The only parts of televised entertainment awards shows that entice me to watch are the In Memoriam packages.
On Sunday, during the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, producers managed to make even a celebration of the dead controversial.
In addition to the traditional en masse tribute to the professionals who passed away in the preceding year, this awards program set aside five people for special recognition.
Robin Williams did a delightful appreciation of his mentor, the brilliant improvisational comic Jonathan Winters.
Rob Reiner and Edie Falco became teary-eyed as they paid homage to Jean Stapleton of “All in the Family” and James Gandolfini of “The Sopranos,” respectively.
Michael J. Fox delivered a brief, but heartfelt, valentine to Gary David Goldberg, the producer of “Family Ties” and “Spin City.”
It was Jane Lynch’s tribute to Cory Monteith, her fellow cast member on “Glee,” that raised eyebrows.
Monteith, 31, died July 13 of what the coroner described as “mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol.”
Lynch praised Monteith’s sense of humor, generosity and sweetness, saying, “Cory was a beautiful soul. He was not perfect, which many of us here tonight can relate to. His death is a tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that is brought on by addiction.”
Adam Klugman, the son of late actor Jack Klugman, took the television academy to task for choosing to pay tribute to a young, relatively unaccomplished troubled actor instead of his own three-time, Emmy-winning father, star of two long-running hit programs, “The Odd Couple” and “Quincy.”
“It’s an insult,” Adam Klugman said, “and it really seems typical of this youth-centric culture that has an extremely short attention span and panders to only a very narrow demographic. I don’t mean to say anything disparaging about (Monteith), but he was a kid who had won no Emmys, and it was a self-induced tragedy.”
Others were stunned that Larry Hagman, star of “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Dallas,” was not singled out for a special honor.
Although Hagman never won an Emmy, his performance in the “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of “Dallas” garnered the highest domestic television ratings up to that moment, with 83 million people tuning in.
Although he might have expressed it gracelessly, as people mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, Adam Klugman made a salient point about generational ignorance of long-lasting talent.
The younger the media gatekeepers get, the less and less they know about or care to communicate about entertainers who have had important, groundbreaking careers.
The exclusion of Harry Morgan from the memoriam package at the 2012 Academy Awards was also utterly insulting.
Yes, he was more popular for his TV work on “Dragnet” and “M*A*S*H,” but he acted in more than 100 films, including such classics as “High Noon,” “Inherit the Wind” and “The Ox-Bow Incident.”
I can only wonder how many of this year’s Emmy winners will receive the recognition due them when they pass away at the end of long, productive careers and the children of the current generation are the media gatekeepers.