Producers Joshua Brand and John Falsey were double winners at the annual Television Critics Association presentations, with their programs "Northern Exposure" and "I'll Fly Away" both taking home prizes.
CBS's "Northern Exposure" was voted program of the year by the approximately 150 members of TCA, while NBC's "I'll Fly Away" was honored as the year's best drama."Now, `Northern Exposure' is a big hit, but it wasn't when it first came on," Brand said in accepting the award. "Really, if it hadn't been for you (critics) it probably wouldn't have gone on past the summer. This is not simply to flatter you, although it is somewhat to flatter you."
His partner had similar comments when accepting the plaque for "I'll Fly Away."
"The fact that `I'll Fly Away' is returning to NBC in the fall is due in no small part to you, the national press," Falsey said. "It certainly isn't the ratings."
About the only thing Brand and Falsey didn't win was the award for career achievement, although they were nominated. That award went to recently retired "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson.
In addition to "I'll Fly Away" and Carson, NBC took home a third award. "Seinfeld" was honored as best comedy.
Not surprisingly, Carson did not appear at the Century Plaza Hotel to accept his award, but he did send his thanks in a prepared message:
"I am honored and very appreciative for this recognition and I would like to thank all of you for your support. It has been overwhelming."
On the other hand, Jerry Seinfeld was on hand to accept his plaque, although the fact that it was a plaque and not a statue seemed to disturb him.
"I'm stunned. I'm speechless. I had no idea that it was going to be wood," Seinfeld said. "This is a completely upsetting development. I thought for sure it would be something that could stand somehow, but now I've got to nail this to something to show people that I won it."
Actually, Seinfeld was the hit of the evening as he poked fun at the critics while expressing his appreciation.
"This is the first thing we have ever won as a show, and it's really quite appropriate that it's coming from you people here," he said, echoing the theme of the evening. "A reason my show is on the air is because of the help that we got in the early days.
"This is a show - we didn't plan success for this. We thought, let's do something we can be proud of so people would go, `Boy, they shouldn't have taken your show off the air.' "
PBS' "Frontline" was named tops in the news and information category. And the Academy Awards and its host, Billy Crystal, won as best special.
In the sports category, a documentary from HBO beat out three CBS nominees - coverage of the Masters, the Winter Olympics and the World Series.
"When It Was a Game," a charming, nostalgic look back at major league baseball in the 1930s, '40s and '50s, was voted the top sports program of the year by the critics.
A longtime nominee in the children's programming category finally won. Peggy Charren, who fought for better programming for more than 20 years as the founder and president of Action for Children's Television, was awarded the plaque.
Unfortunately, Charren was at home in Massachusetts fighting the effects of pneumonia. But she did send a statement, saying, "How wonderful to get patted on the back by the television press, and how terrible to be stuck at home coughing, instead of celebrating with all of you."
Interestingly, "Northern Exposure" was nominated in both comedy and drama categories as well as for program of the year. And "I'll Fly Away" was nominated as program of the year as well.
Winners are listed in the box on C1. Here are the other shows that were nominated in each category, again by vote of the TCA members:
Program of the Year: "Brooklyn Bridge," "I'll Fly Away" and "The Simpsons."
Drama: "Civil Wars," "Homefront," "Law & Order" and "Northern Exposure."
Comedy: "Brooklyn Bridge," "Murphy Brown," "Northern Exposure" and "The Simpsons."
News and Information: CNN's Russian Coup Coverage, Ted Koppel, Nightline and C-SPAN.
Specials: "When It Was a Game" and "MGM: When the Lion Roared."
Sports: The Masters Tournament, the Winter Olympics and the World Series.
Children's Programming: Linda Ellerbee/Nickelodeon, Magic Johnson AIDS Special, 3-2-1 Contact Special "Sex and Growing Up" and "Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego?"
Career Achievement: Roone Arledge, Steven Bochco, Joshua Brand/John Falsey, Peggy Charren and Ted Turner.
TCA award winners
Program of the Year: Northern Exposure
Drama: I'll Fly Away
News and information: Frontline
Special: Billy Crystal Academy Awards
Sports: When it was a game
Children's Programming: Peggy Charen, Action for Children's Television
Career Achievement: Johnny Carson