The pay cable network took home 32 fancy paperweights on Friday and Saturday nights--or more than one-third of all statuettes handed out in ceremonies for the 19th annual event honoring cable TV's best. And to think the broadcast network suits get huffy when HBO romps at their Emmy parties every fall--imagine how the folks at the Food Network must feel today.
Hungry, probably. HBO didn't leave many crumbs. It dominated virtually every major category: best comedy series (The Larry Sanders Show); best drama series (the not-so-wonderful prison world of Oz); best movie (Miss Evers' Boys); best dramatic special (Christopher Reeve's AIDS drama, In the Gloaming--also the top winner of the night, winning four Aces--including one for costar Glenn Close); and best variety series (The Chris Rock Show).
The awards were repeat performances for the likes of Chris Rock and the makers of Miss Evers' Boys, who were also honored at last September's prime-time Emmys. Bette Midler also experienced award-show déjà vu, adding two CableAces to the résumé of her Emmy-winning music special, Bette Midler--Diva Las Vegas (made for HBO, but of course.)
HBO is such the 800-pound gorilla at events like the CableAce Awards, the only real fun comes in seeing what the cable giant doesn't win. This year, the biggest upsets came in the acting categories. Young comedian Kel Mitchell, of Nickelodeon's hit series Kenan and Kel (if you're 12 or under, you know of what we speak), bested the likes of Garry Shandling (Larry Sanders) and Arli$$' Robert Wuhl to take his first CableAce for best actor in a comedy series. (Must have made Shandling--perennially snubbed by Emmy voters--feel right at home.) In the best actress in a comedy series category, the relatively lesser-known Sandra Oh of Arli$$ beat out the relatively better-known Janeane Garofalo (Larry Sanders) and Tracey Ullman (Tracey Takes On...)
Other notable winners included: TNT's George Wallace (best miniseries); Comedy Central's South Park (best animated series); CNN's Larry King (best interviewer); and Walter Cronkite (best documentary host, the Discovery Channel's Cronkite Remembers).
In the race of the also-rans, TNT was second among all cable networks with eight overall awards. Showtime (five), Cinemax (four), CNN (four), ESPN (four), Nickeodeon (three), Bravo (two), the Discovery Channel (two), Lifetime (two) and the Travel Channel (two) also managed to (briefly) interrupt the HBO juggernaut.