German TV awards show draws ire, audience

Revamped TV Awards gets triple last year's audience

COLOGNE, Germany -- A slimmed down, mainstream-friendly version of the German TV awards aired Sunday night to public protests from the local industry but the best ratings in years.

Nearly four million viewers tuned in to watch the awards, Germany's equivalent of the Emmys, on pubweb ARD. That's nearly triple last year's audience.

The show's organizers -- Germany's main channels ARD, ZDF, RTL, Pro7 and Sat.1 -- made radical changes to this year's awards to broaden their appeal. They dumped award categories en masse -- supporting actors, editors, screenwriters and camera folk went home empty handed this year -- in order to create a fast-moving, all-highlights show.

Germany's behind-the-camera talent protested, as did Germany's actors union, but the viewers' vote was trump.

Protests aside, few could argue with this year's decisions. ARD's mafia drama "Face to Face with Crime" won for best mini-series as well for its 'extraordinary contribution' to fiction. For TV entertainment, the extraordinary contribution nod went to Stefan Raab, Germany's one-man ratings machine, who also picked up a prize for best entertainment series for his music talent show "Unser Star Fuer Oslo," (Our Star for Oslo) also on ARD.

Best TV series went to Sat.1's legal comedy "Danni Lowinski." Christoph Bach won best actor portraying 60s radical Rudi Dutschke in ZDF's "Dutschke" while Ulrike Kriener took best actress for her starring role in ZDF's environmentally themed drama "Klimawechsel" (Climate Change).

Teutonic TV critics, however, lambasted Sunday's show, which included several gaffes. Most painful of which was the evening's supposed highlight: an honorary award to Germany's national soccer team for providing the "TV event of the year" at the soccer World Cup this summer.

Most in the industry were baffled, if not outraged, by the decision to give the country's top TV honor to a group of soccer players. But ARD pushed for the award, obviously hoping the national squad would provide a healthy ratings bump. But on the night, none of the players turned up, leaving assistant trainer Oliver Bierhoff to accept the award amid tepid applause from the industry crowd.

The Winners of the 2010 German TV Prizes:

Best Actor: Christoph Bach for "Dutschke" (ZDF)
Best Actress: Ulrike Kriener for "Klimawechsel" (ZDF)
Best Series: "Danni Lowinski" (SAT.1)
Best Entertainment Series: "Unser Star Fuer Oslo" (ARD)
Best TV Movie: "Tatort: Weil sie boese sind" (ARD)
Best Mini-Series: "Face to Face With Crime" (ARD)
Best Information Program: "Logo!" (Ki.Ka)
Best Comedy Show: "Heute Show" (ZDF)
Best Sports Program: "Soccer World Cup 2010" (RTL)
Best Docutainment Show: "Rach the Restaurant Tester" and "Rach's Restaurant School" (RTL)
Best Documentary: "Afghet - Ein Voelkermord" (ARD)
Best Reporting: "Somalia - Land ohne Gesetz" (ZDF)
Audience Award for Best Daily Series: "Storm of Love" (ARD)
Extraordinary Contribution to Fiction: "Face to Face With Crime" (ARD)
Extraordinary Contribution to Entertainment: Stefan Raab
Extraordinary Contribution to Information: "24 h Berlin" (ARTE)