Now in its ninth year, the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards, honoring positive portrayals of gays and lesbians, attracted more star power than ever, including Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Lee Curtis, Howie Mandel, Joni Mitchell and Cher. The awards were handed out in three cities--New York on March 30, Washington, D.C. on April 4, and last night in Los Angeles.

As the lights dimmed in the main ballroom at L.A.'s Century Plaza Hotel Sunday, the Captain and Tennille dusted off "Love Will Keep Us Together" to set the mood.

"I loooove Captain and Tennille!" whined cohost Fran Drescher, who told the crowd that it was time to "open up the closets?and let the trophies pour out."

And pour they did. Gregory Hines and Dana Delaney presented best dramatic series to ABC's NYPD Blue, accepted by Gordon Clapp (Medavoy) and openly gay producer Paris Barclay.

Next up was the comedy series award, claimed by another ABC show, the soon-to-be canceled Ellen. "I'm ABC's resident lesbian," cracked Lisa Darr (who does double duty as Ellen's girlfriend and as a lesbian on NYPD Blue) while picking up the trophy.

Noticeably absent from the proceedings was Ellen DeGeneres herself, who was also named winner of the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, presented to an openly gay celebrity who has battled homophobia. She was in London promoting the British debut of the coming-out "Puppy Episode."

Then Garry Marshall thanked GLAAD for inviting him back--and letting him wear the same tuxedo. "It's a big thing now," he said of the awards. "When we first started it was me and RuPaul handing out plaques."

And because there were so many celebrity presenters this year, Marshall said he felt like singing, "which is going to be very embarrassing." As he jokingly began the strains of "I Say a Little Prayer," out came Dionne Warwick to take over the reins.

Jamie Lee Curtis presented In and Out director Frank Oz with Outstanding Film in wide release. Oz remembered reading the response cards to an early screening of the film and was struck by one person who scrawled: "Do not put this movie out, it will be the ruin of you." "It wasn't, and I thank you for this," said Oz.

Finally, Vito Russo Entertainment award winner (for dealing with homosexuality in her music) k.d. lang presented Cher with the Vanguard award for promoting equal rights for gays. "I feel like the gay poster girl," said a clearly moved Cher. "Chastity, are you sufficiently proud of me now?" she asked her lesbian daughter, Chastity Bono, GLAAD's entertainment media director.

"I'm really proud of [Chastity], I'm really proud of you guys, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Here's the complete list of winners at the 1998 GLAAD Media Awards:

Excellence in Media Award: Bob and Harvey Weinstein
Stephen F. Kolzak Award: Ellen DeGeneres
Vanguard Award: Cher
Vision Award: Judith Light
Vito Russo Entertainer Award: k.d. lang
Outstanding Film (Wide Release): In and Out
Outstanding Film (Limited Release): Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink)
Outstanding Documentary: Paul Monette: A Brink of Summer's End
Outstanding TV Comedy: Ellen
Outstanding TV Movie: Any Mother's Son
Outstanding TV Drama Series: NYPD Blue
Outstanding TV Individual Episode: The Simpsons, "Homer's Phobia"
Outstanding TV Talk: Oprah Winfrey Show, "Ellen's Coming Out"
Outstanding Daytime Drama: All My Children
Outstanding TV Journalism: Entertainment Tonight
Outstanding Music: Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope
Outstanding Magazine Article: "Yep, I'm Gay," Time
Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: Advertising Age
Outstanding Newspaper Article: "What a Difference a Modem Makes," Matthew McAllester (Newsday)
Outstanding Newspaper Column/Columnist: "Outlooks" (Miami Herald)
Outstanding Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Print Media: Gay People's Chronicle (Cleveland, Ohio)
Outstanding Comic: For Better or For Worse
Outstanding Interactive Media: GLORadio
Outstanding L.A. Theater Production: Mountains
Outstanding L.A. Theater Production: Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde

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