HBO skeins nab Nymphs

U.K. dominated awards ceremony with 26 kudos

MONTE CARLO — HBO’s “Sex and the City” and “Six Feet Under” walked away with Golden Nymphs for outstanding producer of the year in the categories of comedy and drama, respectively, at a gala awards ceremony closing the 44th Monte Carlo TV Festival Saturday.

Despite the strong showing for HBO, the U.K. dominated the awards ceremony, taking nine of the 26 Golden Nymphs handed out, including format awards picked up by Celador’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and RDF’s “Wife Swap.” Canuck outfit Distraction picked up an award for its format for “Love Bugs.”

Selleck, Noth attend

Tom Selleck, Chris Noth, Vincent D’Onofrio, the cast of “Mutant X,” Robert Vaughn and Dianne Wiest were among those attending the event, opened June 28 by its honorary president, the Crown Prince Albert of Monaco.

Also in the comedy category, Sweden’s “Cleo” picked up three Golden Nymphs for outstanding European producer of the year, with the outstanding actor and actress nod going to Johan Rheborg and Suzanne Reuter.

In drama, “Shameless” won outstanding European Producer of the year, its star Anne-Marie Duff the actress nod and Russia’s Evgeni Mironov picked up outstanding actor for “Idiot.”

Japanese pubcaster NHK walked away with three Golden Nymphs, including miniseries for “Bunshiro and Fuku” and star Masaki Uchino for actor. South Korean broadcaster MBC took telepic honors for “The Swamp.” Miniseries director nod went to Andrei Konchalovsky for Hallmark Entertainment’s “The Lion in Winter.”

The awards ceremony had a rare political moment when U.S. director John Erman, who picked up the Golden Nymph for director of a telepic (“The Blackwater Lightship”), thanked the fest for giving the award to an American, then issued a sweeping apology for the U.S. government and its president’s part in the Iraqi war.

The apology drew a round of applause from a packed audience.

Reality a hot topic

In a three-day lineup of formats conferences, “Television USA: The Real Dilemma” tackled the effect of reality shows on other formats, such as the traditional sitcom.

At that panel, Caryn Mandabach of Carsey-Werner-Mandabach told festgoers that “the traditional sitcom is dead,” although she blamed “the corporatizaton of the TV industry,” not reality shows, for its passing.

Tony Vinciquerra, president and CEO of Fox Networks Group, added that the lack of any backend revenue means that “many reality formats are just too expensive.”

A “Reality TV vs. TV Reality” panel conference brought in several psychologists as well as TV toppers to look at the lack of diversity in reality and news programs.

“We’re social animals who are hot-wired to not want to be left out,” said Richard Levac, a clinical psychologist and consultant on such shows as “Survivor” and “Cupid.”

An interactive presentation on Media Ethics co-sponsored by Variety followed a three-course gala dinner attended by Prince Albert. It drew heated debate when panelists were shown clips of atrocities in Iraq and elsewhere and asked about the ethics of showing them to viewers.

Professionals attending increased from 800 to 1,000 this year, fest exec VP David Tomatis told Daily Variety. He dismissed rumors the fest was in trouble financially or had become irrelevant in an age of Internet downloads.

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