It was a big night for Jon Hamm, Amy Schumer, “The Americans” and “Empire” at the 31st annual TCA Awards held Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton.
The non-televised ceremonies were hosted by James Corden of CBS’s “Late Late Show,” who got the festivities off to a rollicking, irreverent start with cracks about the awards themselves.
“When I was first asked to host the TCAs, I thought it was the ‘Teen Choice Awards,’” he said, and went on to compare TV critics to teenagers, while noting that “teens eventually have a chance to get laid.”
Corden also disparaged the table decor at the hotel’s International Ballroom — home to other, swankier galas including the Golden Globe Awards, the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Crystal + Lucy Awards.
“Have fun with those water pitchers as centerpieces,” he said, before also criticizing the food served before the ceremonies and tying it in with a groan-worthy crack about Whitney Houston, who died at the Beverly Hilton in 2012.
Corden also touched on the changing face of the media landscape, citing popular shows that had ended including “Mad Men” and “Justified”–“and every show on NBC,” he said.
“We’re just months away from original content on Tinder,” he said. “If you like it, you swipe right, except for the New York Times, which would swipe left.”
And he singled out some of the winners– who know going into the show that they will take home the trophies—included “the formidable and unstoppable rise of Amy Schumer.” Corden termed Hamm “always gorgeous” and touched on the final scene of Don Draper in the lauded AMC drama. “He’s taking deep breaths thinking about Coke. That’s how Jon Hamm ends everything.”
Despite Corden’s joking, the evening’s only real important decor was the glass statues handed out to winners in 12 categories and voted on by 220 members of the Television Critics Association, some of whom served as presenters.
Schumer was a double winner, for individual achievement in comedy and outstanding achievement in comedy for her Comedy Central program, “Inside Amy Schumer.”
“Amy wanted to be here but unfortunately she couldn’t; she’s being treated for overexposure,” said “Inside Amy Schumer” writer Christine Nangle, who accepted both awards for Schumer, who also stars in the current box office hit “Trainwreck.”
HBO also scored two trophies, for “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” in the news and information category and for outstanding achievement in movies, miniseries and specials with “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.”
“The FBI called and said Durst was in New York and angry,” said director Andrew Jarecki in his acceptance speech, remembering some tense moments before the subject of his documentary series was arrested. “I told my wife and daughter– and that a new person would be taking her to school. She started crying. At the core of this story, lives were ruined, and Kathy [Durst’s] family was mistreated. Her brother Jim was waiting for that moment for 30 years. It was hard given the wealth and power of the Durst family, and that two other people were killed. The family knew that Bob Durst killed his wife.”
Hamm received enthusiastic applause as he accepted the award for individual achievement in drama, topping a field that included Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Matthew Rhys and Bob Odenkirk– although “Better Call Saul” went on to be awarded outstanding new program.
“You guys remember ‘The Division,’ 66 episodes with me and Taraji,” Hamm began, mentioning the little-noticed 2001-2004 cop drama. “Now, we’re beyond the golden age. It’s downloadavision or streamovision or whatever we will be calling it. In our eight seasons, or 7 ½ seasons, it took three seasons for people to realize we were not on A&E. It was the critics who compiled critical mass and let it rise from the noise. It’s been a fascinating journey. When I auditioned – eight times – literally no one wanted to cast me. Matt [Weiner] had to repeatedly push for me. I can only thank him for the last nine years and a singular creative experience.”
FX’s “The Americans,” a long-time critical favorite, took home the outstanding achievement in drama prize. It was presented by two TCA members, Hanh Nguyen and Michael Ausiello, dressed in costume as the characters played by leads Keri Russell and Rhys.
“Empire” took the coveted program of the year trophy. After shouting out co-creator Danny Strong as being his backbone and partner, Lee Daniels recalled that Fox bought the program “hook, line and sinker.” “I wanted to give you a black ‘Dynasty.’ But the show touches on issues important not just to the black community or the music community but to Americans,” he said, while noting that the cast is a bunch of “f-ing nutjobs.”
James L. Brooks, creator of landmark shows including “Room 222,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Rhoda” and “Taxi,” received the career achievement award, and remembered getting coffee for Edward R. Murrow when he was starting out. ”The best job in the world is to create a series that works,” he said.
In bringing the night full circle, David Letterman, king of CBS late night for two decades and on NBC prior to his recently ended run, was presented with the Heritage Award, with executive producer Barbara Gaines accepting.
Here is the complete list of recipients:
- Individual Achievement in Drama: Jon Hamm (“Mad Men,” AMC)
- Individual Achievement in Comedy: Amy Schumer (“Inside Amy Schumer,” Comedy Central)
- Outstanding Achievement in News and Information: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)
- Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming: “The Chair” (Starz)
- Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming: “The Fosters” (ABC Family) – second consecutive year
- Outstanding New Program: “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
- Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials: “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” (HBO)
- Outstanding Achievement in Drama: “The Americans” (FX)
- Outstanding Achievement in Comedy: “Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central)
- Career Achievement Award: James L. Brooks
- Program of the Year: “Empire” (Fox)
- Heritage Award: “Late Show/Late Night with David Letterman” (CBS/NBC)