Eclipsed in balloting for this year's Emmy Awards, ABC's terminally hip "Moonlighting" series took a sly slap at the staid Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Tuesday night.
The season premiere of the series opened with a hastily shot 64-second segment leaving no doubt how the "Moonlighting" cast and crew felt about winning only an editing Emmy, despite an exceptional 15 other award nominations.
Indeed, according to the writers of the trendy series, the show's 1 for 16 showing in the awards led to the death of character David Addison's 63-year-old ailing mother.
"It was such a monumental shutout that we had to let our viewers know that we knew," said executive producer Glenn Caron Wednesday. "Hey, no tragedies here."
The Tuesday-night show opened with actress Cybill Shepherd as Maddie Hayes and actor Bruce Willis as Addison greeting viewers. Superimposed over the scene: "Filmed prior to the 1986 Emmy Awards."
(Actually, according to Caron, the segment was conceived, written, shot, processed and transferred to videotape on Monday, the day after the Emmy broadcast. The finished tape was delivered to ABC at 5 a.m. Tuesday, just an hour before it was fed by satellite to network headquarters in New York.)
The telephone rang, and Maddie answered. "David! It's your mother!" she said, handing over the phone to Addison.
"Hi, Mom," said David. "Gosh, it's just great to hear your voice. Huh? No, it's just hard to hear you with that iron lung working. How are you feeling? You going to make it? Only a week and a half to the Emmys. (Pause) Of course we're going to win. How could we not win? Sixteen nominations."
Mrs. Addison's doctor then got on the line.
"Hi, Doc. Really? You think with some encouragement she might be able to pull through? I know. I'm really excited by the whole thing too. Don't worry, Doc. Sixteen nominations. There's no way we can lose."
The program then cut to a black screen: "This program dedicated to the memory of Irma Addison, November 2, 1922--September 21, 1986."
Irma, the unseen mother, had never before been mentioned on the show.
The staff's feelings at losing the Emmys were mollified by the ratings for the program. In the 12-city Nielsen overnight ratings available Wednesday morning, "Moonlighting" pulverized its competition with a 27.9 rating and a 42% share of the audience.
Richard Frank, president of the TV Academy, had no official comment on the program. "You can tell them I thought it was great," Frank said Wednesday. "I think it's very funny. They're very creative."