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My mother is an awards-show groupie. When a show is scheduled to appear, she lines up food by her lounger and wouldn't answer the door if the prize patrol from Publishers ClearingHouse were standing there with a check.

She will watch anything, from Laser Beam awards to entertainment figures who have helped advance animal issues.With more than 60 of these award shows on TV each year, she has no life. She refuses to watch these shows with me in the room because I am an annoyance. I say they're predictable. They need rules - a way of guiding us through a night of watching people we don't know thank 200 hundred people whom we also do not know.

I will start watching awards shows when:

- Susan Lucci wins.

- runners-up for Miss America (including Miss Congeniality) have an honest reaction: They gather around the winner with weapons as if she were Julius Caesar.

- movie stars - who are being honored as professional, who remember pages of lines and have a talent for exiting - don't need the names of their beautiful wife and two lovely children on a cue card and have to be led off the stage.

- something more entertaining can be shown than a dog spinning to applause.

- Woody Allen says attending an awards ceremony is more fun than playing his clarinet at a nightclub.

- one nominee has the guts to say, "Who gives squat about being nominated? This town only wants winners."

- country-western men remove their satellite-dish cowboy hats in the theater - even if they are bald.

Ken Ehrlich, the producer of 14 Grammy shows, has a theory that "stars do something most of us can't, and the recognition they get seems to touch something for the people who are watching."

Keeping this in mind, I stood in front of Mother while she was watching an awards show and said, "My checkbook balanced this month."

"You make a better door than you do a window," she said, then added, "You don't get awards for balancing your checkbook."

"How about best actor?" I said.