In the world of entertainment, there are a few important awards to win each year. It comes to no surprise that they are all American ones too. The Oscars (officially the Academy Awards) are the best known among them and they are the ones granted to movies. The Emmy Awards are important to the world of television, with winners including Game of Thrones, Veep, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, … Continuing with the list, the Grammy Awards are for major accomplishments in music, Adele being the big winner of the previous installment. Lastly, the Tony Awards are awarded to the fourth major category of the performance arts, theater. If you’re asking, what about the Golden Globes? Well, they’re hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and are ultimately more about marketing than critical evaluation, so they are not included.
I’m not here to talk too much (but hey, you know me) about the importance of these awards. There’s been more than enough jokes about the Grammys already, on their valuing of commercial over critical success for example, and if you have read my article on music, you can imagine I don’t keep the Grammys in high regard either. I know nothing about theater, and as for the Oscars… It can be a good indication, sometimes, but there’s not a whole lot of movies that won Best Picture that I’ve actually seen. I’ve seen Birdman, The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire of the past nine winners. I don’t think I’ll even watch Moonlight, this year’s winner. It’s not because I think they’re bad movies (after all, how could I know with not having seen them yet), but because they’re not my kind of movie. That being said, there is no example of a winner where I can say “They should not have won that”, even Crash, which was a highly controversial choice at the time. Roger Ebert has my back on this. Should Brokeback Mountain have won instead? Possibly. But Crash was a damn good movie too, so if either had won, I would’ve been fine with it. This goes up for all nominees.
I watched Birdman because it had Michael Keaton in it, I’ve seen The King’s Speech because of Geoffrey Rush. I’m not even sure why I decided to take a look at Slumdog Millionaire, probably because the premise was rather interesting. But when you take a look at the nominees for each year, there are way more movies that I actually did see. For 2015 alone I’ve seen Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, The Martian and Room. That’s out of eight nominees. I’ll probably watch The Big Short and Bridge of Spies at one point even, but the actual winner, Spotlight? Nah, I’ll pass. And 2015 isn’t the only year where this is true for either. I’m not sure if it’s BECAUSE it got the win, that I’m less interested in a movie that wasn’t that appealing to me in the first place. I certainly hope not, of course. Maybe one day, when I’ve finally got my backlog of movies down to a more manageable amount, I’ll make sure I watch all of the nominees, including the winner. But for now, I’ll take movies on their cast, director and premise, not on their shiny badges.
That leaves the Emmys. They might actually be the best representation of what’s actually good in the world of television. Possibly because their categories are more varied, so different styles of series get their own chance to shine. That’s one of the problems with the Oscars, there will never be a comedy winning Best Picture. It’s rare for an animated movie to win as well. But with the Emmys? They are all separate categories. Veep doesn’t have to compete with Game of Thrones for the same award. No one would call that fair. The only remark I have on the Emmys is that neither Parks & Recreation or Firefly have won one.
Anyway, back on track. Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys. Separate things, but what if one person somehow would win all of them (though not necessarily in the same year)? This is where the acronym EGOT comes in, because there are actually a few examples, twelve individuals and five franchises. Many of the names are probably rather unknown, like Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, John Gielgud, Jonathan Tunick, Mike Nichols, Scott Rudin and Robert Lopez. The three best known are probably Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks and Whoopi Goldberg.
There are two names missing, if you counted how many I already mentioned. These are Richard Rodgers and Marvin Hamlisch. These two are a bit special, because they not only won each of the EGOT at one point, but also a fifth award, being the Pulitzer. In case you don’t know, this is the award going to newspaper journalism, literature and musical composition. Both Rodgers and Hamlisch are composers. When you include the P(ulitzer), you can add a few more names to the “grand slam” of awards, the two most familiar being Stephen Sondheim (PGOT) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (PEGT). As you can see, it’s slightly easier to get a PEGOT if you’re a musician.
There’s also the notion of special awards in each of the EGOT divisions, like honorary awards. When you include these, there’s a few more people you can add to the list, names that are probably better known. Barbra Streisand is one of these, so is Harry Belafonte, Liza Minnelli, James Earl Jones and Alan Menken. Now, Menken might not be a familiar name to most of you, but I’m sure you know his works. He’s best known for his music, so you’d think he won mostly Grammys, but he got quite a few Oscars too as he scored “The Little Mermaid”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin” and “Pocahontas”, all of which won Best Original Score AND “Best Original Song”.
I can also list a few names who have won three out of the four EGOT, because there’s plenty more known names in there, including Al Pacino, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Plummer and Maggie Smith who all are missing a Grammy. Since the awards they DID win are all acting related, having a “EOT” is referred to as the “Triple Crown of Acting”. Martin Scorsese, Cher, Ron Howard, Randy Newman, John Williams and Kate Winslet are missing a Tony Award, while Elton John and Tim Rice only needs to get themselves an Emmy (in case you don’t know who Tim Rice is, look at who wrote the lyrics to many of the Disney Renaissance songs). As for people missing an Oscar, you have Cyndi Lauper, Dick Van Dyke and South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
Lastly, there are five franchises which won an EGOT. This means that it is not a single movie or individual which got the awards, meaning that, for me at least, this ‘honoured’ distinction is a bit dodgy. For of all of these, it’s because there was a movie made on the play, or a play derived from the movie. They are The Lion King, Aladdin, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. They are usually responsible for getting the Oscar, Tony and Grammy in good conscience, but the way that the Emmy gets added to their accolade is iffy to say the least. It’s either a televised remake or straight broadcast, and for the Disney movies, their respective spin-off series. So, all in all, I’m a bit on the fence about this. I feel it should be more about the same people involved who get the actual award. So I would be fine with it if it was the same composer getting the EGOT for scoring the movie, stage play and TV series, for example. But in none of these five cases, there’s even a single name that recurs in all the involved productions needed to get that EGOT. With franchise I’m thinking along the lines of Harry Potter and Star Wars, not things that only use the same source but are completely unconnected otherwise. Oh well.
I started by saying that awards aren’t all that important, in the end. And I still stand by that. But then why devote a whole article on the matter? Because it is still an indication of greatness. I also want to add that I value a nomination as much as I do the actual win. All of the nominees deserve to be recognised for being outstanding. I just wanted to make sure you got to know some of these lesser known names. People know Hans Zimmer well enough (though he only won an Oscar and Grammy), and John Williams. But Alan Menken and Stephen Sondheim have had no less of an impact, and I wanted to make sure they didn’t feel left out.
You know, by being mentioned by a small-time blogger.
This blog was brought to you by: Alan Menken – Beauty and the Beast (Angela Lansbury, live)