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TV Academy salutes ‘Addiction,’ ‘Idol’

Governor's Award part of Emmy week

“American Idol’s” special two-night telethon “Idol Gives Back” and HBO’s 14-part “Addiction Project” will be handed the Governors Award at this year’s Emmy Awards fete.

Award “salutes an individual, company or organization whose works stand out with the immediacy of current achievement,” according to the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences, whose board of governors hand out the prize.

“The Governors Award is the Television Academy’s highest honor,” said ATAS chairman Dick Askin, who said the two programs were chosen “for harnessing the power of television to educate and inform viewers about two very significant issues that touch all of us.”

Airing as part of “American Idol” in April, “Idol Gives Back” raised more than $75 million for poverty relief programs in both Africa and the U.S.

The special, which took place both on the “Idol” soundstage and at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, featured clips of the show’s host and judges visiting impoverished locales in Africa and the U.S. Hosts Ryan Seacrest and Ellen DeGeneres also introduced live performances and appearances by celebs and musicians.

“I’m really pleased that the Academy recognized the fact that this was more than a TV show,” said exec producer Nigel Lythgoe. “When the footage came in from Africa, it broke our hearts to edit it. Then we thought, we wouldn’t get the same type of footage from America. But it came in from New Orleans, from Los Angeles, these incredible stories of starvation.”

As for “The Addiction Project,” the multi-platform event — exec produced by Sheila Nevins — saturated the media with an important message: Addiction is a “chronic relapsing brain disease that is treatable.”

Partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, HBO assembled filmmakers such as Jon Alpert, Liz Garbus and Rory Kennedy, Eugene Jarecki, Barbara Kopple and D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus to tell various stories.

The 2007 Governors Award will be handed out at the Creative Arts Emmy kudos Sept. 8. Last year’s winner was mtvU, for its “Campaign for Darfur”; other past winners include Lifetime’s “Stop the Violence Against Women” campaign; the 9/11 special “A Tribute to Heroes”; Jerry Lewis; Walter Cronkite; “Masterpiece Theatre”; and Johnny Carson.

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