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Cory Monteith's Emmy tribute: is it deserved?

Categories: Celebrities, Featured, Television

Cory MonteithThe late Cory Monteith was known primarily for his high-profile role on TV's Glee. (Adam Rose/Fox/Associated Press)

In addition to its regular "In Memoriam" segment, Sunday's Emmy Awards will showcase a special tribute to late Canadian actor Cory Monteith — a move that has raised questions about whether the Glee star's brief but high-profile career is worthy of the honour.

Organizers of the U.S. TV honour revealed the special tributes — to Monteith as well as departed actors James Gandolfini, Jean Stapleton, Jonathan Winters and producer Gary David Goldberg — on Monday.

Friends and co-stars will remember each departed figure, with Glee's Jane Lynch to speak about the 31-year-old Monteith, who died in July of an overdose of heroin and alcohol.

As news of the upcoming tribute spread, Variety's Andrew Wallenstein has sparked debate with a column questioning whether Monteith's inclusion in Sunday's special memorial is fitting.

"When Monteith's name is elevated alongside the other four people who are being elevated from the usual In Memoriam reel — actors James Gandolfini, Jean Stapleton and Jonathan Winters and writer-producer Gary David Goldberg — his inclusion risks coming across ill-considered. The unspoken, uncomfortable truth of the matter is that while the work he did on Glee showed great promise, it was not equal to the incredible careers the other four amassed," wrote Wallenstein, the industry publication's editor-in-chief of digital.

"[T]o merit special treatment like what the Academy is doing here, an actor should have a body of work that puts him head and shoulders above his peers. There will surely be disagreement from his ardent fans, but if Monteith had really achieved that status, those accolades would have been coming even before his death. Unlike many of his co-stars, Monteith never received an Emmy nomination," Wallenstein wrote.

"By putting Monteith in this elite group, the Academy is risking having its honorable intentions misconstrued as using the actor's memory to cater to the younger audiences that are in decreasingly short supply for award shows these days. The Emmy Awards is a business that requires generating TV ratings to maximize advertising dollars, but that needs to be balanced with the need for the Academy to maintain appropriate perspective in recognizing excellence and influence in television."

Wallenstein also noted that putting Monteith on this particular pedestal meant relegating dozens of others, including veteran actors like Dallas icon Larry Hagman, to the standard "In Memoriam" montage — an omission that others also noted online.

For Monteith's young fans, however, Sunday's posthumous tribute is absolutely deserved.

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