SAG Awards TV: AFTRA Shows Pull Even With SAG; 'Boardwalk Empire', 'Modern Family', And Betty White Get First Wins

For the first time in a long time, both top TV series categories, best drama and comedy ensemble, featured first-time winners, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and ABC’s Modern Family. And for the first time, a winner in one the top categories, Modern Family, was an AFTRA-affiliated show.

Last year, Julianna Margulies’ win for best actress in a drama series marked the first time in recent history that a SAG award had gone to an actor on an AFTRA-represented series, CBS’ The Good Wife. The other 5 series categories were won by SAG shows. Fast-forward to tonight when 3 out of the 6 SAG Awards for series, or 50%, went to AFTRA-designated shows. That included best actress in a drama series, in which Margulies repeated for a second consecutive year, best comedy series ensemble (Modern Family) and best actress in a comedy series (Hot in Cleveland‘s Betty White) Backstage, Margulies supported the ongoing movement to merge the two actors unions, SAG and AFTRA. “I would like us all to be one,” she said. “We’re in an industry where power comes in numbers.” Onstage, Melissa Leo, winner in the best supporting actress in a movie category for The Fighter made an emotional plea for unity. “Let’s join together,” she said in her acceptance speech. “Let’s make it a real voice. Unions made this country great because they give the voice to the working people.”

The SAG Awards producers’ choice to have Betty White and Alec Baldwin open the ceremony as first presenters proved more than serendipity as the two were big winners  tonight. “Aren’t we lucky to be in this business and still be working at our age,” White quipped to Baldwin in their intro. Luck was definitely on the duo’s side. 30 Rock star Baldwin landed a record fifth consecutive SAG Award for best actor in a comedy series. “This is ridiculous,” he said in his speech and had a point. A minute later, White outdid him by winning her first regular SAG Award in her first nomination at age 89, the oldest actor to do so. And she did it a year after she was awarded a lifetime achievement award at last year’s SAG Awards. (Those things usually happen in reverse order.) I’m not sure what is harder to believe – that White can still work full-time at this age or that she has never been nominated for a SAG Award before. (Though the SAG Awards have only been around for 17 of White’s 66 years in the business.)

Boardwalk Empire ended Mad Men‘s streak of 2 consecutive wins in the best drama ensemble category as the HBO drama is establishing itself as an awards juggernaut. And just like it did at the Golden Globes, the prohibition era extravaganza also won for best actor in a drama series, star Steve Buscemi.

In the long-form categories, Claire Danes and Al Pacino completed their awards sweep for their roles in HBO’s Temple Grandin and You Don’t Know Jack, respectively, by adding SAG Awards to their Emmys and Golden Globes.

  1. Boardwalk and Modern Family deserved these awards. No other shows on TV come close to this level of excellence. The casting is superb and the stories they tackle are unlike any others. The bar is set high.

    Loved the clip from Boardwalk. That was my favorite line of the first season from the character of Margaret. Brilliant.

  2. the SAG awards have only been around since mid-90s and the most award-worthy part of Betty White’s career was pre-1995. it’s not like the guild has been shunning her for 60 years.

  3. Gee Nicki – again you show your lack of knowledge (which I can’t understand for apparently a pretty savvy and well read entertainment blogger). SAG has only been giving out awards for 16 years – where would they have shoehorned Betty White in there? I mean they started even after the Golden Girls went off the air!

    Melisso Leo may have given a fine performance in the Fighter but she’s a real loose cannon without a script and overly emotional. Unions are NOT what made this country great. While I very much enjoyed the film – she is now a zero in my book.

    And usually I like this show alot – but it really had no pizzaz this year at all. And why can’t these actors put two sentences together when accepting a best actor award? It’s just ridiculous. Besides Betty White, the only two who could think without notes were Baldwin and Margulies.

  4. Well that was a very good winners. And a good show. And it lasted only 2 hours. We didn’t have to sit 3,5 – 4 hours.

    – Very happy for King’s Speech. But where was Guy Pearce? Where were the other actors? They are british (or some even ausie?)and not famous but couldn’t the studio buy them tickets to USA for awards? They could bring kids from India for Slumdog. But could not bring actors from England? There was so lonely on the stage where only main 3 actors received that final award.

