PGA honors reality guru with special award
Love him for being a visionary or hate him for destroying TV as we knew it, Mark Burnett has irrevocably changed the television landscape with his massively successful and award-winning reality shows such as “Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” and “The Contender.”Having produced more than 1,100 hours of content airing in 70-plus countries, it’s fitting Burnett now becomes the first producer of reality programming to be awarded the PGA’s Norman Lear Achievement Award. The honor couldn’t be more different from the medals London-born Burnett received for his tours of duty in Northern Ireland and during 1982’s Falklands War with the British Army’s elite Parachute Regiment. The self-made entrepreneur used his combat experiences and training as the template for his first show, “Eco-Challenge,” in the late 1990s, and then came up with the winning formula for “Survivor,” which debuted in 2000 and started the reality TV revolution. Since then, the prolific producer has overseen more such varied fare and moved into the world of award shows including the MTV Movie Awards and People’s Choice Awards.