TCA Awards honor Sopranos, Heroes

The 59th Primetime Emmy Awards nominations set the television world abuzz with excitement last week, but the actual winners of the most cherished television awards show won't be revealed until mid-September, when the ceremony actually takes place. Thankfully for TV addicts jonesing for some television awards now, the Television Critics Association Awards show took place over the weekend in Los Angeles, giving some their "And the winner is..." fix.

The top prize, the Program of the Year award, went to NBC's mega-hit Heroes, which beat out fellow nominees (and a near who's who of Emmy snubs) American Idol, Friday Night Lights, Planet Earth, The Wire, and When the Levees Broke.

The TCA awards are voted on by more than 200 American and Canadian TV critics, and the body seemed more than willing to spread the love around to different shows, making sure award-worthy programs took home at least one prize rather than see one show dominate the field.

Heroes won program of the year, but did not win Outstanding New Program, for which it was also nominated. That honor went to Friday Night Lights. Heroes was also nominated in the best drama category, but that prize went to The Sopranos, which ended Lost's back-to-back wins.

NBC continued its strong showing by winning the Outstanding Achievement in Comedy award for The Office. The show topped 30 Rock, Entourage, Ugly Betty, and The Daily Show. In total, NBC nabbed four awards, the most of any network.

The TCA Awards are constructed a bit differently in the acting categories than in other award shows. Rather than recognizing individual performances by gender, the group lumps everyone into either a drama or comedy pool.

For example, this year Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) and Jon Stewart (The Daily Show), both Emmy nominees for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, took on Tina Fey (30 Rock), America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), and Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) in a gender-free battle royale. Baldwin won the award.

The Individual Drama category proved just as ferocious, with Michael C. Hall (Emmy snub!) winning the award for his portrayal of a serial killer in Dexter. Hall, who was not nominated for an Emmy for the role, was up against Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights (both also absent from the bloated Emmy ballot), Hugh Laurie for House, and Helen Mirren for Prime Suspect.

Kyle XY fans should feel some relief that at least someone else recognizes the show's quality. The cult show took home the award for Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming.

The Sopranos also won the Heritage award, which recognizes a long-running show that has a had a cultural or societal impact. The drama's two wins tie it with the Discovery Channel's Planet Earth for most wins on the night. Planet Earth won the Outstanding Achievement in News & Information and Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-Series & Specials categories.

Unlike the lifetime achievements awards of most awards shows, which pick one recipient in advance, the TCA's Career Achievement is treated like any other category, letting faces of television's past suffer through the anticipation of getting their name called like anyone else. Winning this year was Mary Tyler Moore, who beat out her male-dominated competition in William Shatner, Ed Bradley, Bill Moyers, and Larry Gelbert.

For more information on the TCA and the TCA Awards, head over to the organization's Web site. Below is the complete list of this year's nominees, with winners in bold:

Program of the Year
American Idol
Friday Night Lights
Planet Earth
When the Levees Broke
The Wire

Outstanding Achievement in Drama
Friday Night Lights
The Sopranos
The Wire

Outstanding Achievement in Comedy
30 Rock
The Daily Show
The Office
Ugly Betty

Outstanding New Program
30 Rock
Friday Night Lights
Ugly Betty

Outstanding Achievement in News & Information
Baghdad ER
Bill Moyers Journal
Planet Earth
When the Levees Broke

Outstanding Achievement in Children's Programming
Dora the Explorer
Johnny and the Sprites
Kyle XY
Lincoln Heights
SpongeBob SquarePants

Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-Series & Specials
Broken Trail
Planet Earth
Prime Suspect
The State Within
When the Levees Broke

Individual Achievement in Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

Individual Achievement in Drama
Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Kyle Chandler, The Daily Show
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Helen Mirren, Prime Suspect

Heritage Award
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Sesame Street
The Sopranos

Career Achievement
Ed Bradley
Larry Gelbert
Bill Moyers
William Shatner
Mary Tyler Moore

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