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October 20, 2009

SECOND ANNUAL TELEVISON ACADEMY HONORS TO CELEBRATE EIGHT PROGRAMS THAT EXEMPLIFY "TELEVISION WITH A CONSCIENCE"

April 30 Ceremony to Spotlight Series from ABC, Animal Planet,
CBS, FX, Home Box Office, NBC and PBS

North Hollywood, CA – The second annual Television Academy Honors on Thursday, April 30 will celebrate eight programs that have had significant impact on the viewing audience concerning vital issues ranging from racial integration to adoption, gun control, sexual orientation, the fight against cancer, endangered species, the environment, tolerance and questions of faith.

Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Chairman-CEO John Shaffner made the announcement today.

A star-studded evening at the Beverly Hills Hotel will recognize and pay tribute to the honored programs which were telecast in 2008 on ABC, Animal Planet, CBS, FX, Home Box Office, NBC and PBS and exemplify “television with a conscience.” Phil Gurin (The Singing Bee, Miss Universe Pageant) will produce the ceremony.

"The Television Honors committee was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of entries this year,” Shaffner says. “We had the pleasure of screening close to 150 projects, across a variety of genres -- scripted comedies and dramas, television movies, reality and documentary programs – which examined significant issues for our time. I’m extremely proud of our committee’s diverse selections, which had one thing in common -- they used the power of television to enlighten, educate, create awareness and instigate positive change."

Lynn Roth, co-chair of the Television Academy Honors committee, adds, "Our selection process identifies programs with both large and small audiences because the most important factor is that they share messages worthy of recognition. The shows that we’re honoring tackle such gripping issues as a community coming together to battle cancer, an environmental adventure to save an endangered species, segregation, the ultimate in giving back, same-sex marriage, crises of faith and living for 30 days in someone else's shoes."

Recipients of the Second Annual Television Honors are:

* A Home for the Holidays (10th Annual) – The show has heightened awareness for adoption and increased the number of children who have found permanent homes. Hosted by recording artist Faith Hill, CBS’ annual special focuses on children of all ages who deserve to find a way out of foster care and into permanent, loving homes. Presenting inspirational tales of American families who have adopted children in need, the special includes performances and presentations by some of today's most popular artists – many of whom were adopted themselves – including Melissa Etheridge and Jamie Foxx, Kristin Chenoweth, Patricia Heaton, Rene Russo and Martin Short. (Produced by Triage Entertainment and Goldsmith Entertainment.)

* Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football – Home Box Office’s documentary about the profound impact of college football on the Civil Rights Movement and the integration of our country’s top colleges and universities during the ‘50s and ‘60s. The story culminates with a September 1970 game played in Birmingham, Al., between the University of Alabama team headed by legendary Crimson Tide head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and the University of Southern California, with its first star African-American running back, Sam “Bam” Cunningham. (Produced by HBO Sports.)

* Brothers and Sisters: "Prior Commitments" – Played against the real-life backdrop of the battle heating up around California’s Proposition 8, this season finale of ABC’s acclaimed drama focuses on the complex emotions and reactions of members of the fictional Walker family as one of their sons makes a public commitment to a same sex loving relationship, and his desire to legalize that union. (Produced by ABC Studios).

* Extreme Makeover Home Edition: "The Martirez & Malek Families" – Exemplifying the importance of helping those in need, especially in troubling times, this episode of the ABC series follows two heroic stories. The first concerns a pediatric nurse who specializes in caring for children with terminal illnesses, and who is now caring for her twin boys, both diagnosed with rare genetic conditions. The second story revolves around a coffee shop manager who suffers from cerebral palsy and employs other disabled individuals, giving them hope, confidence and independence, while donating a portion of his profits to local charities. (Produced by Endemol USA/ABC Networks.)

* “God on Trial" (Masterpiece Contemporary) -In its portrayal of universal questions about faith and philosophy, this PBS teleplay about a group of World War II concentration camp prisoners conducting a mock trial against the Almighty is a compelling masterpiece offering the ultimate lesson: he who forgets history is doomed to repeat it. (A co-production of Hat Trick Production and WGBH/Boston.)

