Cory Monteith’s overdose from heroin and alcohol in a Vancouver, Canada Hotel room on July 13 sent shockwaves throughout Hollywood. Monteith’s death also destroyed his girlfriend Lea Michele, who played his girlfriend in the popular Fox Network program Glee. Fans of the show were distraught at the loss of the Glee quarterback turned performer. On Sunday the Emmys Primetime awards created a bit of controversy when it was decided that Cory Monteith should have a special tribute during the In Memoriam segment of the show.
What made the desicion even more controversial was that only five deceased industry professionals were honored. The remainder of late television elite were mentioned on a scrolling list. Jack Klugman was left out of the “short-list” and his family were outraged. His son Adam made an angry statement last week about the snub to his father.
Adam Klugman pointed out that Monteith had never won an Emmy. He also claimed that the Emmys were “celebrating” the young late actors “self-inflicted” and tragic death instead of celebrating Jack Klugman’s life and accomplishments.
Actress Jane Lynch, one of Monteith’s Glee co-stars, gave a eulogy for her late colleague. It was a moving remembrance speech in which Lynch described Cory as imperfect, but with a “beautiful soul.” She said that many could relate to his “senseless” death that was caused by his being an addict.
But the In Memoriam segment was marred by the fact that a lot of people felt that the young actor had not deserved such a grand gesture. It has been pointed out that he had only one television credit and, as Adam Klugman pointed out, had not won any awards.
Cory Monteith’s tribute at the Emmys has been singled out at the center of the controversy. But the segment of the show set aside to honor the recently deceased had only been allowed time to do tributes for five performers. Jonathan Winters, Jean Stapleton, James Gandolfini, and Gary David Goldberg – creator of Family Ties – were the other four individuals who were given special tributes.
The last four honorees were all Emmy winners. Monteith was the only one of the five who had not won an Emmy.
Both Jane Lynch and producers of the Emmys stood behind the decision to have the Monteith memorial. Producer Ken Ehrlich said that they felt that Cory’s death affected a younger audience and that this new generation should be “represented.”
The studio audience was not filled with this targeted demographic as the applause at the end of the Monteith tribute was described as “tepid” by Deadline. Monteith’s co-stars from Glee took to Twitter and tweeted that the tribute was “beautiful.” Fans of the show loved it while a lot of people felt that the spot should have been given to more established, award winning members of the profession like Jack Klugman or Larry Hagman.
But Hagman and Klugman were not the only deceased left out of the In Memoriam section. Elmore Leonard, Lisa Robin Kelly and Dr. Joyce Brothers were not even listed in the scrolling list of deceased that ran during the tribute.
Jane Lynch did say, after her heartfelt remembrance of her late colleague, that she understood the Klugman family’s anger. She professed to be a huge fan of Mr. Klugman and that if she were his son, she would most likely be upset as well. She also said that she was pleased to have the chance to honor her colleague and friend.
The Emmys Cory Monteith controversy is nowhere near as spectacular as the MTV Miley Cyrus controversy, but it is sadder and more disturbing. Certainly Monteith was a bright young spark who undoubtedly would have had a long and fruitful career. But was he more deserving than those legendary and well loved professionals who did have long careers? To the fans of Glee he was and perhaps that is who the producers of the show wanted to reach.
By Michael Smith