The flashy duds sported by the gentlemen of "Miami Vice" made a splash just prior to the 37th annual prime-time Emmy Awards Sunday evening. But they were scarcely in view after that, as the long skirts of "Cagney & Lacey's" writer, producer, director and star swept in as the clear winners inside Pasadena Civic Auditorium.
"In a more perfect world, Cagney and Lacey would be working in a post office," series executive producer Barney Rosenzweig said backstage in reaffirming his oft-stated belief that the show is not about cops, but about two women.
By that point in the ceremonies, "Cagney & Lacey" already had won as outstanding drama series as well as for directing, writing and for Tyne Daly's outstanding actress portrayal of Det. Mary Beth Lacey.
Asked why this suddenly seemed to be the year of "Cagney & Lacey," Rosenzweig said, "Don't you think it's about time?" He said the show would keep doing what it's so far been alone in doing--presenting two women in dramatic leading roles--"until some other show comes along to take its place."
The female-oriented nature of the show was emphasized by Daly, pregnant and a week overdue. Daly said her win "hasn't spoiled anything" between her and co-star Sharon Gless, who has watched her on-screen partner cop the award three times in a row.
Daly's off-screen partner, actor-turned-director Georg Stanford Brown, hovered in the background backstage and was the subject of Daly's lone lament about "Cagney's" big evening--that he didn't win for best director.
But that loss was bittersweet; the award in that category went to a woman (Karen Arthur) for another "Cagney" episode. Patricia Green earned the best writing in a drama series award for an episode of the same show and Terry Louise Fisher shared the backstage spotlight with Rosenzweig as the series' producer.
Another big winner early on was "The Cosby Show," one of whose pilot episode writers, Ed. Weinberger, had not stayed with the show because his wife was having a baby when the season began last year. Asked if he had any regrets now that the show is a ratings as well as Emmys hit, Weinberger said, "Yes. Obviously." But, he said, he had no regrets about having the child.
"Miami Vice's" lone award winner Sunday night was supporting actor Edward James Olmos. He gave a nod to his upbringing in East Los Angeles: "People used to say, 'You poor kid, you came from East L.A.' " But given the "true melting pot" surrounding him in his youth, he said, he always thought he "had it a lot better than anyone else did."
Responding to suggestions that "Miami Vice" glorifies violence, Olmos noted that "we can't even get as honest" as crime and violence is in real life.
William Daniels, who won for best actor in a drama series, said that he, in fact, expected "Miami's" Don Johnson to win.
"I was absolutely shocked," said Daniels, who plays the disagreeable Dr. Mark Craig on "St. Elsewhere."
"I didn't think that the kind of guy Mark Craig is--hard-assed, unsympathetic--would get a vote like this." Daniels said that he arrived barely in time to accept his award after his limousine broke down in Laurel Canyon.
Prior to the telecast, "Miami Vice" looked as though it could do no wrong. Stars Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas were the favorites of the fans who lined up across Green Street in the 85-degree heat to watch the celebrity arrivals that began at 3 p.m.
Thomas stayed outside for at least a half hour to chat with the crowd, entering the auditorium only minutes before the start of the telecast. All of the "Vice" squad seemed to give a nod to the show's trendy fashion statement: Executive producer Michael Mann wore a stylish patterned tuxedo jacket, as did Johnson, who matched it with a salmon-colored bow tie. Johnson, who wore a midnight-blue shirt, said he was not reacting to pressure as a representative of the very hot show in his attire. "No, I dress this way everyday," he said.
Although "Hill Street Blues" did not fare as well as in previous years, the one statuette it earned gave the recipient, former comic Betty Thomas, a shot at comic relief backstage. Commenting on the impostor who graciously accepted her best supporting-actress Emmy--without her permission--she said: "Guys do that all the time, try to pass themselves off as me."
Comedian David Letterman seemed almost apologetic about his Emmy for writing, a victory he shared with 12 others. "I'm very pleased to have won this award. I just don't work well under stressful situations," he said.
Asked if he and girlfriend Merrill Markoe, who is also a writer on the show and held her own statuette, would find a place in their home for their Emmys, he replied, "Yes. I guess on the roof perhaps."
Dave Bell, the executive producer of "Do You Remember Love," a TV movie about a woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease and starring Joanne Woodward, admitted that initially "the network was probably as difficult to sell on this as I was."
One of the smaller ironies of the evening: Producer Fisher has left "Cagney & Lacey" to work with the man who nabbed the outstanding drama Emmy for the four years previous to this year's "Cagney" win. He is Steven Bochco, formerly with "Hill Street Blues," now working on a lawyer series with Fisher, who is herself a lawyer. Asked if she had any regrets, Fisher shrugged and said, "I got an offer I couldn't refuse."
Presenter Cybill Shepherd appeared in a strapless velvet evening gown and fluorescent orange high-top Reebok sneakers: "I wanted to make a statement," Shepherd said. "I'm supposed to be the height of glamour, but the real me is like this." She pointed to her feet. "Women should be able to be comfortable."