TV critics honor ‘Thrones,' ‘Homeland'

IT WAS A SLOW WEEKEND on the Tattle front because celebrities were either stuck at home waiting for Olympic events to stream "live" to their computers — it's awesome watching a 58-second swimming race stop and buffer five times — or they're in Hollywood speaking with the People Paper's Ellen Gray and the nation's other TV critics.

Saturday night was the Television Critics Association's annual awards night at the Beverly Hilton, and HBO's "Game of Thrones" was named program of the year. Showtime's "Homeland" was chosen best new show.

"Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston hosted the Saturday night event, held in the same ballroom where the Golden Globes are presented each year.

The TCA show, Ellen wrote, has a bit less glitz, but it's over far sooner, after which everyone heads back to the bar. And since it's not televised, there are no Joan Rivers fashion critiques. The acceptance speeches tend to be a little looser, too.

Other honorees this year included comedian Louis C.K., who won both outstanding comedy series for his FX show, "Louie," and individual achievement in comedy; AMC's "Breaking Bad," drama; Claire Danes, individual achievement in drama for her role as a bipolar CIA analyst in "Homeland"; PBS' "Downton Abbey," for movies, miniseries or specials (apparently we disagree with the Emmys over whether "Downton," now heading toward its third season, is a series or a miniseries); CBS' "60 Minutes," news and information; Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," reality programming; and ABC Family's "Switched at Birth," youth programming.

David Letterman, this year's career-achievement winner, accepted via video but sent a look-aike to pick up the actual award (after telling a number of stories about his years in Los Angeles that basically boiled down to why he wouldn't be returning anytime soon).

"Cheers," a once-struggling show that its former head writer, Ken Levine, claimed was watched mostly by TV critics in its first season (before going on to a long and immensely successful run), received the TCA's heritage award.

Looks as if Charlie Sheen's going to be busy for a while with "Anger Management."

And that he'll be bringing his father to work.

FX Networks president John Landgraf said Saturday that he plans to wait until all 10 episodes of Sheen's new sitcom have aired before a decision is made about picking up more, but that if the ratings for what's currently the network's most-watched series hold up, they'll trigger the 90-episode order that was built into the unusual deal that brought the show to FX.

He also said that Martin Sheen ("The West Wing"), who'll guest star as Charlie's character's father in the Aug. 16 episode, would join the cast as a recurring character if the show is renewed.

Martin will bring with him a repertoire of impressions, because his daughter (and Charlie's sister), Renee Estevez, is apparently spilling family secrets in the show's writers' room.

She's also "the archivist for the family photos and movies," Charlie said, "so Renee was also able to find a clip of my fifth birthday and put it on the show. ... It's pretty cool."

"Modern Family" co-creator Steve Levitan got word of the end of the contract dispute involving several members of his cast, not from a network exec, but from a reporter at an ABC party in Beverly Hills.

"That is fantastic news," he said, laughing. "I love that I'm hearing it like this. I'm not surprised, but I'm of course thrilled and I cannot wait to get back onstage Monday morning and start making this show again ... and I'm very happy for my friends in the cast, for their success. I really am."

Asked by a reporter if there were any "big plans for Lily this season" — the preschooler played by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons — Levitan quipped, "The day Lily holds out, we're really f---ed."

Did "Lily" show up for Thursday's table read? Ellen asked.

"I don't know where [she was]," he said. "She's either playing coy, or playing house."

For more from the Television Critics Association's summer extravaganza, check out EllenGray.TV.

TATTBITS

Taking a cue from the Olympics opening ceremonies, Metallica lit a torch Saturday night at Mexico City's Sports Palace.

Frontman James Hetfield had warned fans things could get perilous at the start of the band's fifth tour of Mexico and more than 22,000 believed him. Many were visibly terrified Saturday night as the band re-enacted its burn-down-the-stage performance from 1998's "Cunning Stunts" video album.

At one point a technician fled across the stage like a human torch in a show that featured explosions, pyrotechnics, laser lights and the odd giant coffin.

A lawyer representing Snoop Dogg says the rapper has been banned from Norway for two years after trying to enter the country with a small amount of marijuana last month.

Holger Hagesaeter, Snoop's legal representative in Norway, told the Associated Press on Saturday that his client "can live with the decision."

Just not in Oslo.

London's Daily Mail reports that Justin Bieber's father, Jeremy, has signed a fairly lucrative deal to appear next season on the UK's "Celebrity Big Brother."

Lindsay Lohan's kid sis, Ali, will be in Korea for a month to model. TMZ.com says she's going to South Korea, but we could swear she's the mystery woman with Kim Jong Un.

– Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

Email gensleh@phillynews.com.