There are three functions for an Emmy, the wing-tipped trophy handed out Saturday by the Southeast division of NATAS.
The first is so that the winner may have a suitable hyphenated adjective to describe his TV career in the event that he warrants an obituary upon his passing into the great live truck beyond. “Emmy-winning TV newsman Claude Buchowski had a fatal heart attack while sneezing yesterday…”
As a fourth grader, my adorable daughter Leigh Richards asked me once if she could borrow an Emmy. “For show and tell?” I asked, hoping that the daughter would use it to brag unnecessarily about her old man. “No. I need it for a skit I’m doing in class.” I acquiesced, and casually admonished her to treat the trophy with care.
She came home crying. At some point during the school day, the statue snapped off the base of the trophy. I immediately set her mind at ease. “Don’t worry. That Emmy actually got some use today. The others have never been used for anything.” They currently reside in a plastic US Postal Service box in a dusty corner of the bedroom. I added the busted Emmy to the box.
A few years later, the third use for an Emmy emerged: As a tool for a prank. But only if the statue has been snapped from the base.
Mrs. LAF and I attended an awards dinner, and I slipped the broken Emmy into a camera bag. We were seated at a table with the cool kids from WAGA. Dana Fowle was among them. Eddie Cortes was there. Tom Corvin was seated next to us.
Corvin won an Emmy early in the evening. This was no surprise, as the 6 foot 7 inch Corvin was arguably the most talented TV news stylist in the Atlanta market in the 1990s. Corvin treated TV storytelling like filmmaking. He wrote witty double-entendres that referenced random video elements. He worked with young photogs like Cortes and Dave Dawson on the framing of every shot, helping to turn them into supershooters. His delivery was very Sam Spade / Jack Webb. Corvin ought to be making a bunch of money in TV news or film production in San Francisco, but the local folks there haven’t discovered him yet.
Corvin went to the podium to accept his trophy. He walked back and placed it on the table. Within minutes, he exited to get a beer. At that point, I confiscated his Emmy, and substituted it with the one broken by my daughter.
He returned as the rest of us at the table feigned indifference. Corvin looked at the broken trophy and started sputtering. We blandly ignored him. He sputtered a bit more. “Oh yeah, that. I don’t know. I think it spontaneously combusted or something,” I finally said. “I’m sure you can glue it back together.” His face sank.
A minute later, somebody unleashed a suppressed giggle. I replaced the broken trophy with the one Corvin actually won. Corvin was relieved and somewhat amused. He forgave me over drinks later that evening.
So, that’s today’s lesson: Break your Emmy in two, and let the fun begin.
To my knowledge, Tom Corvin is not a French Communist. I took this photo during a 2002 visit to Paris, where Corvin was living in the Marais district, just a few doors away from the bathtub-bearing flat where Jim Morrison breathed his last. When I last saw Corvin in SF, he had no Emmy trophies on display at his home. He said they were in a box somewhere.
To see the list of Saturday’s Emmy winners, go here.