Movie lovers have the Academy Awards and the music industry has the Grammys. But, the big event for fans of classic television is the annual TV Land Awards. This year’s event moves from the Barker Hanger at the Santa Monica Airport to the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal Studios. But, as per usual, it’s a great event to see stars of cancelled TV shows.
Though TV Land now produces new shows that aren’t directly related to classic TV, this yearly celebration is still focused on the stars and shows of years gone by.
Following in the footsteps of John Ritter, Brad Garrett, Megan Mullally, and Vanessa L. Williams, this year’s host is Neil Patrick Harris. He’s very popular these days from his work on How I Met Your Mother and the Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog web series. He’s also no stranger to classic TV, having starred in ABC’s Doogie Howser MD series 20 years ago. An accomplished musical theatre performer, Harris puts those skills to good use to kick off the show.
In an opening number that’s reminiscent of Billy Crystal’s montages from his years hosting the Academy Awards, Harris is inserted into scenes from classic shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, Happy Days (with guest Marion Ross), and Baywatch. Harris had a special-effects mishap in rehearsals and he was burned by flames. But, proving he’s a real trooper, Harris went on with the show and performed for the audience as if nothing had happened.
What else can you expect to see? Well…
Veteran comic and insult-hurler extraordinaire Don Rickles is honored with the Legend Award. He’s introduced by Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live) and saluted by his close friend Bob Newhart (Newhart) and others via recorded tributes.
Comedianne Amy Poehler is on hand to present fellow Saturday Night Live alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine) with the Lucille Ball Legacy of Laughter Award. It’s given each year to an entertainer whose work serves as an inspiration and a guiding force in the field of comedy.
Martin Sheen (The West Wing) presents the Impact Award to the cast and creators of M*A*S*H. Those on hand to accept the honor are castmembers Alan Alda (Hawkeye), Allan Arbus (Dr. Sidney Freedman), William Christopher (Father Mulcahy), Mike Farrell (BJ), Jeff Maxwell (Igor), Kellye Nakahara-Wallet (Nurse Kellye), Wayne Rogers (Trapper John), and Loretta Swit (Margaret), as well as producers Larry Gelbart and Burt Metcalfe.
The Icon Award is given to one of television’s longest running dramas, ER. The medical drama has now ended but castmembers reunite to pick up the honor. Those appearing on stage to accept the award are Angela Bassett (Dr. Banfield), Anthony Edwards (Dr. Greene), Alex Kingston (Dr. Corday), Linda Cardellini (Nurse Samantha), Ellen Crawford (Nurse Wright), Yvette Freeman (Nurse Adams), Lily Mariye (Nurse Jarvik), Kellie Martin (Lucy Knight), Paul McCrane (Dr. Romano), and Mekhi Phifer (Dr. Pratt).
This year, the Hero Award goes to Magnum PI and castmates Tom Selleck, Roger Mosley and Larry Manetti. The award is presented by Matthew McConaughey, the actor who’s set to play the private eye Thomas Magnum in the upcoming feature film.
Will Ferrell, the star of the upcoming Land of the Lost movie presents Sid and Marty Krofft with the Pop Culture Award. The tribute also includes a performance by Cyndi Lauper, country star Clint Black, Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch Variety Hour), and lots of characters from their memorable series like H.R. Pufnstuf and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.
Jamie Lee Curtis presents the Fan Favorite Award, given to an All-American classic show. The 2009 recipient is Home Improvement and castmembers Tim Allen (Tim), Zachary Ty Bryan (Brad), Debbe Dunning (Tool Time girl Heidi), Richard Karn (Al), Patricia Richardson (Jill), and Taran Noah Smith (Mark) accept the honor together.
Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives) presents this year’s Future Classic Award. This is the honor that goes to a current show that is expected to stand the test of time and become a television classic. The 2009 award goes to Two and a Half Men, a show that Hatcher guested on. Stars Jon Cryer (Alan), Conchata Ferrell (Berta), Angus T. Jones (Jake), Charlie Sheen (Charlie), and Holland Taylor (Evelyn), as well as series creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre and producer Mark Burg, accept the award.
Country music star Reba McEntire (Reba), hands out the Anniversary Award to Knots Landing’s. The primetime soap is celebrating 30 years on television and is one of the longest running evening dramas in TV history. Attending are castmembers William DeVane (Greg), Kevin Dobson (Mack), Lisa Hartman-Black (Cathy), Michele Lee (Karen), Constance McCashin (Laura), Donna Mills (Abby), Don Murray (Sid), Michelle Phillips (Anne), Ted Shackleford (Gary), and Joan Van Ark (Val), as well as series creator David Jacobs.
In a somewhat ironic twist, daytime’s Dr. Phil McGraw gives the Innovator Award to castmembers of the dysfunctional Married with Children sitcom. Members of the cast who reunite to accept the honor are Christina Applegate (Kelly), David Faustino (Bud), Ted McGinley (neighbor Jefferson), Ed O’Neill (Al), and Katey Sagal (Peg).
In addition, the Entertainer Award is given to iconic musical group Earth, Wind & Fire — Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson. Actress Angela Bassett presents the honor.
The seventh annual TV Land Awards are, of course, filled with plenty of other surprises and appearances by other classic stars. The show airs tonight at 8pm and again at 10pm on TV Land. It’s well worth watching.
We attended the event again this year and interviewed several attendees. We’ll be bringing them to you in the coming weeks, as well as a few that are left over from last year’s event.