German literary critic rejects TV award

Marcel Reich-Raniki refuses Teutonic honor

In Germany, it seems that even accepting an award can be fraught with cultural tension.

Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Germany’s most famous literary critic, ignited a debate about the quality of Teutonic TV when he refused a lifetime achievement nod from the podium of the German Television Awards on Oct. 11.

Reich-Ranicki, who hosted a delightfully entertaining book critique show on pubcaster ZDF from 1988 to 2001, pronounced the kudofest “idiotic.”

“It’s terrible what I’ve had to endure here the last four hours. There are some evenings that are wonderful experiences (on TV). No, I won’t say those necessarily have to be evenings with Goethe or Bertolt Brecht. … But nothing like the idiocy that we’ve been watching here.”

Reich-Ranicki apparently had no qualms in adding, “I can only throw this object in front of me away.”

Some deemed him cranky. Others rushed to his defense.

“No one should resent him for this — he’s 88, in ill-health and I think the evening was simply too long for him,” says WDR topper Monika Piel.

ZDF gave Reich-Ranicki a 30-minute show wryly titled “In Light of Recent Events” on Oct. 17 to air his grievances at length. But RTL topper Anke Schaeferkordt rejected a plan to include TV execs in the discussion: “It’s hard for us to talk about TV with him when he doesn’t watch it.”