David Milch, the Buffalo native who started his television writing career in 1982 with an Emmy-winning script for the groundbreaking series “Hill Street Blues,” is being honored this weekend with the career achievement award by the Television Critics Association.
Milch, a Nichols School and Yale University graduate and former Yale lecturer before entering the television industry, joins a who’s who list of legendary past career achievement honorees, including Lucille Ball, Walter Cronkite, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, James L. Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Hope and Johnny Carson.
In addition, Milch’s HBO Western series “Deadwood,” which recently wrapped up with an Emmy-nominated two-hour movie, is being honored with a Heritage Award at the TCA’s semi-annual meetings in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The awards will be presented Saturday at the 35th Annual TCA Awards ceremony. The TCA has more than 200 TV critics from the United States and Canada.
“Deadwood,” which earned eight Emmy Awards in the three seasons that aired before being suddenly canceled in 2006, returned 13 years later with the movie in May. Around that time, Milch announced that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Milch, 74, has been nominated for 19 Emmy Awards and won two Emmy writing awards for "NYPD Blue" and one for "Hill Street Blues." He earned a fourth Emmy when "NYPD Blue" was named best drama series in 1995.
His other TV credits include two short-lived HBO productions after "Deadwood" ended, "John From Cincinnati" and "Luck," as well as a "Hill Street Blues" spinoff, "Beverly Hills Buntz," "Capital News," "Brooklyn South" and "Big Apple."
“Deadwood,” joins a lengthy list of previous Heritage Award winners including “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “All in the Family,” “ER,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Saturday Night Live.” In a news release, the TCA said of the series: “Blending factual diary entries and newspaper articles with a dose of creativity and imagination, ‘Deadwood’ redefined the Western genre on television for a modern audience. ... The series brought the legendary town of Deadwood, South Dakota to stunning life as it welcomed viewers into a fully formed world populated by heroes, villains, and larger-than-life historical figures such as Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, George Hearst, and E.B. Farnum."
In announcing the honor for Milch, the group noted his entertainment career began in 1982 when he penned the script for an episode of "Hill Street Blues," which won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series, the first of four Emmy wins Milch earned for his work on the series.
Milch and Steven Bochco created the TV series "NYPD Blue," which the TCA said breathed "new life into network television with its authentic characters and unflinching portrayal of devastating themes. Sixteen years after its final episode, the series is still widely regarded as one of the greatest dramas of all time."