The SAG Awards: Solidarity at 75
Tina Fey by Michael Caulfield/ WireImage.com, Julie Christie by Michael Caulfield/ WireImage.com
If this year's SAG Awards (simulcast Sunday on TNT and TBS) will be remembered for anything, it won't be for who won or lost- there was little surprise and virtually no suspense in the no-frills ceremony- but for its symbolic timing in the middle of a painful, industry-crippling labor strike.
Airing two weeks after the pathetic teleconference-style Golden Globes braadcast, hobbled together after the threat of pickets shut down that night's gala, the SAGs (marking the union's 75th anniversary) attracted a glittery gathering of movie and TV stars- although there were still some curious no-shows, including TV winners Alec Baldwin, Kevin Kline and this year's
host Queen Latifah as well as film nominee George Clooney. More than a few voiced their support on stage for their striking brethren in the WGA Guild, including Tina Fey (herself a WGA member) and Julie Christie, who noted, "It's lovely to receive an award from your own union, especially at a time when we are being so forcefully reminded how important unions are."
In case we missed the point, the show featured several mini history lessons (introduced by Blair Underwood) throughout the show, listing SAG achievements over its three-quarters of a century. The final segment concluded: "As technology changes once again, we look to our guild for guidance."
We who looked to the SAGs for an entertaining night of TV? Not so lucky.
There was one genuinely moving moment, however, as Daniel Day Lewis accepted his "Actor" for his remarkable performance in
There Will Be Blood
and used the occasion to selflessly honor Heath Ledger, recalling specific moments of greatness from his breakthrough performances in
. Actors' love for fellow actors, that's a compelling reason to tune in.
The life achievement salute to Charles Durning may have droned on a bit too long, and the less said the better about Burt Reynolds' peculiar introduction in which he suggested that upon meeting Durning, everyone wants to "take a bite right out of his cheek." Remember when Reynolds used to be clever, charismatic and coherent? Still, it's refreshing to see an award like this go to a longtime journeyman character actor (and World War II hero) who made good, despite a history in which everyone from his teachers to Joseph Papp told him "You ain't got it." Durning clearly had it, and was clearly touched at the honor.
Respect for veteran actors is all well and good, but we probably could have done without Mickey Rooney milking his own standing ovation when he came out as a presenter, babbling on as if he had won something, even stopping the show to introduce his wife.
Nevertheless, it's somehow heartening to know that Hollywood is alive and well, able to irritate and amuse us in equal measure, as we continue to endure the strike and wonder when it will all be over.
Oh, who won? It was a sweep and a last hurrah for the legendary
(James Gandolfin, Edie Falco and ensemble cast), a benediction that's hard to argue with, although I'd have loved to see
and/or its star Jon Hamm acknowledged for its breakthough season. In comedy, it was all NBC, with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin of
winning acting honors, and the ensemble cast of
triumphant for the second consecutive year.
With that, it's a wrap. And now we look forward to the Oscars, wondering if and how the show will go on if the strike isn't resolved sometime next month.