I only made it through one hour of the Emmys last night because “Breaking Bad” rules my life and the second to last episode aired at the same time. But I followed along on Twitter and it seemed like the Emmys somewhat unintentionally were themed around death. In between giving out awards, various members of the television business who passed away this year were honored, either in individual tributes or as part of a montage. This went on throughout the show, rather than in a typical single segment, with five people getting individual tributes. (This dour mood makes sense when you consider how many especially well-known TV stars and contributors knocked on heaven’s door this year.) Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker on “All In The Family,” was honored by Rob Reiner; Edie Falco paid tribute to her “Sopranos” husband, James Gandolfini; and Jane Lynch remembered her “Glee” costar Cory Monteith, who died of a drug overdose in July. Comedian and actor Jonathan Winters, and Family Ties producer Gary David Goldberg were also individually honored. Not a dry eye was in the house, like, all night.
But one person was more angry than moved by the tribute to Monteith. Jack Klugman, who starred on “The Odd Couple” and was a three-time Emmy winner, passed away in December 2012 and was included in the remembrance montage, a fact which his son, Adam Klugman, says is “criminal” and “an insult.” The younger Klugman seemed to take particular issue with Monteith getting an in memoriam segment all his own, telling the Associated Press, “It really seems typical of this youth-centric culture that has an extremely short attention span and panders to only a very narrow demographic [of young adults].”
With all due respect to Klugman’s loss and his understandable desire to see Jack Klugman honored properly, I suspect the Emmy producers were aiming for balance between the individual tributes, in terms of age and how they contributed to the industry ( i.e. on screen or behind the scenes). Certainly, Monteith, at 31, was the youngest of the group by far, but given the strength of his popularity and how busy his career was at the time of his death, not to mention the sad and unexpected circumstances, it seems rather unkind and dismissive for Adam Krugman to write off Monteith’s tribute as pandering to a young (and supposedly ADD) audience, just as it would be totally disrespectful for anyone to complain that a tribute to Jean Stapleton panders to old fogies.
Anyway, the Emmys are an award show, not a funeral. We should be complaining about who was robbed of an award — Bryan Cranston! Aaron Paul! Louie CK! Kerry Washington! — not whose death deserves more attention than others. [Entertainment Weekly]