TCA: Awards play second fiddle to the fun

Of the all-too-many award shows scattered throughout the year, none may be more downright fun than the Television Critics Assn. kudos.

Always scheduled on a Saturday night during the summer TCA tour, the event gives TV critics a chance to chat with those writers, producers and actors they’ve written about all year round in a laid-back off-the-record atmosphere.

This year’s event might’ve been one of most enjoyable, and bit more blue than usual, with “The Pacific” exec producer Tom Hanks and “Lost” exec producer Damon Lindelof firing off some hysterical one-liners.Tom-hanks-picture-1

Said Hanks, who cracks up the crowd every time he’s here – he won two years ago for “John Adams” – said he was awed by those who were at the podium earlier in the evening.

“Wow, you’ve filled the stage with luminaries like the creators of ‘Glee,’ ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’ and (emcee) Dax Shepard. … This is the last f*#-ing time I’m dressing up for you people.”

Lindelof rattled off some of the Twitter messages he received following the final episode of “Lost,” including one from a person who thanked him for wasting the last six years of their life.

Mild-mannered Steve Levitan, exec producer of “Modern Family,” stayed current and had some fun at the expense of his own network.

“Thank goodness we have a champion in our corner like Steve McPherson,” Levitan said in accepting the award for best comedy. “He told me ‘Guys, as long as I’m around you have nothing to worry about.

He also gave a shout out to Rico Rodriguez, who plays the adorable Manny and turned 12 years old Saturday. All the attendees, with Hanks being the first to stand up, sang a spontaneous “Happy Birthday.”

On a much more serious note, and an aside to the power of television, “MASH” luminaries Gene Reynolds, Burt Metcalfe, William Christopher and Mike Farrell took the state near the end of the night to accept the Heritage Award, for iconic show’s social impact.

A spectacularly worthy choice, “MASH” unified the country like few shows ever have. Balancing between gut-gusting laughs and making an ultraserious statement about the absurdities of war was always the genius of “MASH” and Reynolds told the story of how Alan Alda had to be reassured before filming started that the series wasn’t going to be “McHale’s Navy.”

All in all, with no red carpet, no tuxes and no pressure, the TCA’s remain a must-attend event for small-screen aficianados.

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