There was some Hollywood glitz at the event when Reese Witherspoon showed up to pick up an award for the HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” which won a miniseries and movies category that also included “Fargo,” “Feud: Bette and Joan” and “The Night Of.”

But, the actress said, another of its stars and producers was absent. “Nicole is out of town, y’all,” said Witherspoon, who read a list of written thank-yous from Nicole Kidman in an attempted Australian accent.

The TCA Awards were not the first to award all of its winners. The epic “O.J.: Made in America,” which already won an Oscar, got the Outstanding Achievement in News and Information.

“I had always wanted to win something for comedy,” said Leah Remini. “Apparently you didn’t think I was funny enough.”

Remini was honored, though, for her unusual documentary “Scientology and the Aftermath” for A&E, which skewered the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard that she once followed.

Unfortunately one of the big stars of the night, Moss, is a Scientologist and was seen leaving the room during that presentation and acceptance speech.


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