Crystal, Shandling, HBO Take Home Handful Of Aces

Billy Crystal, whose “Billy Crystal Midnight Train To Moscow” won four Awards for Cable Excellence from the National Academy of Cable Programming, had an ace weekend Jan. 12 and 13, when the organization handed out a total of 82 awards. The Crystal special had six nominations.

Showtime’s “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” won four ACE awards.

Other multiple program winners in the 12th ACE presentations for programs and performances were HBO’s half-hour series “Tales From The Crypt” and Turner Network Television’s “Heat Wave” telefilm, each coming away with three ACE awards.

“Shandling” and “Heat Wave” had received seven nominations; “Crypt” had led the way with 12. One of the wins for “Heat Wave” was, in perhaps the most hotly contested category, top film or miniseries.

James Earl Jones was a double winner for his supporting role in “Heat Wave” and his starring performance in the dramatic series “American Playwrights Theater: Third And Oak – The Pool Hall.”

Hume Cronyn won for his performance in HBO’s original drama “Age-Old Friends.”

Other winners included actresses Colleen Dewhurst, Cicely Tyson and Blair Brown; interviewer Dick Cavett; comedians George Carlin, Robert Townsend, Tim Allen and Dennis Miller. Carlin got his award in the standup comedy special category for his “HBO Comedy Hour” presentation.

In the news, information and sports categories, winning performers included newscaster John Hart, interviewer Larry King, info host Jane Wallace, sports host Chris Berman, sports play-by-play announcer Jon Miller and sports analyst Joe Morgan.

Composer Lalo Schifrin added an ACE to his trophy case in the original score category for his work on Showtime’s “The Neon Empire” made-for flick.

The surprise winner for top actress in a comedy series was “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” leading lady, Jessica Harper.

A total of 26 ACEs were awarded on an eight-channel telecast, adding to ACEs in 56 categories presented previously at a nontelevised ceremony in Beverly Hills.

As expected, HBO, which was dealt 100 ACE nominations, scored with one-fourth of them. The paycabler’s 25 ACEs this year means that in the 12-year history of the event, HBO programs and performers have been recognized for 221 top examples of cable excellence. Still, HBO was six ACEs shy of equaling last year’s take of 31 awards.

Arts & Entertainment, which over the years has won 46 ACEs, including six last year, did two better this year, accounting for eight. That’s the same total for Showtime, which also won six last time out and now has 65 for the 12 years of the event.

Other multiple winners were the Disney Channel and TNT (six each); Cable News Network, the Discovery Channel and Lifetime Television (four each); Bravo, MTV: Music Television and VH-1 (two each); and TBS superstation, USA Network, Cable News and Business Channel and Financial News Network (one each).

Biggest disappointment had to be for the producers and performers involved with HBO’s “Dream On” comedy, which came into the weekend with 10 ACE nominations and picked up only one, in comedy editing.

While nominations covered 29 programming services, only 14 entered the winner’s circle, nine during the telecast.

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