* Stand Up to Cancer – Recognized for providing an uplifting, encouraging update on the progress being made in treatment and recovery of cancer, this historic September 5, 2008 hour-long, commercial-free primetime telecast aired simultaneously on ABC, CBS and NBC and raised funds for the fight against cancer. Many of the special’s 50 featured celebrities and personalities from television, film, sports and music share their own stories of being touched by cancer. (A program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation in association with the Noreen Fraser Foundation; produced by Laura Ziskin Productions and Seligman Entertainment, Inc.)

* 30 Days – This unique reality series has earned praise for giving viewers the opportunity to vicariously experience someone else’s life for 30 days, providing them with greater understanding of opposing viewpoints, ways of life and sometimes unpredictable personal outcomes. The concept stems from the transformation series host Morgan Spurlock underwent eating nothing but fast food for 30 days in his 2004 Oscar-nominated documentary film, Super Size Me. The third season of the FX series focuses on life on a Navajo Indian reservation, what it means to be a coal miner in West Virginia, whether a fundamentalist can accept living in the home of a gay couple and their four adoptive children, a gun control advocate who spends 30 days with a gun-loving family, and life in a wheelchair. (Produced by Reveille, Warrior Poets, Actual Reality and FX Networks.)

* Whale Wars – In drawing attention to global conservation and the friction between nations over whaling in oceanic territories, this Animal Planet series has distinguished itself for taking viewers on a powerful, adrenaline-fueled adventure. It spotlights Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who with his crew dedicates himself to saving the lives of whales, even when it puts their own lives in danger. (Produced by RIVR Media and Lizard Trading Company.)

Television Academy Honors held its inaugural ceremony in 2008, with Lisa Ling hosting an evening of moving stories and tributes. Among the first year honorees were:

* First Lt. Dawn Halfaker who accepted the honor for Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq, an insightful, inspirational and heartbreaking HBO special in which James Gandolfini interviewed 10 young Iraq War veterans who survived near-fatal wounds and are learning to cope with their life-changing disabilities.

* Producer David E. Kelley for Boston Legal, the ABC series which addressed a number of issues, including euthanasia, government-sanctioned torture, the status of illegal immigrants, race relations, the teaching of "abstinence-only" sex education and the marketing of sexually suggestive dolls to young girls.

* Executive Producer Dick Wolf for the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Harm" about the complicated question of whether, during the war, torture is ever justified.

* Nonfiction producer Mohammed Naqvi, whose Showtime documentary Shame told the story of a young Pakastani rape victim who would not be silenced, but inspired her country and the world with her courage.

In her acceptance speech last year, writer-producer Margaret Nagle, who received a Television Academy Honor for Lifetime’s Side Order of Life,and its accurate and inspiring portrayal of living with cancer, said, "The Television Academy decided to do this at a time when it feels like it's all about ratings and flash…to create a night that's all about substance…is really heartening for everybody, not just in this room but in the television community."

Eligible programs for this year’s Television Academy Honors aired from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2008, and were submitted for fiction/nonfiction as a whole series, single episodes or story arcs up to three episodes. Made-for-television movies, miniseries and fiction/nonfiction specials were also eligible to apply for The Television Academy Honors.

For complete details, please visit the Television Academy Honors site here in the Awards section at Emmys.tv. To purchase tickets, please call 818.754.2800.

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About the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was founded in 1946 just one month after the medium was born. It is a non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of telecommunications arts and sciences and to fostering creative leadership in the telecommunications industry.

In addition to recognizing outstanding programming through its Emmy® Award, the Television Academy publishes Emmy® Magazine and stages many industry-related programs, services and year-round events for the television community.

For additional press information and resources concerning the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, please direct your inquiries to Robin Mesger of The Lippin Group at (323) 965-1990.

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Contacts
For the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences:
Jim Benson/Robin Mesger/Pam Golum
The Lippin Group
(323) 965-1990
pgolum@lippingroup.com

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