North Hollywood, CA, September 4, 2007 – Rich Frank, legendary entertainment industry executive and former Television Academy president, will be the recipient of the esteemed Syd Cassyd Founders Award, it was announced today by Dick Askin, Chairman and CEO, Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The Award will be presented to Frank at the 2007 Creative Arts Awards Show on September 8, 2007 at the Shrine Auditorium.
The Syd Cassyd Founders Award is named in honor of the Television Academy’s founder, and was created to recognize members who have made a significant positive impact on the Academy through their efforts and service over many years of involvement.
"This is only the eighth time in its history that the Television Academy has bestowed this prestigious Award and there is no one more deserving of this honor than Rich Frank," said Askin. "During his unprecedented three terms as Television Academy president, Rich helped expand the image of the Academy beyond the Primetime Emmys through a variety of groundbreaking initiatives."
"I have been lucky to work in this industry for over four decades, and have been honored to have been able to lead the academy for part of that time," said Frank. "To be able to get up every morning and go to work doing what I love in a medium that entertains, educates, provides news and encourages debate, is something very few people get to do, so to be recognized for that is something extra special."
In early 1994, Frank spearheaded one of the most ambitious events in the Television Academy’s history — the “Information Superhighway Summit,” a daylong conference, held at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus that drew many of the most influential executives in the media world — including then-FCC chairman Reed Hundt, as well as Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Bill Gates, Robert Iger, Robert Johnson, Quincy Jones, Jeffrey Katzenberg, John Malone and Rupert Murdoch — to hear keynote speaker Vice President Al Gore discuss the expanding 500-television-channel universe and new technologies such as the internet. Organized in just six weeks, this was considered a milestone event in bringing focus to the changing industry and the summit made national news, positioning the Television Academy at the forefront of the new media revolution.
The Television Academy also took on anti-drug issues under Frank’s leadership. In addition to hosting several daylong seminars, Frank wrote the “Media” section of the White House Commission for a Drug Free America under President Ronald Reagan. First Lady Nancy Reagan hosted and spoke at the main luncheon.
Subsequently, he established the Television Academy's Campaign Against Substance Abuse which dramatically changed the portrayal of drug use in television programming and resulted in a number of specific anti-drug projects, including the landmark Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue. An animated drug-prevention special, the program featured characters from every studio together for the first time from such series as Looney Tunes, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Muppet Babies, The Smurfs and others. He was instrumental in arranging for the special to be produced and aired simultaneously on all three broadcast networks which was an unprecedented event in the history of network television. Blockbuster Video offered free rental of the special, which was also distributed through McDonald’s restaurants. As a result of their efforts, Frank and others involved in the production were called before a joint Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., to speak about the project.
In addition, Frank presided over the creation of an indispensable historical resource through his advocacy on behalf of his colleague Dean Valentine, at the time president of Walt Disney and Touchstone Television, and later chairman of the UPN network. In 1996, inspired by the emotional force of Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, which documents stories of the Holocaust through such storytelling methods as vocal histories, Valentine set out to establish something similar for television. Frank, along with Thomas Sarnoff, David Wolper and Grant Tinker, embraced Valentine’s idea. The result was the Archive of American Television, established under the aegis of the Television Academy Foundation, which has taped unedited video interviews, ranging in length from three to seven hours, with more than 500 actors, writers, producers and other television pioneers and legends.
Apart from his Television Academy service, Frank has had a distinguished career as an executive for four decades.
A native of Bayside, New York, Frank graduated from the University of Illinois and began his career in the 1960s at the advertising agency BBDO in New York City. He then moved to Los Angeles as sales manager at KTLA-Channel 5. He also served as president of KCOP-Channel 13 and Chris-Craft Broadcasting.
From 1977 to 1985, Frank served as vice-president and president of the Paramount Television Group of Paramount Pictures and was one of the founders of the USA Network and served on their board. Under his leadership, television shows such as Cheers, Family Ties and Taxi along with the miniseries Shogun, Winds of War and A Woman Called Golda,(the first non-network movie to receive an Emmy Award) achieved phenomenal success.
In 1985, Frank took over as president of Walt Disney Studios where he was responsible for all production, marketing and distribution of Disney’s movies and television shows. This included motion-picture divisions Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax and Walt Disney Pictures, resulting in such hits as Pretty Woman, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Aladdin and The Lion King. He also guided such successful television series as Home Improvement, Golden Girls, Empty Nest and Blossom and launched the Disney Channel, which has grown into a formidable cable network. In addition, he was responsible for Disney’s Los Angeles television station KCAL-Channel 9.
Following his tenure at Disney, Frank devoted himself to Frank Family Vineyards, a highly successful Napa Valley wine producer he established in the 1990s. In 2003 he emerged from semiretirement to co-found Integrated Entertainment Partners (IEP) a company that linked studios, producers and consumer brands into entertainment properties. In March 2004, IEP merged with Hollywood talent agency The Firm where he was appointed chairman of the Board.
Currently, Frank serves as a consultant for The Firm. He is vice chairman of the American Film Institute, and he remains active in the Television Academy and its Foundation, of which he is a member of the board of directors.
Past recipients of the Syd Cassyd Award were Syd Cassyd, who was the first to receive the accolade when it was established in 1991. Subsequent recipients were Robert Lewine in 1992, Hank Rieger in 1994, Larry Stewart in 1995, Thomas Sarnoff in 1997, Howard Schmidt in 2000 and Leo Chaloukian in 2004.
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Creative Arts Emmy® Awards
The 2007 Creative Arts Awards will present Emmys in 75 categories including those given for Outstanding Guest Actor/Actress in a Comedy Series, Outstanding Guest Actor/Actress in a Drama Series and Outstanding Reality Series.
In addition, the Engineering Awards and the Interactive Media Awards will be announced during this year’s show along with the prestigious Governors Award. Visit to the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards site for more complete 2007 awards information.
About the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was founded in 1946 just one month after network television 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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