December 07, 2010
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Diahann Carroll, Cloris Leachman, Peter Jennings to TV Academy Hall of Fame

Iconic thesps Cloris Leachman, Diahann Carroll to be inducted into Television Academy Hall of Fame along with Tom Freston and Susan Harris, and the late Peter Jennings, Bill Todman and Earle Hagen on Jan. 20 in Beverly Hills.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Committee has selected two iconic actresses, a ground-breaking comedy writer, an innovative cable executive, a trail-blazing TV game show producer, a universally respected journalist and television’s most beloved composer as the newest inductees into the Hall of Fame, announced Television Academy Chairman-CEO John Shaffner. Actresses Diahann Carroll and Cloris Leachman, cable executive Tom Freston, composer Earle Hagen, writer and producer Susan Harris, broadcast journalist Peter Jennings, and game show producer Bill Todman will be honored in the 20th Annual Hall of Fame Induction ceremony held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on January 20th. The event will be produced by Lee Miller, Kevin Hamburger and Tim Gibbons. Earle Hagen, Peter Jennings, and Bill Todman will be inducted posthumously. "This year’s group of Hall of Fame inductees continues to exemplify and define the accomplishments that we recognize with this honor. Each one of them has contributed enormously to the art of television and we are proud to induct them into the Television Academy Hall of Fame," acknowledged John Shaffner, Chairman and CEO of the Television Academy. "We congratulate them on this occasion and thank them for brightening our television universe with passion and talent." The 2011 inductees join more than 100 individuals previously inducted into the Hall of Fame since its inception in 1984. Recognized for their extraordinary contributions to the television medium, Hall of Fame candidates are submitted from the Television Academy's membership and the industry at large to the Hall of Fame selection committee, chaired by Mark Itkin, member of the board at WME Entertainment. In addition to Itkin, this year’s committee includes Peter Roth, President of Warner Brothers Television, Bonnie Hammer, Chairman of NBC Universal Cable and Cable Studios, Mike Darnell, President of alternative entertainment at FOX, Ray Colcord, film and television composer and Fred Silverman, founder of the Fred Silverman Company and former executive at ABC, CBS and NBC. "It is an honor to once again be chairing the selection committee for the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame, said Itkin. "This year’s honorees are an outstanding group of creative individuals who have all made a significant impact and sparked amazing changes in the television industry. They are rightfully deserving of this honor." For ticket information and other details related to the 20th Hall of Fame Induction Gala, please contact Lauren Shoham at (818) 509-2265 or Following is background information on this year's Hall of Fame inductees: Diahann Carroll is one of America’s major performing talents as an actress and singer, appearing on the Broadway stage, in film, and in television. Carroll is a Tony Award winner, an Emmy® and Grammy nominee, a Golden Globe winner and an Oscar nominee. In1968, Carroll became the first black actress in television history to star in her own series, NBC’s Julia, which received an Emmy nomination in its first season. She was also nominated for an Emmy Award for A Different World, as outstanding actress in a comedy series, and also co-starred in the award-winning series Dynasty. She had a recurring role in Showtime’s hit series Soul Food, for which she was nominated twice for a NAACP Image Award. Carroll made her Broadway stage debut starring in House of Flowers, and won a Tony Award for her role in Richard Rodgers’ No Strings. She also starred in Broadway’s Agnes of God, and Sunset Boulevard. Her film work includes Claudine, for which she received a 1974 Best Actress Academy Award nomination, Carmen Jones, Paris Blues, Porgy & Bess, Hurry Sundown, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Eve’s Bayou. She currently guest stars in the USA Network series White Collar and is touring her one-woman stage show, The Lady-The Music-The Legend, which was recently filmed for PBS. Tom Freston is a veteran entertainment executive and one of the founding members of MTV. Freston was on the team that came up with the iconic "I Want My MTV" anthem and advertising campaign that helped morph the network into a cultural phenomenon. For seventeen years, Mr. Freston was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MTV Networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, and Comedy Central, a company he led to worldwide leadership. He later became Co-Chief Officer of Viacom Inc. and, later, Chief Executive Officer. Freston currently runs Firefly3 LLC, an investment and consultancy firm focusing on the media and entertainment industries. He consults with Oprah Winfrey, Moby Media in Afghanistan, and is also Chairman of the ONE Campaign, an advocacy organization for global poverty issues. Freston serves on the boards of the American Museum of Natural History, DreamWorks Animation, Product (Red), Moby Media and The Oprah Winfrey Network. He also serves as a trustee of the Asia Society. Earle Hagen (1919-2008) was one of the most important composers in the history of television. He wrote the iconic themes for such programs as The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Spy, That Girl and The Mod Squad, as well as much of the music that underscored those classic series. Additionally, it was Hagen himself that composed and whistled the famous tune during the opening credits for The Andy Griffith Show. From the time he started in TV in 1953 until his retirement in 1986, he is estimated to have scored more than 3,000 hours of prime-time television. The techniques he pioneered for TV music are still used by composers today. A four-time Emmy nominee, he won the statue for a 1967 episode of I Spy. He also composed the jazz standard "Harlem Nocturne," which became the theme for the Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer TV movies and series of the 1980s. Hagen started out playing trombone for such big-band leaders as Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and Ray Noble. In 1946, he joined 20th Century-Fox as an arranger and orchestrator, working on such musicals as Call Me Madam and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Moving