'Side Effects' wins top German television prize

Telefilm followed 1960s Thalidomide scandal

COLOGNE, Germany -- "Side Effects," a telefilm about the Thalidomide birth defect scandal in the 1960s won the top prize at the German Television Awards Saturday night.

The project spent more than a year in the courts fighting Thalidomide manufacturer Gruenenthal, which tried to prevent it going to air.

The prize was one of very few highlights in an awards ceremony that made this year's Emmys look entertaining. Almost.

The only bit of unscripted excitement came when Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Germany’s most famous book critic, turned down his lifetime achievement award. But even that was cut out of the show's time-delayed broadcast.

The night was a comeback of sorts for German commercial TV, with RTL taking multiple statuettes including best series for sitcom "Doctor’s Diary" and best entertainment show for "DSDS," the German version of "American Idol." Pro7 won best comedy show for "Switch Reloaded" and Sat.1 took the best visual effects trophy for the TV movie "The Secret of Loch Ness."

But Germany's public broadcasters again swept the news and documentary categories, as they do virtually every year.

Veronica Ferres, Germany’s best-known TV actress, won her first German TV award for her starring role in the miniseries "The Woman From Checkpoint Charlie." Misel Maticevic won best actor for his work in RTL's new crime series "The Dark Side."