Aside from a handful of new shows, old favorites dominated the television categories at the 31st Annual People’s Choice Awards. The Jan. 9 ceremony at the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif., and broadcast live, went smoothly, with Jason Alexander and Malcolm-Jamal Warner hosting without incident throughout the two-hour running time.
TV mainstays such as “Will & Grace” (honored as favorite TV comedy) and “CSI” (favorite TV drama) proved their continued popularity among viewers, while “Desperate Housewives” (favorite new TV drama) and Ellen DeGeneres (both favorite daytime talk show host and favorite funny female) scored among rookie programming. Matt LeBlanc’s win as favorite male TV star toed the line between new and old-an old character in a new show-with his “Friends” spinoff “Joey,” which also took home the award for favorite new TV comedy.
But Ms. DeGeneres was the clear star of the evening, winning two awards and showing off her legs to Mr. Alexander during the hosts’ opening remarks before supplying some of the night’s bigger laughs during her acceptance speech for daytime talk show host.
The People’s Choice Awards, which many consider the official marker for the opening of award season, are decided by the public via the Internet and include honorees from television, movies and music along with quirky categories such as best hair and best smile.
In that vein, the proceedings Sunday were much more along the lines of the good-humored Golden Globes than the reserved Academy Award ceremony. With screaming teens near the stage setting the tone, this year’s honorees used their acceptance speeches as much for laughs as to thank the friends and the industry insiders who made their wins possible.
Indeed, most of the evening’s winners and presenters kept the show speeding along, buoyed by equal measures of glamour and humor. Jessica Simpson and her husband, Nick Lachey, continuing to emerge as a classic comic duo, played off each other during their acceptance speech for favorite reality show-24/7 for the MTV hit “Newlyweds.” And last year’s hosts John Cryer and Charlie Sheen displayed their winning “Two and a Half Men” chemistry while presenting the award for favorite new TV comedy to the entire cast of “Joey.”
Producers of the show started the proceedings with a bang, supplied by a larger-than-life Prince, who presented Rene Zellweger with her award for favorite leading lady. Other Hollywood heavyweights such as Adam Sandler and Mel Gibson skipped the rain-soaked red carpet, but were on hand to accept their awards. Mr. Sandler and Drew Barrymore won for favorite on-screen chemistry, and Mr. Gibson nabbed the award for favorite motion picture drama. Johnny Depp made a welcome appearance via satellite to accept his win for favorite male movie star.
If Ms. DeGeneres was the star of the show, director Michael Moore, whose film “Fahrenheit 9/11” nabbed the award for favorite motion picture, was the star of the after-party. He shook hands with a string of admirers during his quick stop by the “Casablanca”-themed event. A faux gambling casino was set up among the tables, and “CSI” executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer and presenter Wilmer Valderrama were on hand to celebrate.
Other TV winners included “CSI’s” Marg Helgenberger (favorite female TV star), David Letterman (favorite late-night talk show host), “American Idol” (favorite reality show/competition) and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” (favorite reality series/makeover).
When the smoke cleared, Sunday’s event received a perhaps disappointing 3.3/7 rating among the coveted 18 to 49 age group, according to Nielsen Media Research. But this may not have come as a complete surprise, considering the show was doing battle with “Desperate Housewives” during the 9-10 p.m. hour. Proving just why it was one of the night’s big winners, ABC hit “Housewives” won the evening ratings battle with a 11.2/23 rating.