Home Box Office swept this year's Awards for Cable Excellence Tuesday evening and Monday afternoon, copping a total of 34 ACEs for such cable-TV programs as the "Comic Relief" benefit for the homeless and the children's series "Fraggle Rock."
Programs leading the pack at the end of ceremonies scheduled for Tuesday night at the Wiltern Theatre were the HBO comedy series "Not Necessarily the News," Showtime's theatrical presentation of "Sunday in the Park With George," the Arts & Entertainment Network's seven-part "Oxbridge Blues" and "Murrow," the made-for-pay feature on legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow, telecast on HBO.
Each earned three ACEs, the Oscar-sized, spade-shaped trophy that the National Cable Television Assn. has been handing out for eight years.
Actors Peter O'Toole and Gary Busey tied for ACEs in the dramatic series category for episodes of HBO series "Ray Bradbury Theater" and "The Hitchhiker," respectively. Susan Sarandon was named best actress in a dramatic series for her work in "Oxbridge Blues," a series of plays about modern manners. "Oxbridge" also won as best dramatic series.
Also dealt ACEs were "Sunday in the Park" stars Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters, the latter of whom hosted Tuesday night's ceremonies with Showtime series star and comic Garry Shandling; "Not Necessarily the News" players Stuart Pankin and Lucy Webb, and--again from HBO--in the movie-or-miniseries category, Anthony Hopkins for "Mussolini" and Beah Richards for "As Summers Die."
In the performance categories, Robin Williams and Patti Labelle came up ACEs, respectively, for "Comic Relief," which Williams co-hosted, and the musical special "Sisters in the Name of Love," both on HBO.
This year's ACE ceremonies were the third presented under the banner of the National Academy of Cable Programming, a cable association subsidiary formed to promote cable's programming efforts.
Tuesday's black-tie ceremony was scheduled for live telecast at 6:05 PST via cable superstation WTBS. The station's owner, media mogul Ted Turner, was honored with the second annual Golden ACE, presented in recognition of "unique contributions to the viewing public."
Twenty-five awards were handed out Monday at a luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel hosted by Cable News Network talk-show host Larry King, who was named best program interviewer.
Another 35 ACEs were scheduled to be presented Tuesday night.
"Sunday in the Park" earned its third ACE for Terry Hughes as best director of a theatrical presentation. "Oxbridge's" third trophy went to writer Frederick Raphael and "Not Necessarily's" to directors John Moffitt and Hoite Caston.
"Murrow" took a trio of ACEs-- for best movie or miniseries and, in that category, for director Jack Gold and writer Ernest Kinoy.
HBO also beat out competition in the music special category with "Phil Collins: No Jacket Required--Sold Out." HBO sister channel Cinemax earned the best music series ACE for "The Max Headroom Show."
"Max Headroom's" host, Matt Frewer, was handed his ACE Monday as best music host, joining King and other Monday award winners, including Hal Holbrook as best informational host for WTBS' "Portrait of America"; Roy Firestone as best sports host for his ESPN show, "SportsLook"; and Marc Payton as best director of live sporting events, for "College World Series--FSU vs. Miami."
A distant second from HBO, Showtime brought home 10 ACEs, followed by Arts & Entertainment with nine, WTBS and Cable News Network with three each, Cinemax and ESPN with two each and the Nashville Network and the Disney Channel with one apiece.
A total of 60 categories of ACEs were presented during the two ceremonies. A partial list of winners follows.
Performance, Comedy Special: Robin Williams, "Comic Relief," HBO.
Performance, Music Special: Patti Labelle, "Sisters in the Name of Love," HBO.
Actor, Comedy Series: Stuart Pankin, "Not Necessarily the News," HBO.
Actress, Comedy Series: Lucy Webb, "Not Necessarily the News," HBO.
Actor, Theatrical/Dramatic Special: Mandy Patinkin, "Sunday in the Park With George," Showtime.
Actress, Theatrical/Dramatic Special: Bernadette Peters, "Sunday in the Park With George," Showtime.
Actor, Movie/Miniseries: Anthony Hopkins, "Mussolini," HBO.
Actress, Movie/Miniseries: Beah Richards, "As Summers Die," HBO.
Actor, Dramatic Series: Gary Busey, "The Hitchhiker--WGOD," HBO. Peter O'Toole, "Ray Bradbury Theater--Banshee," HBO.
Actress, Dramatic Series: Susan Sarandon, "Oxbridge Blues--He'll See You Now," A&E.
Music Host: Matt Frewer, "Max Headroom Show," Cinemax.
Sports Host: Roy Firestone, "SportsLook," ESPN.
Informational Host: Hal Holbrook, "Portrait of America," WTBS.
Program Interviewer: Larry King, "Larry King Live," CNN.
Informational Special: "Rapists--Can They Be Stopped?" HBO.
Informational Series: "National Geographic Explorer," WTBS.
Documentary Special or Series: "Down and Out in America," HBO.
News Special or Series: "CNN PrimeNews--The Shuttle Explodes," CNN.