Elsas overcome boycotts

Czech tube awards doing well despite scandals

The Czech Republic’s one-year-old television awards, the Elsas, went out as usual Saturday night, but without half of the country’s stations in attendance.

The two leading terrestrials, TV Nova and Prima TV, had announced a boycott of the Elsa awards, but they won reasonable aud share just the same on pubcaster Czech TV, whose two channels swept all but one of the local awards, just as they did in 2004.

Producer Petr Vachler, creator of the Elsa, has defended the kudos as fair and credible, despite pointed public criticism from Nova and Prima, who announced their disapproval two days before the awards were to air.

Vachler said he has tried to involve the terrestrials in creating criteria and categories for the Elsa, but clearly no group effort has yet emerged — and criteria and categories remain among of the chief beefs.

In a seeming nod toward reconciliation, the Elsas’ glitzy program, broadcast from the palatial Lucerna Great Hall, featured a brief look at shows with the greatest viewership, not an official category. Most were Nova shows, but no award was given, and the Elsas quickly got back to handing out trophies for the official categories.

Nova did score one Elsa, for its investigative news program “Eye Witness.” Christian Duguay’s “Hitler: Rise of Evil” took best foreign drama, and “David Attenborough: The Life of Mammals” scored best foreign docu, but all other categories, from entertainment and magazine show to original drama, went to Czech TV programs.

The latter was picked up by “In Nomine Patris,” a well-regarded feature on the real-life turmoil of Cold War-era Czech priest Josef Toufar, whose congregation believed they witnessed a miracle. The secret police at first tried to explain it away, then locked up Toufar and tortured him to death in a case that still resonates with many religious Czechs.

Show’s director Jaromir Polisensky, screenwriter Jan Drbohlav and leading man Viktor Preiss won kudos, while best actress went to veteran Czech thesp Vilma Cibulkova for period adaptation “I Lived With a Stranger.”

Scandalous or no, the Elsas are clearly doing good business, this year sponsored by Renault in a clever promotional move — Czech TV has been forced to phase out commercials under a recent regulatory ruling. The carmaker’s models also make prominent appearances in a new film directed by Vachler, “Doblba!”

The list of winners:

Public affairs:
“Eye Witness” (Czech TV)

“By the Pool” (Czech TV)

“Best Czech Animated Filmmakers” (Czech TV)

Foreign drama:
“Hitler: Rise of Evil” (Alliance Atlantis Communications)

Foreign doc:
“David Attenborough: The Life of Mammals” (BBC)

Entertainment show:
“Take It Easy” (Czech TV)

Documentary show:
“Alternative Culture” (Czech TV)

Animated show:
“Pat and Mat Return (Czech TV)

Jan Kraus, “Take It Easy” (Czech TV)

Original drama:
“In Nomine Patris” (Czech TV)

Orginal drama director:
Jaromir Polisensky, “In Nomine Patris” (Czech TV)

Orginal drama screenplay:
Jan Drbohlave, “In Nomine Patris” (Czech TV)

Original drama actress:
Vilma Cibulkova, “I Lived With a Stranger”(Czech TV)

Original drama actor:
Viktor Preiss, “In Nomine Patris” (Czech TV)

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