Cory Monteith Emmy Tribute Starts Debate
Kristen M. Foster
“Does Cory Monteith Deserve A Special Emmy Memorial?” was the headline of Variety Editor-in-Chief Andrew Wallenstein’s Opinion column yesterday.
The question Wallenstein poses is not whether Monteith deserved to be recognized alongside the others that will be featured in the regular Memoriam segment, but rather does his career warrant elevation alongside James Gandolfini, Gary David Goldberg, Jean Stapleton and Jonathan Winters? And above such TV legends as Larry Hagman?
A poll offered alongside the Variety article asks readers their opinion. As of Tuesday evening, results were slightly in favor of the tribute.
Monteith is one of five television stars who passed on this year and will be receiving a special tribute in addition to being featured among the many actors, producers and other entertainment professionals featured in the Memoriam segment of the prime time Emmys broadcast this Sunday.
While Wallenstein lauds Monteith’s Glee work as showing great promise and allows that the actor’s death was tragic—making no judgment on the circumstances surrounding it unlike others voicing their dissent—he proposes that an honor of this type ought not be laid on an actor whose body of work was so short-lived and who had not warranted an Emmy nomination to date. Though Monteith is not among them, Glee’s directing, casting, fellow actors and guests have added up 39 Emmy nominations including six wins.
For those who might question Gandolfini’s inclusion, Wallenstein sites him and his most recognized role in The Sopranos as transformative in television history. Gandolfini won three Emmy awards as Tony Soprano, for Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He was also nominated an additional three times and was nominated in a producing role for two miniseries, Hemingway & Gellhorn and Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq.
The Opinion piece gets to the financial bottom line of the debate by pointing out that honoring Monteith among more aged and revered personalities may be an award show bid to, “cater to the younger audiences that are in decreasingly short supply for award shows these days.”
“The event should be first and foremost about recognizing a body of work,” Wallenstein concludes. “In that respect, the Emmys needs to aspire to timelessness… It’s about what has been achieved—not what could have been.”
Awards show Memoriam segments are often under scrutiny for those left out of the montage. This year’s Academy Awards broadcast passed over Andy Griffith and Larry Hagman (one hopes Hagman will not suffer the same on Sunday). While the Academy pointed fans to an online tribute, that alone missed others, among them comedian Phyllis Diller.
Just in case you are unfamiliar with the other three being given the special tribute…
Gary David Goldberg was a 30-plus-year veteran writer and producer of film and TV series, most notably Family Ties in the 1980’s, Spin City in the 1990’s and the movie Must Love Dogs (2005). He has two Emmy awards and five additional nominations.
Jean Stapleton’s career stretched for half a century, with roles on Broadway, in television and film, including her most recognized as Edith Bunker in All in the Family (1968-1979), for which she won three Emmys. She was additionally nominated seven times.
Jonathan Winters most recently voiced Papa Smurf in the 2011 and 2013 films but his credits go back to the 1950’s as a comedian and night club performer with roles in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Bob Hope specials and Mork & Mindy in the early 1980’s. He has two Emmy nominations, including one win.[Images via Variety.]