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The first Critics’ Choice Television Awards, held June 20, 2011, made it the new kid on the TV kudosfest block.
An offshoot of the Critics’ Choice Awards, which honors movies, it was conceived to broaden the reach of the Broadcast Critics Association and muscle in on the territory of the Television Critics Association. The ceremony, hosted by Cat Deeley, was held at the Beverly Hilton and live-streamed on VH1. Two days later, an edited version aired on ReelzChannel. One of the categories was “most exciting new series,” and it featured eight honorees (Smash and Alcatraz among them) but no winners. (The category was retired in 2016.) All of that said, some very deserving awards were handed out at the first ceremony, including best drama series to Mad Men, AMC’s stylish hit set in the New York City advertising world of the 1960s.
Accepting the award was series creator Matthew Weiner, then 45, who played to the crowd by saying, “Like a TV critic, I’m a champion of the underdog.” Mad Men was the evening’s biggest winner, taking home three trophies that night, including those for best actor (Jon Hamm) and best supporting actress (Christina Hendricks) in a drama series.
Ahead of the ceremony, the Broadcast Critics Association had touted itself as the best predictor of Oscars and therefore was sure to be the best predictor of Emmys. And true enough, Mad Men went on to win outstanding drama series at the Emmys that year. (It was the third year in a row it won that prize, making it a safe bet.) Backstage at the Critics’ Choice TV Awards, Weiner and Hamm spoke to journalists about the upcoming season five, which was to feature an episode helmed by Hamm — his directorial debut.
In that episode, “Tea Leaves,” Jones’ Betty Draper is reintroduced having gained significant weight. The development required the actress to wear a fat suit, which Weiner had pitched to her beforehand to hide her real-life pregnancy. Years later, Jones recalled to THR her reaction to his idea: “I just loved it. … I’m game for things like that.”
This story first appeared in a November stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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