13th annual SAG Awards

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8-10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28
TNT and TBS


Congratulations, executive producer/director Jeff Margolis. This is how you run an awards show. You make sure the winners have their acceptance speech moment onstage unimpeded by hurry-up-and-get-lost music. You steer clear of the dopey nostalgia clips packages. You make sure the frills are kept to a bare minimum. And then after two hours, you call it a night.

The SAG Awards telecast Sunday night played like an awards show should and hardly ever does, and the Oscars and Emmys could learn a thing or two from the economical way in which this show played out. You never felt while watching it that it was interminable or insufferable or any other term that begins with "in" except for perhaps interesting. Bravo.

Here we had a no-muss, no-fuss kudofest in which the speeches were the star -- as should always be the case. I never understand the notion of needing to hurry along the show and thus making certain to interrupt the victors giving thanks. I mean, if you're an awards telecast and the winners aren't the most important element in the mix, that's God's way of telling you that your priorities are out of whack. Without a "Get lost" cue arriving promptly at the 30-second mark, we had some charming, relaxed, memorable acceptances that made the show feel more like a sincere homage than an anxiety-riddled machine.

The high points were many, for a change. At the top of that list would be the Life Achievement Award bestowed on a typically poised and fabulous-looking Julie Andrews, who might just be the most worthy honoree in SAG history. But Andrews was in good company. Nobody really dropped the ball this night.

You had to love Chandra Wilson, winning for female actor in a drama series for "Grey's Anatomy," starting off her acceptance by saying, "First of all, it's about those 10 cast members sitting over there, and the other one in rehab" (referring, of course, to Isaiah Washington). And then came her speech climax, which has to be up there with the most honest and moving and memorable for any awards show: "And last but not least, just to be able to take this thing home to my girls, in particular, and hold it in front of them and say, 'Look, with this skin and this nose and this height and these arms -- you know, I'm here!' " And indeed she was.

If the telecast suffered any hint of disingenuousness, it might have been the interlude where SAG honored the voices that are "heard but not seen," the voice-over artists who are bestowed far too little credit. It was appropriately laudatory; the problem is just how underutilized these pros have become in an age when big-name stars take all the plum roles in big-budget studio features. But perhaps that little irony was lost on most of this industry crowd.

And again, the predominant feeling Sunday night from the Shrine Exposition Center was one of joy -- that Brits such as Helen Mirren and Hugh Laurie are ours to enjoy, that Eddie Murphy has defied gargantuan odds to become the Comeback Kid and that a sleeper like "Little Miss Sunshine" can sneak in and snatch a SAG cast statuette from such megahyped releases as "The Departed" and "Babel." It made for a SAG-cast that proved a model for its awards season ilk: workmanlike, yes, but warm and altogether exhilarating in its respect for what those on that stage had to say.

13TH ANNUAL SAG AWARDS
Jeff Margolis Prods. in association with SAG
Credits:
Executive producer/director: Jeff Margolis
SAG producers: Yale Summers, Daryl Anderson, Shelley Fabares, Paul Napier, JoBeth Wlliams
Producer: Kathy Connell
Supervising producers: Gloria Fujita O'Brien, Mick McCullough
Associate producer: Cynthia Kistler
Writer: Stephen Pouliot
Executive in charge of production: Benn Fleishman
Production designers: John Shaffner, Joe Stewart
Lighting designer: Jeffrey Engel
Musical director: Lenny Stack
Art directors: Keaton S. Walker, Keith Greco
Executive in charge of talent: Maggie Barrett Caulfield
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