Fans of the legitimate theater have often complained that Hollywood stars who make occassional stopovers on Broadway are almost guaranteed to win a Tony, if only for the marketing boost they provide by appearing on TV.
The Webbys seem to have the same idea. Essentially, if you're a Hollywood name and you embraced the Internet in the past year, you're winning a Webby "special achievement award" (a.k.a. famous person who we can justify giving a prize so you'll come to our ceremony):
-Trent Reznor gets artist of the year for releasing an album for free online (which is of course what many digerati think record labels should always do)
-Jimmy Fallon gets person of the year for, well, making a lot of online videos and maintaining a twitter account to promote his new show to young audiences
-Sarah Silverman gets best actress for making two (that's right, TWO) entire Web videos, "I'm F*cking Matt Damon" and "The Great Schlep." Nobody won best actor. I guess no guys who are famous enough made two Web videos this year.
-Lisa Kudrow wins best comedic performance for her series "Web Therapy." Was that not acting? Did Sarah Silverman not give a comedic performance? You know, the cynical side of me is starting to think the Webbys are just making up awards to give celebrities
-Seth MacFarlane wins "web and video person of the year" (no, I'm not making that category up) for his Calvalcade of Cartoon Comedy. Even though that series should have been eligible for numerous Webby categories in and itself. But I guess it makes sense that you look at those videos and say, "Wow, those must have been made by an amazingly talented web and video person."
At least the Webbys are just giving celebrities made-up awards, rather than having them win established categories (except Fallon, who won for best variety show). In the annals of publicity-driven awards, these don't even make the top 10.
The full list of winners is here. But a number of the big media companies are taking home prizes, showing that their investments in digital are at least turning heads, even if many aren't turning a profit:
-Disney won two awards, best family/parenting site for family.com, and best online game for "Club Penguin"
-NBC won the broadband application prize for its video player
-Sundance Channel won for the best movie/film website, while IFC won the same prize in the people's choice voting
-ESPN won the best sports website
-The "Why So Serious?" alternative reality game designed by 42 Entertainment to promote Warner Bros' "The Dark Knight" won best integrated marketing campaign
-"Stickman Exodus," from the MTV-owned Atom.com, won for best animation
-Sundance Channel's "Green Porno," starring Isabella Rosselini, won for best individual performance and best experimental video
-Funny or Die's pointed celebrity-filled, didactic, and not particulary funny "Prop 8: the Musical" won best comedy episode (maybe I should re-think that line about celebrities not taking prizes in established categories just for being celebrities)
-"Children's Hospital," on Warner Bros. TheWB.com, won for best comedy series.
-NBC's web spin-off "Heroes: the Recruit" won the people's choice prize for best drama episode