'Mad Men,' '30 Rock' take TV honors

“Slumdog Millionaire” nabbed the PGA’s highest honor Saturday night at the guild’s annual black-tie gala at the Hollywood Palladium.

Producer Christian Colson picked up the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award as the Mumbai-set drama continued to rack up the awards-season accolades by besting “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Dark Knight,” “Frost/Nixon” and “Milk.”

“We are excited and delighted by the fact that our film continues to be embraced here in the U.S.,” Colson told the packed ballroom at the end of the two-hour ceremony. “Some could argue that this is the film that shouldn’t even have been made. There were no stars…. The budget was low, but not low enough. It was in Hindi. It was rated R. It wasn’t possible to pitch in 20 words or less.”

The fact that audiences and critics have so embraced the film, Colson added, is a testament to the “genius” of America, where anything is possible.

In a repeat of the recent Golden Globes and Emmy Awards, TV’s “Mad Men,” “30 Rock” and “John Adams” earned PGA trophies in the drama, comedy and longform categories, respectively.“Man on Wire” nabbed the PGA’s top documentary prize. The doc about tightrope walker Philippe Petit has already earned a number of honors including from the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics and the New York Film Critics. Ditto for “Wall-E,” another recent Golden Globe winner, which took home the PGA trophy for animated film.

The PGA also lauded CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which is in its 40th season, and Comedy Central’s relative newcomer “The Colbert Report” in the nonfiction TV and live entertainment/competition categories, respectively.

Tom Hanks, who earlier in the evening took home an award for producing “John Adams,” presented the PGA’s Milestone Award to Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.

“I’m very grateful to studio executives, quite honestly,” Grazer said, prompting laughter from the audience. Grazer singled out Universal topper Ron Meyer, who he joked “just this evening extended my contract through 2040.”

Michael Douglas received the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in film, as father Kirk Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones watched from the audience. The Vanguard Award was bestowed upon MySpace Founders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe. David Chase, who had been thanked during a speech earlier in the evening by “Mad Men” producer and one-time “Sopranos” writer Matthew Weiner, was tapped with the Norman Lear Achievement Award in TV.

Perhaps because this year’s PGA Awards fell on the same week as the presidential inauguration, politics was in the air, with a number of presenters and recipients referencing current events. Al Gore, who presented Participant’s Jeff Skoll with the Visionary Award, received a standing ovation from the crowd before hailing Skoll for his social activism. California Attorney General Gerry Brown, a political contemporary of Harvey Milk, presented the Stanley Kramer Award to “Milk” producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks and spoke of the recent passage of gay marriage ban Proposition 8 in the context of Milk’s own efforts to strengthen gay rights in the state.

“Slumdog” would seem to have the wind at its back going into the final stretch of awards season, but the PGA top award is hardly a harbinger of Oscar’s best picture. The two orgs have matched up 12 of 19 years, but only once in the last four years with “No Country for Old Men” taking home both prizes last year.

And the winners are:

The Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Slumdog Millionaire”
Christian Colson

The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:
“Wall-E”

Jim Morris

The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:
“Man on Wire”
Simon Chinn

The David L. Wolper Producer of the Year Award in Long-Form Television
“John Adams”
David Coatsworth
Frank Doelger
Gary Goetzman
Tom Hanks
Steven Shareshian

The Norman Felton Producer of the Year Award in Television – Drama
“Mad Men” (AMC)
Matthew Weiner
Scott Hornbacher

The Danny Thomas Producer of the Year Award in Episodic Television – Comedy
“30 Rock” (NBC)
Lorne Michaels
Tina Fey
Marci Klein
Robert Carlock
Jeff Richmond
Jerry Kupfer
David Miner

Producer of the Year Award in Non-Fiction Television
“60 Minutes” (CBS)
Jeff Fager

The Producers Guild of America Producer of the Year Award in Live Entertainment/Competition
“The Colbert Report” (Comedy Central)
Stephen T. Colbert, DFA
Jon Stewart
Allison Silverman
Richard Dahm
Meredith Bennett
Tom Purcell

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