is what Stephen Colbert called the 2007 Quill award ceremonies in his opening speech and he couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t think there was one Latino in the Rose Theatre Monday night (certainly not among the presenters or winners – perhaps on staff?). The awards ceremony was PAINFULLY slow and long. One quarter of the award recipients didn’t show (well, 2 of them were dead, but still!) and Al Roker (while a fine weatherman) is not the best of producers. During the 2 and a half hour taping of the ceremony there were many awkward moments. The audience wasn’t prepped accordingly and not given any cues on when to applaud when they returned from commercial break. The teleprompter set at the back of the theater was incredibly inadequate (and very distracting to those who could see it. I couldn't resist turning around to read along on numerous occasions). Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham (apparently he’s famous – I had to Wikipedia him) and his crotchety old man puppet Walter (who looked suspiciously like some of the elder publishers on hand) had to have the thing rewound several times and redo an entire bit. And poor Mary Higgins Clark misread Sissy Spacek as "Suzy" even though it was typed in 114 pt font. It wasn’t quite as bad as Elizabeth Taylor’s "Glaaaaadddddiaaaaator" presentation at the 2001 Golden Globes, but I still had some concern that Bobby Bacala was going to need to carry her offstage before they could squeeze out all three awards.
That was another thing. Why have two presenters each give out multiple awards? And, even worse, awards that had nothing to do with one another? Religion, Thriller, and Audio? Or how about Cookbooks and Children’s Books? Oh, and the pairings! Brooke Shields and Tiki Barber (who is way short, at least next to Glamazon Shields)? Fergie (as in Sarah, Duchess of York) and Rocco diSpirito? And two members of the Sopranos? Look, I know all of those people have written a book at one time or another, but come on. That’s the best we could do? Al Gore couldn’t even be bothered to pick up his award – he sent his daughter (not author Kristin – the other one). The man presented at the MTV Movie Awards, and he can’t come to the Quills?
The official Quill Awards website calls the event "the only book awards to pair a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz." Sadly, the only time the two really meet is when a book is turned into a film (congrats to the Bourne Identity Trilogy for winning the Variety magazine book-to-film Award). The ceremony was woefully unattended with orchestra seating not even at capacity and mezzanine and balcony empty except for the box seats. Even worse, was that after 2 hours of mind numbing television production with no suspense because all the award winners had already been announced, at least ¼ of the audience had left leaving gaping holes in the seating. The worst insult, though, was the time limit imposed on the authors. Why give presenters a good 2-3 minutes of insane banter and then only allow the award winner 20-30 seconds. They won an award because their words mean something. Can’t we trust that when they talk, the words they speak will mean the same or more?