Serling on Awards

Rod Serling won numerous major writing awards throughout his career, including six Emmy awards. Yet he was surprisingly unimpressed with such trophies.

RS Emmy 4

Here’s what he told editor Linda Brevelle in what turned out to be his last interview (March 1975). She asked how he could top himself after being feted on so many occasions, and he replied:

Well, first of all, I’ve never really topped myself, because awards in themselves really don’t reflect major accomplishment. It’s kind of a strange, backslapping ritual that we go through in this town where you get awards for almost everything. For surviving the day you’re going to get awards. So I can’t suggest that those things represent any pinnacle of achievement.

If indeed they did, I suppose I’d be worried about how do I top myself. But if indeed I’m a household name, it’s a fortuitous event, really singularly undeserved, and caused by a whole lot of extraneous, fortuitous things that have occurred.

But again, it’s part of the business of really not caring about topping myself, because I really don’t care what’s going to happen. I think just surviving is a major thing. I’d like to write something that my peers, my colleagues, my fellow writers would find a source of respect. I think I’d rather win, for example, a Writer’s Guild award than almost anything on earth. And the few nominations I’ve had with the guild, and the few awards I’ve had, represented to me a far more legitimate concrete achievement than anything.

Emmys, for example, most of that’s bulls**t. Oscars are even worse. We have a strange, terrible affliction in this town. Everybody walks around bent-backed from slapping each other on the backs so much. It looks like arthritis, but it isn’t. It’s hunger for recognition. And it’s sort of like, well, I’ll scratch you this time if you’ll scratch me next time. That kind of thing.

And if that doesn’t convince you, consider the fact that Alfred Hitchcock never won a Best Director Oscar. Not once.

RS patterns emmy

There’s no question that Serling deserved the awards he got, and more. But surely it matters more that his work is still read, watched and enjoyed so many years later. I’m sure he’d consider that — along with a Writer’s Guild award, of course — the only prizes really worth having in the end.

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About Paul

Hard-working, hard-playing fan of all pop culture, especially the Twilight Zone. Which led to a Twitter page. And then to a blog. And then to ... stay tuned. Yes, that's a picture of Rod Serling, not me. You can find the real me under the "Your Host" tab on my blog, along with biographical details that, while 100 percent accurate, sound kind of boastful and braggy. Sorry.

Posted on 09/17/2011, in Rod Serling and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Serling is absolutely right about this. Buuut… I still would have liked to see him win every award under the sun! And he should have his OWN award too! “The Serling Award of Literary Excellence”. And he’d be the first recipient. What a talented genius he was.

  2. George Orwell never won a Nobel. Charles Bukowski never won anything. That says it all right there for awards and the smug little cliques that award them.

    Except I can’t resist this:

    Q: How many Grammys did the Beatles win?

    Some smirking little know-it-all might chirp about the 1965 Best Pop Song for “Michelle” or 1967’s Best Album for Sgt. Pepper. [buzzer noise] Wrong! The CORRECT answer is…

    A: WHO CARES? They were THE BEATLES.

    The main reason TWILIGHT ZONE will never, ever, ever enjoy a successful revival is because there was only one Rod Serling. No Serling, no ZONE. Q.E.D.

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