    – What’s with GEOFFREY RUSH’s baldness that he hides under hat? I’m really, really concerned about the cancer thing. I don’t want him to be sick. Did someone asked him? Maybe it’s for a role.

    – JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE’s ego will not have that SAG statuette award for his acting at home. Every time they showed him and I always had the feeling that he doesn’t belong there. Just like Bruce Willis would be looking ridiculous while accepting Grammy or VMA award. We know Bruce likes to sing but he doesn’t belong among music royalty.

    – With all those King’s Speech and Social Network twists lately for the last seconds I was hoping that ANNETTE BENING will beat NATALIE PORTMAN.

    – Very Happy for STEVE BUSCEMI. But that PAZ DE LA HUERTA chick is such a trash that you can’t even look at her without smile. And now she will have SAG award at home… Ridiculous.

    – Glad MODERN FAMILY beat GLEE. Because MF is a comedy where you laugh every 10 seconds. While Glee is some fantasy world that doesn’t have any connection to reality. And it’s not even funny anymore with all those Kurt dramas. And Glee went home empty handed at all. Even Mighty Jane Lynch was beaten by 90-old granny :)

    – BETTY WHITE’s award was ridiculous. I have enormous respect for her. For the fact that at that age not only she can come to awards shows but even could find a respectable job in a TV show. But still they gave her award not for her acting but because she is Betty White and everyone love her.

    – So tired with AL PACINO and CLAIRE DANES wining everywhere for that roles. No one knows and no one watched those two show that they are getting awards. And every time everyone have to sit and listen their lame speeches about show no one knows and doesn’t care.

    1. Shy, Geffory Rush is doing The Diary of a Madman on stage, that’s why he is bald. It just had a run in Australia and will open at the Brooklyn Academy of Music soon. He’s fine.

  5. I love Betty White’s comedic timing and respect her talent. If you watch re-runs of “The Golden Girls”, she is still funny. All that said, “Hot In Cleveland” is a formulaic sitcom where the jokes are awkwardly written as if they have pauses for where they expect the audience to laugh. And White’s character is a supporting character who has less screentime than the 3 leads. She shouldn’t have won last night.

    Vergara turned a character who could have been one note into a multi-layered, lovable and funny character. Her work was more deserving IMO. Lynch is funny, but her character is unrealistic and just appears to say something ridiculous and leaves. Glad “Modern Family” won. The show is very good.

    And Ella, shut up about “Diversity” already. You’re a broken record. No one wants to keep reading your cries for equality on a message board. I am Latino. I’m all for shows representing how America looks in real life. But I also don’t like being pandered to. Worry about writing and hiring the best actor for the job rather than going “Oh lets get two bland boring African American leads for a spy series”… “Nikita” works because Maggie Q is great. “Undercovers” flopped because it was a boring show. NCIS LA works because LL Cool J is great. There are shows out there that feature good work by people of different ethnicites. Didn’t Archie Panjabi just win an damn Emmy in August? Relax already.

    1. LOL, that was actually Elia. There’s something to be said about diversity and multiculturalism here but, nah.

  6. Shy, who do you jump to the conclusion that Jeffrey Rush may have cancer? He’s doing a play in London that requires he be bald. Geesh, get your facts before throwing the “C” word out there!

    1. Well now I know. Since his first bald appearance on Globes not a single site wrote about that. Only some were slightly worrying like me. I’m glad it’s not C.

  7. @B, I agree with much of what you said. However, I love Betty in Hot in Cleveland. She has such comedic timing. I laugh every time. Yes, the show is cliche. It basically is a new version of The Golden Girls. I had no problem with her winning. Also, Sofia Vegara is splendid. She would have been my second choice.

    @Ella The ratio of white to other ethnic groups is not remotely close on TV. The best actors should be the ones nominated, regardless of skin color. Most of the time,not even the best white actors are even nominated. (Of course that is a matter of personal opinion.) As long as the ratio stays unbalanced, more whites will be nominated and more will probably win. Really you should be complaining to networks, not message boards.

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