Recipients of the Sixth Annual Television Academy Honors were:
- A Smile as Big as The Moon (ABC) – Special education students are usually ignored, tolerated, teased, bullied or gently encouraged. Not these extraordinary souls. They aim for the moon in the Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilm based on a true story. Michigan high school teacher and idealistic football coach, Mike Kersjes, decides to help his special education students achieve their impossible dream: to attend the highly competitive “Space Camp” at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. When deciding to turn this story in to a telefilm, Hallmark Hall of Fame committed to casting as many actors that are, themselves, autistic, dyslexic, bipolar and/or living with Down syndrome. (Produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions in association with ABC)
- D.L. Hughley: The Endangered List (Comedy Central) – Despite promises of post-racial America in the age of Obama, things have hardly improved for African Americans as their net worth declines and crime rates soar. What would happen if black people had the same protections as endangered species? In this hour-long satirical documentary special, Hughley sets out to try to add “the black man” to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Endangered Species list. He travels across the nation gathering evidence and interviewing experts on race, religion, and politics in a quest to save his people. (Produced by Five Timz Productions)
- Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (PBS) – Traveling with intrepid New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof and A-list celebrity activists (America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde), this two-part documentary introduces women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable, and fighting bravely to change them. Their intimate, dramatic and immediate stories of struggle reflect viable and sustainable options for empowerment and offer an actionable blueprint for transformation. This inspiring program is based on the book of the same title by Pulitzer Prize winner Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. (Produced by Show of Force).
- Hunger Hits Home (Food Network) – Every day, more than 16 million children in the U.S. struggle to eat and the ongoing economic downturn forces more and more Americans to slip beneath the poverty line. In our nation’s capital, funding cuts threaten existing assistance programs even as the need for them increases. Hunger Hits Home, a collaboration between Food Network and Share Our Strength, examines the causes, complications and misconceptions about childhood hunger in the U.S. and offers a glimpse at some innovative solutions being put into practice today. (Produced by Magical Elves)
- The Newsroom (HBO) – From creator Aaron Sorkin, The Newsroom is a behind-the-scenes look at the people who work to make an honest nightly cable-news program. Focusing on a network anchor, his new executive producer, the newsroom staff and their boss, the series tracks their quixotic mission to responsibly gather and report the news with integrity in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles-not to mention their own personal entanglements. (Produced by HBO Entertainment)
- Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: “Forgotten But Not Gone: Kids, HIV and AIDS” (Nickelodeon) – AIDS is still around, still incurable, and it still kills people. There are thousands of children, teens and young people in the U.S. living with HIV. It’s a hard life. Some people treat you badly, and everybody treats you differently. When AIDS stopped becoming “news” and turned into every-day reality, journalists stopped writing about it. Consequently, there is much that our children and young people don’t know – how you get AIDS, what it means or how to behave around someone who has it. Nick News with Linda Ellerbee discusses what life is like for kids with AIDS today and introduces viewers to three young people who are coping with the disease while working to dispel misconceptions and fear among their peers. (Produced by Lucky Duck in association with Nickelodeon)
- One Nation Under Dog: Stories of Fear, Loss & Betrayal (HBO) – This documentary reveals the sobering realities behind America's obsession with dogs, using startling images to show not only how far some dog lovers will go for their pets, but how far the nation has to go before it treats all dogs humanely. Americans have conducted a long love affair with canines, but lost amidst all the pampering are unpleasant truths about dog ownership, care and commerce, not to mention the daunting odds that face millions of unwanted shelter animals. (Produced by HBO Documentary Films in association with Motto Pictures and Bonnie Pinoche International; and Runaway Films and Cutler Productions)
- Parenthood (NBC) – Parenthood follows the trials and tribulations of the very large, very colorful and imperfect Braverman family. Although each sibling and family has its own share of life and everyday challenges to grapple with, they still manage to be there for each other in their hours of need. The past season’s stories tackled a variety of issues with poignancy and insight: a mother stricken with breast cancer, brothers struggling with a new business, kids moving away to college, a wedding, aging parents, war induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the emotional ups and downs of adoption, the adjustment to a new marriage, the fears of commitment, and a young Autistic boy managing to successfully maneuver through his first year in middle school. (Produced by Universal Television in association with Imagine Television)
“This group of honorees represents some of the most powerful and thought provoking television programming from the past year,” said Television Cares Committee co-chair John Shaffner. Added co-chair Lynn Roth, “Each year we are seeing more and more programs that educate as well as entertain which is exactly what the Television Academy Honors is all about.”
The ceremony, honoring television programs that aired January 1 – December 31, 2012, were held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 9, 2013 and hosted by Emmy Award-winning actress Dana Delany. "I look forward to hosting The Academy Honors every year because each honoree is so deserving,” said Dana Delany. “For the past five years I have learned something new and remarkable about the human race with each program. These people have used their intelligence and talent to not only entertain, but enlighten. That is television that should be rewarded."
All of this year’s honorees – from different broadcast and cable networks, representing scripted series, television movies, documentaries, comedy specials and news -- have used the power of television to create positive social change by focusing attention on women’s oppression around the world, childhood hunger in America, the increasing support for special education, honest, accurate and responsible reporting of news, childhood AIDS, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the inhumane treatment of canines.