to the small screen in 1953, Hagen worked on Make Room for Daddy, where he met producer Sheldon Leonard. Hagen and Leonard became fast friends and the composer scored most of Leonard’s shows thereafter. In addition to composing, Hagen was also a teacher, author and mentor to dozens of younger composers. His informal lectures on how to write music for movies and TV eventually became the BMI Film Scoring Workshop, and led to his textbooks that are still in use today. His entertaining autobiography Memoirs of a Famous Composer (Nobody Ever Heard Of) was published in 2002. Susan Harris is a celebrated television comedy writer and producer, best known as the creator of The Golden Girls. Additionally, Harris is responsible for having created, written and produced Fay, Soap, Benson, Empty Nest, Nurses, Good & Evil, and Hail To The Chief, along with having written highly acclaimed episodes of Maude and All In The Family. Harris, along with her husband, Paul Junger Witt, and partner Tony Thomas, created Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions in 1976, which grew to be the largest independent producer of television comedy in the United States. Harris has been honored with numerous awards including the Emmy, the Humanitas and the Foreign Press’ Golden Globe Award. She was also awarded the Paddy Chayefsky Television Laurel Award in February, 2005, which is the Writer’s Guild’s highest award for television writing and given to those who have advanced the literature of television throughout the years and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer. Peter Jennings (1938-2005) One of America’s most distinguished journalists, Jennings was the anchor and senior editor of ABC's World News Tonight, where he established a reputation for independence and excellence in broadcast journalism. Jennings reported many of the pivotal events that have shaped our world. He was in Berlin in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall was going up, and there in the '90s when it came down. He covered the civil rights movement in the southern United States during the 1960s, and the struggle for equality in South Africa during the 1970s and '80s. He was one of the first reporters to go to Vietnam in the 1960s, and led the network's coverage of the September 11 attacks and America's subsequent war on terrorism. He anchored more than 60 hours that week during the network's longest continuous period of news coverage, providing a reassuring voice during the time of crisis. In broadcast journalism, Jennings had a reputation for putting the most complex and difficult issues on the agenda when others largely ignored them. Jennings has been honored with 16 Emmys, two George Foster Peabody Awards, several Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards and several Overseas Press Club Awards. Just prior to his passing, World News Tonight was recognized with two consecutive Edward R. Murrow awards for best newscast, based on field reporting done by Jennings on the California wildfires and the transfer of power in Iraq. Cloris Leachman is an actress of stage, film and television. She has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards—more than any other female performer—and one Daytime Emmy Award. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show. She is best known for playing the nosy, self-centered and manipulative landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on the 1970s TV series The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and later on the spinoff series, Phyllis. She also appeared in three Mel Brooks films, including Young Frankenstein and High Anxiety. She has also appeared in the feature films American Cowslip, You Again, Inglourious Basterds, New York I Love You, The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, The Fields, and Expecting Mary. In recent years, she became a popular presence on Malcolm in the Middle for her recurring role as Lois's ruthless mother, and has appeared on The Office, HawthorRNe, Phineas and Ferb, and Love Takes Wings. Leachman was a contestant on Dancing With The Stars in 2008, paired with Corky Ballas. At the age of 82, she is the oldest contestant to dance on the series. She currently stars in the new hit comedy Raising Hope, where she plays the wacky grandmother Maw Maw to the delight of audiences. Bill Todman (1916-1979) is one of television’s most successful game show producers. Todman initially got his start producing game shows for radio in New York, but witnessed the evolution of television and quickly became a major player in broadcast. In1946, he teamed up with Mark Goodson to create Goodson-Todman Productions. Their game show What’s My Line was on air for 17 years and was so popular it attracted major stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Eleanor Roosevelt as its mystery guest. The duo also produced the time-tested legacies The Price is Right and Family Feud, along with a rolling list of popular game shows such as Password, Winner Take All, Beat the Clock, and To Tell the Truth. Todman and Goodson not only developed shows, but they created many of the signature game show concepts such as having contestants buzz in, keeping the same champion on the show until a loss and pitting two contestants against each other. Many of Todman and Goodson’s creations were adapted internationally. Bill’s son, Bill Todman, Jr., follows in his father’s footsteps as a successful film producer. Full historical audio interviews with Diahann Carroll and Earle Hagen are available online through the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation's Archive of American Television. For links to the interviews, visit Founded by former Television Academy president John H. Mitchell, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame has honored on-camera legends and pioneering directors, producers, costume designers, writers, animators, executives, reporters and documentarians/explorers. Past honorees include Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite, Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Walters, Dan Rather, Oprah Winfrey, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Lorne Michaels, Carl Reiner, Katie Couric, Bob Mackie, Bob Barker, Bea Arthur, Regis Philbin, William Shatner, Bob Stewart, and Candice Bergen. For more information on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, its many industry-related programs and services, including year-round events, please visit

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