President Carter Interrupts Emmys to Announce Middle East Peace

Jimmy Carter Camp David Israeli Egyp
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CBS, NBC Square Off With 24, ABC Only 19; Carter, Begin, Sadat Provide Drama

International politics transcended the 30th annual Emmy Awards last night when President Carter preempted a half hour during the awards to announce a Middle East peace breakthrough following the summit conference at Camp David.

Carter’s three-network announcement was far more dramatic than what was offered in the awards ceremony originating from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium before an SRO house of 2900.

Gerald Greene’s drama of genocide in the Hitler era, “Holocaust,” tied with “All In The Family,” the perennial CBS winner, in garnering six Emmys (not including two creative awards presented last week). In the network race, CBS-TV and NBC-TV were in a dead heat, each with 24 Emmys, Including creative awards, while ABC was third, with 19 and PBS had seven and syndicated programs one.

The telecast, which lasted three hours and 35 minutes, established a dubious record, the longest Emmy Awards in history, bettering the mark of last year’s three hours and 30 minutes (with this year’s Carter preemption the entire telecast actually covered a total of four hours and four minutes).

It was, on the whole, a singularly unimaginative and colorless affair, the show dragging on with no dramatic highlights aside from the preemption from Washington and the appearances of Carter, Israeli Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Sadat.

“Holocaust” won for the best limited series, best writing, best direction, as well as for supporting actress, lead actress and actor. Marvin J. Chomsky won for his direction of the WW II drama; Meryl Streep, for lead actress in a limited series; Michael Moriarty, lead actor in a limited series; Blanche Baker, for best single performance by a supporting actress in a comedy or drama series.

Family’ Top Comedy

In the comedy race, it was again “All In The Family” by a wide margin. The series was tabbed the best comedy show, the fifth time its won the distinction. It also won for writing and direction, and series performers Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton and Rob Reiner each won individual Emmys.

For Reiner, it was a repeat for supporting performance in a comedy; for Stapelton, it was her third turn at winning an Emmy, and for O’Connor, it was also the third brass ring.

Ben Vereen’s ABC-TV spec collected a total of seven Emmys, but six of these were for creative arts, handed out previous to last night’s telecast. “Holocaust,” won eight awards when the below-the-line or creative awards are Included, thus winning more Emmys than any other contender.

Alan Alda hosted the awards show, which was virtually devoid of any high points. It ran considerably overtime even though there were few entertainment segments; instead presented pretty much as straight awards program. This format didn’t seem to speed the proceedings, instead seemed to bog it down into a tedious routine lacking any spark or excitement.

Winners seemingly had been cautioned to keep their acceptance speeches brief, and while the motive was a worthy one, it kept the emotional impact to a minimum, robbing the program of any real punch. Most of the winners gave terse thank you’s, and that was it. It was efficient, but somehow the program dragged on and no time was saved in the process.

In accepting an Emmy for “Holocaust,” producer Herbert Brodkin observed that he had mixed feelings about accepting the award, saying that he was accepting it for events that “never should have happened, but did happen” — referring, of course, to the WW H killing of 6,000,000 Jews.

Repeat Winners

Ed Asner won an Emmy for best lead actor in a drama series for “Lou Grant.” This was a return engagement for the actor, who had won five Emmys previously. Michael Moriarty, who won for best lead actor in a limited series (“Holocaust”), had won two Emmys previously. He thanked tv “for having the courage to present a program” such as “Holocaust.”

Incidentally, producer Brodkin, accepting the Emmy for best limited series for that show, noted, “We have been praised with faint damns all over the world.”

Rita Moreno, a previous Emmy winner, won for best lead actress for a single performance in a drama or comedy series for “The Rockford Files.” The emotional Moreno, elated as she came on the stage, remarked, “I don’t know what the hell I want to say, I’m so excited.” But she did collect her wits long enough to thank Jim Garner, star of the series, her producer and so on.

When CBS board chairman William S. Paley came on to receive the Governor’s Award, the tv pioneer was given a standing ovation by the in-house audience. Paley, in a brief thank-you speech, pointed to the Washington press conference which preempted part of the telecast as an example of how important the tv medium has become.

A popular winner was Fred Astaire, who was given an Emmy as best lead actor in a drama or comedy special for his work in “A Family Upside Down.” Winner of three previous Emmys, Astaire received a standing ovation when he came on stage. Said the vet: “I’m absolutely delighted about this . . . I want to get off while I’m ahead.”

Another popular choice was Joanne Woodward, who was named best lead actress in a drama or comedy spec for “See How She Runs.”

It was, all in all, a long, long night and while it was a great one for the winners, it seemed to most that the Emmy Awards have become quite cumbersome, tending to be longer but not better.