Home Box Office remains the heart of original cable programming based on the 19th annual CableACE Awards, as the pay channel amassed 32 of 84 honors in ceremonies that culminated Saturday evening.
HBO's victory parade included a sixth consecutive win for "The Larry Sanders Show" as outstanding comedy series; best drama honors for "Oz," the gritty new prison series from the producers of NBC's "Homicide"; and the top movie prize for "Miss Evers' Boys," also an Emmy winner.
"In the Gloaming," directed by actor Christopher Reeve; "The Chris Rock Show," which earned recognition for its host as well as best variety series; and "Bette Midler--Diva Las Vegas," chosen as best music special or series, were among other HBO programs presented multiple awards.
Although more than two dozen cable networks received at least one trophy, HBO scored its most lopsided overall tally in several years, taking home four times as many prizes as the next-most-honored network, TNT, with eight. Showtime claimed five, while Cinemax, CNN and ESPN each totaled four.
Nickelodeon's three honors included best children's series for "Kenan and Kel" and acting recognition for that program's young star Kel Mitchell, edging a field that included "Larry Sanders" alter ego Garry Shandling.
A perennial Emmy also-ran, Shandling joked about his track record in that competition while laying claim to his latest CableACE for best comedy, saying, "I lost 16 times at the Emmys--17 if you count what happened when I hit on Kristen Johnston," referring to the statuesque co-star of NBC's "3rd Rock From the Sun."
TNT winners included the miniseries "George Wallace" and its star, Gary Sinise, who received his second consecutive acting prize in a biographical role after winning last year for HBO's "Truman." Director John Frankenheimer also won for "George Wallace," and Alfre Woodard followed her Emmy for "Miss Evers' Boys" with a CableACE.
The eclectic roster of honorees ranged from legendary newsman Walter Cronkite as host of Discovery Channel's "Cronkite Remembers" (also named best documentary series) to "South Park," the scatological animated series introduced earlier this year on Comedy Central.
David Hyde Pierce of NBC's "Frasier," who co-hosted the televised ceremony on TNT, picked up an award the night before for an episode of Showtime's "The Outer Limits." In addition, Oscar winner George C. Scott garnered a supporting actor award for that premium channel's remake of "12 Angry Men."
Programs televised between July 1, 1996, and Aug. 31, 1997, were eligible for consideration. Here's a partial list of winners:
Comedy series: "The Larry Sanders Show," HBO.
Dramatic series: "Oz," HBO.
Variety special or series: "The Chris Rock Show," HBO.
Movie: "Miss Evers' Boys," HBO.
Miniseries: "George Wallace," TNT.
Talk show series: "Inside the Actors Studio," Bravo.
Children's series--7 and older: "Kenan and Kel," Nickelodeon.
Children's special--7 and older: "Bong & Donnell: Family Video Diaries," HBO.
Children's special or series--6 and younger: "Mother Goose: A Rappin' and Rhymin' Special," HBO.
Animated programming special or series: "South Park," Comedy Central.
Educational special or series: "Great Books," TLC.
Documentary series: "Cronkite Remembers," Discovery Channel.
Music special or series: "Bette Midler--Diva Las Vegas," HBO.
Sports information series: "Outside the Lines," ESPN.
Sports news series: "Golf Central," Golf Channel.
Sports events coverage series: "ESPN Sunday Night Baseball," ESPN.
News special or series: "Investigative Reports: Meth's Deadly High," A&E.;
Public affairs special or series: "Talked to Death: America Undercover," HBO.
Dramatic or theatrical special: "In the Gloaming," HBO.
Stand-up comedy special or series: "HBO Comedy Hour--George Carlin: 40 Years of Comedy," HBO.
Performing arts special or series: "Leonard Bernstein's New York," Ovation.
Recreation and leisure special or series: "Lonely Planet: Ethiopia," Travel Channel.
Actor in a comedy series: Kel Mitchell, "Kenan and Kel," Nickelodeon.
Actress in a comedy series: Sandra Oh, "Arli$$," HBO.
Actor in a dramatic series: Eamonn Walker, "Oz," HBO.
Actress in a dramatic series: Rita Moreno, "Oz," HBO.
Actor in a movie or miniseries: Gary Sinise, "George Wallace," TNT.
Actress in a movie or miniseries: Alfre Woodard, "Miss Evers' Boys," HBO.
Performance in a music special or series: Bette Midler, "Bette Midler--Diva Las Vegas," HBO.
Newscaster: Jole Chen, Leon Harris, "The World Today," CNN.
Program interviewer: Larry King, "Larry King Live," CNN.
Entertainment host: Chris Rock, "The Chris Rock Show," HBO.
Sports host: Dan Patrick, "SportsCenter," ESPN.
Informational or documentary host: Walter Cronkite, "Cronkite Remembers," Discovery Channel.